On Sunday, November 29, 1925, just two days after they won the conference championship, fans crowded the C & S depot in Fort Collins for the largest sendoff in school history for an Aggie football team. The college band played “Come on, Aggies,” as students and fans cheered and waved goodbye to their champions when they departed for the first leg of a massive journey.
The 17 players who boarded the train destined for San Francisco were: Hans Wagner, Kenny Hyde, Rollie Caldwell, James Stubbs, Walter Ball, Earl McCall, Otto Kayser, Glen Clark, Earl Tinsman, Fay Rankin, Hamil Brown, Alymer Montgomery, Fred Treffelson, Burton Clammer, Olin “Sam” Clammer, Walter Abbott and Wiley Abbott. Athletic team manager (and sponsor) Clark “Sparks” Alford, Harry Hughes, Minnie Lee Hughes and 11-year-old Billy Hughes completed the rest of the CAC group. The team did not allow any of the assistant coaches on the trip, and Fort Collins businessmen paid for Mrs. Hughes’ $400 fare. (About $6,000 when calculating for inflation in 2021.)
The train took them first to Greeley where they boarded a Union Pacific train to Ogden, Utah, and switched to a Southern Pacific train which finally ended up in San Francisco. Once they arrived in San Francisco, a hotel bus decorated in “green and orange” picked up the team. The bus took them to the Bellevue Hotel (Hotel Monaco today) where a large basket of oranges and a pennant which read “From the Aggies in California” greeted them. A banquet dinner from the Aggies in California and sightseeing trip rounded out their first day.
The first snag in the trip started in Ogden, when the team changed trains to California. Rankin, the outstanding sophomore fullback complained of a sore throat. Hughes called a doctor who shook his head when he realized Rankin could not play but allowed him to continue to San Francisco. Once the men arrived at the hotel, Hughes took Rankin to St. Luke’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with diphtheria and forced to remain in bed.
When they arrived in Northern California it was the furthest west any Aggie team had been, but the journey would not be over for a long time. Rainy weather prevented the team from practice at Ewing Field, which served as the onetime home to the San Francisco Seals baseball team. After more sightseeing on the morning of December 2, the Aggies boarded the S.S. Manoa at 11:30 a.m. The ship flew a huge Aggie pennant and many Aggies bid the team farewell. On the ship, the players found Aggie pennants in each stateroom that read “Go get ’em Aggies” as the Matson Line released green and orange balloons when the Manoa got under way.
Soon after the ship reached the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, the Manoa hit rough seas and passengers saw many of the Farmer Footballers “leaning far over the rail.” Sam Clammer, Wagner, Early, Treffelson and Alford all boasted that while others were over the rail, they “never lost or missed a meal during the entire trip.” Hyde told his son John many years later that he never recovered from his seasickness while in Hawaii for the game. Stories say the Aggies still had enough stomach to practice while on the ship.
The Aggie football team arrived in Honolulu on December 11, a full day behind schedule and one day before their football game against the University of Hawaii. More than half of the team was still seasick when they took to an unbearably hot field on December 12. Reports showed temperatures in the 90s with humidity to go along with the heat.
Hawaii jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first quarter, and while they continued to fall behind, Wagner re-injured his knee in the second quarter and could not return; this ended up being his final collegiate football game. With two of their best players out, land lovers that reeled from the ocean journey and the unbearable temperatures, the Aggies went down by a score of 41-0. Only Hyde played well enough to receive attention and gained 170 yards during the day, even though he still fought seasickness.
Back in New York City on the same day the Aggies lost their only contest of the 1925 season, the press announced Hyde as an All-America selection on the third team. Hyde, who had played brilliantly all season with passes, punts, runs, scores, and interceptions, became the first player in school history and in Colorado history to be named to an All-American team. While others had been “honorable mentions” Hyde played his way into Colorado history.
Following their miserable game in Honolulu, the team returned to San Francisco on the Manoa for a winter vacation. They played card games, shuffleboard and participated in many deck sports for fun. Once they landed in California, the Aggies all went their separate ways until they returned from winter break in January. Some players attended the Rose Bowl game while others, such as a recovered Rankin “wandered the Pacific Coast” until it was time to come home.