1904-1906: Canton had a strong amateur team, when the Massillon Tigers turned professional Canton was no longer able to compete. On November 15, 1904 the Canton Athletic Club decided to also become professional. Given the goal of beating the Massillon Tigers, Canton Athletic offer money to the best players on all the other Ohio League teams. Bill Laub, a player, team captain and coach of the Akron East Ends, was hired as the team’s first-ever coach. In 1905 and 1906 Canton was one of the best football teams in Ohio. With a chance to win the Ohio League title Canton Athletic suffered a 13-6 loss to Massillon. Despite Canton, who was now using the name Bulldogs winning the first game, the league title was awarded to the Tigers. Due to Coach Blondy Wallace appearing at the Tigers victory party, rumors he fixed the game would plague professional football in Ohio for the next several years. Blondy Wallace would file a libel suit, which would never go to trial, as Canton’s Professional team was forced to fold as they lost money and their reputation.
1911-1914: After four years on the sidelines, Canton reemerged on the professional football landscape in 1911. A new team called the Canton Professionals competed in the Ohio League and challenged for the league championship. Tragedy would strike the professionals in 1914 when Canton captain Harry Turner, was severely injured attempting to tackle Joe Collins of the Akron Indians. Turner later died from his spinal cord injuries telling team Manager Jack Cusack “I know I must go,” he said, “but I’m satisfied, for we beat Peggy Parratt”. Parratt who was Akron’s top player had always tormented Canton, beating them with the Shelby Blues in 1911. While Collins sacrifice enabled Canton to win 6-0, Parratt and the Indians would win the rematch and the 1914 title as Canton played with heavy hearts.
1915-1919: Canton would once again become the Bulldogs as they signed several players away from Akron. They also signed Jim Thorpe for $250. Thorpe would later become the Bulldogs coach, leading them to their first championship. The Bulldogs would dominate the Ohio League over the next four years, losing just one game and tying two as they followed up their 1915 championship with titles in 1916, 1917 and 1919. The lone year in which the Bulldogs failed to win the Ohio League was a season in which they did not participate. The Bulldogs sat out the 1918 season due to players serving in World War I and a sever influenza outbreak.
1920: The Canton Bulldogs were one of the premiere professional football clubs and claimed that they were the World Champions of professional football. Other teams too claimed that they were the World Champions, while the Bulldogs did win two games over the Indiana Champion Hammond Pros in Chicago, it was becoming clear that a National Football League was needed. Ralph Hay a successful auto dealer in Canton who took over the team’s management would host a meeting of football owners at his Hupmobile Dealership in Canton. That meeting held on September 17th would lead to the founding of the American Professional Football Association, which would become the NFL in 1922. Canton Bulldogs Coach Jim Thorpe would serve as President in the league’s first season. Teams would schedule their own games in the early years of the new league and games against teams outside the league would count in the standings. After beating two non AFPA teams the Bulldogs would defeat the Cleveland Tigers in their first league game on October 17th. However, a week later would play the Dayton Triangles to a 20-20, losing a week later to the Akron Pros 10-0. After winning their next three games, the Bulldogs would again lose to Akron on Thanksgiving, this time falling 7-0 to the team that would go on to win the first APFA Championship. The Bulldogs would struggle over the next three games, losing to the Buffalo All-Americans in New York’s Polo Grounds, before an embarrassing scoreless tie against the Washington Glee Club a day later. The Bulldogs would also lose to Union AA of Phoenixville, before beating Richmond Athletic Club to finish the season with a record of 7-4-2.
1921: With the departure of Jim Thorpe, the Bulldogs were now coached by Cap Edwards. Expecting to be the top team in the APFA when the league was founded, the Canton Bulldogs continued to find competition in the league tougher than expected. The Bulldogs would win five of ten league games in their second season in the APFA, tying three. The Canton Bulldogs, with three wins in four games outside the league would manage a fourth place finish with an overall record of 8-3-3.
1922: After two disappointing seasons in the APFA, the Canton Bulldogs spend the off-season rebuilding as the league officially becomes the NFL. In charge of the Bulldogs was Guy Chamberlain who was fresh off a championship with the Chicago Staleys. Chamberlain would serve a player coach for the Bulldogs, who started the season with a 38-0 win over the Louisville Breks. Following a scoreless tie against the Dayton Triangles, the Bulldogs got a big 14-0 win over the Jim Thorpe led Oorang Indians. The big play was a 60 yard punt return for a touchdown by Norb Sacksteder in the third quarter. Following a 22-0 win over the Akron Pros the Bulldogs delivered another big win, edging the reigning champion Chicago Bears 7-6 at Cubs Park. Over the next three weeks the Bulldogs defense was a force to be reckoned with as they did not allow any scores against the Toledo Maroons, Buffalo All-Americans and Chicago Cardinals. Eight weeks into the season the Bulldogs were 6-0-2 and sitting comfortably in first place. With Guy Chamberlain returning two fourth quarter interceptions for touchdowns, the Bulldogs would continue to roll with a 20-3 win over the Cardinals in Canton. Chamberlain would block a punt for a touchdown a week later, as the Bulldogs upended the Akron Pros 14-0 on Thanksgiving. The Bulldogs would end the season with wins over the Milwaukee Badgers and Toledo Maroons to finish with a record of 10-0-2, to claim the NFL Championship.
1923: Despite winning a championship, the Bulldogs were struggling financially. Running a professional team was getting too expensive for Ralph Hay, who put the team up for sale asking for $1,500. However, the price was too high for most investors, with Hay finally settling for $1,000 when he sold the Bulldogs on a group of local businessmen who formed the Canton Athletic Company to run the team. The new owners would successfully convince Guy Chamberlain to remain on as player and coach. In many ways the Bulldogs were even better in their second season under the leadership of Chamberlain, rolling through their first four games with shutout wins over the Hammond Pros, Louisville Brecks, Dayton Triangles and Chicago Bears. The Bulldogs would go on to become the first NFL team to win consecutive championships, posting a record of 11-0-1. The lone blemish was a 3-3 tie against the Buffalo All-Americans on November 11th. With the success of the Bulldogs, payroll continued to rise, reaching $13,000 which was too expensive for the Canton ownership group. The Canton Bulldogs would be sold again, this time they were purchased for $2,500 by Samuel Deutsch, owner of the NFL’s Cleveland Indians. Deutsch would merge the Bulldogs into his team in Cleveland, becoming the Cleveland Bulldogs.
1924: The newly minted Cleveland Bulldogs would win a championship, while Canton found a new group of investors to buy their team back. The new investor group led by Herb Brandt would purchase the Canton Bulldogs for $3,000, while Samuel Deutch continued to operate a team in Cleveland that would also carry the name Cleveland Bulldogs, breaking up what had been a merger.
1925: The new Canton Bulldogs coached by Harry Robb would start the season with wins against the Rochester Jeffersons and Dayton Triangles. However, they would drop their next three games, including a match up with the Guy Chamberlain led Frankford Yellow Jackets. On November 8th there would be a dog fight in Canton, as the Canton Bulldogs blanked the Cleveland Bulldogs 6-0. Canton would get a win against the Columbus Tigers a week later, but in a rematch with Canton lost 6-0 in Cleveland to finish with a record of 4-4 in NFL games. The Bulldogs also played five exhibitions outside the league, winning four and tying another.
1926: The bottom would fall out in Canton, as the Bulldogs struggled to win in an overcrowded NFL that had swelled to 22 teams. The Bulldogs would win just one game beating the Louisville Colonels 13-0 in the second game of the season, posting a record of 1-9-3 and finishing in 20th place. Following the season the NFL decided to eliminate a number of underperforming teams to get the league down to a more manageable ten teams. Despite winning two championships and being instrumental in the league’s founding the Canton Bulldogs would be among the 12 teams that were shut down by the NFL.
1963: Nearly four decades after the Canton Bulldogs were folded by the NFL, the city would get its right recognition in the founding of modern day professional football as it was chosen to house the Hall of Fame. The Professional Football Hall of Fame opened after the city’s foundations and individuals banded together to convince the NFL why they should be home of the Hall of Fame, while raising $378,026 to build the hall of fame on wooded parkland donated by the city. With the opening of the Hall of Fame, Canton would become host to an annual preseason game during induction weekend. The game would be played in a stadium that was built on the site where the Canton Bulldogs played Lakeside Park.
©MMXV Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Football League. This site is not affiliated with the Canton Bulldogs or the NFL. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on January 11, 2015. Last updated on January 11, 2015 at 9:55 pm ET.