The Massillon Tigers were an early professional football team from Massillon, Ohio. Playing in the Ohio League, the team was a rival to the pre-National Football League version of the Canton Bulldogs, the Tigers won Ohio League championships in 1903,1904,1905, and 1906, then merged to become All-Massillons to win another title in 1907. The team returned as the Tigers in 1915 but, with the reemergence of the Bulldogs, pro football was popularized in Ohio when the amateur Massillon Tigers, hired four Pittsburgh pros to play in the season-ending game against Akron. At the same time, pro football declined in the Pittsburgh area, the team opted not to join the APFA in 1920, it remained an independent club through 1923, when the Tigers folded. During their time as an independent, the Tigers never played against any team in the NFL, the Massillon Tigers team name was transferred to Massillon Washington High School, who still uses it today. The Massillon area had fielded several amateur football teams featuring only local players since the early 1890s, however while some had performed well, the others were more likely to be defeated when they played their cross-county arch-rival, Canton. Therefore, a group of 35 area businessmen met on September 3,1903, Jack Goodrich, who expected to play halfback for the new team, was named manager. Meanwhile, Ed J. Stewart, a young and ambitious editor of the city newspaper The Evening Independent, was named as the teams first coach, Stewart had playing experience while attending Western Reserve College and Mount Union College. Apart from being the coach, he later appointed himself as the teams quarterback. Wise, who was the Massillon Clerk of City Council, led a committee to secure the funds for a new football. The local venders only had a sufficient quantity of one style to outfit an entire team. Those jerseys imitated the orange and black striped attire of the Princeton Tigers, when the Tigers began play in 1903, several of the expected starters hadnt touched a football in eight or more years. According to locals belief, Baldy Wittman, 32-year-old proprietor of a cigar store. Charles Cy Rigler, who became a famous major league baseball umpire started at tackle. Wittman opened at an end and was elected the team captain, meanwhile, Stewart lined himself up at quarterback. The Tigers first game against Wooster College ended in a 6-0 defeat, a biased official was the excuse for the loss. The Tigers followed their first ever game with a 16-0 victory over Stewarts alma mater, Mount Union College, a 6-0 victory over the Akron Imperials, after a 34-0 victory over the Dennison Panhandles, the Tigers prepared for their cross-county rivals, a sandlot team from Canton. Betting on the games, during the early 1900s was common and it is believed that over $1000 was risked on the games outcome
1905 Massillon Tigers, "Ohio League" Champions.
Massillon Tigers line up of 1905.
Canton Bulldogs vs. Massillon Tigers playing on grid field on November 24, 1906, during the betting scandal.
Massillon Tigers vs. Canton Bulldogs, advertisement for a 1917 game.