And before there was Wallace Wade Stadium, there was Hanes Field, a cozy little venue that was also the longtime home of the Durham Bulls, tucked behind the Broad Street wall on what is now known as East Campus. This was where the “Methodists” hosted the North Carolina Tar Heels three times between 1889 and 1893, before the school put the kibosh on football altogether two years later.
Fast forward to 1922, and with our favorite sport resumed on a varsity basis, it was time for the Trinity Eleven (not much imagination in nicknames back then) to start moseying on down Tobacco Road and having a little autumn fun with the school they love to hate. A coin flip designated Chapel Hill as the site for the renewal of the rivalry, but the next year it was Durham’s turn, with the roar of the crowd reaching the downtown tobacco factories and the cotton mills beyond Ninth Street.
While national glories awaited the Duke Blue Devils just a few short years down the road, that still awaited the arrival of the Duke Endowment (1924), the acceptance of the “Blue Devil” nickname (that took a few years before the mockers were quieted), the construction of Duke Stadium on the West Campus in 1929, and most of all, the coming of coach Wallace Wade in 1931. For the next 30 years, the Blue Devils were a perennial gridiron powerhouse, playing in many bowl games and sending many blue chippers off to the NFL, before passing the baton over to the basketball program in the early 60’s.
And Hanes Field? Well, due to Duke’s longstanding commitment to recycling and gender equality, it now stands enhanced and rechristened as Williams Field at Jack Katz Stadium, where it proudly hosts the Duke women’s field hockey team. Those founding Methodists would have undoubtedly given their blessing.
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