Gus Hornsby’s Gamble

The Life of Chicago Football’s Founder Turned Fugitive


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About the Book

In the 1870s, Gus Hornsby spread the game of American football around the world like an evangelist and helped establish it in the U.S. heartland. Hornsby seemed destined for greatness as a journalist, inventor, explorer and entrepreneur. His arrogance, greed and an intractable gambling addiction, however, drove him to criminality and cast him into obscurity. But this public ruin led to his greatest accomplishment in prison: personal redemption.
Surprisingly, Hornsby’s meteoric rise and fall intersected with towering influencers of the time, including the women and men who would pioneer the “first-wave” feminist movement in the United States. This book explores their unexpected connections and interweaves their stories—along with details of the first American football game in the Midwest—to reveal elements of a pivotal moment in American history, both in feminism and sports. More than a biography of a person, it is a story about America—brash, imaginative and seemingly limitless in resources and creativity, but overly self-assured and wildly reckless.

About the Author(s)

Larry LaTourette works as a consumer insights and marketing analytics expert. For more than twenty years, he has pursued historical research, exploring the roots of American football and the people who brought it to us. He lives in the Chicago area.

Bibliographic Details

Larry LaTourette
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 234
Bibliographic Info: 36 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9118-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4897-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface 1
Introduction: A Gambler at the Rubicon 5
Part One: The Football 9
Game Day, 6:30 a.m. 10
Chapter 1. 1846: India 15
Game Day, 9:00 a.m. 23
Chapter 2. 1866: Madras 29
Game Day: A Glimpse of Evanston, Illinois, at High Noon 40
Chapter 3. 1873: America 46
Game Day, 1:00 p.m. 54
Chapter 4. 1875: Chicago 63
Game Day, 2:00 p.m. 71
Chapter 5. 1876: Chicago 78
Part Two: The Fraud 87
Game Day, 3:05 p.m. 88
Chapter 6. 1882: St. Paul 91
Game Day, 3:10 p.m. 101
Chapter 7. 1888: Chicago 104
Game Day, 3:25 p.m. 113
Chapter 8. 1892: St. Paul 116
Game Day, 3:30 p.m. 125
Chapter 9. 1893: Hastings 132
Game Day, 3:45 p.m. 138
Chapter 10. 1893: Stillwater 140
Game Day, 3:55 p.m. 151
Chapter 11. 1895: St. Paul 153
Game Day, 4:05 p.m. 158
Chapter 12. The Precipice of the American Century 163
Game Day, 5:30 p.m. 178
Chapter 13. 1926: Evanston 181
Game Day, Night 189
Chicago Foot-Ball Club : List of Known Members, 1875–1878 193
Chapter Notes 195
Bibliography 214
Index 219