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The Boston Globe

Sports

Remembering the first high school football games

The first games were played in Boston 150 years ago — the start of a great American tradition that endures today

On this late October day, there was no need for heavy overcoats, and no stylish fedoras. As the descendants of the Oneida Football Club gathered on Boston Common, it hardly looked like a reunion of the nation’s first high school football team. Among the gathering of six were an engineer, a chemist, and even a field hockey coach. Football brought their ancestors together 150 years ago. An e-mail did the same in 2012.

Just a few steps from Frog Pond, tourists walk by the monument to the Oneida boys, which was dedicated in 1925 in a ceremony attended by six of the seven surviving team members. The team began play in 1862, in the middle of the Civil War. Today, in the oldest city park in the country — 50 acres filled with majestic bronze statues — few notice the 6-foot, shoulder-width marble tablet that looks like an oversized cemetery headstone.

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