Frank Aschenbrenner (1925-2012)
Halfback—(Marquette/Northwestern) North Carolina Pre-Flight Cloudbusters 1944, Great Lakes Naval Training Station Bluejackets 1945, Chicago Hornets 1949; Montreal Alouettes (CFL) 1951 [Rose Bowl Hall of Fame 1993]
Frank Aschenbrenner autographed this 1946 Jack Sords cartoon for me in January 1991.
Tailback—(Pennsylvania) [All-American 1950, College Football Hall of Fame 1977]
I was a plugger, a hang-in-there kind of player. I didn't have great natural ability. If I had one outstanding quality, it was my competitiveness.
Reds Bagnell autographed this 1950 Alan Maver cartoon. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
Running Back/Defensive Back—(Washington State) Detroit Lions 1952, Green Bay Packers 1953, British Columbia Lions (CFL) 1954-64 [CFL All-Pro 1956-58, Canadian Football Hall of Fame 1975]
I was the first player to play on championship teams in both the National Football League & Canadian Football League.
Halfback—(Arizona) Detroit Lions 1942
Emil Banjavic is buried in Davis Memorial Park, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Tailback/Halfback/Defensive Back—(Ursinus) Philadelphia Eagles 1936
Back then, they didn't have a draft like they do now. They invited me to training camp, and I made the team. I got pretty banged up in '36 and reinjured my knee the next year in training camp. In those days, if you got hurt that was it. Your career was over. It was just a great experience. We played against some great teams. You also had to play both ways, and if you went out in one quarter, you couldn't come back in the game until the next quarter. If a coach made a signal then [to send in a play], it was a penalty. The formations were tight then, not spread out like they are today. Going both ways, I was a wingback and cornerback, and we traveled a lot. It was great.
Reds Bassman autographed this card for me and responded to some questions in May 1998. He was buried in Brith Achim Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia.
Halfback—(Muhlenberg/Pennsylvania) Rochester Jeffersons 1921-22 [he also played major league baseball with the NewYork Giants in 1921-22]
Nig Berry is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.
Halfback—(Chicago) [All-American 1935, Heisman Trophy 1935, College Football Hall of Fame 1954; #1 NFL Draft Choice 1936]
My biggest thrill when I got the wire telegraph at the fraternity house was that they were going to send me two tickets to fly to New York [to receive the Heisman Trophy]. The biggest thrill was I was going to get my first airplane ride. They awarded it the same as they do today — they really treated you like royalty. But, it only got about 2 or 3 inches in the newspaper back then. That's the thing everyone was interested in making back then — making All-American. First you make all-Big Ten, then All-American. And, back then, only 11 players were picked for All-American. You had to play both ways. Years later, the other awards like the Heisman began to get more of the prestige.
This Jack Sords cartoon autographed by Jay Berwanger is one of two signed cartoons in my collection; the other is a 1935 Art Krenz cartoon. I have two of these signed 8x10s. Jay Berwanger autographed this colored pencil drawing that I drew of him in 1990. He is buried in Bronswood Cemetery, Oak Brook, Illinois.
See video clip of Jay Berwanger among several being named an All-American in 1934.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Southern California) Los Angeles Bulldogs (PCFL) 1943, Philadelphia Eagles 1944-46, Los Angeles Rams 1947
This photo of Mel Bleeker is part of a larger photo of five Philadelphia Eagles football players including Jack Banta, Ernie Steele, Jack Hinkle, and Steve Van Buren. All except Banta autographed this wonderful photograph. I wasn't able to have Banta sign it because he died in 1977, 11 years before I began collecting. See the full photo in the entry for Jack Hinkle on this web site in the running backs category (below).
Halfback—(Tulsa) Chicago Bears 1948-51, San Francisco 49ers 1952, Green Bay Packers 1953
In the early 1950s we had this little halfback from Tulsa by the name of J. R. Boone. He was quick and a good pass receiver. We’d played an exhibition game in Mishawaka, Indiana, and we lost it. We were taking a shower afterward, and J.R. was singing in the shower. Halas came by and said, “What the hell are you singing about?” J.R. said, “What do you want me to do, cry?” That week Halas traded J.R. to the 49ers.
He was interred in the Chapel of the Light Mausoleum, Fresno, California.
Halfback—(California) St. Mary's Pre-flight Air Devils 1942 [All-American 1938, College Football Hall of Fame 1981]
Vic was only about 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds, and he was no speed demon. But boy could he follow his interference, he was great at that. He never hollered or yelled much. He would always say that he only did things because of the guys blocking for him. Everyone respected him because he set the highest standards for himself.
Vic Bottari autographed this 1938 Jack Winter cartoon. I also have signed cartoons drawn by Hardin "Jack" Burnley (1937), Art Krenz (1938), Jack Sords (1937 dual signed by Sam Chapman—see below), and one drawn by Tom Paprocki. He was cremated and his ashes scattered over the Pacific Ocean.
See video clip of Vic Bottari (#92) making some nice runs and at least one TD in a 1938 game in which Cal beat UCLA 20-7.
Halfback—(Penn/Notre Dame) Frankford Legion 1931-32; Coach—Staten Island Stapletons 1931 [All-American 1930]
I traded a Billy Vessels autograph to a Virginia collector for album pages autographed by Paul Moss, Warren Heller, and this Marty Brill 1931 autograph.
Halfback—(West Virginia) Luke Air Force Base Mustangs 1945; Buffalo Bills 1948-49, Cleveland Browns 1950-52
Halfback—(Colorado State) Chicago Cardinals 1956
When I was growing up, I made up my mind that I wanted to be the fastest man in the world and I wanted to play pro football. I figured out what I had to do in order to be able to do those things. I made sure my study habits were such that I would be eligible to compete.
Halfback—(North Carolina) Pittsburgh Pirates 1938, Philadelphia Eagles 1938
I hold longest punt record at U.N.C.—85 yd.
Halfback/Quarterback—(Tennessee) Brooklyn Dodgers 1940,1943, Newport News Builders (Dixie League) 1941, Washington Redskins 1943, Boston Yanks 1944-45; Eastern Army All-Stars 1942 [All-American 1939, College Football Hall of Fame 1969, #1 NFL Draft Choice 1940, #1 Passing Dixie League 1941]
Weighing only 170, he generates terrific power on off-tackle smashes and makes dazzling run-backs of punts. He is considered one of the nation's best punters and specializes in "coffin-corner" kicks.
Harry Ferguson (1939)
George Cafego autographed this 1938 Art Krenz cartoon. Cafego is one of four 1938 A.P. All-Americans to sign the copy of this news article. The others who signed it include Eric Tipton, Marshall Goldberg, and Parker Hall. He is buried in Highlawn Memorial Park, Oak Hill, West Virginia.
Wingback—(Randolph Macon/North Carolina) Brooklyn Dodgers 1948
Jim Camp is buried in Maplewood Cemetery, Durham, North Carolina.
Running Back—(UCLA) Los Angeles Bulldogs (PCFL) 1940-41, Santa Ana Army Air Base Flyers 1942-45, Minter Army Air Field Flyers 1944, Pearl Harbor Army Air Force Hawaiian Flyers 1945; Hollywood Bears (PCFL) 1946,1948 [B'nait Brith Jewish All-American 1938]
In 2012, Izzy's daughter informed me that what I had thought was a hand-signed note by him was actually written by his wife, Virginia. His daughter knew this because Virginia's writing was slanted backhand and Izzy had a beautiful script. I received this questionnaire in Feb. 1993. I thought it had been answered by Izzy personally because on the reverse side of the questionnaire, I asked him if Leo Cantor was his brother. The reply said, "Leo is my brother." With that response, I simply assumed that Izzy was the one who had filled out the questionnaire. He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.
Halfback—(Nebraska) Detroit Lions 1937-43 [All Pro 1938]
If you ever had the opportunity to try and tackle Cardwell, or got hit by him, you would well remember him forever.
Halfback/Offensive End—(Oregon State) Cleveland Browns 1950-53, Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) 1954-59, Denver Broncos 1960
Halfback—(Arkansas) Detroit Lions 1953-55, Cleveland Browns 1957-58, Green Bay Packers 1959-63
When Green Bay traded for me. . . . Look, they had nothing until I went there. It wasn't really Lombardi, it was me. [My brother Preston] read it in the paper where I'd been traded, and he called me on the phone. He says, “I guess you're going to quit playing football now.” I says, “Why?” He said, “Green Bay, that's the world's worst team in the world . . . you're going to Green Bay?” I said, “Look, Preston, it'll only take me a short time to get 'em on that map.” [The next year, when the Packers played the Philadelphia Eagles for the 1960 championship, Lew Carpenter called his brother.] I said, “Preston, how does Green Bay sound to you now?” . . . . My problem was I was too versatile. I was the third quarterback, the third running back, the second tight end, the third wide receiver and the fifth defensive back. When anybody got hurt, I would go in. Everyone had a role on Lombardi's teams. If you didn't like it, you left. He believed in conditioning and was very demanding when it came to that area. We were dog tired at the end of our practices. Our practices during the season were tough, too. The pressure of the game was nothing compared to the pressure of our practices. The games were a piece of cake. The games were nice because we were away from that son of a bitch. He expected everyone to know what the hell they were doing. He was very critical when it came to any kind of mistake in fundamentals — dropped balls, fumbles, missed assignments, bad throws. He was much easier to coach for than he was to play for. There were times when you figured you never did anything right. But he always had a way of making you feel better after he yelled at you. He would come up to you after practice and say something like, “You're too good of a player for me to have to get after you like that.” That would make you think, “He chewed my ass out, but he still likes me.”
Lew was a fine all-around player but one who simply did not have the breakaway speed to take advantage of every block and go all the way.
On many of my request letters to players, I would make a copy of one of my old football cards, adding a touch of color and personal interest to my request letter. The above signature is an example from one of my request letters signed on the copy of the card by Lew Carpenter in October 1992. He wrote, "Still wish my hair was this color."
Halfback—(Washington) [All-American 1928, College Football Hall of Fame 1964]
Carroll is a great straight ahead runner . . . . The Washington player is the kind that never loses ground. You can always count on him to make a gain of some kind.
Glenn "Pop" Warner
This is one of two 1928 All-American news articles signed by Chuck Carroll. This is the All-American selection "made" by Pop Warner, Knute Rockne, and Tad Jones. The sports writer wrote, "Carroll was a brilliant player when Washington was a winner, but this year, with a loser, he has been twice as brilliant as before. Never a team man in the past, with the responsibility up to him, he has suddenly become a helper of the other fellow. He can do anything any back ever could do and this year has done most of them, except lead the conference in scoring, as he did last year. Now he has forgotten all about personal scoring honors in his fervor for the team. Chuck Carroll this season, losing team or not, certainly is the outstanding epic football personality on the Pacific coast." The other Carroll-signed news article in my collection (see below) reports the 1928 A.P. All-American selections. Carroll wrote on it, "There was no organized pro football in those days!"
Royal Cathcart (1926-2012)
Halfback/Safety—(Compton JC/Santa Barbara) San Francisco 49ers 1950
Cathcart autographed this 3x5 card for me in January 1994.
Don "Babe" Chandler (1934-2011)
Halfback/Kicker—(Florida) New York Giants 1956-64, Green Bay Packers 1965-67 [#1 Punting 1957, #1 Scoring 1963]
He was solid, honest, consistent, considerate, a hell of a human being.
When I came to the Giants, my good friend Don Chandler, who I played in the College All-Star game with, came too. He was a great punter, and we were roommates until they traded me to Washington eight years later. They traded him to Green Bay the year after they traded me. I remember he was so upset that they traded me, he made it clear they had to trade him too. . . . Chandler was a lot like Conerly, kind of a grump. He'd sit there in the morning, smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee, and bitch about everything—the weather, the food, the fact that he wasn't back home in Oklahoma. But what a kicker . . . . He was not a picture-perfect punter. He'd almost kick it off the side of his foot, soccer-style. But I've seen him kick the ball 90 to 100 yards in the air, and that is no exaggeration.
Halfback/Tailback—(Michigan State) Pittsburgh Steelers 1950-56 [#1 Kickoff Returns 1951-52]
We had Lynn Chandnois. There's no telling how great a ballcarrier he was, but [Walter] Kies[ling] never thought that Chandnois put out. On the practice field, maybe he didn't. All I know is when it came time in a game, he was great. So one day we played the Giants and Chandnois ran back two kickoffs for touchdowns, over ninety yards each time. And the first thing Kies said after the game was, "Can you imagine that lucky bum!"
He was just an outstanding athlete. He was a good tackler, a good runner, but he sure was a great blocker. He sent me on a lot of long runs because he was such a good blocker.
Running Back/Defensive Back—(California) [All-American 1937, College Football Hall of Fame 1984]
Chapman, a rangy fellow, is a power runner with a fine burst of speed, and he can pass and kick with the best.
Henry McLemore, UPI
Sam Chapman and Vic Bottari autographed this 1937 Jack Sords cartoon.
Halfback—(Tennessee) Detroit Lions 1946, Pittsburgh Steelers 1947-48, Green Bay Packers 1949; Randolph Field AAFTC Ramblers 1944, Army Air Force Training Command Skymasters 1945
Bob Cifers is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Kingsport, Tennessee.
Halfback—(Wake Forest) Chicago Cardinals 1947-50
Green Bay had a coach, Red Cochran, whose absorption was so complete and frenzied that the head coach, Lombardi, relegated him to the spotters’ booth, where he tore up clipboards and play charts when things were going badly, rather than chancing his behavior down on the sidelines.
See video clip of Red Cochran (#24) making a nice tackle on fullback Steve Van Buren (#15) in the 1948 league championship game on December 19, 1948 in Philadelphia. The Eagles beat the Cardinals 7-0 in a snowy affair. Cochran's tackle comes about one-third of the way into the clip.
Halfback/Fullback—(Louisiana State) Chicago Hornets 1949, Baltimore Colts 1950, Green Bay Packers 1951
Halfback—(Boston College) Brooklyn Dodgers 1946
Bert Bell offered me $100 a game to go with the Steelers in the NFL and Bob Cox, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the All-America Conference, offered $175 a game. There were no long-term contracts in those days. You just played game to game. The NFL was actually quite weak. They didn't play well and no team was very good. The All-America Conference had the Cleveland Browns, and teams in Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. They were pretty well-funded, and they saw that there was a wealth of talent becoming available with all the kids returning from the service.
Halfback—(Montana State) Chicago Cardinals 1939
Don Cosner is buried in Fort Sam Hourston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas.
Halfback—(Indiana) Salt Lake Army Air Base Wings 1943, Lincoln Army Air Field Wings 1944; Cleveland Browns 1947-48, Baltimore Colts 1949
Bob Cowan is buried in Lindenwood Cemetery, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Halfback—(Alabama) Ft. Benning Infantry 1944-45; Philadelphia Eagles 1946-53, Pittsburgh Steelers 1954-55
[In 1950 I had a] record 4 interceptions [in] one game [and a] 103 yd. kick off return.
Halfback—(Texas) Georgia Pre-Flight Skycrackers 1942, Pearl Harbor Pacific All-Stars 1945 [UPI 2nd-Team All-American 1941]
Jack was a fine leader and quick-kicker.
Dana X. Bible
Jack Crain autographed this 1941 Alan Maver cartoon. He is buried in Nocona Cemetery, Nocona, Texas.
Wingback/Defensive Back—(Marquette) New York Giants 1937-45, Chicago Cardinals 1946, Green Bay Packers 1947 [All Pro 1943-44, #1 Field Goals 1938-39,1943,1947, #1 Rushing Average 1943]
Ward Cuff, the great wingback of the Giants, was the equal of any Iron Man I ever saw for taking punishment. Sometimes when Cuff played he would be bandaged in so many places, to hold minor sprains together and protect bruises, that he looked like a mummy before he put on his uniform . . . .One of the few who seemed to be without nerves was Ward Cuff. He was a cucumber, a pail of ice water.
Ward Cuff autographed this 1943 Tom Paprocki cartoon. He also signed a 1963 Hollreiser "Looking Back in Sports" cartoon. Cuff is one of three 1944 Central Press All-Pros who signed this news article. The others are Leroy Zimmerman and Jim Benton. See video clip of Ward Cuff (#14) in a December 4, 1939, game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. The Giants won on three field goals 9-7. Cuff makes a nice run at the beginning of the clip but stumbles.
Wingback—(Columbia/St. John’s/Canisus) Hartford Blues 1926, New York Yankees 1928; Orange Tornadoes (Independent) 1928, 1933
The salaries weren't made public. But in those days they weren't getting the phenomenal sums that players get paid today. Some of the great players were only getting 150 dollars a game . . . there may have been some others that got a few hundred more. I myself was supposed to be getting $125, but [the owner] held back $25 of that, he was supposed to pay it at the end of the season . . . but he was broke.
Known as Sam "Smoke" Salemi (he legally changed his last name in 1945 so his children wouldn't have to put up with "the wisecracks"), he earned $100 a game playing for the New York Yankees in 1928.
Halfback—(Army) Los Angeles Rams 1950-51 [#1 Scoring NCAA 1944, All-American 1944-46, Maxwell Award 1944, Walter Camp Trophy 1944, Heisman Trophy 1946, College Football Hall of Fame 1961]
As a defensive back, I had an acute hatred for receivers. If a guy caught a ball against me, I'd try to hit him so hard he wished he hadn't. And nothing made me madder than to have someone catch a touchdown pass on me. I remember one day against the Los Angles Rams, their great halfback and former Army star, Glenn Davis, got past me. I was more than 5 yards behind him when he gathered in a perfect Van Brocklin pass and raced down the field. No way I could ever catch Glenn Davis, but I was mad. Though he crossed the goal line 10 yards ahead of me, I never stopped. When he slowed to a touchdown trot, I slammed into him from behind. He leaped back to his feet, snarled, "You want the ball so bad . . . .Here!" and slung it at my head. I chased him all the way to his bench where, realizing I was greatly outnumbered, I turned and beat a hasty retreat to my own side of the field.
Glenn Davis autographed this 1943 Jack Sords cartoon and this colored pencil sketch that I did in 1990. The eyes and mouth are pretty quirky. I also have three other signed cartoons in my collection: 1944 Jack Sords, Al Pierotti, and 1950 Tom Paprocki. I have a 1945 Al Vermeer cartoon signed by Davis and Doc Blanchard and a 1947 Spirit of West Point movie ad signed by both players. He is buried in the United States Military Academy Post Cemetery, West Point, New York.
See video clip of Glenn Davis (#41) running wild in win against Columbia in 1946.
Tailback/Defensive Back/Quarterback—(Tulsa) Randolph Field (Texas) Ramblers 1943, Second Air Force Superbombers 1944; Brooklyn Dodgers 1946-47, Los Angeles Dons 1948-49, Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) 1951-52 [All-American 1942, All-Service Team 1943, College Football Hall of Fame 1980, #15 All-Time AAFC Rushing, #4 All-Time AAFC Passing, #1 Punting AAFC 1946,1948, #1 Passing AAFC 1946]
My dad told me I could take all my newspaper clippings to the grocery store and they wouldn't buy me a thing. He said if I was going to be a professional football player, I better get the best money I could. I was the first professional player to get a $20,000 salary back in the days when a lot of men were playing for $5,000 or less. But I had to work for it. I not only threw the ball and punted, I also had to play safety on defense.
This is one of two Tom Paprocki cartoons autographed by Glen Dobbs in my collection. This is from 1942 and the other is from 1944.
Halfback—(Texas) Georgia Pre-Flight Skycrackers 1942, Philadelphia Eagles 1947-48, New York Yankees 1949
We played old-time football. We played it for fun.
Halfback/Defensive Backs—(Michigan/Wisconsin) Chicago Bears 1949, Green Bay Packers 1950-51
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Florida) Fort Riley Cavalry Replacement Training Center Centaurs 1943; Green Bay Packers 1944, Pittsburgh Steelers 1945, Boston Yanks 1945
I am the only player in the NFL to be drafted from another NFL team. When I was discharged from the service in 1944 I signed with the Packers. As my college graduation class was 1945 my name came up in the draft and Pittsburgh took me No. 1.
Halfback—(Notre Dame) Randolph Field Ramblers 1944, Cleveland Browns 1946, Buffalo Bills 1947, Chicago Rockets 1947-48, Chicago Bears 1948
He fit right in as one of the backup halfbacks.
Evans is the only player in NFL history to return two fumbles for touchdowns in one game. It was at Notre Dame that Evans got the nickname of "Dippy." He was among some Fighting Irish players involved in horseplay at the dormitory as they were preparing for a big game against Southern Cal. The young men were squirting water onto each other as they ran through the building. Evans slipped on a wet spot and severely hurt his knee, setting into motion the injury problems that would later limit his time in the pros. Afraid of the ramifications he might face, Evans kept the incident from head coach Frank Leahy and instead had a trainer give him a shot of Novacain that sedated him and made him "dippy." That enabled Evans to work through the injury and play in the game, and as it turned out, he had a big performance in a Notre Dame win.
Halfback—(Detroit) Washington Redskins 1938-44, Detroit Lions 1945 [All Pro 1939, #1 Scoring 1939]
He was an exceptionally good ballplayer. He wasn’t the fastest guy on the team, but he was very shifty when he ran the ball.
Andy Farkas autographed this circa 1939 Art Krenz cartoon. I also have a signed 1939 Art Krenz cartoon entitled "Professionals at Grid Peak" which was co-signed by Parker Hall. He is buried in . See video clip of Andy Farkas (#44) in a December 4, 1939, game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. The Giants won on three field goals 9-7. In the first play shown on the clip, Ward Cuff (#14) makes a nice run, but stumbles. Farkas falls on him to make sure he stays down.
Tailback/Halfback/Defensive Back/Wingback—(UCLA) El Toro Flying Marines 1944; Detroit Lions 1943,1945, Los Angeles Bulldogs (PCFL) 1945, Los Angeles Dons 1946-48, Chicago Rockets 1948 [#1 Punt Returns 1946, #1 Kick-off Returns 1946]
Halfback—(Oklahoma A & M) Chicago Bears 1947 [#1 Rushing NCAA 1945, #1 All-Purpose Running NCAA 1945, #1 Total Offense NCAA 1944-45, All-American 1944-45, College Football Hall of Fame 1972]
He was the greatest one-man offense in college football history.
Halfback—(West Point/Villanova) New York Giants 1956-57; Calgary Stampeders (CFL) 1958-62
The NFL had just legalized the use of a radio receiver in quarterbacks' helmets so coaches could talk directly to their quarterbacks on the field. Jim Lee Howell didn't feel we needed that kind of contact with our veteran quarterback Charlie Conerly, but Paul Brown used a radio to send instructions in to George Ratterman, his replacement for the just-retired Otto Graham. As soon as the game began, our rookie end Bob Topp donned the earphones and tuned our radio to the Cleveland frequency to hear Paul Brown's instructions to Ratterman. Bob would call out the play. One of our running backs, Gene Filipski, who had spent some time on the Browns and knew their play-calling terminology, would tell me what was coming. Then I would signal my defensive players . . . .Cleveland went nowhere the entire first half . . . .Paul Brown abandoned his electronic play-calling when he realized our defense was thwarting his plays with surprising frequency.
Halfback/Defensive Back/Linebacker—(Arkansas) Green Bay Packers 1946-53
Halfback—(Kansas State) New York Yankees (AFL) 1936, Paterson Panthers (American Association) 1936, New York Tigers (American Association) 1937
A note accompanying Jim Fraley's autograph stated: "Jim's signature--only one I could find. He scribbled it on cover of notebook before your letter arrived."
Wingback/Defensive Back/Fullback—(Minnesota) Corpus Christi Naval Air Station Comets 1942, El Toro Flying Marines 1945, New York Giants 1941,1945-47, Jersey City Giants (AFL) 1948 [All-American 1940, College Football Hall of Fame 2002]
At 170 pounds, I was very light . . . .I made 12 of the 15 All-America teams. In 1940 the consensus backfield was: Frank Albert (Stanford QB), John Kimbrough (Texas A&M FB), Tom Harmon (Michigan HB), and me. Tom Harmon won the Heisman, Kimbrough was #2 and I was #3. . . . CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS AND OTHER INTERESTING LETTERS SENT TO ME BY SONNY FRANCK
I have an archive of letters and cartoons that George "Sonny" Franck sent me between 1989 and 1991. These are two of three signed cartoons in my collection. The 1940 cartoons shown here are by Art Krenz (left) and Jack Sords (right). In the Art Krenz drawing, he comments on some of the cartoon text. His comment concerning "having only football in neighborhood," he wrote: "His name was Wayne Wickersham taught me to run, catch a pass & tackle. They all yelled at this 5 yr old as I became proficient in these. These kids were high schoolers." Regarding the cartoon text that says he was taught to kick by his father before he entered high school, he wrote, "Then Dal Ward had to reteach me. Dal was coach at Colorado, but my freshman coach." I also have a very nice signed 1941 Tom Paprocki cartoon. The letters include a 1-page note, very informative 3-page letter, a 2-page letter regarding his World War II service football experience, and a 1-page letter regarding other sports cartoons in which he was portrayed. I also have other signed items from him. He was undoubtedly so generous because my correspondence with him happened more than ten years before he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Tailback—(Yale) [All-American 1936-37, Heisman Trophy 1937, Maxwell Award 1937, College Football Hall of Fame 1955]
Clint Frank at Yale was the best all-around back I had [coached] anyplace . . . .in addition to that he was a real miracle on defense. I've seen him play back to break up passes and still make his tackles at the line of scrimmage. He was all over the field—knocking down passes and smashing line plays, often tackling back of the line for heavy losses. Despite poor eyesight, Frank could do everything brilliantly.
Earle "Greasy" Neale
My son, William, drew this sketch of Clint Frank and sent it to him to be autographed when he was twelve years old. Clint Frank autographed this 1937 Tom Paprocki cartoon/article and 8x10 photo for me in November 1989.
See video clip of Clint Frank (#14, white helmet) scoring a couple of TDs in this 1936 Yale vs. Princeton game.
Halfback—(Army) Rochester Jeffersons 1922, Pottsville Maroons 1925 [All-American 1920-21, All-NFL 1925, he also played major league baseball with the Philaelphia Athletics 1923-29]
Halfback—(Wake Forest) Camp Peary Naval Training Station Pirates 1944; Cleveland Rams 1941, New York Giants 1945; Richmond Rebels (AFL) 1947
Halfback—(Indiana/Maryland) Maxwell Field Eagles 1945; Baltimore Colts 1948-50
[I was the] highest scorer in the nation [in] 1947 [and received the] Washington Touchdown Club Award as [the] outstanding halfback in the country.
Halfback—(Southern California) Bainbridge Naval Air Station 1945; San Francisco 49ers 1949-50
Halfback—(Notre Dame) Chicago Cardinals 1951-52
See video clip of Bill Gay (#22) in 1948 Notre Dame win over Purdue, 28-27.
Halfback/Defensive Back/Tailback—(Utah) Hollywood Bears 1942 (PCFL), Los Angeles Bulldogs 1943-44 (PCFL), Los Angeles Wildcats 1944 (PCFL), Hollywood Wolves 1944 (PCFL); Cleveland Rams 1940,1945, Los Angeles Rams 1946-49, San Francisco 49ers 1950, Chicago Cardinals 1950 [#1 Rushing Average 1945]
Freddie always gave 100% effort and was always in good shape. He had excellent speed. The year before Fred rejoined the Rams we won one game. In 1945 with Gehrke on the roster the Rams lost only one game to Philadelphia and won the world championship 15-14 over the Washington Redskins. From 1945-1948, Freddie beat Tom Harmon and Les Horvath for the starting job. Both were Heisman Trophy winners. [He was] the finest left halfback in the National Football League.
Halfback—(Georgia) Pittsburgh Steelers 1949-51, Chicago Cardinals 1952 [All Pro 1950]
In an attempt to bolster our punchless offense, we acquired a versatile running back and placekicker, Joe Geri, from the Pittsburgh steelers. This was in the days when few NFL teams carried one guy just to kick, and Geri was a tough running back. Coming from Pittsburgh, where home games were played in a hog wallow called Forbes Field and the rats outnumbered the players in the dressing rooms, Joe had to be tough. Geri was also celebrated around the league for surviving a legendary hit by the San Francisco Forty-Niners’ Hardy Brown, the Fifties’ prototype of Conan The Destroyer. . . . He had hit Geri so hard, he popped one of Joe’s eyeballs loose at Kezar Stadium. It was hanging out of his eye socket by a tendon. . . . But Geri was tough, he bounced back from the Hardy hit, and if he was less than ecstatic to be with the lackluster Cardinals, he was happy as hell to be out of Pittsburgh.
Halfback—(Minnesota) [All-American 1952, College Football Hall of Fame 1975]
The football All- Americas, Billy Vessels, Eddie Crowder and those guys, came to the games to see Paul. He was so revered as a football player that it was almost like these great Texas and Oklahoma players were there to pay their respect.
Paul Giel autographed this 1953 Alan Maver cartoon. He is buried in Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Blocking Back/Defensive Back—(Purdue) Cleveland Rams 1937; Iowa Pre-flight Seahawks 1942
On most occasions, my memory ain't worth a damn but I can recall many, many persons and experiences with the Seahawks. It all started with Bernie Bierman. He had been coach at Univ. of Minnesota—joined the Marines—and created the Seahawks at the Univ. of Iowa. I had played against his teams at Minnesota for 3 years while attending Purdue. I'd been out of football for 3-4 years but he drafted me anyway. He played me at quarterback with Forest Evashevski and at halfback when injuries required it.
Halfback/Offensive End/Defensive Back/Quarterback—(Wisconsin) Green Bay Packers 1948-51, Detroit Lions 1952-56, Pittsburgh Steelers 1957
Earl "Jug" Girard autographed this 1944 Jack Sords cartoon.
Ralph "Goldie" Goldston (1929-2011)
Halfback—(Indiana/Youngstown State) Philadelphia Eagles 1952,1954-55; Hamilton TigerCats (CFL) 1956-64, Montreal Alouettes (CFL) 1965
He was buried in Tod Homestead Cemetery, Youngstown, Ohio.
Halfback/End—(Duquesne) Pittsburgh Steelers 1942, Richmond Rebels (Dixie League) 1946
Blocking Back/Linebacker—(Muhlenberg) Fleet Marine Force Pacific 1945; New York Giants 1946
Halfback—(Michigan State) New York Giants 1953 [All-American 1950]
I began following Sonny Grandelius when he was a high school star at Muskegon Heights. He was simply a good ballplayer. Sonny wasn't the fastest back, but he always picked up the tough yards when we needed them.
Halfback—(Oklahoma State) Los Angeles Dons 1949, Green Bay Packers 1950-52, Hamilton Tiger Cats (CFL) 1953
He was pretty fast, and he was pretty shifty, too. He never got hit too hard because he was too elusive for that. He was a pretty good runner.
Halfback—(Indiana) Detroit Lions 1948-49
[I was the] first Black to play American Legion Baseball with a white team.
He is buried in Martins Chapel Church Cemetery, Pleasant Grove, North Carolina.
Tailback/Defensive Back/Halfback—(Colorado) Chicago Bears 1935-36, Chicago Cardinals 1936-37
Halfback—(Duquesne/University of San Francisco) 4th Air Force Fliers 1944-45; San Francisco 49ers 1948-49
Pound for pound, this 158-pounder was just plain dynamite. He could run, cut, hit, smash, smack and then keep on going.
Halfback—(Washington) Pittsburgh Steelers 1937
In 2009, I traded a Bob Jenkins autographed cartoon for two autographs, this By Haines and a Johnny Greene 3x5 autograph.
Halfback—(Stanford) 1933-35 [College Football Hall of Fame 1972]
His excellence as a blocker and ball carrier is unquestioned.
Howard H. Jones
Bones Hamilton autographed this 1935 Art Krenz cartoon. His devastating blocking earned him his nickname "Bones."
Halfback/Quarterback/Kicker—(Navy) Coach—Navy 1934-36,1946-47 [All-American 1926, Football Writers' Association Man of the Year 1942, College Football Hall of Fame 1965]
Tom Hamilton autographed this circa 1934 Tom Paprocki cartoon. He named Bud Sprague of Army as the hardest-hitting football player who he played against. My son, David, drew the colored pencil sketch of Tom Hamilton in about 1990. David was about ten years old at the time.
Halfback—(Notre Dame/Loras) Great Lakes Naval Training Station Bluejackets 1944, Jacksonville Naval Air Station Fliers 1945; Chicago Cardinals 1948, Pittsburgh Steelers 1949-50, Green Bay Packers 1951
Tailback—(Georgia) Washington Redskins 1938 [Christy Walsh All-American 1937, College Football Hall of Fame 1984]
You can't tell me there's been a better kicking coach—ever. He made me into the kicker I was. He coached confidence. He used to always talk about the jewel. He said you have one chance to make the perfect cut of the diamond. Be ready to do it.
Bill Hartman is buried in Oconee Hill Cemetery, Athens, Georgia.
See video clip of Bill Hartman (#25, dark jerseys) catching a pass in a 1936 Georgia-Auburn game. In the clip he runs right towards camera for a close-up.
Halfback—(Notre Dame) New York Giants 1955 [Academic All-American 1952-54]
He could run, pass, kick, receive passes and run back kickoffs better than anyone I've ever coached.
He was buried in All Saints Mausoleum in Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Tailback/Defensive Back/Halfback—(Pittsburgh) Pittsburgh Pirates 1934-36 [All-American 1932]
In February 2010, I traded a Billy Vessels autograph to a Virginia collector for album page autographs of Marty Brill, Paul Moss, and this autograph of Warren Heller.
Halfback—(Indiana) Fort Benning Third Infantry Cockades 1944, Chicago Rockets 1946, Baltimore Colts 1947-48 [All-American 1942, #19 All-Time AAFC Rushing, #7 All-Time AAFC Pass Receiving, #7 All-Time AAFC Scoring]
I’m glad I didn’t want to make a pro career out of it. The first two years I played a little defense. No face mask or face guar. You know, in all that football I never had a tooth knocked out, never a broken bone and my knees are sound. Talk about luck. Playing longer I’d have been beat up. I made up my mind I was going to play three years and get out and I did. In 1946-48 I probably made, with working on the side and giving speeches, close to $15,000 a year. After three years I waltzed out of there.
For several years, I researched World War II service football teams with the intention of producing a book (never finished). Bob Overpeck sent me this 1944 "official AAF photo" which I sent to Hillenbrand for his autograph. On the back is pasted a caption: "Sensational catch--Billy Hillenbrand of Benning Third Infantry, pulling in a pass from Chuck Jacoby for 16 yards against Third Air Force Gremlins Oct. 7 at [Columbus, Georgia]. This was the most sensational catch of the day by the Indiana All-American. Gremlins are [William] Hunnicut (43), [Charlie] Trippi (62), and [Prince] Scott (27). Gremlins won 22 to 0." Other players on Hillenbrand's team who played in the pros included Bill Reinhard, Cliff Rothrock, and Lou Saban. The Gremlins had a team loaded with guys who played in the pros. In addition to Trippi and Scott, there were Piggy Barnes, Ernie Bonelli, Art Brandau, Ted Cook, Jack Haden, Bob Ivory, John Karwales, Bob Kennedy, and Henry Piro. They had an 8-3 record against other service teams in 1944. The 1944 Tom Paprocki cartoon was autographed by Hillenbrand in 1990. I also have a signed 1942 Alan Maver cartoon.
Watch a video clip of Billy Hillenbrand in action in 1946 College All Star game.
Halfback/Defensive Back/Blocking Back/Linebacker—(Syracuse) Jersey City Giants (AFL) 1940, New York Giants 1940, New York Americans 1941, Phil-Pitt Steagles 1943, Philadelphia Eagles 1944-47 [AFL All League Second Team 1941]
This wonderful photo has been autographed by four of the five players pictured from the 1944 Philadelphia Eagles. They include Ernie Steele (37), Jack Hinkle (43), Steve Van Buren (15), and Mel Bleeker (49). Jack Banta (33) died in 1977, eleven years before I began collecting autographs.
Halfback—(Mississippi) New York Giants 1945
John Hovious autographed this 1940 Jack Sords cartoon.
Wingback/Defensive Back—(Whittier) Detroit Lions 1939, Los Angeles Bulldogs (PCFL) 1940-41 [Little All-American 1936]
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Oregon) Washington Redskins 1956-63, New York Giants 1964, Minnesota Vikings 1965
Halfback—(Ohio State) Washington Redskins 1954-55 [All-American 1950, Heisman Trophy 1950, College Football Hall of Fame 1976; Baseball—Pittsburgh Pirates 1953-54, 83 games, .214 avg.]
He could do everything we asked him to do and he could do it in a masterful-type situation.
Gene Feteke, Ohio State assistant coach
Vic Janowicz autographed this 1950 Tom Paprocki cartoon. He is buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Lockbourne, Ohio.
Back—(Alabama/Navy) [All-American 1944]
[I] was drafted by Redskins but remained in service till 1950.
Bob Jenkins autographed this 1944 Jack Sords cartoon. I also have a signed 1944 Sam Davis cartoon.
Tailback/Safety—(Richmond) North Carolina Pre-flight Cloudbusters 1942; Portsmouth Cubs (Dixie League) 1941, Pittsburgh Steelers 1941,1945, Richmond Rebels (Dixie League) 1946; Coach — Portsmouth Pirates (Dixie League) 1947 [All Pro 1941, #1 Pass Interceptions 1941]
Halfback—(North Carolina) Bainbridge Naval Training Station Commodores 1943-44, Pearl Harbor Navy All Stars 1945; Washington Redskins 1950,1952-54 [Walter Camp Award 1948, All-American 1948-49, College Football Hall of Fame 1961]
I doubt if there has been a finer all-around player in football than Charlie.
Wingback/Defensive Back/Offensive End—(Gonzaga) Boston Redskins 1936, Washington Redskins 1937-42, San Diego Bombers 1946 (PCFL)
He was a fine wingback.
Running Back—(North Carolina) Philadelphia Eagles 1956-57
See video clip of Ken Keller (#35) make a nice kick return for North Carolina in a loss to Notre Dame, 27-7 on 12 November 1955.
Halfback/Kicker—(Kentucky) Brooklyn Dodgers 1934-40 [#1 Field Goals 1938]
I got Ralph Kercheval to come to Brooklyn. He'd played at Kentucky just like I had. He was a halfback, but his real greatness was in kicking the football. He could punt, he could placekick. He was the best kicker ever to play the game. Hell, he could fart the football farther than these guys can kick it today.
My son, David, drew this colored pencil sketch of Ralph Kercheval in about 1990. He was about ten years old at the time. On the reverse side of the 3x5 card, Kercheval wrote, "I think Bronko Nagurski of the Chicago Bears was one of the very toughest. During my years we played both offensive and defensive which I felt was a lot more fun. I was 77 years old on my last birthday—12/1/88—still pretty active and love golf." He also autographed this early 1930s Jack Sords cartoon.
Halfback/Kicker—(Kentucky) Brooklyn Dodgers 1934-40 [#1 Field Goals 1938]
I got Ralph Kercheval to come to Brooklyn. He'd played at Kentucky just like I had. He was a halfback, but his real greatness was in kicking the football. He could punt, he could placekick. He was the best kicker ever to play the game. Hell, he could fart the football farther than these guys can kick it today.
Ralph Kercheval autographed this circa 1930s Jack Sords cartoon in 1989. He was buried in Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky.
Halfback/Linebacker—(Georgia) Green Bay Packers 1945-47, New York Giants 1948
Ken Keuper of Green Bay came across a block and saw Lee Artoe coming. Keuper just laid into him with an elbow and broke Artoe's face.
See video clip of Ken Keuper making a nice run in the 1947 Sugar Bowl in which Georgia beat North Carolina 20-10.
Halfback—(Louisiana State) Cleveland Browns 1953-59 [#1 Punt Returner 1956]
He was a timid-tackling safety.
Halfback—(Ohio State) Ashland Armco Yellowjackets (Ohio Valley League) 1929, Cleveland Panthers (Ohio Valley League) 1929, Akron Awnings (Ohio Valley League) 1930; Cleveland Bulldogs 1930, Cleveland Pennzoils 1931, Cleveland Indians 1931, Cleveland Panthers 1932
This signed 3x5 card is one of two in my collection. The other is personalized and dated Nov. 1990.
Halfback—(Columbia) New York Yankees 1949-50; Hamilton TigerCats (CFL) 1953-55 [#1 All-Purpose Running NCAA 1948]
He was one of the best running backs I ever saw or knew,
Halfback—(St. Lawrence) Danbury Trojans (American Association) 1939; Brooklyn Dodgers 1939-41; Pensacola Naval Air Station Goslings 1942, Jacksonville Naval Air Station Fliers 1944, Honolulu Naval Air Station 1945, Fleet City Bluejackets 1945
Running Back—(Oklahoma State) Paterson Panthers (AFL) 1949, Philadelphia Eagles 1950,1953-55 [AFL All League 1949]
My grandmother called my father her "toy boy" after he was born, and when it came time for him to have a birth certificate, she said, "Call him Toy," so it was Toy Ledbetter. I don't know why my mother made me Toy Jr., but she did . . . .Our very first game that season  was against the 49ers. We didn't wear face masks in those days, and just before the first half ended, Hardy Brown busted my cheekbone with that goddamned shoulder of his. It severed the nerves, so I wasn't really in any pain. I remember getting on my hands and knees trying to find the football while everybody tried to get me off the field . . . .Wilson, the sporting goods company, made a mask for me. It had a steel bar that was covered with rubber and a plastic shield to protect one side of my face . . . .we were playing the Giants, and we were down on the goal line. I started off-tackle, and Arnie Weinmeister reached over and grabbed that mask and started popping my head back and forth as hard as he could. He didn't care whether I was hurt or not—he just didn't give a shit.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Southern California) San Francisco 49ers 1948-51
Halfback—(Dartmouth) Pensacola Naval Air Station Goslings 1941, El Toro Flying Marines 1944; Chicago Bears 1939 [All-American 1938, College Football Hall of Fame 1977]
He was a tremendous running back.
Wingback/Tailback—(Princeton) Providence Steamroller 1925-26
I purchased the autograph of this MLB player (1922 New York Giants) from a dealer. On the other side is noted that the collector received it in Dec. 1975. He was cremated.
Halfback/Fullback—(Fordham) Passaic Red Devils (American Association) 1936, Paterson Panthers (American Association) 1938; Brooklyn Dodgers 1936-38, Chicago Bears 1938-41; Coach—Bainbridge Naval Training Station Commodores 1943, Norfolk Shamrocks (Dixie League) 1946, Paterson Panthers (AFL) 1947 [#1 Rushing Average 1939]
He was a great runner.
I doubt many collectors have an autograph of Joe Maniaci as he lived in Canada in his later years. I believe I wrote him in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I have these three items of his signature in my collection (and a fourth on an article about him).
During the war I was ass't. coach for the backfield at Villanova for 1 season.
Sam Maniaci autographed this 1934 Jack Sords cartoon.
Blocking Back/Linebacker/Defensive Back—(Texas Christian) New York Giants 1936-38, Washington Redskins 1938, Los Angeles Bulldogs (AFL) 1939, Long Island Indians (AFL) 1940, Brooklyn Dodgers 1943; Coach—Long Island Indians (AFL) 1940,1946 [#1 Field Goals AFL 1939]
One day Tilly Manton was run over in a scrimmage play and knocked out. Willie Walls, a former teammate of Manton's at T.C.U., ran over to pick up his buddy, Manton came to with his eyelids flickering. Walls laughed and commented: "His eyes are ticking like a clock. Look at those glassy eyes. They look like agates." Someone else shouted "agate-eyes" and everybody laughed, and that was Manton's nickname thereafter.
Wingback—(Oregon State) Chicago Cardinals 1930
I purchased the cut signature of this former MLB player from a dealer.
Halfback/Quarterback—(Santa Ana Junior College) Santa Ana Army Air Base Flyers (PCFL) 1942, Personnel Distribution Command Comets 1945; Los Angeles Bulldogs (PCFL) 1946, Detroit Lions 1947-48
Back—(Lafayette) Philadelphia Quakers 1926
Our opening game  in Municipal Stadium, Phila. was against Red Grange and his Bears and we won 6-0. We played in Municipal Stadium, where the Army-Navy game used to be. Our coach was Bob Folwell, who also coached at Lafayette (1909-1911), Virginia and Georgia Tech. . . . CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS LETTER THAT JOE MARHEFKA SENT TO ME
Halfback—(Pennsylvania) Baltimore Orioles (Dixie League) 1936, Wilmington Clippers (Indep.) 1938, Wilmington Clippers (AA) 1939-40 ; Philadelphia Eagles 1936, Chicago Cardinals 1943, Card-Pitt 1944; Coach—Wilmington Clippers (AA) 1938-40 [All-League Dixie League 1936, All-League American Association 1939; MLB baseball player 1931, 1937, 1939]
Blocking Back—(Cornell) 1938-40
I was drafted by the N. Y. Giants—the pay was such that I went back to school.
Walter Matusczczak autographed this 1940 Jack Sords cartoon.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Clemson) Brooklyn Dodgers 1940 [All-American 1939, College Football Hall of Fame 1959; Basketball—All American center 1938-39]
If McFadden drank a can of tomato juice, they could have used him as a thermometer. I can remember the first time I saw him on the practice field. He looked like one of those whooping cranes. I thought sure as the devil that Coach (Jess) Neely had made a mistake by giving this boy a scholarship, but he proved me wrong.
Banks McFadden wrote, "I graduated from Clemson June 1940. Played one year of Pro Ball after the all-star game in Chicago with the 'old Brooklyn Dodgers.' Spent 3 1/2 years in Europe World War 1942-1945. Coached & worked here at Clemson for 45 years. Retired 1985." He is buried in Woodland Cemetery, Clemson, South Carolina.
Halfback/Safety—(Alabama/Arkansas State Teachers) Brooklyn Tigers 1944
Dub McGibbony autographed this 1944 Al Pierotti cartoon. He is buried in Tyronza Cemetery, Tyronza, Arkansas.
Halfback—(Mississippi State/Army) Los Angeles Dons 1949, Pittsburgh Steelers 1950
Tailback—(Louisiana State) [College Football Hall of Fame 1967]
Because my dad wanted all his children to work, he was against my playing football. I'll never forget my first game in high school. I was holding the ball for the opening kickoff when he ran into the stadium and pulled me off the field.
Abe Mickal autographed this 1934 Art Krenz cartoon.
Halfback—(Notre Dame) [#1 Rushing NCAA 1943, All-American 1943, College Football Hall of Fame 1976]
He was the finest ball carrier I've ever played with in pro or college football. Very fast and shifty with very good weight, 195 pounds. He could break up a game at any given moment and did so many times. He captained the All-America team that year . A good defense man and pass defender. A great pass receiver. Creighty is the finest running back I have ever played with, college or pro. We never had an argument because Creighty didn't listen to anything I said, and I didn't listen to anything he said.
This 1941 Jack Sords cartoon is one of three Miller-signed cartoons in my collection. The others include a 1943 Tom Paprocki cartoon and a 1942 Jack Sords cartoon entitled "A Couple of Gridiron Ghosts" co-signed by Elroy Hirsch. He wrote, "Football at Notre Dame is not a matter of life or death. It's more important than that!"
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Pennsylvania) New York Giants 1948 [College Football Hall of Fame 1985]
We had gone to great pains to get Minisi for our wingback position. He was one of the celebrated players in the country. But somehow he could not make it in our system. Maybe he could in another. He just didn't in ours.
Skip Minisi autographed this 1947 Jack Sords cartoon. I also have a signed 1944 Tom Paprocki cartoon. See video clip of Tony Minisi (#38) scoring three TDs in a 1946 contest between Penn and Dartmouth. Penn won 39-6.
Halfback/Blocking Back—(Southwest Missouri Teachers/Tulsa) Chicago Bears 1945, Green Bay Packers 1946
Played in All-Star Game against Green Bay Packers August 1945. Played 55 minutes going both ways.
Charles E. Mitchell
Tailback—(Hardin Simmons) Baltimore Colts 1947 [#1 Rushing NCAA 1942,1946, #1 All-Purpose Running NCAA 1946, Little All-American 1942,1946]
Little Doc has an exceptionally fast pick up. He is going full blast when he reaches the line of scrimmage. Little Doc has an uncanny ability to pick holes. He darts through the smallest opening like a ray of light. He has a great sense of balance. He can cut back and sidestep without losing speed or equilibrium.
Rudy Mobley autographed this 1942 Tom Paprocki cartoon.
Tailback/Defensive Back—(St. Mary's) Alameda Coast Guard Sea Lions 1943-44; Pittsburgh Steelers 1947-48
I just played my best at all times. Once the game was completed, I forgot what had happened and just began preparing for the next game. I liked to run more than anything, but we all did a lot of different things in those days. It wasn't specialized the way it is now. I don't think the players today would be able to go both ways the way we did. And we didn't even have face masks. They didn't come in until a couple of years later. It never dawned on us to wear them.
Gonzalo Morales is buried in Greek Orthodox Memorial Park, Colma, California.
Halfback/Quarterback—(Notre Dame/Wisconsin) Philadelphia Eagles 1937-39, Wilmington Clippers (American Assoc.) 1940-41
Jumped my Eagles contract in 1940 over salary dispute, DuPont employment, but Pearl Harbor ended it all.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Superior State) Cleveland Browns 1950, Green Bay Packers 1951-52, Philadelphia Eagles 1954
Halfback—(Alabama) Green Bay Packers 1945-46
Russ Mosley printed his name on the questionnaire that I sent him in June 1994. He also printed answers to all the other questions.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Xavier) Buffalo Bisons 1946, Buffalo Bills 1947-49, Baltimore Colts 1950 [#3 All-Time AAFC Rushing, #8 All-Time AAFC Pass Receiving, #5 All-Time AAFC Scoring, #1 AAFC Scoring 1948, #1 AAFC Receiving Average 1948]
I enjoyed playing in Buffalo a great deal. I thought the people were tops as far as accepting us goes. They supported the team well. . . . we would draw 30,000, 32,000 at War Memorial Stadium. The crowds didn’t drop off the way they did in some cities. . . . the Bills were just about breaking even, I think. The players were local heroes there. I guess I was out once or twice a week speaking at some lodge or church event, something like that.
Halfback/Safety—(Utah) Boston Yanks 1948, New York Bulldogs 1949
We were the door mat of the N.F.L. This was before TV and before money . . . .Our training camp started the end of July and was held in Hershey, Pa. There were always sixty to seventy players trying for the thirty-two positions.
Frank Nelson autographed this 1947 Ev Thorpe cartoon.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Cameron JC/New Mexico State) Pittsburgh Steelers 1948-51
"Rated as the greatest power runner in the league—next to Steve Van Buren."
1950 Bowman card #20
Blocking Back/Defensive Back/Fullback/Linebacker—(Notre Dame) Green Bay Packers 1928-29,1932, Philadelphia Eagles 1933 [All-American 1926]
Johnny Blood and I were freshmen at Notre Dame in 1923. Suddenly he was absent therefrom and the next time I saw him several years later was in pro football.
O'Boyle played on Knute Rockne's national championship football team in 1924 at Notre Dame. As a sophomore, O'Boyle played in the backfield with the famous “Four Horsemen.”
Halfback—(Boston College) Chicago Bears 1942, Fleet City Bluejackets 1945, Los Angeles Dons 1946-47, Baltimore Colts 1948-49 [College Football Hall of Fame 1972]
With the Bears in 1942 I had a contract for five years at $5,000 a year. After the war I called George Halas; I wanted to talk with him about going back with the Bears, but somehow we never did get together. Lee Artoe, a tackle who had been with the Bears too, had jumped to the Los Angeles Dons of the AAFC, and he called me up and asked me to play with the Dons. So I had to call Halas again and tell him I was going to play with the Dons. He said, “No, I’ve got you on a five-year contract.” And I said, “Well, did you read the small print of the contract? At the bottom it says if this man goes into the service his contract is null and void. George, that seems as though I’m a free agent.” With that, I told him I was going to sign with the Dons. They offered me $10,000.
Edwin W. “Ned” Oldham (1936-2011)
Mid-morning on a Saturday, November 30, 1957, in a dressing room for entertainers in the basement of the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in downtown Philadelphia, Navy's football team was getting taped-- with adhesive tape, of course. The room smelled of adhesive and "tough-skin" (a benzoin and alcohol mixture). I looked at my teammate, and wondered how he could run being taped like that -- he was covered in it. He was our starting halfback, leading rusher, punt returner and place-kicker. He also was our team "Captain." He was Edwin Wilson "Ned" Oldham, N* USNA '58, the epitome of All-American "Guts and Go!" I gibed at him saying, "Hey, Ned, with all that tape, you ought to buy stock in Johnson & Johnson." You have to know how to manage dirt and hurt to be able to smile with your teeth clinched, and say, "Yea." It was all quiet on the bus riding out to the stadium. It was the last few minutes to get the butterflies together in one sock-- it was "Game Face" time. Over a 100,000 rain-soaked fans cheered as Army and Navy battled it out in the mud for the Lambert Trophy-- symbol of the NCAA's Eastern Football Champion. The advertising placard on the bus for National Bo beer summed it up for us-- "Wet, Cold and Delicious." It was NAVY 14 ARMY 0-- and we were on our way to Dallas and the Cotton Bowl. We not only had held Army's vaunted 300-yards-per-game rushing dynamic-duo of Anderson and Dawkins to 88 yards, but we had shut them out-- a first. This was our tenth game of the season and Harry Hurst, our right halfback had been the AP's Back of the Week for our victory over California, Tom Forrestal our All-American quarterback had been the AP's Back of the Week for our victory over Georgia, and I had been the AP's Back of the Week for our victory over Notre Dame-- in South Bend! Well, that day, a wet cold and delicious Saturday in Philadelphia, it was a defensive struggle of hit and be hit. Our All-American tackle and Maxwell Trophy winner, Bob Reifsnyder was rated somewhere between a low fantastic and high magnificent that day-- on both sides of the ball. Army only gained a total of 136 yards as Navy gained 237 yards. Ned Oldham gained 55 of those tough yards, scoring with a six-yard run on the option-pitch. You'd have to see the film to believe how many times he was hit, keeping his feet, not going down, and then he-- Johnson&Johnson and all-- exploded into the end zone. Then, for the hammer driving the final nail in the last quarter, Ned ran back a punt for 44 yards and the put-away score. Of course, he also kicked both PAT's. So, at the end of the day, it was OLDHAM 14 ARMY 0. Ned Oldham was unanimously voted AP's Back of the Week completing the cycle for Navy with all four backs. Buddy Wellborn
Ned Oldham autographed this 1957 Alan Maver cartoon.
Halfback/Safety—(Bradley) New London Submarine Base 1944; Philadelphia Eagles 1946; Bethlehem Bulldogs (AFL) 1947-48 [Little All-American 1941-42, AFL All League 1947]
Halfback—(Minnesota) Fort Douglas 1943, Amarillo Army Air Force Sky Giants 1944, First Air Force Aces 1945, Miami Seahawks 1946, Brooklyn Dodgers 1946, Toronto Indians (CFL) 1947, Ottawa Roughriders (CFL) 1948-49, Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) 1950-52
I vaguely recall a couple names from Ft. Douglas but I shipped out so soon for basic training, it seems like a dream.
Halfback/Fullback—(Texas A&M/Oklahoma A&M) Philadelphia Eagles 1948-56
He was one of the giants in scouting. He was as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar.He started scouting when scouts were almost all ex-players in the league. He was well liked and everybody knew him.
Jim Parmer is buried in Elmwood Memorial Park, Abilene, Texas.
Running Back/Defensive Back—(Illinois) Tuskegee Army Air Field Warhawks 1944-45; Los Angeles Dons 1947
Halfback—(Michigan State) Detroit Lions 1939 [All-American 1938, College Football Hall of Fame 1968]
John Pingel autographed this 1942 Tom Paprocki cartoon. He wrote, "I was Captain of the army All-Star team coached by General Neyland, the Tennessee head coach in peace-time. We played 4 games in 2 weeks. Yale, where we trained & played a practice game we were pressed to win 7-0. The[n] we beat N.Y. Giants 16-0 in the Polo Grounds. Baltimore 13-7 and lost to the Chi. Bears in Fenway Park in Boston 7-13. Then we went back to war & I went to Europe. I remember Al Wolff of St Clara well. He was a great player. He beat us 7-7." I had interviewed Frank Christensen of the Detroit Lions and Jack Johnson was a Utah product (as am I). I asked Pingel about his memories of them and, on the 3x5 card, he said "both were great guys."
Halfback—(Central Michigan) Washington Redskins 1957-60, New York Giants 1961-62
He is buried in Fort Lincoln Cemetery, Maryland.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(VMI) San Diego Bombers (PCFL) 1945, Cleveland Rams 1942, Philadelphia Eagles 1942,1946-49,1951, New York Giants 1951
When I was playing football in high school, a newspaper man named Morris Siegel—he used to write for a Richmond, Virginia, paper—did an article on me. He asked me, "What's your name?" I said "Bish." He said, "Bosh?" I said, "No, its' Bish." "Bosh?" "No, Bish." "Did you say Bosh?" Finally I said, "Call me Bosh."
See video clip of Bosh Pritchard (#30) making a nice run in the 1948 league championship game on December 19, 1948 in Philadelphia. The Eagles beat the Cardinals 7-0 in a snowy affair.
Halfback/Fullback—(Purdue) [All-American 1933-34; NCAA Javelin Champion 1933-34, Track All-American 1932-34]
I've had just about enough football. It's a great game when you're in college and the best game to forget about when you're out. I'm going to get to work as soon as they hand me that old A.B. at Purdue.
on being asked if he intended to play pro football
In February 2010, I traded an Angelo Bertelli 3x5 card for this autograph album page of a 1934 signature of Duane Purvis and a similar autograph of Joe Kurth. The 1955 Topps card is the same one that I got in 1955 when I was 9 years old.
Blocking Back/Linebacker/Fullback—(VMI) Pittsburgh Steelers 1949
I did not play much after the regular season began—I think, mainly, because John Michelosen, the head coach, was not enthralled with a rookie being his quarterback. Just wanted to prove to myself that I could play with the "big boys" having played at small V.M. I.
Halfback—(Texas Tech) Chicago Cardinals 1941,1943,1945-47, Card-Pitt 1944
Halfback—(Pittsburgh) Cleveland Browns 1953-54,1957-58, Hamilton Tiger Cats (CFL) 1959, Oakland Raiders 1960 [#1 Kickoff Returns 1954]
A big reason he came to Pitt was the career that [former Panthers star] Marshall Goldberg had. Marshall was also from West Virginia and his success had a big impact on Billy's decision. He looked up to him. As a football player, he was as tough as they come. He was a fierce competitor.
Wingback/Fullback/Tailback/Blocking Back—(Iowa State) Canton Bulldogs 1926, Cleveland Panthers 1926, Pottsville Maroons 1927
I remember standing in the end zone doing practice punting. I could not punt the ball as far as Jim [Thorpe] did but tried to tell myself that maybe there were times when I placed my kicks better . . . [I was] dubbed as [a] triple threat player.
In 1993 I wrote an article about my correspondence with Guy Roberts that was published in PFRA's Coffin Corner, vol. 15, issue number 5 entitled "I Played With Thorpe."
Tailback—(Michigan) 1920-22, Cleveland Indians 1923
Roby served as president of the U.S. Olympic Committee and for most of his time on the USOC was one of two U.S. representatives to the International Olympic Committee.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Texas A&M) Ft. Benning 176th Infantry Rockets 1943; Pittsburgh Steelers 1946
Halfback—(Utah State) Detroit Lions 1938-40 [All-American 1937]
He is a football natural, possessing that innate ability which enables him to do the right thing at the right time. Kent is a big rugged fellow, with a fine competitive spirit.
Kent Ryan autographed this 1936 Everett Thorpe cartoon. He recalled that Joe Stydahar and Gus Mancuso of the Chicago Bears looked to him "a country boy--like two 'Runaway Battleships' every time they plowed into our line & backfield!"
Halfback/Safety—(Cameron JC/Texas) Georgia Pre-flight Skycrackers 1942, North Carolina Pre-flight Cloudbusters 1944, New York Yankees 1946-48, New York Yanks 1950 [All Pro 1946-47, #1 AAFC Rushing 1946-47, #1 AAFC Scoring 1947, #1 Interceptions 1950, #2 All-Time AAFC Rushing, #8 All-Time AAFC Passing, #4 All-Time AAFC Scoring]
Buddy used to say, “That Buckets [Goldenberg] is crazy. The way he hits you, he'll kill you.” One time he hit Spec Sanders of the Yankees head on. There was blood everywhere. Spec didn't play any more that day.
Halfback—(St. Mary's, Texas) Fleet City Bluejackets 1945; Pittsburg Steelers 1942, Buffalo Bills 1946 [Little All-American 1942]
Curt was our best ball carrier. He was awfully, awfully fast. Once he got past that line of scrimmage, he was gone. All you could see was the flat of his shoes. No one could catch him. He was a tough little rascal and we all liked him.
Curt Sandig is buried in Mart Cemetery, Mart, Texas.
Halfback—(Ohio State) Fort Bragg 3rd Field Artillery Replacement Training Center Cannoneers 1943; Wilmington Clippers (AFL) 1946-47; Chicago Cardinals 1946, Detroit Lions 1948
He had exceptional speed. He was about 195 and was a deceptive runner.
Paul Sarringhaus autographed this 1945 Jack Sords cartoon.
Halfback—(Kansas) Selman Field Cyclones 1944, Hondo Army Air Field Comets 1945; New York Yankees 1948-49, New York Giants 1950-51 [#1 Interceptions 1951, All Pro 1951]
He was a terrific defensive back . . . . One game, Otto Schnellbacher, an All-Pro safety we had then—he was also a professional basketball player at the time for Providence—met [Marion] Motley head-on, and Motley never even broke stride going for the goal line. Schnellbacher was knocked over backwards by Motley and knocked out cold. From that day forward, Schnellbacher said, “When that guy comes through, all I’m going to do is wait till he goes by and grab onto the back of his shoulder pads and take a ride. I’m never going to meet him head-on again.”
I began requesting autographs on copies of news articles about a player in about 2006. I think I did such a nice job that some players didn't want to return them, but keep them for themselves. I'll bet there were about a dozen who kept them. I have another autograph by Schnellbacher on a sheet with two 1951 articles.
Otto Schnellbacher is buried in Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Topeka, Kansas.
Halfback—(Northwestern/DePauw) Bunker Hill Naval Air Station Blockbusters 1944, Jacksonville Naval Air Station Fliers 1945; Chicago Cardinals 1947-50
I was drafted by the Giants. Meanwhile, the Cardinals drafted Tex Coulter. The teams then switched drafted picks. As a rookie in the Cardinal camp, I had to imitate someone on the team in a skit. I selected head coach Jimmy Conzelman and sat there smoking cigarettes and drinking soda pop. Conzelman said he didn't drink that much pop. He was a terrific gentleman. [My greatest days were] when I raced 81 yards for a touchdown against Ohio State. There was no platooning. I played both ways and lost 13 pounds that day. Also, when the College All-Stars upset the Bears 16-0 in 1947. There were 106,000 in the Soldier Field stands. And when the Cardinals beat the Eagles for the 1947 NFL title.
Vic Schwall (#7) sent me this autographed 8x10 photo. I also have several handwritten notes sent to me by Schwall. He also autographed this 1946 Jack Sords cartoon.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Duquesne) Card-Pitt 1944
Bernard Semes is buried in Beaver Cemetery, Beaver, Pennsylvania.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Army/Ohio State) Cleveland Browns 1948, New York Bulldogs 1949
Halfback/Defensive Back—(North Texas State) Pittsburgh Steelers 1956, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL) 1957-62
Halfback—(St. Mary's, Calif.) Dallas Texans 1952, Los Angeles Rams 1954-60, Minnesota Vikings 1961 [#1 Interceptions 1955]
He named Leon Clarke as the "meanest, roughest, craziest" player he encountered in pro football.
Paul Shoults (1925-2011)
Halfback/Safety—(Miami, Ohio) New York Bulldogs 1949
Shoults was buried in Sugar Creek Baptist Cemetery, Washington Court House, Ohio.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Notre Dame/Willamette) Chicago Rockets 1948
Floyd Simmons is buried in Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Vancouver, Washington.
Halfback—(Abilene Christian) Los Angeles Rams 1949-53 [Little All-American 1948, #1 Punt Returner 1949, #1 Kickoff Returner 1950]
One time "Vitamin" Smith, who weighed 180 pounds, was piled on by four big Chicago Bears. When he got back in the huddle, he had a faraway look in his eyes and was muttering something about swimming at Santa Monica.
Vitamin Smith named George Connor and Ed Sprinkle as the toughest players who he faced.
Halfback—(Texas) New York Giants 1934 [All-American 1932, College Football Hall of Fame 1975]
He was a ferocious blocker. For years, they would tell the story of a TCU game where Johnny Vaught was trying to get in position to tackle Bohn Hilliard. Vaught was a two-time all-American. When Stafford hit him, he leveled him. After that play, whenever people talked about a block, that talked about "the Vaught block."
Harrison Stafford autographed this 1932 A.P. All-American news report announcing his selection on the second team.
Halfback—(Pittsburgh) 1936-38 [College All-Star Game 1939]
My mother started calling me Curly. I didn't even know my name was Harold until the first grade. Every once in a while, I managed to go to a matinee in town. The Pathe Newsreel always had Pitt playing someone. When the colleges started to call, I hoped it was Pitt who would come to recruit. Apparently colleges had the same interest in prospects as they do now. It really hasn't changed. I got my books, room and board, and tuition. I didn't play pro ball but was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals in 1939.
Harold Stebbins is one of three Pitt backs who autographed this 1938 Jack Sords cartoon. I also have a 2-page handwritten note dated April 12, 1990, sent to me by Stebbins.
He is buried in St. Clair Cemetery, Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
Halfback—(Missouri) 1940-42, (DePauw) 1943; Chicago Bears 1943, Cleveland Browns 1946, Los Angeles Dons 1947, Buffalo Bills 1948; Ottumwa Naval Air Base Skyers 1944 [#1 Scoring NCAA 1942, College Football Hall of Fame 1971]
Bob Steuber autographed this 1942 Jack Sords cartoon.
He is buried in Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum, St. Louis, Missouri.
Halfback—(Syracuse) Baltimore Colts 1958; Ottawa Roughriders (CFL) 1953-56, Montreal Alouettes (CFL) 1957
Before I went to Syracuse, a Negro named Avatus Stone had been a great ballplayer there—a quarterback, a great punter. They wanted him to play end, but he refused and finally left and went to Canada. But the real rub was that Stone had been very popular among white coeds—which made him very unpopular with white males. So when I arrived, the only black man on the team, the coaches had nothing to say to me except, “Don't be like Avatus Stone!”
Avatus Stone sent me this autographed 8x10 photo of him on the 1958 Colts. The signature is on a typescript note dated January 12, 2000, sent to me, the year that he died.
Halfback—(Marquette) San Francisco 49ers 1946-52
He had no fear. One frozen day in Green Bay, he caught a pass, was hit from the back and went down. We didn't have nose guards in those days and his nose was splattered all over his face. There was a lot of blood in the snow, but John just got up and kept on playing. [If you were tackled] you could get up and keep running in those days. And he was a master at it. He knew how to bounce up.
Johnny Strzykalski autographed this 1942 Jack Sords cartoon.
Running Back/Defensive Back—(North Carolina) Washington Redskins 1957,1959, New York Giants 1960, Green Bay Packers 1961
Ed Sutton was cremated and his ashes scattered.
Halfback—(John Carroll) Cleveland Browns 1951, Baltimore Colts 1953-61, Philadelphia Eagles 1961, Buffalo Bills 1962
We called Taseff Gaucho because he was bowlegged. He was only five-ten, but if you hit him in the knees he'd be six-four . . . .We were playing an exhibition game in Milwaukee once, and a bunch of us, naturally, we're drinking in a local bar. Around midnight, most of us left, but [Don] Shula stayed there with Carl Taseff, another defensive back. We were back up at the hotel for a little while when suddenly the cops showed up. Uh-oh. One officer walked up to me and said, "We know one of you Colts stole a taxicab. Who was it?" What happened was Shula and Taseff honked the horn of a cab outside the bar, but the driver didn't show up. So Shula put Taseff, who was stewed to the gills, in the back of the cab, put the cabbie's hat on, and drove back to the hotel. And you know, they never would have gotten caught, except Taseff was slow getting out of the cab. He wanted to pay Shula the fare . . . .we used to throw cold buckets of water on each other, just fooling around and acting like overgrown kids. But one day Weeb [Ewbank] sent word out that the next guy he caught throwing water was going to be fined $1,000. In those days, that usually amounted to about one tenth of your salary, a pretty hefty bite. So [Gino] Marchetti said to Carl Taseff, "Listen, Gaucho, we'll throw one more bucket of water and we'll throw it on the Horse, Alan Ameche. I'll stand here, and when the Horse comes around the corner, I'll nod, and you let him have it." Anyhow, here came Weeb out of his office, all dressed up to do his television show. He came around the corner and Marchetti nodded and Taseff let the bucket of water go and—oh, my God!—he saw Weeb and he went running after the water trying to get it back in the bucket. Weeb was standing there drenched, yelling at Taseff, "You sonofabitch! You dirty, no-good sonofabitch!" And Taseff was literally cringing, almost crying, "I'm sorry, Coach. I'm sorry, Coach." The rest of us were rolling on the floor. I laughed so hard I cried. But Weeb got his revenge. He got rid of Taseff the following season.
Halfback—(Mississippi) Jacksonville Naval Air Station Fliers 1942, Camp Lejeune Marines 1943; Cleveland Browns 1946-47, Baltimore Colts 1947
Ray Terrell is buried in Biloxi National Cemetery, Biloxi, Mississippi.
Halfback—(Minnesota) Pittsburgh Pirates 1937-38, Green Bay Packers 1939
Tuffy Thompson is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Pittsburgh) Phil-Pitt Steagles 1943, Card-Pitt 1944, Buffalo Bisons 1946
Bob Thurbon autographed this 1944 news article.
Halfback—(Duke) [All-American 1938, College Football Hall of Fame 1965]
I was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1939 when I graduated from Duke, but . . . I signed a baseball contract and played fourteen years.
Eric Tipton autographed this copy of a 1938 news article announcing his selection as a U.P. All American. It was also signed by Marshall Goldberg, Parker Hall, and George Cafego.
Tipton is buried in Williamsburg Memorial Park, Williamsburg, Virginia.
Halfback—(Texas A&M) Iowa Pre-flight Seahawks 1943; Washington Redskins 1939-42,1945-48; Coach--Washington Redskins 1951 [Service All-American 1943]
He was an excellent coach, but he was very short-tempered and couldn't get along with George Marshall.
See a video clip of Dick Todd in a 1946 preseason game between the Bears and Redskins.
Tailback/Defensive Back—(Temple) Pittsburgh Steelers 1942,1946 [baseball: pitcher—New York Giants 1949]
I thought that I made my reputation in football even though I did a lot of baseball pitching . . . .Overseas, I did get to pitch against quite a few big leaguers in the Philippines, at Manila and at Clark Field. In football at Clark Field, I did play against quit a few college players and also a few N.F.L. players and if I may [say] so, I thought I did rather well against them.
Andy Tomasic autographed this 1941 Tom Paprocki cartoon. I also have a 2-page handwritten undated letter from Tomasic.
He was cremated.
Halfback—(Wisconsin) Boston Shamrocks (AFL) 1938, Pittsburgh Pirates 1938, Pittsburgh Steelers 1939
Halfback—(Colgate) New York Yankees 1926-27 [College Football Hall of Fame 1963]
He was the answer to a coach's fondest dream.
Tailback/Defensive Back/Halfback—(Minnesota) Green Bay Packers 1940-41; Second Air Force Bombers 1942
Hal Van Every autographed this 1937 Art Krenz cartoon.
Halfback—(Oklahoma) Edmonton Eskimos (CFL) 1953, Baltimore Colts 1956 [#1 All-Purpose Running NCAA 1952, All-American 1952, Maxwell Award 1953, Heisman Trophy 1952, College Football Hall of Fame 1974]
Billy was a remarkable athlete. He was the first player that I had ever been around who was the fastest man on the field and also the toughest. Those two things don't normally go together.
I had two autographs from Vessels, but traded the personalized autograph (above) to a Virginia collector for 3x5s of three deceased All-Americans from the 1930s in February 2010. The above personalized autograph was written on my request letter sent to him in June 1989.
Billy Vessels was cremated and his ashes scattered.
Halfback/Defensive Back—(Santa Clara) Fourth Air Force Fliers 1943-44, First Air Force Aces 1945; Los Angeles Dons 1946-47
Paul Vinnola overviews his service football playing days with March Field and First Air Force.
Halfback/Fullback—(Phoenix College/Arizona State) Brooklyn Dodgers 1948
He was a great guy and a great person. He was a real tough football player.
Wilford "Whizzer" White
Halfback/Fullback—(North Carolina State) Montreal Alouettes (CFL) 1953-54, New York Giants 1955-64; Coach—New York Giants 1969-73 [CFL MVP 1954]
[He was] a tower of strength both physically and emotionally for the Giants . . . .I think Alex's greatest strength lay in his insistence upon being himself. So many coaches have failed because they have tried to pattern themselves after another man . . . .Alex was a pure, out-front individual, full of emotion and naturalness. He had come from his brawling youth in Northern New Jersey to greatness with the Giants without acquiring much nuance or subtlety. Alex said what he felt had to be said, did what he felt had to be done.
Alex was a street-brawler type from New Jersey who never saw a fight he didn't like . . . .he was probably in the worst shape of any athlete I think I've ever played with or against. He was always getting ear infections and his knees were constantly banged up because he took so many shots trying to gain those extra few yards. Alex was a slow, plodding kind of back, but when you needed that third and one, he got the ball, and usually he got the first down. I always wondered how good he would have been if only he'd taken care of himself; God, what an off-season conditioning program could have done for that guy. He smoked all the time. He was the only man I've ever seen who would sneak smokes on the sidelines during a game in full view of thousands of people. He'd get one of those capes you used to keep warm and huddle under it, puffing away so hard the smoke would be coming out the top of the cape. I always said he was so slow the defenders would run off and leave him behind. But he also was a smart football player; he knew exactly where he had to go to get a first down, how many steps it would take to get there.
He was one of the worst practice players I ever saw, [but] he showed amazing running power and a real nose for the end zone, once he got in a game.
Nobody was ever more reliable on third and short. That man knew it would be tough. He knew they were waiting for him. He knew it was going to hurt. But he just threw his body in the hole and he fought for the yardage. And he never complained about injuries. He was one tough bastard.
Jim Lee Howell
I had a good four years down there in North Carolina. I played tailback and free safety, just like high school, and we did pretty well. That’s where I got the nickname Big Red. I had red hair back then and my face was always red because of the simple fact that I was fair-skinned and was out in the sun so much down there. I think my head looked like a big red apple most of the time. Anyway, that old nickname has stuck through all the years.
He was so strong at 230-plus pounds that it was impossible to arm-tackle him. People either bounced off him or he ran over them. Alex was one of those very few guys meant to play, not practice. Every time he got the ball, he turned into a grinding machine. When he finally hung it up after ten years, he had gained more yardage than any Giant in history.
This is the 1956 Topps card that I got when I was a kid. I would have been ten years old.
Halfback—(Northeastern) Pittsburgh Steelers 1955-57, Washington Redskins 1958 [U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame 2001]
Halfback/Safety—(St. Mary's, Calif.) First Air Force Aces 1945, Los Angeles Dons 1948, Baltimore Colts 1949 [All-American 1945, College Football Hall of Fame 1979]
He was a terrific open field runner and an exciting player to watch.
Y. A. Tittle
Herman Wedemeyer was cremated and his ashes scattered.
Running Back—(Notre Dame/Boston College) Philadelphia Eagles 1942, Washington Redskins 1943-44, Boston Yanks 1945
Ted Williams is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Halfback—(Lafayette) Frankford Yellowjackets 1929 [All-American 1926, College Football Hall of Fame 1988]
Mike Wilson explains the difficulty in trying to remember Frankford Yellowjackets' teammates after 45 years.
Halfback—(Penn State/Army) [All-American 1926, College Football Hall of Fame 1973; Basketball—All-American 1927; College Lacrosse Hall of Fame 1963]
He was one of Army's greatest backs.
Harry Wilson autographed this 1925 cartoon, artist unknown. It is one of my earliest signed football cartoons.
Halfback—(Southern Methodist) Brooklyn Dodgers 1936 [All-American 1935, College Football Hall of Fame 1973]
Wilson was a great breakaway runner. He possessed fine speed, a great change of pace, and wonderful springy legs for pass receiving and pass defense.
Iron Man Wetzel
Bobby Wilson named Joe Stydahar and Don Hutson the best two players that he played against. Regarding Hutson, he said, "He made it look easy."
Halfback—Los Angeles Rams 1955-61, Cleveland Browns 1962, Minnesota Vikings 1963 [#1 Kickoff Returns 1956-57]
Tom Wilson, traded to us by the Rams in 1962, had a commanding knowledge of football and took pride in it. Though a running back, he was a student of blocking and looked at a team with the over-all view of a coach . . . .He did not possess great speed, but he was powerful and quick and could cut back with sharp execution.
Tailback—(Oklahoma A&M/George Washington) Frankford Yellowjackets 1930; Alexandria Celtics (Dixie League) 1936-38 [All-League Dixie League 1936, Second Team 1937; major league baseball player 1935, 1944]
Ab Wright is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Muskogee, Oklahoma.
I also have a 1-page signed handwritten note that he sent me.
Halfback/Defensive Back— San Francisco 49ers 1947 [first Asian-American to be drafted into pro football and first person of color to play for the 49ers]
These 1947 newspaper articles report the good impression Yonamine was making with the 49ers.