Princeton University, 110 West College, Princeton, NJ 08544
The Football Players, Frank Schlessinger Way, Berkeley, CA 94720
Wildwood Cemetery Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, USA
Garrett "Garry" Cochran (August 26, 1876 – July 8, 1918) was an American football player and coach.
Garrett "Garry" Cochran was born in Driftwood, Pennsylvania, the son of James Henry Cochran (1845–1911), a prominent area financier and later a state senator, and Avis Anne Rouse (1854–1935). His family moved to Williamsport in 1885, and he went to its schools. He later attended several distinguished private schools such as Trinity College School and the Lawrenceville School. He attended college at Princeton University from 1894 to 1898 where he excelled as an athlete. He was captain of the football team in 1896 and 1897 and was named to Walter Camp's All-America Football Team as an end. One sportswriter at that time wrote of Cochran, "No name is better known in American football than that of Garry Cochran."
Garrett Cochran played college football at Princeton University from 1894 to 1897 at the end position, and was twice named to the College Football All-America Team. Cochran served as the head football coach at the University of California, Berkeley (1898–1899), the United States Naval Academy (1900) and Princeton University (1902), compiling a career head coaching record of 29–5–3. The 22 year old Cochran was hired from Princeton in 1898 to be both football and baseball coach. An alumnus of the elite Lawrenceville Preparatory School, Cochran as a Princeton undergraduate had served as captain of both the baseball and football teams during his junior and senior years. At Cal, Cochran quickly reconstituted what had been a lackluster squad, shifting players around in their positions and teaching a new brand of football. One sportswriter has called it the Cochran Revolution. The revolution worked, and the Cal football team went into the Big Game undefeated. For the first time in campus history, the university was galvanized by a sporting event. Over 200 Cal men swore not to wear neckties for an entire year if Stanford won. “Boys,” Cochran exhorted the team in the locker room before the game, “this is the opportunity of your lives. A grander opportunity to immortalize your names, stamp them indelibly upon the pages of the history of your university, has never been given to you. For eight long years have those lobster backs made you bite the dust. It is your turn now. Make them bite and bite hard.... Some of you have mothers and fathers and sisters here today. Yes, boys, some of you have sweethearts here, who are wishing and praying that you may win. Play, fellows, play for their sakes. Let your motto be, ‘Hit ‘em again, harder, harder.’” Cal won the 1898 Big Game by a score of 22-0.
Cochran spent the summer of 1899 working in the mines in New Mexico, but when he stepped off the train in Oakland the next Fall he was greeted as a conquering hero. Cal once again looked forward to a winning football season, and a special importance was attached to the Big Game since San Francisco Mayor James D. Phelan had promised to award a football statue by Douglas Tilden to either Cal or Stanford — to whichever team had the better two-out-of-three record for 1898, 1899 and 1900. A second Big Game win would secure the statue for Berkeley. New President Benjamin Ide Wheeler made it clear that the 1899 Big Game was more than just a football match. “We simply must win,” he told a pep rally, “It would break my heart if the college did not win the first year I was out here. We must win, if we have to roar our throats out.... It always does a man good to know that the whole gang is with him, and he can play better. I believe in a college where all go shoulder to shoulder; in fact, I may say I do not believe in any other sort of college. I want to see California win, but, even above that, I want to see her win honestly. It would grieve my heart to think that any California player was unfair or ungentlemanly in any action. I want everyone of them to be a gentleman, and by a gentleman, I mean one who bucks the line hard.” And win they did, 30-zip. The Tilden football statue would come to Berkeley. On December 7, 1899 the Daily Cal reported that the Big Game was not only a scoring blow-out, it was also a financial windfall, with a net profit of $16,046.80. Garret Cochran had almost single-handedly created the institution of Cal football.
In December Garret Cochran was a god. By January he was gone, with no explanation for his departure. Cochran next appeared as the head football coach at Annapolis, where he led the Midshipmen during the first half of the 1900 season. Despite a respectable win-loss record (6-3) he was replaced mid-season by Arthur “Doc” Hillebrand.
When Cochran returned to Williamsport he became associated with the Williamsport Wire Rope Company, where he eventually became general manager of the plant. He was also a director of the Northern Central Trust Company and the Cochran Coal Company. He married Eleanor McNeely Crocker (1877–1961) of Philadelphia in 1902. The couples had two sons and a daughter. He became keenly interested in military matters and joined the Pennsylvania National Guard. He was mustered into federal service for service along the Mexican border in July 1916, fighting the bandits of Pancho Villa until December of that year.
During World War I, Cochran enlisted in the United States Army and served in France as a lieutenant in the field artillery. While sailing for France in April 1918 he contracted a severe cold while standing guard duty as an anti-submarine lookout. When he landed in France he was urged to seek medical attention, but refused so he could join his unit for artillery training. He developed pneumonia and died on a ship returning to the United States on July 8, 1918.
In 1971, Cochran was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The names of the men who played on the 1898 and 1899 Cal football team have been — as Coach Cochran promised them — inscribed in campus history. Their surnames appear carved in stone on the east side of the pediment of the Tilden statue. Beneath them is the inscription, “Garret Cochran, Coach.” Garrett Cochran's name was added at the bottom of the list of players' names inscribed on the base of the "Football Players" statue after his death in World War I. Those words and the mystery of why Cochran left Berkeley are all that remain. The "Football Players" statue on the Berkeley campus was the first permanent work of art on the Berkeley campus, and is considered to be the first internationally significant work by a California sculptor. The statue was exhibited in Paris before arriving in Berkeley. More recently, it has been adopted as a symbol by the Bay Area LGBT community.
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