Since 1946 the Poets and Tigers have played for a pair of
bronzed cleats, worn by 1940 Whittier graduate Myron Claxton, in a
rivalry game that has grown to be called the “Battle for the
On the Thursday evening prior to the scheduled meeting of the teams in 1939, members of the Occidental football team stole the All-American running backs shoes from the locker room, forcing Claxton to play in his work boots. Even so, Claxton led the Poets to a 36-0 victory as they went on to win the SCIAC title that year.
Following the game Claxton, who was the final draft pick of the Giants in the 1940 NFL draft, went over to the Oxy sideline and retrieved his shoes, “bringing them home”. Seven years later members of the Franklin Society, which Claxton was a member, had the shoes bronzed and the teams have played for the coveted “Shoes” trophy ever since.
Since the introduction of the trophy the teams are tied with a 33-33 record.
During the six year span from 2001-2006 Occidental retained possession of The Shoes. In November 2007, Whittier and Occidental combined to score 128 points with the Poets re-claiming The Shoes after posting a 67-61 upset win over the Tigers in Whittier. Over the last 26 years Oxy has earned 23 victories to the Poets’ six.
Occidental College and Whittier College have met on the gridiron 102 times during their histories. Overall Occidental holds an edge for the all-time record between the two institutions at 52-48 with two ties coming in 1910 and 1916. The two teams first met in 1907, the first year Whittier fielded a team. There were no games played between the two teams in 1909 or 1918. Additionally, during the war years of 1943-45 athletic competition was put on hold.