Published: September 2004
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on a blustery November day in 1896, the football rivalry between Boston College and Holy Cross was for many years among the most celebrated competitions in college athletics.
During much of the 20th century, some of Boston’s largest sports crowds gathered on a Saturday in late November to watch as the players, many of them former high school teammates, faced off for local and Jesuit bragging rights. Traditionally the last game of the season, the contest often attracted crowds of more than 40,000, with a record 54,000 attending the 1922 game at Braves Field, home of the Boston Braves baseball team.
“In a perfect world, the rivalry never would have ended,” says Wally Carew, author of A Farewell to Glory (Ambassador Books, 2003), a history of the competition. In this imperfect world, however, the series came to a predictable end after Boston College chose a path in Division I-A athletics, and Holy Cross chose a path in Division I-AA. In 1986, after the Eagles defeated the Crusaders 56-26, Boston College’s 17th victory in the previous 20 meetings, Holy Cross withdrew from the series.
As befits a neighborhood rivalry, the final record remains a matter of contention, with one game (the second ever played) claimed as a win by both teams. Boston College’s record book indicates a 48-31 final result in the series; Holy Cross’s, shows 32-47. Three games ended in ties.
@BC expresses its thanks to Wally Carew, Reid Oslin ’68, Tom Burke ’71, University Historian Thomas H. O’Connor ’49, and John Atteberry, of the Boston College Archives.