A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 22, 2011
“The team that won’t be beaten can’t be beaten”

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Mike Murphy (trainer and coach)
Michael Charles “Mike” Murphy (February 26, 1860 – June 4, 1913) was an athletic trainer and coach at Yale University (1887–1889, 1892–1896, 1901–1905), the Detroit Athletic Club (1889–1892), the University of Michigan (1891), the University of Pennsylvania (1896–1901, 1905–1913), and the New York Athletic Club (1890–1900). He also coached the American track athletes at the Summer Olympics in 1900, 1908, and 1912. He also spent a year in approximately 1884 as the trainer of heavyweight boxing champion John L. Sullivan.

The Washington Post in 1913 called Murphy “the father of American track athletics.” He was considered the premier athletic trainer of his era and was said to have “revolutionized the methods of training athletes and reduced it to a science.” He is credited with establishing many innovative techniques for track and field, including the crouching start for sprinters.

Wikipedia: Johnny Poe
John P. “Johnny” Poe, Jr. (February 26, 1874 – September 25, 1915) was an American college football player and coach, soldier, Marine, and soldier of fortune, whose exploits on the gridiron and the battlefield contributed to the lore and traditions of the Princeton Tigers football program.
(...)
After leaving Princeton, Poe bounced around, coaching two seasons at Virginia, working for a steamboat operator, selling real estate, coaching the Navy football team, and serving as an assistant coach at Princeton. Poe would often return to Princeton as an assistant coach, including the National Championship season of 1903. It was while serving as an assistant coach that Poe is credited with saying “If you won’t be beat, you can’t be beat,” which became the team motto for many seasons.

Wikipedia: William Roper (American football)
William Winston “Bill” Roper (August 22, 1880 – December 10, 1933) was an American football, basketball, and baseball player and coach. He served as the head football coach at the Virginia Military Institute (1903–1904), Princeton University (1906–1908, 1910–1911, 1919–1930), the University of Missouri (1909), and Swarthmore College (1915–1916), compiling a career college football record of 112–38–18. Roper’s Princeton Tigers football teams of 1906, 1911, 1920, and 1922 have been recognized as national champions. His 89 wins are the most of any coach in the history of the program. Roper was also the head basketball coach at Princeton for one season in 1902–1903, tallying a mark of 8–7. Roper played football as an end, basketball, and baseball as an outfielder at Princeton, from which he graduated in 1902. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 1951.

13 April 1913, Springfield (MA) Republican, “Griffith Ever Optimistic,” pg. 24, col. 3:
If you doubt this personal estimate of the man (Clark Griffith, manager of baseball’s Washington Senators—ed.), corner him some rainy afternoon and give ear to his famous sermon, for which he takes for his text, “A team that won’t be beaten can’t be beaten.”

Google Books
Football Days;
Memories of the game and of the men behind the ball

By William Hanford Edwards
New York, NY: Moffat, Yard and Company
1916
Pg. 418:
“Johnny Poe was behind the door when fear went by,” says Garry Cochran. “Every one knows of his wonderful courage. I remember that in the Harvard ‘96 game, at Cambridge, near the end of the first half, two of our best men (Ad Kelly and Sport Armstrong) were seriously hurt, which disorganized the team. The men were desperate and near the breaking point. Johnny, with his true Princeton spirit, sent this message to each man on the team:

“‘If you won’t be beat, you can’t be beat.’”

“This message brought about a miracle. It put iron in each man’s soul, and never from that moment did Harvard gain a yard, and for four succeeding years—‘If you won’t be beat, you can’t be beat,’ was Princeton’s battle-cry.”

Google Books
23 November 1917, Old Penn (University of Pennsylvania), pg. 190, col. 1:
It was of a Pennsylvania team that the late Mike Murphy’s famous remark was made:

“I know of no way to beat a team that won’t be beaten.”

8 April 1918, Watertown (NY) Daily Times, “Joe Rivers first American boxer to die for country,” pg. 9, col. 1:
He was home and possessed the necessary courage, yet both went for naught simply because he could not or would not believe, like Mike Murphy, that one who won’t be beaten can’t be beaten.

17 February 1919, Denver (CO) Post, “The Soldiers’ Corner” by Walter L. Chinneck, pg. 6, col.1:
Michael C. Murphy is generally rated the most noted trainer the modern athletic world has known. Murphy’s name was synonymous with victory in football, on field and track. Hundreds of successful business men, now in middle life, received their first lessons in athletics from the silent sage whose fame was not only national but spread over the seas when his charges, under the Stars and Stripes, swept the boards against combined teams of the world at the Olympic games.

Murphy coined one expression that is immortal. To school boys and college men, to club teams and summer camps he preached the gospel, having as his text, “A man who won’t be beaten, can’t be beaten.”
(...)
There is unending satisfaction and consummate encouragement in the principle preached by the world’s most distinguished conditioner of men, “A man who won’t be beaten, can’t be beaten.”

26 October 1919, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, “Emlen S. Hare Heads Mercer Automobile Co.,” pg. A6:
Mr. Hare is fond of a remark of that famous trainer, Mike Murphy. under whom he worked at college: “You can’t beat a team that won’t be beaten.”

Google Books
7 November 1919, Pennsylvania Gazette (University of Pennsylvania), pg. 148:
It Is Still True.
A FAMOUS saying by the late and lamented “Mike” Murphy, trainer and coach of many celebrated Pennsylvania teams, continues to bob up over the country. Indeed, it is called upon whenever it is necessary to urge a football or other athletic team to something superhuman. The homely rendering we heard Murphy use was: “You can’t lick a team that won’t be licked.” At a great football rally at Dartmouth on the eve of the latter’s game with Colgate last week one of the Dartmouth coaches quoted Murphy thus: “A team that won’t be beat can’t be beat.” Others have rendered it: “There’s no wav to beat a team that won’t be beaten.”

19 November 1921, Rockford (IL) Morning Star, “Beloit to end grid campaign against Ripon,” pg. 9, col. 3:
But Coach “Tommy” Mills, speaking this noon to the college student body at one of the largest “pep” meetings ever held in Beloit, said: “We go up against a great big, powerful machine here tomorrow afternoon. But I don’t say we are going to be beaten. I say we can win! Men who won’t be beaten, can’t be beaten.”

Google Books
Principles of Football
By John W. Heisman
St. Louis, MO: Sports Publishing Bureau
1922
Pg. 372:
“A team that won’t be licked can’t be licked.” — Mike Murphy.

29 November 1922, Eau Claire (WI) Leader, “The Tiger Comes Into His Own,” pg. 2, col. 5:
Bill Roper told the boys that “a team which won’t be beaten can’t be beaten.”

Google News Archive
1 December 1922, Evening News (San Jose, CA),"The Tigers’ Championship Claim” by Henry L. Farrell (United PressStaff Correspondent), pg. 8, col. 2:
The spirit of the Princeton team, that never admitted defeat, even when the evidence was powerful at hand, is worded on a sign posted in the Tiger club house:

“A team that won’t be beaten, can’t be beaten.”

Google Books
Singles and Doubles
By William T. Tilden
New York, NY: George H. Doran Company
1923
Pg. 62:
The old bromide, “A team that won’t be beaten can’t be beaten,” is more or less true here, for man won’t be beaten by woman, that is, until he has been a few times, so that it sinks in.

Google Books
Princeton Football
By Mark F. Bernstein
Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub.
2009
Pg. 50:
THE TEAM OF DESTINY.  A perfect record, a victory over the University of Chicago, and a national championship would have ensured immortality for the 1922 squad, but there was something unique about them. Coach Bill Roper reminded them of a motto Johnny Poe ‘95 had given Roper as an undergraduate:"If you won’t be beat, you can’t be beat.” Sportswriter Grantland Rice gave them a nickname: Team of Destiny.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • (0) Comments • Tuesday, November 22, 2011 • Permalink