The Pro Football Hall of Fame's
c.1895 Spalding No. 25 Ear Protector
Harry Mason's c. 1900-1902 Spalding No. 60
At the end of my visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jason Aikens located the log from the day when Julian Mason donated his father's uniform to the Hall. Included in the list was a second damaged helmet, a circa 1900-1902 Spalding No. 60 with a single detached ear flap, which Jason brought out for me to photograph.
Why would a player that owned a c.1900 helmet wear an older c.1895 ear protector in a game in 1902? After considerable research, I discovered what I believe to be an image of Mason holding his Spalding No. 60 double crown head harness in a photograph of his 1901 University of Buffalo football team.
1901 University of Buffalo Football Team, courtesy University Archives, The University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. Harry Mason not identified
While by no means definitive proof, I believe that the photo confirms that Mason was wearing the No. 60 in 1901 and that if he wore a helmet in the World Series of Football in 1902, it was most likely his Spalding No. 60 double crown head harness and not the older model Spalding No. 25 ear protector. The No. 60 provided far superior head protection, particularly for the head on impacts a fullback could expect in a pro football game in 1902. It's also possible that Mason injured one or both of his ears in 1902 and wore the older model ear protector in the World Series, but it's more likely that the No. 25 is a relic from Mason's earlier gridiron exploits.
Enlargement of 1901 University of Buffalo football team photo showing player believed to be Mason with Spalding No. 60 head harness
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When I first saw photos of the Hall's Mason uniform display, I was troubled by its equipment combination. While the union suit and nose mask were used by players during the early 1900's, the No. 25 was retired by Spalding in 1896, 6 years prior to the World Series tournament. By 1896, the No. 25 had been replaced by padded 4-strap head harnesses. By 1899, 4-straps began losing favor with players, who instead chose aviator-style or sole leather helmets like the Spalding No. 50 Improved Head Harness and the No. 60 Double Crown Head Harness.
Did Mason Wear the No. 25 in the 1902 World Series of Football?