From 1938 to 1978, the Maggie Walker and Armstrong high schools met every Thanksgiving weekend on the gridiron for one of Richmond's major social events, dubbed "The Classic." As many as 30,000 spectators sometimes crammed the stands for this football game.
Former Richmond Times-Dispatch and Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star sportswriter Michael Whitt brings this legendary event to life with his book United in Rivalry.
Armstrong was the older black public school, established in 1908, and located at Leigh and Prentis streets from 1922 to 1952. Walker opened in 1938, and what became The Classic was played as a concluding afterthought to that season. An accurate score isn't even available. The first three contests between Walker's Green Dragons and Armstrong's Wildcats were held at Hovey Field, the remainder at City Stadium. (For the record, Walker had the most wins in the rivalry, which ended with an 18-0 victory by Walker.)
At its peak, The Classic was the culmination of a week of festivities; Whitt notes that the affair was sometimes described as a fashion show interrupted by a football game. He pieces together The Classic's story, down to the names of the queens each school elected.
Divided into "Four Quarters," with contextual "pre- and post-game" chronologies and "Timeline Timeout" spotlights on coaches and players, this is the definitive book about a neglected portion of Richmond's social history.