BERLIN GUY
CHAMBERLIN

Born January 16, 1894
Blue Springs, Nebraska
Blue Springs High School (1911)

GUY "THE CHAMP"
Beta Theta Pi
Legendary Cornhusker

Missouri Valley Conference
Championship (1914-1915)
All-American Team (1915)

VETERAN of WORLD WAR I

Player & Coach
APFA & NFL Championship Teams
(1921-1922-1923-1924-1926)

College Football Hall of Fame (1962)
Pro Football Hall of Fame (1965)
Guy Chamberlin Trophy Award (1967)
Nebraska Football Hall of Fame (1971)
Nebraska High School Sports Hall of Fame
(1995)

Dedicated 2014



BERLIN GUY CHAMBERLIN
MONUMENT
312 W 2ND STREET (map)
BLUE SPRINGS, NE

Chicago Bears Patrick McCaskey
Presents “Pillars of the NFL”
Gage County’s and Nebraska All-American
Guy Chamberlin

Sunday, December 7, 2014
presented by the
Gage County Historical Society
Book Signing at 5:30 pm
Dinner at 6:00 pm
TICKETS


GUY CHAMBERLIN MONUMENT
DEDICATION CEREMONY

Saturday, August 16th 11:30 am
Southern Elementary School
312 W 2nd Street


Radar Reedy
Blue Springs City Council

Guest Speakers:


Randy York
Director of Creative Services at Huskers.com
(the Official home of the Huskers online)


Terry Novak
Son of legendary Tom "Trainwreck" Novak


Coach Hookstra introduced
Southern School's 2014 Football Team
Home of the RAIDERS !

~~~

Dedication Ceremony Video
Courtesy Southern Schools


"Like" Chamberlin Monument on Facebook

Southern School District

Chamberlin Family Genealogy
Heritage Room - Wymore Public Library

Guy Chamberlin Exhibit
Gage County Historical Society

"Finally, a Hometown Honor
for Husker Legend"

Randy York's N-Sider - Huskers.com

Blue Springs Honors Local Football Legend
Beatrice Daily Sun

Legendary Husker Guy Chamberlin
finally a hometown hero

Lincoln Journal Star

Huskers Help Honor the Past,
Inspire the Future

Randy York's N-Sider - Huskers.com

Recommended QR-Code reader -
The most widely used mobile barcode reader
in the world. Go to www.i-nigma.mobi on your smartphone to download. You can also download it from your app store.

 


Very few outstanding athletes in any sport become highly successful head coaches or managers. One notable exception was Nebraska native Guy Chamberlin, who was not only the state’s first famous major college football star during the early years of the 20th century but also professional football’s most successful coach during the pioneering years of the National Football League.


Guy Chamberlin birthplace (photo criteria 1940s)

His natural athletic capabilities were enhanced with chores while growing up in Gage County on the family farm northeast of Blue Springs, a town with a 1900 population of 786 and located near the larger communities of Wymore and Beatrice. Guy and his five siblings helped the parents maintain nearly 1,000 acres of farmland in Blue Springs and Rockford Townships, and attended Rural School District 67, known as Valley Center, situated a half mile from the Big Blue River.


Schoot District 67 - 1915

An aunt was a District 67 teacher who maintained strict discipline, reported Guy’s niece Dorothy Chamberlin Savener in a May 23, 1996 interview. And she stated that Guy’s father, who died in 1956 at the age of 95, was “a small-built person, the patriarch of the family, a progressive farmer ahead of his time, ambitious, a great believer in education and hard work with no foolishness.” A story the patriarch often told was that his own father shortened the name Chamberlain to Chamberlin to get the name printed on a grain sack.



Blue Springs High School 1886-1919


To attend Blue Springs High School, which had an enrollment of more than 50 students, Guy walked or sometimes traveled the 4 miles to school with a horse and buggy. School notes from 1908-10 in the Blue Springs Weekly Sentinel reveal there was a football team, of which Guy was listed as captain, and in the spring, baseball was played, though some members did not have uniforms.


Blue Springs High School Class of 1911

In 1911, Guy was one of 14 graduates from Blue Springs High School, and during his senior year the superintendent was Franklin D. Keim, who shortly after became an agronomy professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where one of his students in the 1920s was George Beadle, later a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist in 1958. It is also of interest that the superintendent at Blue Springs during the 1912-13 school year was Charles L. Littel, later known nationally for establishing the first junior college in the state of Washington in 1925 and the first coed junior college in New Jersey in 1933.

When Guy enrolled at Nebraska Wesleyan in the fall of 1911, his father decided that he and his brothers, while spending their college years in Lincoln, would reside in that city with their mother Anna, then return to the farm during summer vacations. This unusual parental effort also continued with his sibling twins a few years later.

Nebraska Wesleyan was founded as a liberal arts college in 1887 by representatives of the United Methodist Church, and at present remains affiliated with the Methodists, though chapel is no longer required, and students of any faith are admitted. It began allowing football on campus in 1893, though not as an organized program, then outlawed the game in 1898 after complaints about the violence, reported the college history by David H. Mickey titled Of Sunflowers, Coyotes, and Plainsmen, Vol 1 (1992).

Nationwide, Eastern colleges had begun offering Rugby-style football in the 1870s, according to The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol 7 (2005). The game evolved by 1900, but it consisted mainly of running, blocking, and tackling, uniforms offered little protection, and helmets were not used. Concerns about its safety were raised, and after U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 urged changes be made in the game, numerous rules were adopted a year later in officiating, crossing the scrimmage line, and penalties for roughness. Also required was a gain of 10 yards, not 5, in three downs, and the forward pass was introduced, though the latter was not widely used until after 1913.

By this time, Nebraska Wesleyan had improved its athletic facilities, had begun organized programs in basketball, baseball, and track, and competed against teams in the Nebraska Intercollegiate Athletic Association and elsewhere. In 1908, a football program was resumed.

Arriving along with Chamberlin in the fall of 1911 was new athletic coach William G. Kline, who proceeded to develop championship teams in virtually all sports. At this time, the touchdown was still 5 points, and nearly everyone played the entire game on both offense and defense.

As a freshman, Guy was about 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 180 pounds. Despite beginning the season with minor injuries, he excelled as an end and a halfback for the Wesleyan team that was undefeated in 7 games, outscored opponents 93 to 10, and won the NIAA championship. Guy was one of the players chosen for the state college All-Nebraska team by the Omaha World Herald.

The following spring, he was a baseball pitcher and outfielder, batted .316 in nine games, and Wesleyan won all its games in a championship season. He also competed on the championship track team and was selected as its captain for the following year. The May 31, 1912 Wesleyan noted Guy’s track prowess and that “he is especially strong in the short distances and weights.”

For the 1912 football season, rules changes included four downs, not three, for a gain of 10 yards, the forward pass may be made from anywhere for any distance, and a touchdown goes from 5 points to 6 points. Wesleyan lost that fall to the University of South Dakota and Colorado College, but won the rest.

Again Guy was among the players selected to the state team in the December 1, 1912 World Herald, which further commented, “Chamberlin is almost in a class by himself. He is a fierce and aggressive runner and adopts the system of bowling over the opposing tacklers in much the same style as the famous Coy of Yale. Chamberlin rarely used a stiff arm, and yet many times it was next to impossible to stop him.”


"Here is the Ford. Since I had this taken, I have built a rear end. It will soon be painted and look very spiffy" - Guy
Taken in Lincoln 1914-15 and sent to his Dad

Aside from sports, he also distinguished himself by belonging to the Everett Literary Society, and in March 1912 participated in a freshmen act during “College Night” by giving greetings. Two months later, he was chosen to serve in the cabinet of the Young Men’s Christian Association.

In the fall of 1913, Chamberlin transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as a result of persuasion from various Cornhusker emissaries, though the rules did not permit him to play on the varsity that season. Football had been played at UNL since 1890, its team began performing in 1909 at the newly constructed Nebraska Field, which accommodated 8,000 spectators, and it hired its first full-time head coach in 1911.

From 1911 to 1915, the era of coach Ewald O. Stiehm, the UNL football teams compiled a record of 35 wins, two losses, and three ties. Moreover, each of the five years, the Cornhuskers won championships in the Missouri Valley Conference, and gained national recognition during 1914 and 1915, the years Chamberlin was their star player.

The young coach Stiehm, a University of Wisconsin graduate, “tolerated no nonsense, his instructions were carried out with punctuality and precision. He wanted execution, he wanted his players to be harder and tougher than anyone they played, and they played the best, including Minnesota and Notre Dame,” according to the James Denney, Hollis Limprecht, and Howard S. Silber history Go Big Red (Kratville, 1966, 1971). He also started spring training in 1913, the same year that some colleges nationally began placing numbers on players’ uniforms.


Chamberlin UNL 1914

In the fall of 1914, Guy weighed over 190 pounds, and endured some soreness in an ankle and knee various times. He played right halfback, could toss a lefthanded forward pass, and scored 9 touchdowns. On October 24, when the Cornhuskers defeated Michigan State by a score of 24-0, he had run a kick-off back 90 yards and scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run, and while playing defensive end, he had broken through and spoiled many plays. The next day, the World Herald quoted the Michigan coach as saying, in part, “Nebraska has the making of one of the greatest football teams in the entire country.”

That season, the team was undefeated except for one scoreless tie, tackle and team captain Vic Halligan was named to Walter Camp’s All-America third team, while Chamberlin, who was mentioned by some national critics, was one of seven Nebraskans placed on the All-Missouri Valley team.

In 1915, his senior season, Chamberlin played left end, scored 15 touchdowns, and the team had an unbeaten record of 8 wins, no losses, no ties. It was not until 1965, exactly 50 years later, that the UNL football team enjoyed another unbeaten regular season, that time with Robert S. Devaney as head coach. Guy played a major role in the famous 20-19 defeat on October 23, 1915 of national powerhouse Notre Dame, which at the time had as an assistant coach Knute Rockne, who later became its legendary head coach from 1918 to 1930.

The next day, in a World Herald article under the full-page headline “It Was Two Much Chamberlin, Said Coach Harper,” he was credited with scoring two touchdowns and passing for another. And it was further stated, in part, “His defensive stunts bordered upon the miraculous, while his open field running, in which he displayed that famous ‘side walk trot’ to the best advantage, brought victory to the colors of the Cornhuskers.” Referee of the Notre Dame game was Walter Eckersall, a Chicago Tribune sportswriter who selected Guy for his All-America team at season’s end. Guy was also selected for an All-America team by Frank G. Menke, sports editor for Hearst’s International News Service, and he was placed on the All-Missouri Valley team.


Chamberlin's NFL Hall of Fame Bust & Certificate
are displayed in the Gallery Cabinet at Beta Theta Pi

While a student at UNL, Chamberlin affiliated with the social fraternity Beta Theta Pi, and played baseball in the spring semester of his senior year in what was called the Inter-Departmental League, since varsity baseball had been discontinued after 1913, according to the 1916 Cornhusker, the college annual. He pitched for the Academics team that won the championship that spring. On June 7, 1916, he received his bachelor’s degree with a major in political economy.

Guy then helped his father with farming for more than a year. There were, however, various press reports that he might enter the local banking business, that he was preparing to play professional baseball for teams at Wichita or Indianapolis, and that he was engaged in July 1916 to coach at Doane College in Crete that fall.

During the 1917-18 school year, he was principal and coach of athletics at Lexington High School, reported the October 12 and December 14, 1917 Lexington Clipper-Citizen. The 1910 U.S. Census reported the Dawson County town of Lexington had a population of 2,059.


2nd Lieutenant Chamberlin

From May 1918 to October 1919, he was in the U.S. Army, records with the Veteran’s Administration reveal, and while achieving the rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Field Artillery, he was stationed at Camp Zachary Taylor, Kentucky, then Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and finally Camp Kearny near San Diego, California, reported Who’s Who in Nebraska (Nebraska Press Association, 1940).

Guy was married at San Diego on January 3, 1919 to Lucile B. Lees, who had previously graduated from UNL in August 1918. Her father James T. Lees (1889-1926) was UNL professor of ancient languages, and after he died, his cremated remains were placed near the Schiller Linden tree north of Architectural Hall on the City Campus, reported the May 25, 1955 Daily Nebraskan, the UNL student newspaper.

Upon discharge from the Army in 1919, Guy began playing professional football for the Canton, Ohio Bulldogs at the invitation of player-coach Jim Thorpe, the Native American athlete who had won two gold medals at the 1912 Olympics but preferred playing professional football, even though it was not well organized. Thorpe had been an idol of Chamberlin, who played the position of end during Canton’s unofficial championship in 1919.

The following year, the professional sport became organized as the American Professional Football Association, and was comprised of 14 teams. In 1922, it was given its current name National Football League, and membership had increased to at least 20 teams. Guy most certainly participated as a player or player/coach from 1920 to 1926, then he retired and worked in Cleveland as a salesman of farm implements in 1927, though there are some accounts and records that erroneously report he was involved with the Chicago Cardinals in 1927-28.

In 1920 and 1921, he played left end for the Staleys, which were located the first year in Decatur, Illinois, then moved the next year to Chicago, and eventually became renamed the Bears. Chamberlin was discovered during a Midwest recruiting trip by head coach George S. Halas, who was one of the major organizers of the first professional circuit and at his death in 1983 had a professional career as player, coach and owner for 64 years. At the time, pro football players were dependent upon jobs outside the sport for their main income, so Chamberlin worked part-time in the A. E. Staley starch factory.


Pro Football Hall of Fame (1965)

According to a Pro Football Hall or Fame biography, the two years Guy was with the Staleys resulted in a disputed championship in 1920 and the first official title in 1921, the latter occurring as a result of a crucial final game with Buffalo. The legendary George Halas, in the first of a three-part autobiographical article published in the November 23, 1957 Saturday Evening Post, recalled that “Chamberlin was the best 2-way end I’ve ever seen. He was a tremendous tackler on defense and a triple-threat performer on offense. He was the star of the day against Buffalo, running 70 yards with an intercepted pass to score our only touchdown in a 10-to-7 victory.”

In 1922, Chamberlin began his exceptional years in the dual role of head coach and player by returning to Canton, where the Bulldogs were National Football League champions with a record of 10 wins, no losses, and two ties. In 1923, they were again champions with a record of 11 wins, no losses, and one tie. The following year, Guy and most of his players followed the relocation of the Bulldogs to Cleveland, where they were 1924 champions with a record of 7 wins, one loss, and one tie.|

In George Sullivan, Pro Football’s All-Time Greats (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1968), one of the Bulldog players was quoted as saying, “Before Guy came to Cleveland, we just met on Sunday afternoons, ate lunch, and then played the game. But he made us work; he had us start practicing every day.” In an article in the April 12, 1965 Canton /OH/ Repository, Chamberlin credited his team members, calling William “Link” Lyman and Wilbur “Fats” Henry “the two greatest tackles ever to play the pros,” and further noted, “Lots of fans said they were responsible for our success and they were about right.” He went on to name the remainder of the starting lineup, including himself as one end.

It is of interest that Lyman had played football at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1918, 1919, and 1921, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964, and “is credited with being the first defensive lineman to shift his position frequently, sometimes moving inside to play between the offensive guard and tackle, at other times moving out between the tackle and end,” according to Ralph Hickok, Sports Champions (Houghton Mifflin, 1995).

In 1925, with the Cleveland team disbanded due to lack of finances, Chamberlin was hired to coach the Yellowjackets of Frankford, a suburb of Philadelphia. That fall, his team compiled a praiseworthy record of 13 wins and 7 losses, but finished in sixth place in the 20-team NFL.

In 1926, the Frankford Yellowjackets were league champions with a record of 14 wins, one loss, and one tie. In a deciding game against the Chicago Bears, Guy also played end, and made a difference in the Yellowjackets victory. In Pro Football’s All-Time Greats, the author reported Guy “broke through to block Paddy Driscoll’s try for an extra point following a Chicago touchdown, and late in the game he blocked Driscoll’s attempt at a field goal. Frankford scored in the dying minutes of the contest, then added the extra point, to eke out a 7-6 win.”

Thus in five years as NFL head coach from 1922 to 1926, Chamberlin won four championships, and had a total coaching record of 55 wins, 9 losses, and 5 ties—which ranks as the highest winning percentage of any NFL coach with more than 50 victories. (Because of allegations that Guy was with the Chicago Cardinals in 1927 and 1928, some accounts report different won/loss records.)

It was George Halas who also observed in the previously cited November 23, 1957 autobiographical article, “Over five years Chamberlin won four championships with 3 different teams, a coaching record without parallel in National Football League history.” It can also be stated that in the history of major North American professional sports, the only other coach to have won league championships with three different teams is Scotty Bowman, whose nine Stanley Cups were with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens, and Detroit Red Wings. (A little known fact is that Bowman coached the Omaha Knights for a brief time in 1963.)

In 1927, Guy ended his pro football career at the age of 32, then worked as a salesman for organizations in Cleveland, where he and Lucile divorced in a few years. In 1929, he applied—or was considered—for the position of head football coach at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, reported his niece Dorothy Savener. But D. X. Bible was hired, leaving Guy disappointed for years.


Front row: Frances, mother Anna, Ramona
Second Row: William, Warren, father Elmer, Guy,Truman

By 1932, he returned to Blue Springs to manage his father’s large farm, and in the summers was visited by his daughter Patricia. Though Guy attended Cornhusker football games in Lincoln, he concentrated on his progressive farming practices, including the use of a bulldozer and terracing his father had initiated.


Guy shown plowing with a Caterpillar Tractor
"Our Caterpillar Diesel D2 Tractor replaces 16 head
of horses," report EE & B Guy Chamberlin of Gage County

In 1941, he and Bernyce Weekes of Beatrice were married, and resided on the farm until June 1948 when they relocated to Nebraska City, where Guy had bought a Ford-Ferguson Agency. Meanwhile, his daughter Patricia, a 1945 UNL graduate, was married at Brooklyn Heights, New York in 1947 to Beatrice native Robert K. Sherwood, who worked for the U.S. Foreign Service. The mother of two sons, Patricia Sherwood later died of cancer in 1978 at the age of 55.

Guy sold the Nebraska City business after becoming ill, and in 1954-55 moved to Lincoln, where he was a guard/educator at the State Reformatory until at least 1962, the year its athletic field was named after him.


Pro Football Hall of Fame
Induction Ceremony NYC, 1965

Chamberlin’s major honors included his 1962 election to the College Football Hall of Fame at South Bend, Indiana and his 1965 induction into the Professional Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio. An annual Guy Chamberlin Trophy was initiated in 1967 by the UNL Athletic Department to honor a senior Cornhusker football player who exhibits the same qualities Guy had while at UNL in 1914-15.

There is a display of Guy’s Pro Hall of Fame certificate at the Beta Theta Pi house at 1515 R Street in Lincoln. And a permanent exhibit on Chamberlin was established in 1997 at the Gage County Historical Society Museum in Beatrice.

Aside from the previously cited sources, other useful biographical accounts include J. R. Johnson, Representative Nebraskans (Johnsen Publishing, 1954) 41-44 and Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Football (Greenwood Press, 1987) 102-103 and Denis J. Harrington, The Pro Football Hall of Fame (Greenwood Press, 1991) 80-81 and Beatrice Daily Sun, September 13, 1997, pp. A-1, A-2, B-1 and American National Biography, Vol 4 (Oxford University Press, 1999) 638.


Last residence 1109 F St in Lincoln


Born Berlin Guy Chamberlin in 1894 near Blue Springs, Gage County, one of six children of Elmer E. and Anna Tobyne Chamberlin, he died in Lincoln on April 4, 1967 at the age of 73. Among the survivors were his first wife Lucile, his second wife Bernyce, daughter Patricia Sherwood, two grandsons, and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.

For decades, Guy was called “The Champ” by the state’s football enthusiasts, and the next day his obituary with a large headline was published in the Lincoln Star sports section. His cremated remains were placed by daughter Patricia on a prominent hill in pastureland previously owned by the family in the southeast quarter of Section 10 in Blue Springs Township. Present at the burial ceremony were University of Nebraska representatives and several relatives.


Memorial Stadium
Chamberlin silhouette right center


Nationally Distinguished Nebraskans – Guy Chamberlin: Farmer, notable athlete, and coach of four pro football championships with three different teams

Copyright (C) 2008 by E. A. Kral

Originally published in The Crete News, Dec. 3, 2008.

Used with permission