New Year's! Shriners! Football!
January 08, 2019
Since 1925, the Shriners - one of the appendant orders in Freemasonry - have sponsored an annual all-star East-West Shrine football game. Two teams of senior-year football players, one comprised of players from colleges in the Eastern U.S. and the other with players from the West, meet in January to compete. Pictured here is the cover for the 1948 program for the game that was played on New Year's Day at San Francisco's Kezar Stadium (the first home stadium to both the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders).
Cartoonist Wiley Smith (1906-1994) illustrated the 1948 cover in a whimsical style reminiscent of his “Football Follies” comic. The cover depicts two smiling football players representing the West and East teams, as well as a fez-wearing Shriner handing off the football to a young boy wearing a leg brace, who has tossed his crutch aside.
Shriners Hospitals started providing free care to children with neuromusculoskeletal disabilities in 1922 when they opened their first hospital in Shreveport, Louisiana. Starting in 1962 they expanded services to also treat children with burn injuries and then broadened their services again in 1978 to treat children with spinal cord injuries. The East-West Shrine Game is still around today and benefits the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Players from both teams visit a local Shriners hospital and meet with patients during the week leading up to the game.
Up until 1986, the East-West Shrine game was played on or around January 1. Because of the schedule of various Bowl games in early January, the date was moved up later, to take place after the bowl games are done. Up until 2005, the game was played in the San Francisco Bay area. In 2006, the game moved to Texas and then again in 2010 to Florida where it is played today. This year's game - the 94th - takes place on Saturday, January 19, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
But what about that 1948 game? The East won, 40-9. You can view the roster here.
This program and one from the 1943 East-West game are on view in the Van Gorden-Williams Library & Archives reading room through June 1, 2019.
Souvenir Program for Shriner’s East-West All-Star Football Game, 1948
Probably San Francisco, California
Museum Purchase, MA 110.003