Center—(Pittsburgh) East Chicago Indians (AFL) 1939, Chicago Cardinals 1939; Camp Croft 1941, Eastern Army All-Stars 1942
Henry Adams is buried in Phillipsburg Cemetery, Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania.
Center/Tackle—(Wisconsin) Pittsburgh Steelers 1942, Chicago Cardinals 1943, Boston Yanks 1944
Art Albrecht is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
Center/Linebacker—(Purdue) Washington Redskins 1955-58
Receiving this unsolicited signed 8x10 certainly was a surprise. How generous!
Center—(Compton JC/Southern California) Detroit Lions 1953-59 [All-Pro 1956]
I started out as a tight end but must have got stupid as I went along because I kept getting closer to the middle. I ended being a center. They only kept 33 players in those days so we had to back up each other," Ane said. "The most I ever made for a season was $17,500 in my last year. But in those days, you could buy a new Cadillac for three grand. The biggest difference between then and now is football today is a business. In my era, you just came to play.
Center—(Detroit) Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks 1943, Chicago Cardinals 1942,1946-50, Card-Pitt 1944, Detroit Lions 1951-53 [All-American (AP Service) 1943, College Football Hall of Fame 1986, All-Pro 1947]
I was down there [at the North-South All-Star game] when the news came that I had been drafted by Chicago. I thought it was the Bears, but it was the raggedy-ass Cardinals. They were at the bottom of the barrel then. . . . . In training camp, the coaches always had an honor system. You weighed yourself in every morning and you weighed out after practice —twice a day. Les Bingaman had himself down for 289 or whatever. But one day the honor system was no longer and George Wilson, the assistant coach, was at the scales. Les stepped aboard and the thing hit 300, which was as far as it would go. So they took him downtown to the granary and weighed him there . . . and he was 349. That was the end of the honor system.
Banonis was one of the best blocking centers around.
The Lions had a big weekend for the surviving Lions on the 50th anniversary of the 1952 NFL championship. Doak Walker was there and Bobby Layne, Cloyce Box, Dick Stanfel. When we were leaving, center Vince Banonis yelled, “Hey, Hardy, hold on a second.” I didn't know what he was going to do because he's such a big, rugged guy with bent fingers, but he put his arms around me and said, “I may never see you again. Gimme a kiss,” and he smacked me right on the lips.
Banonis listed those he considered the toughest runners to bring down and other players that he regarded highly on the reverse side of his signed 3x5 card.
Center—(Portland) New York Giants 1942
I was the fastest lineman, but I weighed only 170, and Mel [Hein] beat me by a foot in a 60-yard dash. The Giants contacted me for training camp. I was tall but slender, and I guess they figured I'd put on weight. Anyway, they sent me for the first part of the season to their farm club in New Jersey, where [Wellington] Mara and Owen would come to watch. Guess what, I was playing 60 minutes there, too — and one week three games — on Sunday, Wednesday and Sunday. I guess I got a rep for being a good hitter. The war was on and Mel had retired and unretired a couple of times and he was old enough to need rest. I know one thing: I knew how to play and I was tough. No guy tried harder; I had to.
Center—(Michigan) Detroit Lions 1934 [All-American
I wanted to play more football as a sophomore and junior, but one year ahead of me, Michigan also had an All-American center, Chuck Bernard. I was the better offensive center, but Chuck was 25 pounds heavier and better on defense. And in those days a coach played one guy. So that was my great regret. So here I am, great prospects as a sophomore, and my competition is All-American. Not playing was tough, but I learned a lot on the bench. I learned that there was the potential always that somebody could be better than you. And Chuck was better overall.
Gerald R. Ford
Provenance: In March 2011 I traded a Chuck Carroll-signed 8.5x11 copy of a news article reporting his selection as a 1928 A.P. All-American to collector Mark Boemia. He offered a number of 3x5s from his collection of pre-1940 Michigan football All-Americans. I chose Chuck Bernard because I still have the 1955 Topps All-American football card that I bought when I was a kid. Boemia wrote me that this ink-signed 3x5 originates from the John Smith collection. This collection was acquired by Lew Lipset in the early 1990s from the Smith family. Lew sold most of this collection to John Burk (Classic Collectibles)—and Burk sold all the Michigan autographs to Boemia.
Center—(St. Mary's, CA) Green Bay Packers 1933 [All-American 1927, College Football Hall of Fame 1973]
Larry Bettencourt is buried in Lake Lawn Park Cemetery and Mausoleum, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Center—(Minnesota) Camp Peary Pirates 1944; Philadelphia Eagles 1941; Coach—Fort Douglas MPs 1943
Center/Linebacker—(Rice) Southwestern Louisiana Institute Marines 1943, Fleet Marine Force Pacific 1945; Chicago Cardinals 1946-51, Calgary Stampeders (CFL) 1952-53 [All Canadian League 1952-53]
Center—(West Virginia) San Francisco 49ers 1956-68, Atlanta Falcons 1969 [All-American 1955, College Football Hall of Fame 1982]
The Forty-Niners had a big, strong center named Bruce Bosley . . . .He was kind of slow. But if you gave him the chance to overpower you, he would. I always tried to be real quick against Bosley.
Center—(Villanova) Cherry Point Marines 1943-44, El Toro Marines 1945; Buffalo Bisons 1946
They [Buffalo Bisons] offered me a $1,500 signing bonus. At that time, it was like a million dollars. That was a good salary. A lot of people back then were making $2,000 a year for a whole year's work. Playing football was punishment. There were no X-rays. You broke something, you got in an ambulance and went to the nearest hospital. A lot of times you got knocked out cold, but if you came to, you stayed in. You played 60 minutes. There were only 25 players on the team. The sport was brutal. You saved yourself for the last quarter. There was no slapping each other when you made a touchdown. That was a waste of energy. You handed the ball to the ref and that was it.
Center—(Notre Dame) Chicago Rockets 1946-48, Baltimore Colts 1948
Herbie Coleman was one of more than a dozen players who autographed this Notre Dame football banquet program on 8 December 1942. The program was given to me by Jane O'Connor, widow of Bill "Bucky" O'Connor.
Center—(St. Mary's, Calif.) Cleveland Rams 1938, San Francisco Packers (PCFL) 1942, Detroit Lions 1943, Los Angeles Bulldogs (PCFL) 1943, Hollywood Bears (PCFL) 1945, San Francisco 49ers 1946-47
My nose was broken 14 times. I also had some teeth knocked out and almost had my left eye put out by a guy who straight-armed me.
Gerry Conlee named Nagurski and Hein as the greatest offensive and defensive players who he played against. His grave is in Lakewood Memorial Park, Hughson, California.
Center/Linebacker—(TCU/North Texas State) Brooklyn Dodgers 1948
Jim Cooper is buried in Sunset Memorial Gardens in Odessa, Texas.
Center—(Rutgers) Brooklyn Dodgers 1930
Bernie Crowl is buried in East Cemetery, Manchester, Connecticut.
Center/Linebacker—(Purdue) Washington Redskins 1954, Boston Patriots 1960-64, Buffalo Bills 1964-65
I wanted to carry the ball on every play, and they gave me that wish; they made me a center.
Walt Cudzik, on his desire to be a halfback at Purdue
Center—(Southern California) St. Mary's Pre-flight Air Devils 1942,1945; Cleveland Rams 1945, Los Angeles Rams 1946, Hawaiian Warriors (PCFL) 1947
Center—(Duquesne) Washington Redskins 1945-53
We never thought about being tired in those days. If I had to take a guess, I averaged about 57 or 58 minutes a game. We had 32 players on the roster, and the best players did everything. I don't ever recall feeling tired during a game. We enjoyed staying on the field. My last year, I played center only and I was upset with the coach because I didn't feel like I was in the game.
My son, William, was about twelve years old when he drew this sketch of DeMao and sent it to him to be autographed.
Center—(Niagara) Brooklyn Dodgers 1942, Charlotte Clippers (Dixie League) 1946
Center—(Alabama) Boston Yanks 1946-48, New York Bulldogs 1949, New York Yanks 1950-51 [All-American 1942]
Jarring Joe Domnanovich is a whale of a center and line backer.
Joe Domnanovich is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham, Alabama.
Center—(Santa Clara) Chicago Cardinals 1938; Pensacola Naval Air Station Goslings 1942
He is outstanding in pass defense and in diagnosing offensive maneuvers. He is steady and consistent. I've never seen a better center.
Center/Linebacker—(Oregon) Jacksonville Naval Air Station Air Raiders 1943-44; New York Yankees 1949, New York Yanks 1950-51, Dallas Texans 1952, Baltimore Colts 1953
I was lucky to stay with the same franchise in my pro playing days, the team going from N.Y. to Baltimore via Dallas.
Up to his dying day, Ecklund loved to eat. "He loved his groceries," his son-in-law said. His favorite food? "Volume," his son-in-law said. The man just liked to eat.
I had offers from the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, who were pretty hard up for linemen in those days. If I had gone into pro football, the name Jerry Ford might have been a household word today.
Ford is buried at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Center—(Santa Clara) San Francisco 49ers 1946-47
In 1944, Lambeau [of the Packers] got in touch with me again, but so did Tony Morabito. My dad negotiated with both of them. But Tony was a very kind and generous man, and I wanted to come back to San Francisco, come home. I was only 25, and not really cognizant that two teams wanted me. So there was nothing like a bidding war. I really didn't know what I wanted to do, but I was anxious to get back to civilian life, so joining the 49ers in a new league seemed ideal. Since there were no major-league pro teams here then, we were sort of quasi- or semi-celebrities. People knew us. Anybody in the Bay Area interested in sports knew about the 49ers in those days. "From the beginning, we got good crowds. We all lived in Park Merced. The wives knew each other and socialized together. It was a very happy existence. And the football was fun, too. Good players, hard-played games, interesting times. We flew all over the country to play and that was marvelous. In New York, we used to go to Toots Shor's restaurant and eat dinner for free. And it was quite a thrill to go into Cleveland and play Paul Brown, Mr. Football, and those great Browns teams, too — Otto Graham, Dante Lavelli, Mac Speedie, Marion Motley. I loved football, and I was never sorry I was a 49er. I'll tell you, those first 49ers were some of the nicest guys in the world. We were like a family.
Center—(Washington & Jefferson/Army) [All-American 1922,1924, College Football Hall of Fame 1954]
Center—(Youngstown) Detroit Lions 1942
You can never forget a fellow like Sloko Gill. He had the admirable qualities of being the best lineman and a rugged fellow, yet always a gentleman.
Center—(Georgia) Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Base Commandos 1944, Boston Yanks 1947-48
Godwin recalled a party after the 1943 Rose Bowl game at the Biltmore Hotel. Buoyant spirits had enveloped the Bulldog players after winning the game. As Godwin recalled, he scanned the room, looking for a dance partner. He spied a beautiful brunette as the band played "One O'clock Jump." She accepted his invitation for a jitterbugging session. When a slow number ensued, he soon was dancing cheek to cheek. "Dadgummed if she didn't reach right up and kiss me, juicy and tenderly, right on the lips - right there on the dance floor," Godwin wrote. "I returned that soft, sweet kiss and then we rubbed our cheeks together again and floated some more around the room. 'My name's Bill Godwin,' I whispered softly, romantically. 'What's yours?" "'Ava Gardner,' she replied. 'I'm Mickey's wife.'" Stunned, Godwin recalled that his knees became shaky. "About that time a small hand lassoed her arm and pulled it down from around my sun-baked neck." It was then that Godwin's eyes met the glare of a red-faced Mickey Rooney. "Come on," Godwin remembered Rooney saying to Ava. "You're going home."
Center—(Richmond) Richmond Arrows (Dixie League) 1937-38, Portsmouth Cubs (Dixie League) 1939-41, Philadelphia Eagles 1941, Jacksonville NAS Fliers 1942 [All League Dixie 1937]
Bill Gray (1922-2011)
Center/Guard/Linebacker—(Oregon State/Southern California) Camp Lejeune Marines 1944; Washington Redskins 1947-48
I also have a 2-page note Gray sent me about his service football days.
Center—(Duke) [College Football Hall of Fame 1962]
He was outstanding at offense and defense.
Tiger Hill wrote, "I think the University of Tennessee had the roughest and hardest hitting team I ever played against. They were all tough. The strongest and hardest hitting player I played with was Willard 'Bolo' Perdue. Against was Blackjack Harry Smith, University of Southern California."
Center—(Vanderbilt) [All-American 1937, College Football Hall of Fame 1959]
Hinkle closed a three-year varsity career [in 1937] in which he played 60 minutes in 13 games, snapped the ball unerringly, and rarely was outfoxed on the defense.
Carl Hinkle and Marshall Goldberg autographed this news article naming the 1937 A.P. All-American team. Hinkle wrote, "After Vanderbilt, I went to West Point, but upon my arrival the Navy learned about it, and went to Congress who decided not to let me play football. I did however play lacrosse, and was top cadet there at West Point." He is buried at Little Rock National Cemetery, Little Rock, Arkansas.
Center—(California) Coach—UCLA 1926-44 [All-American 1923-24, College Football Hall of Fame 1969]
Horrell was about 50% of the psychological effect of the Bears. He could get his men together better than any football captain I ever saw. Andy Smith could have stood the loss of five good men better than the graduation of Horrell.
Babe Horrell autographed this news article reporting the 1924 Walter Camp All-American selections. It is one of the earliest signed clippings in my collection. Of Horrell, the news report wrote, "Horrell of California, also is out of position, although he previously has not been on the Camp's first eleven. He is at guard on the 1924 list, but his regular post is center."
Center—(Purdue) Brooklyn Dodgers 1939, Milwaukee Chiefs 1940-41 [AFL All League 1941]
At Purdue, I was what today is called a walk-on. I received no financial help until I had proven that I could make the team, which apparently I did—made Co-Capt. and chosen to be the starting center for the Blue in the first Blue-Gray game in Dec. 1938. In 1939, the Eagles drafted me on the third round. Bert Bell had agreed that I could go to Medical School while playing, but to get out of that promise and while I was in Chicago with the Tribune All-Stars he sold me to the Brooklyn Dodgers. I played the full schedule with them. In 1940 I was admitted to Indiana University School of Medicine. I had no intention of ever playing any more pro ball. That year the AFL formed and Milwaukee offered me a set up that allowed me to commute on week-ends to where ever they played and attend school in Bloomington, In.
Center—(Tyler Texas JC) Akron Bears (AFL) 1946, San Francisco 49ers 1948-56; Coach—Cincinnati Bengals 1976-78
He was a solid center.
Y. A. Tittle
Bill Johnson wrote to me in about 1989 that Hardy Brown was "the most punishing player" he'd seen in his pro experience.
Center/Linebacker—(Butler/Purdue) Buffalo Bills 1947, Baltimore Colts 1947
Center—(Stanford) Philadelphia Eagles 1944-51 [All Pro 1951]
. . . he was a good one.
Vic Lindskog's remains were cremated.
Center—(Alabama) Boston Yanks 1948 [All-American 1945, College Football Hall of Fame 1990]
I signed as the number one pick for $7,500 and I got a signing bonus of $2,500. Back then, when a man reached the $5,000 a year mark, he thought he was rich. And it was a big deal to me.
Vaughn Mancha autographed this 1945 Jack Sords cartoon in January 1991, twenty years before his death. He sent me a nice black and white photo that the cartoonist used for his caricature.
Center—(St. Vincent) Philadelphia Eagles 1944-45,1948, Detroit Lions 1948
I played for Lions [in] Oct. & Nov. 1948.
Bap Manzini is buried in Monongahela Cemetery, Monongahela, Pennsylvania.
Center—(Utah) St. Louis/Kansas City Blues (AFL) 1934, Brooklyn Dodgers 1935, Los Angeles Bulldogs 1936
Walt McDonald is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Riverton, Wyoming.
Center—(Purdue) Chicago Bears 1932-36, Cleveland Rams 1937, Green Bay Packers 1938, San Diego Bombers 1941-42 (PCFL)
It was the Depression . . . I suppose we were all just happy to have a job.
Ookie Miller, on
his $100 per game Bears’ pay
Ookie Miller autographed this 1937 Jack Sords cartoon.
Center/Defensive End—(Louisiana State) Los Angeles Rams 1954-57, Dallas Cowboys 1960-61, San Diego Chargers 1962
Center—(Michigan) Brooklyn Dodgers 1933-34 [Grantland Rice All-American 1931]
I played only two years, and at $125 a game, that was enough.
Center/Defensive Tackle—(Boston College) San Francisco 49ers 1957-62,1964, Cleveland Browns 1962-63
He was a great competitor, for one thing. He wanted to win, and loved to play. He was a pleasure to coach and work with.
Frank Morze didn't sign his name on the questionnaire I sent him in July 1994, but he did answer all the other questions including mentioning his selection to play in the 1955 East-West Shrine game which he was "unable to play due to Injury."
Center/Linebacker—(Boston College) Coronado Amphibious Training Force Amphibs 1944; Los Angeles Rams 1946-50 [All-American 1942, All Pro 1949]
Fred Naumetz is buried in Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park, Westlake Village, California.
Center—(Virginia Polytechnic) Baltimore Colts 1954-60,1965, Pittsburgh Steelers 1961-64
He was a scrawny little kid out of VPI who went on to become one of the best centers in the league. Buzz had the opposite problem I had with weight. He couldn't keep any on. He weighed about 230, and Weeb was always harping on him to get up to 250. I used to have to go all week without eating just to get down to 270, and wouldn't you know I'd be drooling come weigh-in day watching Buzz stick two ten-pound weights under his armpits and wearing a T-shirt on the scale to keep Weeb happy.
Buzz Nutter is buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, La Plata, Maryland.
Center—(Penn State) Second Air Force Superbombers 1944, Fourth Air Force Flyers 1945; New York Giants 1946-48, Brooklyn Dodgers 1949
Lou Palazzi was such a great person, just a great guy.
Center—(Canisius) New York Giants 1943-45
Bill Piccolo autographed the cover of a 19 November 1944 New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers game program. The program was autographed by more than a dozen Giants players and was given to me in 1995 by Rusty Kane, a tackle on the Giants.
Center—(Georgia Tech) [All American 1928, College Football Hall of Fame 1963]
I obtained this 8x10 autographed photo on Oct. 26, 2011 in trade with a collector from Tennessee for three handwritten questionnaires of players who played for the Tennessee Volunteers (Bartholomew, Crawford, Shires). Pund signed this photo twice, but the signature between his shoe and the ball is difficult to see. The collector had purchased it from Jim Wiggins originally.
Center/Tackle—(Arizona State) Hamilton Tiger Cats (CFL) 1956, Chicago Cardinals 1957
He has amazing mobility...actually quick.
On the questionnaire that I sent him in January 1994, he printed his name and nickname and mentioned that he played against Bruno Banducci and Ernie Stautner. He printed answers to all the other questions. His 6 foot, 6 inch frame at 308 pounds, size 16 EEEE shoes, size 52 jersey, 44 pants, and size 8 headgear (created by splitting 2 normal helmets and splicing them together) made him the biggest man in the NFL in 1957. Earl Putman is buried in National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona.
Center/Guard/Linebacker—(Western Maryland/Carnegie Tech) Cleveland Rams 1941-42,1944-45
Center—(Indiana) Portsmouth Spartans 1930, Frankford Yellowjackets 1931, Indianapolis Indians 1933
I played for the Portsmouth Ohio Spartans the first year they were in the N.F.L. 1930 . . . . CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS LETTER THAT CARROLL RINGWALT WROTE ME JUST BEFORE HE PASSED AWAY
Center—(Pennsylvania) Philadelphia Quakers 1926
It was great playing for the Phila. Quakers. There was no pressure and everyone was relaxed. Some of the players were having a smoke waiting for the game time. Finally, when the referee stuck his head in the door and said, "Game time fellows." We all sauntered down to the stadium entrance and then ran out on the field with great enthusiasm.
Center—(Fullerton JC/Arizona State) Army Air Force Training Command Skymasters 1945; Los Angeles Bulldogs (PCFL) 1939, Cleveland Rams 1940-42, Los Angeles Dons 1946-48
I have a lifetime NFL pass, awarded by Commissioner Elmer Layden.
Center—(Notre Dame) Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base Amphibs 1945, Buffalo Bills 1948-49, Los Angeles Rams 1950
I remember the game because of Pepper Martin. I caused one of his kicks to go wide of the goal posts and as I was lying on the ground I suggested he go back to playing baseball.
Art Statuto, on an August 17, 1948
exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers
Art Statuto autographed this 1948 news report of an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team in which he recovered a fumble.
He was buried at Christ the King Cemetery, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.
Center/Linebacker—(Abilene Christian) Detroit Lions 1947-48, Washington Redskins 1949
Center—(Notre Dame) Detroit Lions 1945-47, Philadelphia Eagles 1948, Chicago Bears 1949
Frank Szymanski was one of more than a dozen players who autographed a Notre Dame football banquet program on 8 December 1942. The program was given to me by Jane O'Connor, widow of Bill "Bucky" O'Connor.
Center—(Indiana) Miami Seahawks 1946 [All-American 1944, College Football Hall of Fame 1990]
Center/Linebacker—(Minnesota) Green Bay Packers 1950,1953-54 [All-American (AP) 1949, College Football Hall of Fame 1980, All Pro 1950]
I caught Clayton Tonnemaker once and I don't think Clayton or I will ever forget it. Doak Walker had come around the end and had just slipped down. Clayton was going to make sure he didn't get up and was just startin' to come down with both knees in the middle of Doak's back. And the timing was just perfect for me. I was on the other side of Doak and I caught it just in time and I let one ride. And at that time they had those big, thick plastic masks—big, thick bar—well, I came right through that bar on Clayton. It must have ended up in the upper deck, knocked Clayton cold, gave him a bloody nose, two black eyes and must have knocked out a couple of teeth. And, boy, did my elbow hurt.
Clayton Tonnemaker autographed this 1949 Alan Maver cartoon.
Center/Linebacker—(Stanford) Pittsburgh Pirates 1938
Lou Tsoutsouvas is buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery, California.
He declined to sign his autograph, but printed his name on a questionnaire that I sent him in January 1994.
Center—(Kentucky) Washington Redskins 1950-51,1953-56
He was a good man, a good football player, a good person.
Center—(Washington & Lee/Auburn) Brooklyn Dodgers 1946-48 [All-American 1944]
Tex Warrington is buried in Crestlawn Cemetery, Vero Beach, Florida.
Center—(Pacific) Washington Redskins 1945
Jim Watson declined to autograph a 3x5 card, but printed his name on a questionnaire that I sent to him in December 1995.
Center—(Northwestern) New York Giants 1953-62 [All Pro 1958]
He was a smart savvy guy and a great athlete who could have been a professional baseball player . . . .[our kickers] loved Ray because his snaps always came back to the holder with the laces up, just the way they're supposed to. The guy was uncanny. He never even looked at the holder, but in all the years I played with him, I can hardly remember Wietecha making a bad snap.