Harris, Robert : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Harris, Robert

Robert S. Harris

In 1907, Harris made history by becoming the first center ever to use the spiral pass. Legendary Chicago coach Amos Alonzo Stagg said, "Harris...used the right-handed spiral pass in his snapback. He had played center in high school and had used it. He told me that he had found out himself that it was easier to do that way."

As a high school student at Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Harris fought a fellow student named Richard Horn in April 1905. Covered by the Chicago Tribune, the fight was described as being "carried out in true pugilistic style. More than 75 students saw the fight and considerable money was placed at the ring side…adhered to the marquis of Queensberry rules…" The newspaper even described the fight, which was won by Harris in a knockout, in round-by-round action. Both Harris and Horn were suspended from school for 30 days because of the fight.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. December 6, 1886 - d. July 1964

Career Highlights:
An all-around athlete at Hyde Park high school who captained his football and basketball teams, Harris entered the University of Chicago in 1905 and played center and guard for the freshman team. In 1907, Chicago had a record of 4-1-0 and Harris was named to the Chicago Daily News All-Western team. He then turned to basketball, but dropped out of school in the late 1900s.

Harris went on to serve in the armed forces in World War I, as a captain with the Rainbow Division in France. After being recalled for active duty during World War II, he retired as a colonel. Looking back at his gridiron days, Harris said, "The greatest lesson I learned from sports was that when things look bad, keep on plugging. I made lasting friendships with my teammates who were of the highest calibre, and my association of Coach Stagg will ever be my greatest satisfaction."

Chicago, Illinois

Career Dates:
Harris played center at the University of Chicago from 1905-07.

Physical description:
6'0", 178 pounds

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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)
Chicago Tribune, April 18, 1905