Watertown and All-Syracuse
In September 1902, Mason signed on to play fullback for the Watertown Red and Black in upstate New York. The Syracuse Post Standard heralded Mason's arrival, stating that the 6'-2" and 193 pound fullback had previously played with the University of Cincinnati, the University of Buffalo, and the Elmira Athletic Association. If the listing was intended to be chronological, the article suggests that Mason may have played for the University of Cincinnati in 1900, prior to his 1901 season with the University of Buffalo. As was the case at Buffalo, there is no mention of Mason as a student or footballer in The Cincinnatian, the University of Cincinnati's yearbook, between 1896 and 1902.
From Watertown to Syracuse
The Post Standard, Syracuse, N.Y. September 20, 1902
After capping a stellar 1902 season by defeating their chief rival, the All-Syracuse Athletic Association, the Watertown Red and Black crowned themselves "Champions of the World," despite losing to the Philadelphia Athletics 11 to 5 that October. (Coffin Corner, 1980). Eager not to have that self-proclaimed title challenged, Watertown declined O'Rourke's invitation to play in the World Series of Football in December. When All-Syracuse agreed to play in the tournament, Draper, Bottger, and Mason, jumped teams and filled out Syracuse's backfield. Billed by the Syracuse Post Standard as "One of the Greatest Ever Organized in Football History," the "All-Syracuse" starting eleven only included 2 or 3 players from Syracuse.

When the Watertown trio met All-New York in the first game of the World Series, they competed against some familiar foes. The left tackle Wallace and the fullback Davidson, formerly key contributors in the Athletics victory over Watertown two months prior, were now starting for New York. This time however, the tables turned. In front of an estimated 3,000 spectators, All-Syracuse broke through with a touchdown by Billy Bottger in the second half and defeated New York 5-0 in the opening game. Syracuse cruised to the championship by beating two overmatched opponents, the Knickerbocker Athletic Club of N.Y. (36-0) and the Orange Athletic Club of N.J. (36-0).

There's no record of a parade or celebration welcoming the "champions" back to Syracuse. In fact, it's doubtful that the majority of the players returned to Syracuse at all since most were brought in from other teams and other towns. Parades and accolades probably weren't the All-Syracuse eleven's goal. In 1927, Pop Warner revealed that he and the other players received the impressive sum of $300 each for winning the Series.
1900 University of Cincinnati Football Team, photo courtesy of University of Cincinnati Archives and Rare Books Library
Mason played one more season for Watertown in 1903. The Red and Black competed in O'Rourke's World Series in 1903 and once again annointed themselves "Champions of the World" - despite losing the tournament to the Franklin All-Stars. The Red and Black's quarterback for 1903? None other than the University of Buffalo infamous player and coach J.B. "Turk" Gordon.

After playing for five different teams over two years, all records of Harry Mason playing competitive football stop in 1903. By 1906, Harry was listed as a machinist back in Warren, Pennsylvania. He got married and shortly thereafter his wife, Margaret, gave birth to their only child, Julian, in 1910. Through the 1910's, 1920's and early 1930's, Harry was employed as a machinist for the auto industry in Buffalo N.Y. By the late 1930's his occupation was listed as a maintenance man, and, in October, 1945 he passed away at the age of 78.
After the World Series
Syracuse Post Standard, December 28, 1902
When Julian Mason donated his father's uniform to the Hall of Fame in the 1980's, he also donated two football helmets, a c.1895 Spalding No. 25 Ear Protector and a c.1900 Spalding No. 60 Double Crown Head Harness. Mason's double crown head harness, pictured below, bears the scars of many gridiron battles from his playing career. The 1902 Iris, the yearbook for the University of Buffalo, lists the names of thirteen players on the 1901 football team, but the varsity team photo shows a total of nineteen. In the photo one young man with distinct Dutch features is holding a No. 60 harness, the same model owned by Mason.
Epilogue - Mason Rediscovered?
The 1901 Cincinnatian, the University of Cincinnati yearbook, includes a photo of the 1900 Varsity Football team. Of all the players in the photo, one in particular fits the contemporary description of Mason perfectly; a 6'-2" 193 lb man of Dutch descent.
It is possible that the two images are of different men, but the facial similarities are uncanny. Contemporary newspaper accounts place Mason at each school in the year the photos were taken and Mason owned the same model helmet held by the player from Buffalo in a time when few players wore head protection. It is highly probable that these photos are of Harry Mason in the years prior to his participation in the World Series of Football.
Of all the players enshrined in the exhibits of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Harry Mason likely had the shortest and least celebrated career. He was a working-class journeyman athlete willing to play football to the extent that his body and the financial reward permitted. He had no contract or union to protect him in case of injury, and despite playing for two different universities, it's unlikely that either ever offered him an education.

The heroes of the Hall will live in the hearts and minds of football fans for generations to come for their gridiron exploits, victories, and records. But for today, here's to Harry Mason and the thousands of other pioneering professionals who never achieved fame or fortune but will forever represent the roots of American pro football.
Mason's Place in the Hall
Enlargement of 1901 University of Buffalo football team photo showing player with Spalding No. 60 head harness
Harry Mason's c.1900 Spalding No. 60 head harness
1900 University of Cincinnati Football Team, photo courtesy of University of Cincinnati Archives and Rare Books Library
Unidentified Player, 1900 Cincinnati Football Team
Unidentified Player, 1901 Buffalo Football Team

The First Professionals

Chris Hornung
September 19, 2015
Harry Mason's Place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Page 2
Questions or comments? Please email me at:
Aikens, Jason. Collections Curator, Pro Football Hall of Fame. Personal interview. 31 Aug. 2015.

Peterson, Robert. "Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football" New York: Oxford UP, 1997. Print.

"The First Football World Series: Experiment in the Garden." THE COFFIN CORNER Vol 2 (1980): 1-8. Pro Football Researchers. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.

Hollander, Scott. "1898 Buffalo Football." UB Sports History. University at Buffalo Libraries, 10 Oct. 2012. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.

"1902 The Cincinnatian [Yearbooks (University of Cincinnati, Kentucky)] at the Virtual Library of The Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County." University of Cincinnati, n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2015.
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