This final episode of the podcast explores the impact that National Football League original team the Dayton Triangles and its members had on sports and the local community.
In this episode, I stated that a piece of the Dayton Triangles survived in the modern-day Indianapolis Colts. That assertion was based on research performed by Bob Carroll and documented in a publication of the Professional Football Researchers Association. Subsequently, Larry Schmitt has revisited the history and concluded that the Triangles’ legacy ended with the Houston Texans in 1952. Schmitt’s interview with Pigskin Dispatch discussing this can be found here.
On Thursday, November 27, 1941, a group of middle-aged men gathered at the Miami Valley Hunt and Polo Club in Dayton, Ohio to eat, drink, be merry and reminisce about glory days gone by. The host for the occasion was local financier Nelson Talbott, better known to his friends as “Bud.” The guest of honor that night was Carl Storck, known to most in attendance as “Scummy.” The occasion was the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Dayton Triangles in 1916.
It seems unlikely that the men knew their celebration was taking place in the shadow of catastrophe. Within two weeks of this happy occasion, Imperial forces of Japan would pull off a surprise attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawai’i. The attack would force the United States of America into a war whose destructive effect and death toll would dwarf those of the “Great War” that these men remembered from their younger days, and in which many of them fought. Talbott, who served as a captain and major in the First World War, would become an administrator in the Army Air Force Materiel Command. The military eventually recalled him to active duty, commissioning him as Lieutenant Colonel Talbott.
That November night, though, was for the banquet and for remembering the Triangles. It was a closed, “members only” meeting with two exceptions: photographer Freddie Albert who took a group photo of the men in attendance, and young “Si” Burick, Dayton Daily News sports editor who documented the proceedings for his newspaper.
For Carl Storck, who had served the club in every capacity, it must have been a welcome respite from the events of a terrible year, one that saw him lose his job as president of the National Football League, the Dayton Wings baseball team in which he was heavily invested and his health. When his former teammates surprised him with a gold football trophy, however, Storck’s thoughts were not for himself. His only regret, Storck said, was that “Mac” could not be there for the occasion. Everyone present knew he was referring to Forrest Burleigh MacNab, who had played a key role in creating both the team and Triangle Park, and who had been taken from them so long before his time.
In all, nearly two dozen of the men who had been part of those early years attended that evening. Al Mahrt, who served as toastmaster for the after dinner festivities, made the trip from Chillicothe where he was employed as comptroller at Mead Paper Company. Dutch Thiele, Lee Fenner and Dave Reese were there, as were Lou Partlow and Babe Zimmerman. George “Hobby” Kinderdine, the only other man besides Storck who had been with the Triangles for their entire history, was present. George’s brother Harry was there as well. “Hobby” was working at General Motors, while “Shine” had followed their father James into law enforcement and was a deputy with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department.
Former linemen Ed Sauer, Glenn Tidd and Russ Hathaway were there. So was Mike Redelle, who had been team manager at the beginning and then the end of their run. It seemed as though the whole gang had made it that evening.
There was one notable absence, though.
The ever mercurial Norb Sacksteder was tied up in Washington, where he was busy working as secretary to Dayton-area Congressman Greg Holbrook. Over the years after his retirement from pro football, Sacksteder had been in the dry cleaning business, served alongside Harry Kinderdine as a sheriff’s deputy and administered the 1940 United States census for the Dayton region. Norb’s brother Hugo, among the former Triangles who had been an original Saint Mary’s Cadet along with Norb, Al Mahrt and Babe Zimmerman, did make it that night. The men had such a wonderful time that they resolved to make it an annual event, and this was the first of many Triangles reunions over the years.
Interestingly, a piece of the Dayton Triangles still arguably exists in the National Football League, though the league itself does not acknowledge it officially. Writer Bob Carroll did the research to show how this happened. Recall that in 1930 Carl Storck sold the Triangles franchise to Bill Dwyer, who moved the team to Brooklyn and renamed it the Dodgers. Later, Dan Topping (who incidentally had a conflict with Storck in 1940) bought the team.
By the early forties, the Dodgers had fallen on hard times. As part of an effort to turn the team around, Topping renamed them the Tigers. This didn’t help, and by 1945, the Brooklyn franchise had merged into the Boston Yanks. Through a convoluted process, Carroll eventually traced the remains of the Boston/Brooklyn franchise through two professional leagues (the NFL and All-American Football Conference) and two versions of the Baltimore Colts, the second of which eventually moved to Indianapolis and still plays in the league. Thus, Carroll argues, there’s a little triangle in the Indy horseshoe.
As for the players and the unsung heroes, one by one they crossed the “final goal line.”
Father William O’Maley, who had originally organized the Saint Mary’s Cadets, members of which formed the nucleus of NFL original team the Dayton Triangles, moved on to Montana, where he served for many years around Polson and Butte. In Polson, O’Maley played a key role in founding the area’s first regional hospital, Hotel Dieu, which he served as chaplain for many years. Father O’Maley passed away March 6, 1956 at the age of 77.
Harry Solimano, the Saint Mary’s Cadets’ first coach and later mentor, worked for several years as an unpaid volunteer with the Montgomery County (Ohio) Juvenile Court. Working in that capacity, he helped save several young people from lives of crime. Solimano later practiced law in Dayton until his retirement around 1968, and remained active in local sports and politics. He was a charter member of the University of Dayton Athletic Hall of Fame. Harry Solimano passed away on Halloween 1972 at the age of 83.
Lou Partlow, running back, who scored the first NFL touchdown, continued to play independent football into the 1930s. He worked at Frigidaire and lived quietly, eventually retiring to California, where he died in 1982 at the age of 88.
George “Hobby” Kinderdine, center, who kicked the first NFL extra point, was the only man to play for the Dayton Triangles in every season of the team’s history. George later worked as a general supervisor at Delco (no longer the Delco) and served in the recreation department for the city of Miamisburg. He passed away June 22, 1967 at the age of 72.
George’s brother Harry “Shine” Kinderdine won election as Sheriff of Montgomery County, Ohio in 1944. He served in that capacity until February 17, 1947, when he suffered a fatal heart attack at his home. Sheriff Kinderdine was 54 years old.
Francis Bacon, running back, who scored Dayton’s second touchdown in the first NFL game in 1920, went on to hold several positions in business and government, including with the State of Ohio board of liquor control. For more than three decades, Bacon served as a game official in football, baseball and basketball. He was eventually elected to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Francis Bacon died on August 31, 1977 at the age of 83.
Russell Grant Hathaway, lineman and kicker, owned and operated a grocery store in Dayton for many years. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his native Indiana in 1980. Hathaway died August 19, 1988 at the age of 92. At the time of his death, Russell Hathaway was the oldest living former NFL player.
Walter Tin Kit “Sneeze” Achiu, running back and the first Hawaiian and American of Asian descent to play in the National Football League, wrestled professionally after his football career, then moved to Oregon and worked in the cement business before retiring. He was inducted into the University of Dayton athletic Hall of Fame in 1974. Achiu died March 21, 1989 at his home in Eugene, Oregon at age 86.
Lafayette “Hack” Abbott, quarterback and coach, owned a service station in Dayton. He died January 22, 1965 at the age of 69.
Glenn Tidd, lineman, who played on the first Triangles team in 1916 and first NFL team in 1920, worked for the Hobart Manufacturing Company. He died in October 1970 at age 76.
Carl L. “Dutch” Thiele, end, founded and operated Thiele Motor Sales in Dayton for many years. He served as president of the Dayton Y Athletic Club. He is enshrined in the Dennison University athletic Hall of Fame. Thiele died July 11, 1986. He was 93 years old.
Lee Fenner, end, worked for General Motors Corporation for more than three decades, retiring from his position as an inspector at the Inland Manufacturing Division on January 1, 1964. He died of a heart attack on March 7 of that year at the age of 66.
Louis “Lou” Mahrt, quarterback and coach, was a practicing attorney in Dayton for many years after his retirement from football. He was inducted into the University of Dayton athletic Hall of Fame as part of its charter class. Lou Mahrt died August 7, 1982 at the age of 78.
Edward A. “Eddie” Sauer, lineman, also played for Akron, Canton and Pottsville in the early NFL. He worked as an official at football games at all levels until 1938. His business career spanned stints in the automotive, energy, and financial services industries, and as manager of his family’s trust. He is enshrined in the Hall of Fame at his alma mater, Miami University at Oxford, Ohio. Ed Sauer died February 15, 1980 at age 81.
Dr. David “Dave” Reese, end, stayed active in the sports arena, serving as an official in basketball and football at all levels, including the National Football League for nearly 30 years. Following his retirement from officiating, Reese became the first commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. He is credited with influencing the careers of Woody Hayes and Sid Gillman, among others. Reese, known in his later years as “Uncle Dave,” was a charter member of the Hall of Fame at Dennison University, his alma mater. Dave Reese passed away in his sleep on June 26, 1978 at the age of 85. Woody Hayes, then head coach for the Ohio State University football team, served as a pallbearer at Reese’s funeral.
Francis Michael “Mike” Redelle, first and last business manager for the Triangles, supervised operations at Triangle Park for a total of 26 years. He later managed the McCook Bowl and another bowling alley, then went into sales with the Arthur Beerman Realty Company. Mike Redelle died of a heart attack on August 27, 1950 at age 62.
Carl Louis Harrell Storck, running back, coach, business manager, franchise owner and former president of the National Football League, never fully recovered from the heartbreak of 1941. He was forced to retire from General Motors due to failing health in 1942. By 1945, Storck entered a nursing home, where he spent the remainder of his life. Carl Storck died March 13, 1950 at the age of 57.
Nelson Strobridge “Bud” Talbott, first Triangles coach, continued to work on behalf of his family’s business interests, holding down several executive positions. His long-time love of aviation led him to take a seat on the board of directors of TWA. When the Korean War broke out, Talbott again served his country, eventually retiring from the United States Air Force with the rank of brigadier general in June 1952. Within a month after his retirement, on July 6, Talbott suffered a fatal heart attack at the family home on Runnymede Road. The circumstances of Talbott’s death were eerily similar to those of his father, Colonel Harold E. Talbott; both men died suddenly at the age of 60.
George “Babe” Zimmerman, running back, original Saint Mary’s Cadet and Dayton Triangles player, worked many years for the Wayne Furniture Company, He fathered two sons, George Jr. and Jack, who became noted local amateur golfers. Zimmerman passed away August 11, 1955 after a long illness at age 61.
Hugh “Hugo” Sacksteder, running back and original Saint Mary’s Cadet and Dayton Triangles player, was a lifelong resident of Dayton. He served for many years as deputy clerk for automobile registration in the Montgomery County courthouse. Hugh died suddenly on Christmas Eve 1953 at the age of 59.
Norbert Nichols Sacksteder, running back, original Saint Mary’s Cadet and Dayton Triangles player and NFL champion with the 1922 Canton Bulldogs, came home from Washington and led Dayton’s regional conservation effort during the Second World War. Following another brief stint in Washington after the war, Sacksteder returned to Dayton, eventually settling into a career in business. He retired to Florida in 1960, staying busy as a chaplain in the St. Petersburg community. Norb passed away in Florida on June 19, 1982. He was 92 years old. Sacksteder is a nominee for the National Football League’s centennial Hall of Fame class of 2020.
Alphonse Herman “Al” Mahrt, quarterback and coach, eventually ascended to the position of vice president at Mead Corporation and was a member of Mead’s board of directors. He was a charter member of the University of Dayton athletic Hall of Fame, and the university honored him as a Distinguished Alumnus in 1968. Mahrt retired as a Mead officer in 1959, but continued as an executive at two plants in Georgia and on the Mead board. He retired from the board in 1967 and passed away at his adopted hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio on June 24, 1970 at age 76. As of 2019, the WestRock paper and lumber products manufacturing facility near Cottonton, Alabama still bears his name.