National Football League 1902

Final Standings

Pittsburgh Stars (C)42203922.500
*Philadelphia Phillies42202824.500
*Philadelphia Athletics42201738.500
National Football League 1902 [Reference: Compiled from results in 1-3]


DateHome TeamAway Team
06.12.1902Philadelphia Athletics17Philadelphia Phillies6
National Football League 1902 [Reference: 4]

Regular Season Results

DateHome TeamAway Team
18.10.1902Philadelphia Athletics6Philadelphia Phillies0
25.10.1902Philadelphia Phillies17Philadelphia Athletics0
01.11.1902Pittsburgh Stars18Philadelphia Phillies0
08.11.1902Philadelphia Athletics11Pittsburgh Stars0
22.11.1902Philadelphia Phillies11Pittsburgh Stars0
28.11.1902Pittsburgh Stars11Philadelphia Athletics0
National Football League 1902 [Reference: Compiled from results in 1-3]
Cartoon from the Philadelphia Inquirer showing the Philadelphia Athletics winning Touchdown against the Philadelphia Phillies in the first NFL Championship Game in 1902 [Reference: 4]


The first Professional Football teams were in the Western Pennsylvania Coal-Mining areas of Pittsburgh and nearby towns such as Greensburg and Latrobe from 1892 to early 20th Century.

By the time 1902 came around, however, most of the teams had vanished, leaving the Pittsburgh teams looking for newer Football pastures, and a team made up of the best players from the remaining Pittsburgh teams, soon dubbed the “Stars” by the Pittsburgh press, organised a series of matches with Philadelphia Baseball teams, the Athletics and Phillies. Some of the top Baseball stars of Pennsylvania moonlighted in this 3-team National Football League.

Although it was called the National Football League it comprised of only three Pennsylvania teams, and in the first two matches the Phillies and Athletics split their series. In fact every series was split evenly, with each team winning all its home games. The rivalry between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and between the two Philadelphia Baseball teams meant the games played were bitter.

In the last game of the season, Pittsburgh met the Athletics at home, with a win giving the Athletics a clear Championship with 3 wins and a loss. A Pittsburgh win would put them top of the League on Points Difference, as it was far superior to either Philadelphia team, and the Pittsburgh press dubbed it the Championship Game, which Pittsburgh Stars won 11-0 the saturday after Thanksgiving.

The following weekend, however, the Athletics and Phillies met in Philadelphia for a post-season game dubbed the “NFL Championship” by the hometown press, even though the two teams finished below the Stars in Points Difference in the end-of-year standings. In the end the Philadelphia Athletics won 17-6, claiming the Championship. Perhaps Pittsburgh had won the League Pennant, to use a Baseball term for the Regular Season League Champions and the Philadelphia Athletics the Championship.

Nevertheless a World Series was organised later that year featuring the top teams from New York City, New Jersey, Upstate New York and a team representing the two Philadelphia teams (Pittsburgh weren’t invited). This was the first “National Football League” and “World Series” but it only lasted one season (the NFL) and two in the case of the “World Series” and its time had not yet come. In the meantime the focus of Pro Football shifted from Western Pennsylvania to Ohio.



[1] Professional Football Researchers Association (2011) “Dave Berry and the Philadelphia Story – The Very First NFL” The Early History of Professional Football. pg. 199-208. PFRA Publications. Connecticut.


[2] Anon. (1902) Athletics win from Phillies Sunday Morning, Philadelphia Enquirer October 19, 1902. Pg. 13 [Internet] Available on the Newspaper Archive at:   [Accessed 2 September 2020]

[3] Anon. (1902) Phillies win from the Athletic Team, 17-0 in a bitter Gridiron Game Sunday Morning, Philadelphia Enquirer October 26, 1902. Pg. 11 [Internet] Available on the Newspaper Archive at:   [Accessed 2 September 2020]

[4] Anon. (1902) Athletics win Championship, beating Phillies 17-6 on Icy Gridiron Sunday Morning, Philadelphia Enquirer December 7, 1902. [Internet] Available on the Newspaper Archive at: [Accessed 2 September 2020]


Thanks to Rose McCabe, Gabriel McCloyne, Ann Hanley, Peter Lemass, Ciaran Simms, Gerry Tully, Paul Lynch, Paul Foley, Cathal Gallagher, Emerson Callender, Naomi Harte and Niamh Bohan.

About this document

Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 2 September 2020

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2020

You are free to copy this document in whole or part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Reserved.

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