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Charlie Gelbert (American football)

Charlie Gelbert
Date of birth: (1871-12-24)December 24, 1871
Place of birth: Hawley, Pennsylvania
Date of death: January 16, 1936(1936-01-16) (aged 64)
Place of death: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Career information
Position(s): Guard, end
College: Penn
As player:
Duquesne Country & A.C.
Homestead Library & A. C.
Philadelphia Phillies (NFL)
"New York" (WSF)
Career highlights and awards

Charles Gelbert (December 24, 1871 – January 16, 1936) was an American football player, nicknamed "The Miracle Man" because he did so much with so little. He was a four-year starter for the Penn Quakers, from 1893 to 1896, and played guard and end. During his time at Penn, the school's football teams won consecutive national champions with undefeated seasons in 1894 and 1895. He also earned All-American honors from Walter Camp in 1894, 1895, and 1896. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1960. In 1912, Jack Kofoed, writing in the Philadelphia Record, named Gelbert to his all-time All-America team.

However Gelbert also played football at the professional level. From 1898 until 1899, he played for the Duquesne Country and Athletic Club. A year later, he was in the line-up for the 1900 Homestead Library & Athletic Club football team. In 1902, he played for the Philadelphia Phillies of the first National Football League. After the Phillies season ended, he played for the "New York team" during the 1902 World Series of Football The team was heavily favored to win the five team tournament, and featured professional football stars Blondy Wallace, Walter E. Bachman and Ben Roller. However the team was eliminated in the opening match in a 5-0 loss to the Syracuse Athletic Club.

Gelbert also took part in gymnastics. It was said that his acrobatic play would help his defensive play in football when facing off against much larger men. Outside of football he worked as a veterinary surgeon in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Finally, Charlie was the father of Charlie Gelbert, an infielder with the St. Louis Cardinals, who would go on to win the 1931 World Series.


  • Walter Camp: All-Americans 1892 to 1908
  • Penn Quakers Football History
  • Kennedy, Davidson (1930). "Recollections of a Football Fan". University of Pennsylvania Archieves (University of Pennsylvania): 11–14. 
  • Carroll, Bob (1980). "The First Football World Series". Coffin Corner (Professional Football Researchers Association) 2 (Annual): 1–8. 
  • PFRA Research. "Repeat Performance: The D.C. & A.C. Continues Winning: 1899". PFRA Books (Professional Football Researchers Association) (Annual): 1–2. 
  • PFRA Research. "Stars Over All-Stars:An All-Star Team: 1898". PFRA Books (Professional Football Researchers Association) (Annual): 1–5. 
  • Peterson, Robert W. (1997). Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football. Oxford University Press. ISBN . 
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