Death of WVU Football Player

Morgantown New Dominion
November 18, 1910

Who Is Guilty of Rudolph Munk's Death?

Does Only God Know?

New Dominion Correspondent Asks.

Would Stop Football

Editor of the New Dominion -

Having remained silent while the different persons were presenting their different statements, in order that a correct comprehension could be formed as to the cause of the death of Rudolph Munk, with the hope that the people would do unto the family of this departed one and unto his memory that which belonged to them, I am now, after the verdict of the coroner's jury, compelled by the innate promptings of Justice, to ask your kind indulgence and the space in your worthy paper.

It requires no more than ordinary common sense to analyse, weigh and determine the evidence adduced, and detect wherein the statements made before the jury differed from the first and unbiased description of the affair.

The referee from Pittsburg had no hesitancy, immediately after the death-blow, to state that it was a deliberate one. Then why should he, when hailed before the jury, say by affidavit, that he did not see the lick struck, but heard it, if there were no lick struck? What did he hear? What was the purpose of all those unsolicited comments from the different "coaches" and "captains," if not to affect public conclusions and the witnesses before the jury?

They went so far as to deal with the condition of the victim's lungs, the character of an injury received last November, his also, weight, etc.

This had nothing to do with the blow that he received Saturday, nor with the guilt of the party that caused it to be delivered, as well as the responsibility upon the one who did it.

Rudolph Munk is Dead, the parents and family in sorrow. Must the cause of his death remain a secret because the referee has been cause to modify his positive judgment at the very time of the fatality?

Surely not. It is due these parents and this family and the sympathetic public that thorough investigation should be made, not only to discover what part McCoy took in this awful occurrence but to refinitely[?] determine what part the Bethany College had in permitting McCoy to come back after ten days absence and take part in this particular game and for what purpose was he brought back, not to attend college, but to aid the college in wrenching a victory from West Virginia University, if possible.

Did McCoy play his part according to arrangements before the game was played?

Can it be said that Bethany College allowed a man to play against the University who was not eligible and the college know it?

If not, why did the president of that college so quickly undertake to shift the responsibility to McCoy who was not a regular and why did the Bethany club play this fellow under the name of Garner, even if it were without the knowledge of McCoy?

Bethany had played our boys here and knew that Munk was one that knew the game, and, therefore, it appears as if it were deemed necessary to have McCoy return to Bethany College just for the championship game. Strange is it not? With all the regard possible for the parents of McCoy, and their determination to defend their son, which is only natural, still it seems so unkind to let this matter drop, simply because the witnesses were not "positive" and because the Pittsburg referee vaccilated so in his different statements, and especially in his written statement, sent by special delivery, when he should have been before the coroner's jury in person, where it could have been known what he really said and what was attributed to him.

The papers say that the attorneys from Canton, O., were at Wheeling during the sitting of the jury, and to a lawyer the verdict reads like one drafted by the attorneys representing the accused.

From all the facts given to the reading public, it does seems unreasonable that this investigation should end where it is apparently resting.

A grand jury should have this investigation, and the referee should be before it in person, free from all the peculiar influences of the man[a]gers of different football teams, and those in active favor of the sport.

It is observable that those interested in the game are very solicitous concerning his death, fearing that it will jeopardize the continuation of the game in our college and high schools. And it is a very serious question whether or not the game should be prohibited by the act of each state legislature. We are cognizant that there is a great demand for this game among the athletic inclined but how about the parents whose hearts are broken from the result of the game, not only in this particular instance.

It is said that there can be a sane and safe game but how? By the legislature making it incumbent upon the colleges and boards of education who tolerate and encourage this game, to indemnify and save harmless the boys that play to advertise their institutions, and to provide for their loss in case of injury or death.

If this were done, how many football games would any of the sporting promoters have during a college year? Not one. McCoy is quoted as saying that in these championship games more risks are taken and more severe playing done. Why[?] Can a championship game recompense the family of this martyr of last Saturday's game at Wheeling? No, ten thousand no's. There is another feature connected with the game that should not be overlooked, viz: The evil of misrepresentation and fraud. Bethany is not the only college that plays people under assumed names.

Fraud has been committed and condoned where extra players, in uniform, on the side lines, interfered with bona fide players, and thereby changed the result of the game. This makes boys believe that life is not an honest fight, but where "might is right," and any thing is fair in athletics, and therefore, should be in the real exertions of life.

The writer witnessed a football game here, several years since, where a death was only avoided by God's mercy, it being an intentional violence for re[t]aliation, but would not have been a justifiable excuse for the death neither could it have been plead for defense in a charge of murder.

Had death occurred in this last mentioned instance, a coroner's jury might have been influenced to have declared it "accidental death," but it would not have been, had death ensued.

There is also a disposition to practice slugging in this game, which is a mild phrase for the prize ring, and many high school boys get their first lesson in actual fighting in the football games, and that later leads to graver deeds[.] McCoy was the captain of a high school team, so it was stated[.]

The writer has boys, and they play the game but how can a parent prevent it, when the faculties of the colleges and high school agitate and inculcate these ideas in your sons and daughters, too, for the girls are as enthusiastic as the boys about all kinds of athletic sports, and football, especially. While the presidents and principals do this, you must either take chances on your sons getting injured or killed, or keep them from these schools, because they tell you it is not "classy" or "sporty" unless you do these things.

This may be true under the light by which they are now taught but when we enumerate those who have become so great and popular, we find that many of them have never seen the game played.

We recall many of those connected with our university who have made names on the roll of fame for themselves and are now awfully active in these sports, but who never actually engaged in them, but were all the time engaged in hard, tedious study, and this will include our Thomas, for we remember when he first came to school from the country, and boarded at the western end of the steel bridge, crossing the river. They tell me now that he is heart and soul in all the sports on the athletic field. Well, circumstances change all things[.] He is a fine scholar, but he is not a good football player[.] If this be an accomplishment precedent to an education, how did he succeed so well?

Again we recall the time when our Israel came to town, in his homemade linsey woolsey, or all wool clothes, but he was never in a game of football[.] His name is now national.

Then we are reminded of Herdman, who never played football, but is known and respected as a scholar author and gentleman[.] And we could mention many, and especially two of the younger set, Professor Porterfield and Mr Tabler, energetic students that are climbing the ladder of fame, that never acquired the so-called "class" of football.

The writer has always loved the sport of baseball, and has permitted his sons to play the game of football, still they have never entered the field without his heart following them, his peace only certain, when he learned that the game was over, and they able to walk home, without the aid of the ambulance, although not free from bruises and disfigurements not permanent[.]

When the law makes the corporations that place the men and boys on the field liable for all injuries, then the rules will soon be made sane and safe, and then we can witness a game, not a fight. Until this is done, we can expect just such results as happened at Wheeling and parents can be made to bear, without recourse, just what those parents and brothers and sisters are now doing, in Connellsville and Canton.

If there be no good reason for doubting the cause of this accident, then why have so many schools and the Bethany College in particular, as well as our university, cancelled the remaining games scheduled for this season.

Will it make the loss easier if our sons are killed in the games next year? Pshaw.

It is not the desire of the one who writes this letter to have the public believe that McCoy meant to kill Munk, when he saw Munk coming down the interference line as we wish to be as charitable as the circumstances warrant, but will McCoy say that he did not mean to use sufficient force and all the tricks known to the "training" to put Munk "out of the game?"

The law says, "That a man is presumed to do that which he does." And the burden is with the party to explain and excuse that act and its result.

If Munk were here, and able to speak, his explanation might put a very different coloring to that "defensive" act, but his lips are closed in death, and the secret may not be solved by a worldly tribunal, but rest assured, it is known by the Judge of all things both by the seeing of the overt act and the things that have not been told, or being told, have been modified until the modification obliterates the original telling.

It is a blessing that the family of one, that has just been laid to rest, feel that it might have been an accident, and have no censure for the one who inflicted the injury, be it of whatever nature, for in their sorrow they are merciful, a thing that surely should be highly appreciated by the family of McCoy and him.

Whether this was an accident or not, the question still remains why continue the game that carries with it such occurrences? This temporary cancellation reminds one of the great effort to prevent danger to the children from fires in the school buildings, after the terrible holocaust at Chicago, but what of the effect now? No drills, no dread, only forgetfulness and inertia. But wait until another fire where hundreds will suffer and die and then watch these spasmodic exertions.

The same will occur in the playing of the game of football, a death; a relaxation; unremindfulness, then repe[t]ition and result. Will experience, ever so dear, teach us nothing? We wait for the answer. What shall it be?

Kindly suggested by a parent.