Claude French, Owen Taylor and Morris “Red” Badgro are not household names to most Kent residents.
But the names soon become familiar after a tour of the Kent football history exhibit at the Kent Historical Museum. The exhibit is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday through June 18.
French Field at Kent-Meridian High School was named for French, a longtime coach and graduate of the original Kent High School that was located where the Farrington Court Senior Apartments now sit on the far east end of downtown, just south of Earthworks Park.
“Claude French was a 1913 Kent graduate and coached more than 30 years in Kent,” said Linda Wagner, curator at the Kent Museum, during a recent tour. “He coached football, but he also coached wrestling and basketball.”
The display includes a 1913 photo of French in his football uniform outside of the high school.
Taylor is the man behind the annual Taylor Trophy awarded each year to the winner of the high school football game between Auburn and Kent-Meridian. The two schools have played each other since 1908.
Taylor designed and donated a trophy in 1929 to be given each year to the winning school. The museum has the 3-foot high wooden trophy on loan from Auburn High School.
“Dr. Taylor owned the Kent hospital that was on Second Avenue and Gowe Street and he had a home on Scenic Hill,” Wagner said.
Museum visitors can see a photo of Taylor as well as a copy of the letter he sent to the two schools when he decided to award the trophy to honor the winning team.
Kent-Meridian leads the all-time series with 48 wins to 46 for Auburn, according to a list of the results posted at the museum. There has been six ties. Kent-Meridian has not beaten Auburn since a 14-3 victory in 1998.
“The trophy has been in the Auburn display case the last 12 years,” Wagner said.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame jacket of Badgro is one of the highlights of the exhibit. Badgro was born in Kent and graduated in 1921 from Kent High. He retired in Kent and died in 1998 at the age of 95.
“They called him Red because of his red hair,” Wagner said.
Badgro played offensive and defensive end for the New York Giants from 1930-34. He earned all-pro honors four years. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1981.
Badgro, who stood 6 feet and weighed 190 pounds, attended the University of Southern California on a basketball scholarship and won four letters each in basketball, football and baseball. He was a teammate on the USC football team with fullback Marion “Duke” Morrison, who later became the actor John Wayne, according to the New York Times obituary about Badgro.
In addition to playing in the NFL, Badgro played major league baseball in 1929 and 1930 with the St. Louis Browns. He later worked as an assistant football coach at Columbia University in New York and at the University of Washington.
Wagner said the museum decided to display a football exhibit after the Kent Predators came to town earlier this season as a member of the professional Indoor Football League.
“We knew we had plenty of items to tell the story of French Field, the Taylor Trophy and we had the Hall of Fame jacket of Badgro,” she said.
The exhibit also includes a few Kent letterman sweaters and jackets from the 1940’s, ‘50s and ‘60s as well as current football helmets, shoes and shoulder pads from Kent-Meridian.
What: Kent football history exhibit
When: Noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday through June 18
Where: Kent Historical Museum, 855 E. Smith St.
Cost: Free, donations accepted
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