Frankford Yellow Jackets
1899-1923: The roots of the Frankford Yellow Jackets date back to 1899 when the Frankford Athletic Association was formed in Northern Philadelphia. The cost for membership in the FAA was $10, with contributing members from the general public able to donate $1. The Franklin Athletic Association was a non-profit organization of local residents and businesses. All profits made were donated to local charities including Frankford Hospital, the Frankford Day Nursery, the local Boy Scouts, and the local American Legion Post 211. The officers of the Association never received a salary or compensation for their work on behalf of the team. The Frankford Athletic Association formed baseball, soccer and football teams that competed against other amateur teams in the area. As professional football began to grow in popularity the Franklin Athletic Association using the nickname Yellow Jackets became of the best teams in Pennsylvania, absorbing the Union Quakers of Philadelphia and becoming city champions. In 1922 and 1923 the Yellow Jackets played nine games against teams from the NFL, compiling a record of 6-2-1. This would lead to the Yellow Jackets getting an invite to join the NFL in 1924.
1924: The Frankford Yellow Jackets coached by Punk Berryman and playing in the northeastern part of Philadelphia, noted for the subway-elevated transit line that terminates there were one of the NFL’s most active teams often playing two games a week due to City Blue Law that forced them to play their home games at Frankford Stadium on Saturdays. Often the Yellow Jackets would play a NFL team and a non-league team on back-to-back games. The Jackets first NFL game was on September 27th a 21-0 win over the lowly Rochester Jeffersons. A week later Frankford had its first two for weekend, winning a home game against the Kenosha Maroons 31-6 on Saturday, and losing a day later on the road against the Dayton Triangles 19-7. It would be one of just two league losses for the Yellow Jackets in their first NFL season, both coming on Sundays of a two game weekend. The Frankford Yellow Jackets had more wins than any other NFL team, with a record of 11-2-1 in league games, winning more games than most other team played. However, standings at the time were based on win percentage, and their two losses dropped them below the Cleveland Bulldogs and Chicago Bears to third overall in the standings. The Yellow Jackets lost to the Bears 33-3 at Cubs Park in their worst performance of the season on October 26th. They would face the Bears again in a post-season exhibition game in Frankford, and only fared better, but lost again 13-10. The Frankford Yellow Jackets would end up playing four games after the season and including exhibitions during the season against other teams outside the NFL posted a record of 17-3-1.
1925: The Frankford Yellow Jackets would get a major boost for their second season when they signed Guy Chamberlain as player-coach. Chamberlain had won the last three NFL Championships, with the Canton Bulldogs and Cleveland Bulldogs. The Chamberlain led Jackets would get off to a roaring start, winning nine of their first ten games, only losing to the Detroit Panthers in another two game weekend 3-0 on October 11th. However, playing two games a week began to take a toll on the Yellow Jackets as the team became beset by injuries, losing Guy Chamberlain in a 19-0 loss to the Chicago Bears in the second of a back to back weekend on November 8th. The Jackets would lose six of their next eight games. The most frustrating loss of the season came on November 28th when they were hammered by the Pottsville Maroons 49-0. Pottsville, and Eastern Pennsylvania mining town was a new NFL member and became an immediate rival to Frankford. The Jackets had beaten the Maroons in their first matchup two weeks earlier 20-0. The Yellow Jackets would suspend Captain Bull Behman following the loss, accusing him of indifferent play, as he clashed with teammates. The rivalry between the two Pennsylvania teams would turn white hot when Frankford got entangled with the Maroons NFL Championship controversy. On December 12th the Maroons played an exhibition in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park against an All-Star team of former Notre Dame players. The Yellow Jackets charged that the Maroons had invaded their territorial rights without permission. The NFL intervened and suspended the Maroons franchise forcing them to cancel their remaining games, which allowed the Chicago Cardinals to sweep in and steal the 1925 NFL Championship. The Frankford Yellow Jackets always willing to play stepped in and played some of Pottsville’s planned opponents, finishing the season with a record of 13-7.
1926: The Frankford Yellow Jackets third NFL season began on a sour note as they played a sloppy game and managed just a 6-6 tie against the Akron Indians, who would go on to win just one game. A week later the Jackets would rebound, sweeping a pair of games against the Hartford Blues, 13-0 and 10-0. Following a 30-0 win over the Buffalo Rangers, the Yellow Jackets would sweep the New York Giants, winning both games 6-0. Despite a home setback against the Providence Steam Roller, the Yellow Jackets would find themselves in the thick of the Championship chase as they won the second half of the weekend double header 6-3. After winning five straight games in November, the Yellow Jackets would host the Chicago Bears with first place on the line at Shibe Park on December 4th. Frankford would edge the Bears 7-6, handing Chicago their only loss on the season and took over first place. The Yellow Jackets would schedule another weekend series with Providence, winning the first game 24-0, while the second game was cancelled due to heavy snow in Rhode Island. The Yellow Jackets would finish the season with a scoreless tie against the Pottsville Maroons. With a record of 14-1-2 the Frankford Yellow Jackets would end the season as the undisputed 1926 NFL Champions. The Jackets 14 wins would be the most for any team until the San Francisco 49ers posted a record of 15-1 in 1984.
1927: Winning a second straight championship would prove a difficult task for the Frankford Yellow Jackets, as Coach Guy Chamberlin and President Theodore “Thee” Holden both stepped down. New President James Adams hired Charley Moran as the team’s new coach. The Jackets struggled early, starting the season with a loss and a tie against the Dayton Triangles. Further hindering the Yellow Jackets was they would be without their coach Charley Moran who worked as a Baseball Umpire in the early part of October after he was assigned to work during the World Series. Charley Moran’s son Tom Moran would serve as interim coach in his absence. The Jackets would continue to struggle following the World Series losing four straight and dropping to 2-5-1. This would lead to Charley Moran’s dismissal. The remainder of the season, the Frankford Yellow Jackets would be led by Player-Coach Ed Weir, with had fellow players Russ Daugherty, Charlie Rogers, and Swede Youngstrom serving as assistant coaches. The Yellow Jackets would play better the remainder of the season, but never quite got back to even posting a record of 6-9-3. Among the notables for the Yellow Jackets was they signing of Lou Molinet from Cuba who became the NFL’s first Latin Player.
1928: Ed Weir would remain the Yellow Jackets coach as they looked to rebound from a disappointing season. Frankford would start the season off on the right foot, beating the Green Bay Packers 19-9 on the road as they won their first three games, including a 10-6 road win against the Providence Steam Roller. Following a 13-0 loss to the New York Yankees, the Jackets beat the Dayton Triangles before playing a series of exhibition games to finish the month of October. In November the Yellow Jackets resumed their NFL season and won three and tied one game, before a weekend series against the Steam Roller that would end up deciding the NFL Championship. The Jackets would some extra satisfaction with a sweep of the Pottsville Maroons a week earlier, winning each game by shutout 19-0 and 24-0 in the teams’ final meetings. The series against Providence would begin with a 6-6 tie in Frankford, however the Steam Roller would win the Sunday game in Providence 6-0 and went on to win the NFL Championship losing just one game. The Yellow Jackets would go on to finish in second place, winning four of their last five games to post a record of 11-3-2.
1929: The Frankford Yellow Jackets remained one of the top teams in the NFL now coached by Bull Behman, winning their first three games to start the season. However, a mid-October slump would cost them any chance they had of challenging for a NFL Championship. The Yellow Jackets would post a solid record of 10-4-5, good enough for third place. However, they would be embarrassed in three meetings with the New York Giants, losing all three by a combined score 75-0. The Yellow Jackets in their annual game against the Green Bay Packers played to a scoreless tie. It was the only game the NFL Champion Packers would lose on the season as they posted a record of 12-0-1. However, there were some inexplicable moments in the season as they registered two ties against the Orange Tornadoes, before finally beating the team from the suburb of Newark 10-0 to complete their season.
1930: The Stock Market Crash and the resulting Great Depression would hit the Frankford Yellow Jackets hard, as they were unable retain most of their top players. Despite starting the season with two straight wins the Yellow Jackets would suffer a major plunge, dropping eight straight games, including an embarrassing 19-0 loss to the Newark Tornadoes, in the club’s lone win in Frankford. Bull Behman who attended a coaching clinic held by Glenn “Pop” Warner and Dick Hanley, would be replaced by George Gibson, as Frankford purchased the Minneapolis Red Jackets in November. The addition of the players from Minneapolis would help as the Yellow Jackets losing streak ended. However, there would be no salvaging the lost season as Frankford posted a record of 4-13-1.
1931: Things would go from bad to worse for the Frankford Yellow Jackets as Frankford Stadium was destroyed by a fire. The Jackets would split their home games between Municipal Stadium and the Baker Bowl, as some in the press began calling them the Philadelphia Yellow Jackets to help draw more fans. However it would not help as the Jackets were particularly bad on the field, as they were shutout in seven of eight games. The lone game in which the Yellow Jackets scored would see them get a win as they stunned the Chicago Bears 13-12 at Wrigley Field. Following a13-0 loss to the New York Giants on November 8th, the Frankford Yellow Jackets sitting in last place with a record of 1-6-1 would suspend operations. The NFL understanding the value of a team in Philadelphia spent one year looking for a new owner to return to the City of Brotherly Love. Finally, on July 9, 1933, the NFL granted an expansion franchise to Bert Bell and Lud Wray and awarded them the assets of the failed Yellow Jackets organization. Despite being offered the Yellow Jackets history, Bell and Wray wanted a fresh start and the Philadelphia Eagles would become a separate franchise as the Frankford Yellow Jackets faded into memory. The Eagles would often be confused in their early days as their first uniforms were similar to the Jackets City Flag’s inspired yellow and powder blue colored uniforms.
©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 Frankford Yellow Jackets 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 February 18, 2015. Last updated on February 18, 2015 at 9:55 pm ET.