Pasadena Tournament of Roses Archives

Pasadena, Calif., celebrates 100 years of the ROSE BOWL.

It’s a sporting original — our oldest college bowl game — and 2014 marks its 100th playing, a sweet, round number for an iconic event that actually was born more than a century ago. In 1902, teams from Michigan and Stanford met at Tournament Park in Southern California (where Caltech’s athletic field is today), for what was conceived as an annual East-West matchup. Though the venue had seating for only 1,000, some 8,500 spectators rushed to watch the contest that Michigan won 49-0. The overflow crowd (and the lopsided score) prompted event organizers to rethink the proceeding. The following year, chariot races were held instead. But in 1916, football — and what eventually became the Rose Bowl — returned for good.

Want a chance to start your year with a fantastic kickoff? American Way is giving away two tickets to the Rose Bowl game on Jan. 1, 2014. To enter, click here.

In the years since, the Rose Bowl has grown into a New Year’s Day rite; its field a stage for legends; the game an endless source of indelible moments. Through its colorful life, it has showcased 17 Heisman Trophy winners, produced 29 national champions, featured 199 consensus All-Americans and honored 107 college-football luminaries by inducting them into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame. The pageantry surrounding it has bloomed into an ornament of Americana, and this year’s Rose Parade will build on that allure with its array of floats, bands and equestrian units led by a truly grand grand marshal: Hall of Fame Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, who also will toss the coin to start the game.

Ah, yes. The game. It will unfold at the renowned Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, as it has every year since 1922. This time around, the stadium, a National Historic Landmark, is fresh off a $181 million renovation designed to heighten safety and improve fan experience. It includes new suites, loge boxes and premium seating, widened pedestrian tunnels and a high-definition video board and scoreboards around the stadium’s rim.

They are worthy upgrades for a game that has given us a lengthy list of firsts: first local radio broadcast of an East- West bowl game (1926); first transcontinental broadcast of a sporting event (1927); first coast-to-coast color telecast of a collegiate football game (1962); and, this year, of course, yet another: the first bowl game to celebrate 100 years of gridiron matchups. In honor of the occasion, the Rose Bowl has a new logo and the Rose Bowl Game trophy has been embellished with 24K yellow-gold and vermeil accents — fitting tributes to a contest rightly known as the Granddaddy of Them All. Among its remarkable characteristics is how gracefully it has aged.

Memorable Rose Bowl Moments

1922: Construction of the horseshoeshaped stadium, with seating for 57,000, is completed and is deeded to the city of Pasadena by the Tournament of Roses Association.

1925: The legendary Four Horsemen of Notre Dame (Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley and Elmer Layden) take the field against Ernie Nevers of Stanford. Notre Dame wins, 27-10.

1929: Roy Riegels, center for California
Pasadena Tournament of Roses Archives
1929: Cal center Roy Riegels runs the wrong way with the ball, earning the nickname “Wrong Way” Riegels. Georgia Tech edges California, 8-7.

1941: Underdog Stanford surprises Nebraska by unveiling a wide-open offense called the “T formation.” Stanford wins, 21-13.

1950: The Rose Bowl becomes the first bowl game to have 100,000 spectators attend.

1975: In one of the most stirring contests in Rose Bowl history, University of Southern California quarterback Pat Haden completes a 38-yard touchdown pass to J.K. McKay with 2:03 left on the clock. Instead of attempting an extra point to tie the game with Ohio State, USC goes for a two point conversion. The attempt is successful, and the Trojans triumph, 18-17.

1979: In what is later dubbed the “Phantom Touchdown,” USC running back Charles White appears to lose the ball while diving for the goal line, but the play is ruled a touchdown.

1997: Final-second heroics by Ohio State reserve quarterback Joe Germaine push the Ohio State Buckeyes to a 20-17 victory over Arizona State University. It is ASU’s only loss that year.