Mayor declares Saturday Dayton Triangles Day

100 years ago Dayton Triangles beat Columbus Panhandles in first NFL game

A century ago, the first NFL game kicked off at Dayton’s Triangle Park on Oct. 3, 1920.

The Dayton Triangles defeated the Columbus Panhandles 14-0 in the first game of the American Professional Football Association, the league that would become the National Football League.

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Mayor Nan Whaley, Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther, CEO of Dayton History Brady Kress and Dayton NFL legend Keith Byars gathered at Triangle Park Saturday to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the game. Due to COVID-19, the event was not open to the public and was much smaller than the organizers said they would have liked it to be. Whaley said pre-coronavirus, she had hoped to celebrate the day with a music and food for the public to mark the occasion.

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“Now the NFL’s battle of Ohio is between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals,” Kress said. “But 100 years ago today, the first battle of Ohio took place between the Dayton Triangles and the Columbus Panhandles.”

"It was a different game then,” Kress said. Each player was paid about $50 and fans paid about $1.75 to get in. Most of the fans would have stood on the sidelines, moving around as the plays did and eating or drinking whatever they brought with them since there was no concessions stand.

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“The world saw Louie Partlow of Dayton score the very first touchdown of the NFL,” Kress said. “And in later games, Triangle fans would see the likes of the great Jim Thorpe (of the Canton Bulldogs) and Red Grange (of the Chicago Bears) play on this field.”

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Credit: Jordan Laird

Credit: Jordan Laird

At the short ceremony, Whaley presented Kress with a proclamation declaring Saturday Dayton Triangles Day “for the 100th anniversary and the win.”

“This state all throughout it has a love and appreciation for the game that started professionally right here,” Whaley said.

Whaley also presented Ginther with a commemorative football signed by Byars, Whaley and Ginther. Ginther joked that Whaley made sure to remind him that Dayton beat Columbus by placing the score on the football and by wearing a Dayton Triangles sweatshirt with the score emblazoned across the back.

Byars, a Dayton native who played for the Ohio State Buckeyes before playing in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles, said, “what I love about history and about playing football is it brings us together, brings communities together.”

Dayton Triangles apparel is now for sale at the Carillon Historical Park Museum Store.

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