Did You Know? Auto Polo

Did You Know?

Auto Polo game in the 1910s. Photo credit: The Library of Congress

Auto Polo game in the 1910s. Photo credit: The Library of Congress

…That Auto Polo was once a popular spectator sport, and for at least one man who later lived in Franklin Township, a sport in which he participated. The game was said to have been invented around 1912 by some promoters of Model T Fords, to show how versatile, rugged, and manageable the newfangled automobile was. The first match was played in a big alfalfa field near Wichita, Kansas, and was seen by 5,000 people. Four stripped-down cars were used, each carrying a driver and a mallet man. The forward cars, which did most of the playing, had the seats removed, leaving one small seat for the driver. A taped post served for the mallet man to swing on while he wielded his heavy mallet from the running board of the car. The goal-tenders simply maneuvered near their points of defense, taking no part in the middle of the field.

An air-filled ball about the size of a basketball was used. The mallets were the shape of an ordinary croquet mallet but with a much heavier head, about three pounds. A roll-bar was the only protection for the driver.

The Hoosier Polo Club of London, Indiana, was formed January 15, 1923. They performed originally at county fairs in Indiana, Ohio, and neighboring states in the early 1920s. Later they played in New York and Pennsylvania, eventually at State Fairs, according to an article about the club, “The History of London and Brookfield Shelby County, Indiana.” The article closes with “In 1926 and 1927 Selby ‘Buck’ House was the only local man playing on the Auto Polo Team.”

— submitted by Sylvia Henricks

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