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Little Red Flag

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Frederick Plummer, A.B. 1888, who attended 59 consecutive Harvard-Yale games before his death in 1949, customarily carried a certain small banner to The Game as a talisman of Harvard luck. Made of magenta and brick-red silk with an olive H stitched to one side and mounted on a small walking stick, the "little red flag," as it has come to be called, is one of The Game’s more arcane traditions. In 1950, when the flag appeared among the various unassigned items in Plummer’s estate, William Bentinck-Smith ’37, then editor of this magazine’s predecessor, the Harvard Alumni Bulletin, suggested awarding the honor of carrying the flag on Game day to the Harvard man in attendance who had seen the largest number of Yale games. On Commencement Day 1951, Spencer Borden, A.B. 1894, who had witnessed every Yale game since 1889, took up the banner. The legacy has continued, as detailed below. Seeing the most Yale games is no longer the criterion for flag bearing; current bearer William Markus ’60, wouldn’t qualify by that standard, though none can doubt his commitment to the cause (see "Superfan," page 94).

Class Yale games Flag years
Frederick Plummer 1888 59 1884-1948
Spencer Borden 1894 62 1951-1956
Allen Rice 1902 73 1957-1969
Richard P. Hallowell 1920 66 1970-1977
Douglas Hamilton 1923 66 1977-1985
James Dwinell 1931 42 1985
Harold Sedgwick 1930 55 1986-1996, 1998
Sam Donnell 1937 54 1997
Burdette Johnson 1927 66 1999-2000
William Markus 1960 12 2001-

Richard P. Hallowell ’20 with the flag
Photograph by Nancy J. Witting