Did the Chicago Bears NFL Football team get its start in Hammond, Indiana?

Hammond  Pro's   Football

Hammond, Indiana was home to the Hammond Pros football team, one of the very first organized football teams in America.
This picture is the Fritz Pollard team of 1933. Pollard is pictured standing at the far right.


The Pros were established by Paul Parduhn and Dr. Alva Young who was a boxing promoter, owner of a racing stable and a doctor and trainer for a semi-pro football team operated by the Hammond Clabby Athletic Association from 1915-17. It's believed that Dr. Young was part owner of the team. Dr. Young presided over a new team known as the "Hammond All-Stars," played against many of the teams that would become the backbone of the American Professional Football Association that year (including the Racine Cardinals, Detroit Heralds, Rock Island Independents, Minneapolis Marines, Cleveland Tigers, Canton Bulldogs, and Toledo Maroons), and went to the meeting in Canton, Ohio at which the APFA was formed in 1920. (It is said that the game between Hammond and Canton, which drew between 10,000 and 12,000 spectators, was the game that convinced team owners that a league would be viable.)

In 1919, the team starred George Halas at wide receiver; Halas left for the Decatur Staleys -- the future Chicago Bears -- the next year and remained with that franchise as a player, coach and owner until his death in 1983. The Hammond Pros played most of its games in Chicago's Cub Park, which is now known as Wrigley Field. Despite the name, the Pros were never really more than a semi-pro team. Most of the players were locals who had full-time jobs and couldn't practice much, so Hammond was simply no match for most other NFL teams. It also didn't help that the Pros played most of their games on the road because Hammond lacked a field with any kind of seating capacity. Nevertheless, Young kept the team going in the NFL for seven years, during which they held a combined record of 5 wins, 26 losses, and 4 ties. They managed to reach .500 only once, with a 2-2-record in 1924. Young might have kept it going even longer, but after winning the 1926 battle with the American Football League, the NFL decided to scale down to 12 teams, getting rid of many of the smaller franchises, including the Pros. (Source: Wikipedia)

Of the nine African-American players in the league during those years, six played for the Pros, including the first African-American head coach in the NFL, Fritz Pollard.



George Halas, owner of the Chicago Bears played for the Hammond Pro's Football Team in 1919





It is interesting to note that George Halas, owner of the Chicago Bears NFL football team, played for the Hammond Pros in 1919 before leaving for the Staley, Illinois, football team in 1920, and eventually to the ownership of the Chicago Bears. He was paid $75 per game which made the Hammond team a semi-pro football squad.

George Halas:

1919 - Played for Hammond PROS. also known as the Hammond All Stars.
1920 - Played for Decatur, IL "Staley"
1922 - Moved team to Chicago, renamed the Chicago Bears.















George Halas - 1919



Hammond's Fritz Pollard
First African-American head coach in NFL history.


Visit Hohman Avenue - Hammond, Indiana

  1890   1900   1920   1930   1940   1950   1960   2010

These images and the web pages are maintained by Richard Barnes, HHS'59.

Visit us for more pictures and history of Hammond, Indiana at
email us at: