Tacoma's only men's professional football team was
a one-year wonder, the Indians. They won seven games, lost four,
averaged about 13,000 fans for five Sunday games at Stadium Bowl,
managed to get a spot in the PCPFL's championship due to a quirky
forfeit by the rival San Francisco Clippers, quickly gathered to travel
to Los Angeles for the title game, were trounced, 38-7, and never played
The Marvs (Tommervik and Harshman) made the most
money. They each were paid $7,800 by owner Al Davies, who owned
Birchfield Boiler on Tacoma's Tideflats, building steel boilers and
ships. The team's headquarters was in the boiler plant at 2503 E. 11th
Davies paid the Marvs a $2,000 bonus to sign with
the fledgling Indians, rather than the AAFC's New York Yankees. "Davies
gave us the extra money because we were local guys and they thought that
would draw fans," Harshman said. Harshman and his wife Dorothy used the
signing bonus to buy a set of solid birch furniture. "I was 28," he
said, "and wanted to do something with my life."
They rarely practiced. Slivinski occasionally
called a practice at Renton High School, since many of the players
worked in Seattle or attended graduate school at UW. Cusworth drove to
Sunday games from Cle Elum, where he worked in a coal mine.
Home games were at Stadium Bowl. It had no track,
no grass, just that grand view. There were H-shaped wooden goal posts
set at the goal line. "You'd go down and hook the goal post with your
arm so you could swing in another direction," Harshman said, "and that
would run the defender into the post. Tommervik would get the ball to
you and you'd have a touchdown."
Tickets cost $2.50 for east-side bleachers, $1.50
for the west end zone and 75 cents for kids. The Elks Club band played
and the Eagles fraternal drill team performed. Fans received
refrigerators, nylon stockings and men's topcoats in drawings held
during the game.
The Indians rode Pullman trains to games in Salt
Lake City, Sacramento, Oakland and San Diego, and a plane to Honolulu.
"We flew to Hawaii," Slivinski said, "and played two games over there.
Everybody who went to Hawaii played two games to cover the travel
(expense). Hawaii (the Hawaiian Warriors) had no road games.
"They had their own officials. With 20,000 people
in the ballpark, the officials were reluctant to make a call against the
A reserve end and quarterback, a former UW player
and Philadelphia Eagle named Chuck Newton dreaded flying. He drank a
fifth of whiskey to prepare for the Matson Airlines four-motor prop
plane's trip to Hawaii. "The guys carried Chuck onto the plane,"
"He would rather have walked to Hawaii," Tommervik
The Hawaiian Warriors had a tackle named Wayne
Sterling, who had played at UW. He was a Honolulu police lieutenant. He
threw a luau for the Tacoma team. "It lasted for days," Tommervik said.
"We slept right on the beach."
"Girls met us with leis at the Honolulu airport,"
Harshman said. "We had left our pregnant wives at home and we thought we
were really something."
The Indians made $50,000 from their cut of the
proceeds of the trip and it went towards allowing the team to finish in
the black for the season but returned battered having lost a number of
players to injuries in the 2 games with Hawaii.
The Indians' best receiver was a former Ballard
High and PLU end named Sigurd Sigurdson, who everyone called "Sig." He
caught passes for 104 yards for the 1947 Baltimore Colts in the AAFC,
blew out a knee and never played again.