Clemson Firsts

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Clemson Firsts

The first time things took place in Clemson history

  • May 2, 1888: The first meeting of the Life Trustees named in the will of Thomas Green Clemson is held under the (now-gone) oak tree on the estate at Fort Hill. A bronze tablet on a native boulder marks the spot and records minutes from that gathering. (Cook, Harriet Heffner, "John C. Calhoun - the Man", The R. L. Bryan Co., Columbia, S.C., 1965, Library of Congress Card No. 65-19779, page 11.)
  • 1889: The Trustee House, financed with funds from the fertilizer tax, is the first new building constructed on the infant campus.
  • July, 1893: The school welcomes its first incoming class of 446 cadets.
  • June 1895: Clemson's first graduate, Charles Carter Newman, son of J. S. Newman, the college's first professor of agriculture, receives his degree. He had already completed his sophomore year of studies at Auburn where his father had taught before coming to Clemson. (Bryan, Wright, "Clemson: An Informal History of the University 1889-1979", The R. L. Bryan Company, Columbia, South Carolina, 1979, ISBN 0-934870-01-2, page 51.)
  • April 24, 1896: The first intercollegiate match takes place on the parade ground, later Bowman Field, when Clemson, coached by R. T. V. Bowman, hosts Furman in a baseball game.
  • October 5, 1896: The Clemson football team practices for the first time, using a 50 yard by 200 yard field believed to have been between Tillman Hall and the Trustee House.
  • October 31, 1896: Clemson plays its first football game. In a match against Furman in Greenville, the Tigers win, 14-6. It is likely that the team rode Southern Railway passenger service to and from the game.
  • November 12, 1896: First meeting between Clemson and the South Carolina College in a football game, played on Thursday at the State Fair in Columbia. SC wins 12-6. Beginning of "Big Thursday". Rain falls on the match, also a first.
  • December 16, 1896: First Clemson students graduate, fourteen in agriculture and eighteen in mechanics.
  • November 10, 1899: The Clemson football association stands on a very weak financial basis. The organization cannot even afford to hire a coach. Walter Merritt Riggs agrees to coach the Tigers for free, and thus becomes the first football coach to return to the job after vacating the office.
  • November 22, 1899: Judge Keller's Store founded in "downtown" Clemson, such as it was in those days.
  • November 29, 1900: In John Heisman's first season as coach, Clemson faces the University of Alabama for the first time in the final game of the season, played in Birmingham, Alabama. The Tigers blank 'Bama, 35-0 to clinch the Tigers' first undefeated season, 6-0.
  • October 19, 1901: The Tigers experience their first tie football game, in a 6-6 outcome against Tennessee in Knoxville.
  • April 29, 1902: First student walk-out takes place when 69 of 74 sophomores depart campus to protest the suspension of a cadet accused of improperly taking chemistry test tubes from storage.
  • November 27, 1902: Clemson's football team plays in snow for the first time, defeating Tennessee, 11-0, in Knoxville, for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association crown.
  • November 26, 1903: Clemson plays its first bowl game, a post-season match against one-time-only opponent Cumberland (Tennessee), played in Montgomery, Alabama for the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association title. The teams battle to an 11-11 tie.
  • September 30, 1904: New Head Coach Alonzo Sheck Shealy takes over and begins drilling his team. A former football player, four years at Clemson and two at Iowa State, he remains the first and only Clemson graduate (1899) to have become head football coach.
  • November 29, 1906: The Clemson Tiger football team's first forward pass takes place during the game with John Heisman-coached Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Left End, Powell Lykes, drops back to kick, but lobs a 30-yard pass to George Warren instead. Clemson wins, 10-0. The Tigers lead the series, 5-1-1.
  • September 28, 1907: Clemson meets Gordon Institute from Barnesville, Georgia, for the first time in what is also the first Clemson football game ever scheduled in September. The Tigers win, 5-0.
  • October 1909: Five electric lights installed on the football practice fields for the first time to facilitate drills after darkness falls.
  • February 9, 1912: Clemson defeats Furman in Greenville in the Tigers' first basketball game, 46-12. In second game, also in Greenville that day, Clemson beats the Butler Guards, 78-6. The Tigers, guided by Coach Frank Dobson, go undefeated, 4-0, the only perfect Clemson hoops season. Center J. O. Erwin scores 58 points in match against Butler, still an all-time record at Clemson.
  • April 13, 1913: Doc Ezell pitches Clemson's first no-hitter baseball game, in a 5-0 victory over Eskine.
  • October 28, 1915: The University of South Carolina employs "ringers" (ineligible players) in its first three football games, winning handily. An investigation uncovers the ruse before the Clemson-Carolina match, and the fakes are banished from the Gamecock squad. The two opponents battle to the first 0-0 tie in series history.
  • 1918: Mary Hart Evans becomes first woman faculty member when she takes position as assistant professor of botany. She will later marry Professor William Aull. Rosamond Walcott arrives from Cornell to teach architecture. She will only stay on the faculty a brief time before going into private practice.
  • 1927: Phi Psi's Iota chapter of the National Honor Textile Fraternity is chartered, becoming the first Greek-letter organization on campus.
  • September 19, 1928: The Tigers debut new uniforms featuring brilliant orange jerseys for the first time, featuring black composition cloth stripes on the front and purple numerals.
  • October 13, 1933: The Clemson football team plays its first night game in a match against the George Washington University Colonials in Washington, D.C. The teams play to a 0-0 tie.
  • December 1933: Prohibition is repealed by the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, and the future Esso Club, a 1920s highway gas and grocery, receives its first beer license.
  • February 14, 1934: Clemson and Furman play first College Soccer match in the state of South Carolina. Furman wins 0-1.
  • November 13, 1939: Clemson appears in the Associated Press football rankings for the first time after defeating Wake Forest 20-7, upping the season record to 6-1.
  • January 1, 1940: Clemson's first bowl appearance. The 8-1 Tigers, coached by Jess Neely, upset the favored Boston College Eagles in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, 6-3.
  • 1940: James Banks McFadden is selected as the highest pick Clemson football player in the NFL draft, going at number four.
  • September 19, 1942: Construction is finished on Memorial Stadium just ahead of the crowd for the first game to be played in the future Death Valley. The Tigers run down the hill for the very first time and defeat Presbyterian College, 32-13, in front of 5,500 fans. Presbyterian Coach Lonnie McMillan declares in 1948 that playing Clemson at home is like taking his team into Death Valley.
  • September 24, 1947: The Clemson football team travels to the Boston College game in an Eastern Airlines Douglas DC-4, the first time a state team had flown to a match. The Tigers fall to the Eagles, 22-32, however.
  • May 5, 1949: The Tiger newspaper reported that Tiger Brotherhood selected Mrs. P.S. Rochester, from Salem, S.C., as Clemson's first "mother of the year." She was selected because she had the most sons (six) graduate from Clemson.
  • 1955: Women are admitted as undergraduate students for the first time. Cheerleaders have female members for the first time.
  • November 24, 1956: Clemson defeats Virginia, 7-0, at home, to clinch the Tigers' first ACC football championship. Second-team All-ACC quarterback Charley Bussey scores the only touchdown on a short first quarter run.
  • January 1, 1957: The Clemson Tigers face the Colorado Buffaloes for the first time in the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, losing 27-21 for a 7-1-3 season record. This is also Clemson's first televised football game, aired on CBS. The Tigers are ranked nineteenth. Clemson will even the record in another bowl game in 2005.
  • 1957: The Dixie Skydivers are founded, the oldest collegiate parachute club in the country.
  • November 8, 1957: The first-ever Tigerama is staged.
  • May 1, 1958: WSBF begins as a closed circuit student broadcasting facility transmitting through the electrical wiring of the dormitories.
  • December 6, 1959: Earle Hall, named for former Clemson President Samuel Broadus Earle, is dedicated, "the first time in the school's history that a living person was honored by having a campus building bear his name." (Duffy, Susan, "The Conservative Caretaker: Samuel Broadus Earle, 1919 and 1924-1925", "Tradition: A History of the Presidency of Clemson University", McKale, Donald M., editor, Mercer University Press, Macon, Georgia, 1988, ISBN 0-86554-296-1, page 138.)
  • December 19, 1959: The Clemson Tigers beat the Texas Christian Horned Frogs in the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston, Texas for a season record of 10-2. This was Clemson's 300th football victory, and also the first time that a college team played in two bowls in one calendar year. A CBS-televised game, it marks the fourth time the Tigers have been on the air.
  • 1961: The first computer on campus is used by the math department.
  • January 28, 1963: Harvey Gantt becomes the first African-American student at Clemson as the college integrates without the friction seen on other Southern campuses. Gantt will later serves two terms as mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. He also marries the first black Clemson coed - Lucinda Brawley.
  • November 28, 1963: The Clemson-South Carolina game is postponed until Thanksgiving out of deference to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's funeral events on the scheduled November 24 date. Many other college football games are similarly delayed. Played in Columbia, the Tigers beat the Gamecocks, 24-20, for a 5-4-1 season, 5-2 in conference for third place in the ACC. The Cocks go 1-8. This remains the first and only Carolina game ever played on Thanksgiving.
  • October 1966: The first-ever telephone pole Homecoming display is erected on Bowman Field by Kappa Sigma Nu.
  • November 30, 1968: The Tigers play their first basketball game in Littlejohn Coliseum, defeating Georgia Tech, 76-72.
  • May 1969: Craig Mobley becomes the first African-American student athlete to sign an athletic grant-in-aid with Clemson University. The six-foot guard had been named the most valuable player on Chester High School's basketball team, as well as MVP in the Eastern AAA Conference in 1968-1969. (Riley, Helene M., "Clemson University", Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, South Carolina, 2002, Library of Congress card number 2002108889, ISBN 0-7385-1470-5, page 119.)
  • August 1974: Tiger Band achieves a 160-member block band for the first time, but only after hard recruiting! The previous block band was 120.
  • September 27, 1974: First Friday founded with the "Wreck Tech" Parade, followed by a pep rally in the Amphitheatre. Clemson beats Georgia Tech, 21-17, and goes on to win every home game. Ironically, in seventeen meetings between 1953 and 1977, this is the only time that the Yellowjackets presume to take the roadtrip to Clemson. And they come away LOSERS! HA!!
  • February 21, 1975: Elected to a second term as editor of The Tiger in April 1974, Nancy Jacobs Qualls, publishes her fiftieth issue, the first editor to reach this number. Volume LXVIII, Number 20 is published on February 21. On February 19, the staff presents the editor with a Timex watch as she puts her her 50th issue to bed.
  • Winter 1975: The first commercial video game appears on campus when an Atari Pong machine is installed in the Canteen below the Loggia.
  • December 6, 1975: The Lady Tigers basketball team play their first game, defeating Davidson, 55-51, in Littlejohn Coliseum.
  • September 24, 1977: A new tradition is begun as the Tigers play Georgia Tech "for the last time" as Tech continues to refuse to travel to Clemson. Of the seventeen games played between Tech and Clemson between 1953 and 1977, only once, in 1974, did the Yellow Jackets deign to come to Death Valley. To show the Atlanta business community how much money Clemson fans contribute to the local economy which WON'T be coming to town anymore, Tiger fans spend vast quantities of two dollar bills, many of them stamped with Tiger Paws. The local Federal Reserve bank sends out for two dollar denominations as all upstate banks are sucked dry by the demand. This is the start of Clemson's two dollar bill tradition. Ironically, when Georgia Tech joins the ACC on April 3, 1978, they HAVE to road trip to Clemson, starting in 1983.
  • December 29, 1978: With the Gator Bowl victory at age 30, Danny Ford was both the youngest NCAA Division I college head coach, and the only one whose record consisted of a single bowl win.
  • March 1980: Automatic teller machines are installed on campus for the first time.
  • November 22, 1980: Clemson wears orange pants for the first time in a game as they trounce the Gamecocks 27-6, in Memorial Stadium.
  • January 1, 1982: The Clemson Tigers defeat the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 22-15 in the Orange Bowl for a 12-0 undefeated season, clinching the university's first National Championship. Both the AP and UPI polls list Clemson on top.
  • October 8, 1983: Tiger Band Director Dr. Bruce F. Cook gathers a ninety-plus recent band alumni under the university radar and springs them on the unsuspecting Death Valley crowd as a marching unit at halftime at the Homecoming football game versus Virginia. And thus was born Alumni Band, another fine Clemson tradition.
  • December 16, 1984: The Clemson Soccer Team defeats second-ranked Indiana, 2-1, in the national championship game, played in the Kingdome, Seattle, Washington. Clemson becomes the first team (regardless of sport) in NCAA history to defeat the top four seeds in a post-season tournament.
  • September 1, 1987: Remodelled Riggs Field hosts its first soccer match when the men's team defeats UNC-Asheville, 8-0.
  • February 1990: First woman to serve as president of the student body is Tracy Malcolm, who assumes the position when the elected male president resigns.
  • September 25, 1993: The Tiger Cub, cousin of The Tiger, makes his first public appearance at the home game against Georgia Tech. Student Jay Williams is the plank-holding Tiger Cub.
  • December 31, 1993: Tommy West is the first coach ever to secure a bowl win who had not previously been associated with the team in the preceding regular season, as the Tigers defeat the Kentucky Wildcats, 14-13, in the Peach Bowl played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
  • November 19, 1994: Football attendence in Memorial Stadium tops 85,000 for the first time, when 85,872 fans watch the Tigers fall to the Gamecocks, 7-33.
  • August 31, 1996: Clemson plays North Carolina in Chapel Hill, the first time that the Tigers have played a season football game in August. Tarheels win, 0-45.
  • October 23, 1999: Death Valley attendence for a football game tops 86,000 for the first time when 86,092 fans watch Bowden Bowl I, the first NCAA father-son contest. Eventual undefeated national champion Florida State prevails, 14-17.
  • January, 2003: The Cheap Seats Bus is built, and a new Clemson tradition begins.
  • November 8, 2003: The jinx is broken! Tommy Bowden finally defeats Bobby Bowden in Death Valley, with the Tigers beating the eleventh-ranked Seminoles, 26-10, in Bowden Bowl V.
  • November 22, 2003: With the Tigers' 63-17 victory over Coach Lou Holtz's Gamecocks in Columbia, Tommy Bowden becomes the first coach ever to defeat two coaches with 200-plus wins in a single month.
  • October 21, 2006: ESPN's GameDay show travels to Tigertown for the first time and broadcasts from Bowman Field, Clemson's original football field (1897-1914). The two-hour show airs from 10 a.m. to noon, Eastern Time. ESPN carries the match between the twelfth-ranked Tigers and the thirteenth-ranked Yellow Jackets at Clemson's Homecoming at 7:45 p.m., Eastern Time. Clemson dominates Tech, 31-7, in what many describe as the most exciting Saturday in Tigertown in two decades.
  • October 25, 2006: The first annual Solid Green Day is held as a post-Homecoming event with volunteers cleaning up the inevitable leftover refuse from a major football weekend. Participants receive inaugural tee-shirt.
  • April 21, 2007: Attendence at the annual spring football game tops 20,000 for the first time, as the Orange defeat the Purple, 35-16.
  • June 8-June 9, 2007: The NCAA Super Regional college baseball match between Clemson and Mississippi State at Dudy Noble Field, Starkville, Mississippi, sets two consecutive attendence records for Super Regional play, with 12,620 on hand to watch the Bulldogs drop the Tigers, 6-8, on Friday, and a crowd of 13,715 present for the Tigers elimination by the Bulldogs on Saturday, 5-8.
  • November 10, 2007: The first football game with Wake Forest to sell out in Death Valley occurs this date.
  • October 13, 2008: Clemson replaces a head football coach in mid-season for the first time when Tommy Bowden resigns after a 3-3 start in his tenth season at the helm.