Today is the 100 year anniversary of the first game played by the University of Hawaii. Why is this news of importance to a blog that focuses on Punahou 74 and Punahou related items of interest? It’s because the game was played at Punahou, on Alexander Field to be exact.
The University (then known as the College of Hawaii) beat McKinley in its first game 6-5. The game was played before a crowd of 2,500 at Punahou School (then known as Oahu College) and cost “two bits,” or twenty-five cents, to attend.
The Honolulu Advertiser‘s account of the game read as follows:
The Interscholastic football series opened with a big whoop at Alexander Field yesterday afternoon. It was the real old American kind of football with all the trimmings. There were college and school yells, regular rooting squads, tons of charming girls, all showing the colors of the team they championed, and the most expert cussing of the officials from the sidelines.
Why was the game played on Alexander Field? First, the college’s “Fighting Deans” played high school, club, and military teams for the first seven seasons. Second, because the location was far superior to any in town.
Before the field was built, Punahou football games had been held at either Makiki Field or at Chamberlain Field (Lower Field), which scarcely provided room for the players themselves. This situation was changed when Mrs. S. T. Alexander came forward with a gift of $10,500 to cover the cost of building a first-class playing field.
In his Punahou School Alumni Association Oral History, William Patterson Alexander describes how the field came to be built:
I think that most people don’t give my father (Arthur Chambers Alexander) the credit that he deserves in regard to Alexander Field. We had–the lower campus was the only athletic field we had, and, of course, there are many sports and Punahou was growing and it was altogether too small and the present Alexander Field was a cow pasture and the dairy was farther over towards McKinley Street. And my father went to his uncle (Samuel T. Alexander) who had lived in California and was a partner in Alexander and Baldwin, sugar factors, and they had benefited by the sugar boom, and great uncle to me that would be. He was very generous. And he was making gifts and my father was able to get him interested in an athletic field so we have the athletic field to the present day, named for Samuel T. Alexander. And my father did the engineering work in cutting down the hillside to make the field and the track and everything. And I can remember as a boy the joy and fun that my father had in providing this great need of an athletic field for Punahou and it worked out very successfully.
Alexander Field was formally dedicated in October, 1908. In addition to innumerable athletic events, it was the site for Punahou’s 75th and 100th anniversary pageants.
For more information about the first UH football game, please see the following web pages:
1909 ‘Hot scrap’ against McKinley started it, Honolulu Advertiser
A Football Centennial, Malamalama