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Kansas State athletics, 1897-98: more games, fewer wins

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Expanding the schedules was necessary, but costly.

The 1897 Washburn football team, which whipped the good guys.
The 1897 Washburn football team, which whipped the good guys.
unknown (public domain)

With its first season of official existence in the books, the Aggies of Kansas State Agricultural College moved forward full of optimism. The football team doubled the number of games on the schedule, while the baseball team added a game.

If that was intended to result in more chances to celebrate, then it was a failure.

The 1897 football team took the field under the tutelage of Arnold W. Ehrsam, the first paid coach in KSAC history. Ehrsam was the son of J.B. Ehrsam, who owned a manufactory in Enterprise. Arnold, referred to as “A.W.” in K-State records, passed away in 1941 at the age of 65; not much else is known about him.

Apparently, in 1897 the scoring rules had reverted to the old style; in the season opener on November 1, the Aggies defeated Chapman High School 4-0. (For those who don’t know, Chapman is just west of Junction City.) A week later, Washburn came to visit and won by the same score. The Aggies again hosted Chapman on an undetermined date, most likely the 15th, and fought the visitors to a scoreless tie.

Then, on the 20th, the Aggies got thrashed. In their only road game of the season, KSAC went to Topeka to meet Washburn again. They were routed 36-0 to end the regular season.

The 1-2-1 record wasn’t too much worse than going 1-1 the previous year, but if one limits official records to games against actual colleges it means that KSAC had now played two years of official football and sported an all-time record of 0-2.

For the baseball squad, things were even worse. Only twice more before Oklahoma State’s arrival in 1957 turned the Big Seven into the Big Eight would K-State post a record this dismal. Eight times they took the diamond; only twice did they experience the thrill of victory. The coach is unknown, and would remain unknown until 1904 when K-State’s first sports legend would arrive on the scene. But that’s a story for later.