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.
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—(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—(West Virginia) Luke Air Force Base Mustangs 1945; Buffalo Bills 1948-49, Cleveland Browns 1950-52
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—(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!"
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/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.
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."
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.
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—(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—(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/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/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—(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—(Mississippi State/Army) Los Angeles Dons 1949, Pittsburgh Steelers 1950
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.
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—(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.
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/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.
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!"