November 13: The Game

Harvard Yale“Gentlemen, you are now going to play football against Harvard. Never again in your whole life will you do anything so important.” -Yale coach T.A.D. Jones, prior to the 1916 Harvard-Yale game.

We’re deep into the college football season right now, so it’s fitting that today we celebrate a tale from the gridiron. It was on this day in 1875 that Harvard and Yale first met on the football field. The series is the longest running college rivalry, to the point where the match-up is simply known as The Game. Yale currently leads the series 65–56–8.

The final score of the first game was a simple 4-0. You see, American football was very different at the time. For one thing the sport looked more like rugby and used a round ball; but most importantly, in order to score, you had to make a touchdown and then the ensuing field goal. If you made the field goal you got a point, and if you missed it, then you didn’t get any points.

But I don’t want to talk about football, I want to talk about the intersection of college football and that other time honored college tradition, practical jokes. Here are just a few of the pranks involving The Game that Harvard and Yale have played on each other; plus one that MIT contributed to the rivalry:

  • 1933: Members of the Harvard Lampoon kidnap Yale’s bulldog mascot Handsome Dan II. The morning after The Game (a 19-6 Harvard victory), the members of the Lampoon spread hamburger over the feet of the John Harvard statue in Harvard Yard and take a picture of Handsome Dan happily licking John Harvard’s boots.
  • 1961: Members of The Harvard Crimson newspaper distribute a fake copy of The Yale Daily News saying that President John Kennedy would be in attendance at the Yale Bowl for The Game. On game day, the President of the Crimson wore a Kennedy mask and walked on the field before the game with friends dressed like Secret Service members while the Harvard Band played “Hail To The Chief.”
  • 1962: On the night before The Game, Harvard Band members parade through New Haven, Connecticut (the home of Yale) at 3 A. M., playing their instruments at full blast.
  • 2004: Yale students hand out placards to 1800 Harvard fans for a card stunt meant to spell out  “GO HARVARD.” In reality, the signs spelled out “WE SUCK.”
  • 2006: MIT students somehow manage to replace the iconic “VE-RI-TAS” on the Harvard Stadium Scoreboard with the phrase “HU-GE-EGO”.

So, since we alreay looked at the Harvard two months ago, today we have to make a Yale. Since the Harvard was essentially a twist on the Manhattan, it’s fitting that the Yale is a reworking of the Martini. Basically, take a simple Martini and add blue curacao and bitters. Yale’s school color is blue, so it’s fitting its drink has a blue hue.

Yale

  • 1 1/2 ounces Gin
  • 1/2 ounce Dry Vermouth
  • 1 teaspoon Blue Curacao
  • 1 dash Bitters

Stir with ice and then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Tomorrow: “Come on babe, why don’t we paint the town…”

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