Friday, Jan. 28, 1910: U football coach performs appendectomy

Posted on November 13th, 2007 – 8:34 AM
By Ben Welter

University of Minnesota football coach Tim Brewster needs only 135 more victories to match the school record set by Dr. Henry L. Williams, who coached the Gophers from 1900 to 1921. Gophers football was a big deal back in the day. And coaches had to do more than diagram plays, give pep talks, shill for car dealers and talk to Sid Hartman. Dr. Williams frequently tended to his players’ injuries and, in one case, performed surgery on one of his stars. The New York Times reports:

  Lyle Johnston (mnhs.org photo)

TWO FOOTBALL STARS ILL.

Minnesota’s 1909 Captain and New
Leader Both in Hospital.

Special to The New York Times.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn., Jan. 27. – Johnny McGovern, All-American quarter back, and Captain of the Minnesota football eleven of 1909, and Lyle Johnston, the newly elected Captain of the Gophers, are occupying hospital cots at present, but it is expected both will fully recover within a few weeks.

McGovern was operated on last Monday for appendicitis. The famous little football player was taken ill at his desk in a local newspaper office and was hurried to a hospital, where Dr. H.L. Williams, the Minnesota football coach, operated upon him. He is reported to be recovering nicely.

Johnston was not compelled to take to his bed until to-day, but his case is believed to be more serious. Johnston is the wrestling champion of the Minnesota institution, and his illness is due to that sport, and not football. While engaged in a bout on the mat, Johnston received a bad case of blood poisoning from infection to an injury while wrestling. His face is so swollen that he is barely able to see.

Hard luck seems to cross the path of both of these gridiron stars. Johnston was laid up nearly the entire football season with a broken leg, and had only recently recovered his full strength. McGovern suffered a broken collarbone last season, and was out of the play for weeks.

Coach Henry L. Williams tends to a Minnesota player injured in a 1907 game against Nebraska, most likely at Northrop Field in Minneapolis. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)

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