The Dayton Triangles: What to know about the first NFL game in Dayton

The very first game of what is now known as the NFL was played in Dayton on Oct. 3, 1920, in Triangle Park.

The Dayton Triangles defeated the Columbus Panhandles 14-0.

Managed by Carl Storck, the Triangles were made up of weekend players, like most of the early teams.

A story in the morning newspaper at the time touted the gridiron skills of the hometown team before the game: “Everyone knows that the passing game is one of the strong points of the Triangle team.

But “the Triangles do not need to rely on the passing game alone,” the story went on, “for they have backs who can circle ends and they have Louie Partlow, the demon plunger, who can puncture most any line with his terrific smashes.”

Lou Partlow did in fact score the Triangles’ first touchdown on a 10-yard run he’d set up with an earlier 35-yard jaunt. Later, Frank Bacon returned a punt 65-yards for the game’s other touchdown. George “Hobby” Kinderdine kicked the two extra points.

A reporter wrote the next day: “The all-round work of the Triangles was excellent. The backfield showed exceptional power, the line held on almost every play and the mixture of open and plunging tactics was of the late November variety. Particularly pleasing was the work of the new men in the lineup.”

Triangle players were each paid about $50 for playing that first game. Admission to the game was $1.75.

The 4,000 spectators at Triangle Park were said to be the largest crowd the city had ever seen for an opening game of the season.

The Triangles went on to finish 5-2-2, good for sixth in the first American Professional Football Association standings.

Who were the Triangles?

The Dayton Triangles, a charter member of the National Football League, formed in 1916 and disbanded after a 0-6 season in 1929.

The Triangles were rooted in the St. Mary’s Cadets, a basketball team at St. Mary’s College, now the University of Dayton. Cadet members started a football team when they graduated in 1912.

The team changed its name to the Dayton Gym Cadets by 1915 and were playing as the Triangles by 1916.

During their first year as the Triangles, the team went 9-1, besting squads from Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit and Toledo.

The APFA becomes the NFL

In 1920 the Dayton Triangle, Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Decatur Staleys, Racine (Chicago) Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, Hammond Pros, Massillon Tigers, Muncie Flyers, Rock Island Independents and Rochester Jeffersons formed a league called the American Professional Football Association.

Credit: Dayton Sports History Committee

Credit: Dayton Sports History Committee

Soon after, the Buffalo All-Americans, Chicago Tigers, Columbus Panhandles and Detroit Heralds joined the league.

In 1922, after two seasons, the APFA was renamed the National Football League.

End of an era

After three decent years, the Triangles began to lose players to richer teams.

While other teams started recruiting better players from outside their regions, Dayton stuck with local players. This resulted in the team’s decline and 0-6 record in 1929.

A New York syndicate lead by John Dwyer bought the Dayton Triangles on July 12, 1930, and moved the franchise to Brooklyn.

The team was renamed the Brooklyn Dodgers. That team later became the Brooklyn Tigers.

The present-day Indianapolis Colts can trace their ancestry to the original Dayton Triangles. Although many relocations, name changes and thrilling NFL games have transpired since then,