Atlantic Coast Football League (1963-1964)
Moved: Marc 1965 (Norfolk Neptunes)
Stadium: Pynchon Park
Owners: Acorn Sports Association (James Dunn, et al.)
ACFL Championships: None
The Springfield Acorns were a short-lived pro football team in Western Massachusetts during the early 1960’s. The Acorns competed in the Atlantic Coast Football League, a minor league loop that featured teams from Maine to Georgia. The team played out of Pynchon Park, Springfield’s 8,500-seat minor league baseball stadium.
The Acorns were notable for their quarterbacks. In 1963, a rookie signal caller out of the University of Pittsburgh named James Traficant took over the starting job at midseason. Traficant (12 TDs vs. 5 INTs) and his teammates played just well enough to win the ACFL’s Northern Division with a 7-5 record. That earned the Acorns a chance to host the ACFL championship game on November 24th, 1963 against the 11-1 Newark Bears. Newark limited the Acorns to one early rushing touchdown en route to a lop-sided 23-6 victory.
Traficant departed after the 1963 season and was replaced under center by Dan Henning, a rookie from the College of William and Mary. Henning would go on to become and NFL head coach with the Atlanta Falcons (1983-1986) and San Diego Chargers (1989-1991). He later returned to Massachusetts as Head Coach of Boston College from 1994 to 1996.
Traficant, meanwhile, grew up to be an absurdly-toupéed U.S. Congressman from the 17th District of Ohio. Prosecuted twice for racketeering, Traficant’s colorful 17-year run in the House of Representatives ended in 2002 with a 7-year federal prison sentence.
In February 1965, several members of the ACFL split away to form the more ambitious Continental Football League. The Acorns were one of the defector clubs, but team officials were simultaneously trying to unload the franchise to out of town investors. In March 1965 the Acorns were sold to Virginia investors who moved the team and renamed it the Norfolk Neptunes. The Neptunes played on in Virginia for seven more seasons before going out of business in 1971.
==Springfield Acorns Programs on Fun While It Lasted==
|1963||9/28/1963||vs. Ansonia Black Knights||??||Program|
|1963||11/24/1963||vs. Newark Bears||L 23-6||Program|