One of the world’s most famous athletic venues will host the 150th meeting of “The Rivalry,” as the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks will battle the Lafayette College Leopards at Yankee Stadium in New York on Nov. 22, 2014.
The 150th meeting of Lehigh-Lafayette at Yankee Stadium is also one of the first events devoted to Lehigh University’s sesquicentennial celebration, occurring during the 2015-16 academic year. Earlier this year, Lehigh President Alice P. Gast announced a steering committee
to oversee planning for the sesquicentennial celebration.
College football’s most played rivalry will depart Pennsylvania for the first time in its 130-year history to compete in the 36,000-seat home of the New York Yankees. Alumni, students, faculty and staff of each institution are encouraged to join their teams for this special event.
“While we still consider this game to be a special one for our campuses and for the Lehigh Valley, we thought the milestone of the 150th game presented a unique opportunity to share more broadly our institutions, our students and student-athletes, our successful alumni and our rivalry by playing on a larger stage,” said Joe Sterrett ’76 ‘78G, the Murray H. Goodman Dean of Athletics. “The Yankee organization understands, values and embraces tradition, rivalry, and commitment to high quality. They are very excited to host our game and we all believe this will be an extraordinary experience.”
‘The Rivalry’ has been recognized by ESPN, Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times and other media outlets as one of the top competitions in college football. The first game between the schools took place in 1884, when players wore hats, not helmets. Shoulder pads didn’t exist and the ball was shaped like a melon. Lafayette, already two years into its program, trounced the then-Engineers, 50-0, on Oct. 25.
With the exception of a brief interruption in 1896, Lehigh and Lafayette have met on the gridiron at least once every year since. In the early years of the rivalry, the game was regularly played twice annually and even three times in 1891. Single games followed until World War II, when travel restrictions forced collegiate teams in 1943 and 1944 to stay close to home. Lehigh and Lafayette, merely 17 miles apart, played twice. Lafayette (76-66-5) holds a lead in the series, though Lehigh has won the last four meetings.
“This historic event will allow Lehigh and Lafayette to celebrate each institution’s quality faculty and staff, the successful alumni and the exceptional students on each campus, in addition to the student-athletes that will participate in the 150th game,” said Gast.Notable Moments
1891: Only neutral ground game (because the teams played three times that year); Lehigh won 6-2. Game was played in Wilkes-Barre.
1896: Only year the game wasn’t played due to player eligibility issues. Lafayette was co-national champs with Princeton. Lafayette running back George "Rose" Barclay would go on to invent the football helmet.
1906: The Rivalry is already seven years old when the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States is born, with Lehigh among the founding members. In 1910, the IAAUS became the NCAA.
1910: Howard R. Reiter, Lehigh head coach for two seasons, helps develop the forward pass.
1917: Lehigh wins the rivalry’s biggest rout, 78-0.
1919: Lafayette starts the longest winning streak in the series, 10 wins.
1948: Reportedly the largest crowd in the history of the rivalry, 21,000 strong, attend the game in Easton.
1980: The last shutout. There have been 52.
1989: Lehigh wins the first game held at Goodman stadium, 36-21. It’s the 125th meeting and the 100th consecutive meeting.
1991: New rules put an end to deconstruction: Fans of the winning team traditionally tore down temporary wooden goal posts, with fraternities keeping the pieces as souvenirs.
1993: The first national telecast of the game.
1995: Plays during overtime in the 1995 game won by Lehigh, 37-30, had to be run toward the end of the field with the scoreboard. The advertisements below the scoreboard provided the only light.
1996: Lehigh wins the first Internet-streamed game, 23-19, in Easton.
2004: For the first time in the 120-year history of the series, the victor advanced to the postseason via an automatic bid to the N.C.A.A. Division I-AA championship tournament.Ticket Information
Ticket information and pricing have not been finalized, but both institutions will take steps to ensure that the event is as affordable as possible for students. Packages, including tickets, will be offered that include any or all of the following: Transportation to and from the Lehigh Valley and the stadium; In-stadium tailgating before the game; hotels; and other university or college activities that are planned as part of the weekend.
Updates regarding the 150th game will be available on LehighSports.com
in the coming months, and anyone with additional questions is encouraged to contact the Lehigh Athletics Departments.
Photo by Theo Anderson