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Amos Alonzo Stagg Sr.


Amos Alonzo “Lonnie” Stagg Sr., “The Grand Old Man of Football” was born in 1862 in New Jersey and died more than a century later in 1965 in California. Space doesn’t allow the listing of all the accomplishments of his multi-sport coaching career including a 71-year career as a football coach. Stagg was 98 when he retired from coaching.

His credentials include co-founding the Big Ten athletic conference, the American Football Coaches Association, and the Football Rules Committee. While coaching baseball, he is also credited with inventing the first batting cage. He also played himself in the Knute Rockne movie, “All American” with Pat O’Brien and Ronald Reagan.

Amos Alonzo Stagg Jr., the first child born to Amos Alonzo Sr. and Stella Stagg, was born in 1899. In 1900, Stagg Sr. wrote a famous letter to their fourteen-month old son. It contains advice any father would do well to give to his son, and any son would do well to heed:

“To My Son, Amos Alonzo Stagg Jr.

You are only a little fellow now é a trifle over 14 months old; but I have loved you so dearly since you came that it has been on my mind to write you a letter in the event of my being taken away at any time before I have had a chance to tell you many things which you need to know.

Your father wants his boy first of all to love, protect, and care for his Mother, giving to her the same kind of measure of love and devotion which she has given to you.

Second, your father wants his boy to be sincere, honest, and upright. Be your true self always. Hate dishonesty and trickery no matter how big and how great the thing desired may be.

Third, your father wants you to have a proper independence of thought é think matters out for yourself always where it relates to your own conduct and act honestly afterwards.

Fourth, your father wants you to be an American in democracy. Treat everybody with courtesy and as your equal until he proves his unworthiness to be so treated. The man and the soul are what count é not wealth, not family, not appearance.

Fifth, your father wants you to abhor evil. No curiosity, no imagination, no conversation, no story, no reading which suggests impurity of life is worthy of your thought or attention and I beg you never to yield for an instant but turn your thought to something good and helpful.

Sixth, train yourself to be master of yourself, of your thought and imagination and temper and passion and appetite and of your body. Hold all absolutely under your will. Allow no thought nor imagination, nor passion, nor appetite to injure your mind or body. Your father has never used intoxicating liquors, nor tobacco, nor profane language. He wants his boy to be like him in this regard.

Seventh, your father wants his boy enthusiastic and earnest in all of his interests, his sports, his studies, his work; and he wants him always to keep an active, actual participating in each so long as he lives. It is my judgment that one’s life is most healthy and most successful when lived out in such a basis.

Eighth, your father wants his son to love God as He is revealed to him: which after all will be the revelation of all that I have said and left unsaid of good to you, my precious boy.

June 23, 1900 Affectionately, Your Father”

Ken and Nan Webster have collected inspiration for many years from many sources, and now inspire readers of “A Matter That Matters.” Contact them at kennanco@gmail.com or visit www.kennancompany.com.

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