Turkey Day: Dedicated to the game

Why is the Webster Groves vs. Kirkwood football game played on Thanksgiving? What happened in the Turkey Day Game 100 years ago? What years did the Turkey Day Game end in a tie? These questions, and many more, can be answered by Shawn Greene, Webster Groves resident and Turkey Day Game historian, even off the top of his head. 

Greene, a 1987 Webster Groves High School graduate, has researched past Turkey Day Games since the 1990s. He compiled and wrote Turkey Day Game Centennial 1907-2007, a book on Turkey Day Game history, with the help of contributing authors. He has continued to write stories of various Turkey Day Games on their 25, 50, 75 or 100 year anniversaries. Read Greene’s retelling of eventful Turkey Day Games.

Shawn Greene, 1987 Webster Groves High School graduate, has researched past Turkey Day Games since the 1990s and authored Turkey Day Game Centennial 1907-2007, a book on Turkey Day Game history. (Ella Sottile)

Past vs. future

“The stories that I write, in the early history, a lot of the victories and a lot of the big things and big moments are Webster moments. And what’s tough is that makes it seem like I’m telling it from a pro-Webster perspective. But that was the early part of the history. Then, in 100 years, somebody is going to go back in time, and it’s going to be all Kirkwood history.”

Early history of the game

“When I started doing Turkey Day Game research, everybody was absolutely positive that the first football game that Webster and Kirkwood ever played was in 1907. And I found 10 games earlier than the 1907 football game.

The game [taking place on Thanksgiving every year] actually started in 1928. But Webster and Kirkwood have been playing football against each other since 1898.

[The Turkey Day Game] is riddled with classic moments.”

— Shawn Greene

The historical narrative was that the Turkey Day Game was the first game between the schools, and that’s why it was important. And the reality is there weren’t a lot of other football teams in St. Louis County, so they created the game as a St. Louis County championship game. So really, the Turkey Day Game, in this day and age, kind of celebrates the very first championship football game that Webster and Kirkwood invented in St. Louis County.”

1983 Webster season

“I remember when Webster and Kirkwood played two games in 1983, back to back. Webster was undefeated, and then they met Kirkwood in the quarterfinals going to state, and Webster lost to Kirkwood. Kirkwood went to the semifinals and lost in the semifinals. And then they played Turkey Day and Webster lost to them a second time. So the two losses on that team’s record were from Kirkwood.”

1987 Turkey Day Game

“It’s 1987. Webster and Kirkwood didn’t have particularly good teams. And the very last play of the game, Webster was going to punt the ball and go into overtime. So the long snapper came in, and he hiked the football over the punter’s head and it rolled out through the back of the end zone. And if that happens, it scores a safety. This was with less than a minute on the clock. So Kirkwood ended up winning the game 2-0, because the center hiked the football over the punter’s head and out the back of the end zone. That was a classic moment. I mean, this game is riddled with classic moments.”