Deceased Football Autographs

Buried With Their Cleats On

Johnny Allen  (1933-2010)

Center/Linebacker—(Purdue) Washington Redskins 1955-58



Receiving this unsolicited signed 8x10 certainly was a surprise.  How generous! 

Vince “Bananas” Banonis  (1921-2010)

Center—(Detroit) Iowa Pre-Flight Seahawks 1943, Chicago Cardinals 1942,1946-50, Card-Pitt 1944, Detroit Lions 1951-53 [All-American (AP Service) 1943, College Football Hall of Fame 1986, All-Pro 1947]

I was down there [at the North-South All-Star game] when the news came that I had been drafted by Chicago.  I thought it was the Bears, but it was the raggedy-ass Cardinals.  They were at the bottom of the barrel then. . . . .  In training camp, the coaches always had an honor system.  You weighed yourself in every morning and you weighed out after practice —twice a day. Les Bingaman had himself down for 289 or whatever. But one day the honor system was no longer and George Wilson, the assistant coach, was at the scales. Les stepped aboard and the thing hit 300, which was as far as it would go. So they took him downtown to the granary and weighed him there . . . and he was 349. That was the end of the honor system.
    Vince Banonis

Banonis was one of the best blocking centers around.
    Alex Wojciechowicz

The Lions had a big weekend for the surviving Lions on the 50th anniversary of the 1952 NFL championship. Doak Walker was there and Bobby Layne, Cloyce Box, Dick Stanfel. When we were leaving, center Vince Banonis yelled, “Hey, Hardy, hold on a second.”  I didn't know what he was going to do because he's such a big, rugged guy with bent fingers, but he put his arms around me and said, “I may never see you again. Gimme a kiss,” and he smacked me right on the lips.
    Jim Hardy



Banonis listed those he considered the toughest runners to bring down and other players that he regarded highly on the reverse side of his signed 3x5 card.

Chuck Bernard  (1911-1962)

Center—(Michigan) Detroit Lions 1934  [All-American

I wanted to play more football as a sophomore and junior, but one year ahead of me, Michigan also had an All-American center, Chuck Bernard. I was the better offensive center, but Chuck was 25 pounds heavier and better on defense. And in those days a coach played one guy. So that was my great regret.  So here I am, great prospects as a sophomore, and my competition is All-American. Not playing was tough, but I learned a lot on the bench. I learned that there was the potential always that somebody could be better than you. And Chuck was better overall.

     Gerald R. Ford


Provenance:  In March 2011 I traded a Chuck Carroll-signed 8.5x11 copy of a news article reporting his selection as a 1928 A.P. All-American to collector Mark Boemia.  He offered a number of 3x5s from his collection of pre-1940 Michigan football All-Americans.  I chose Chuck Bernard because I still have the 1955 Topps All-American football card that I bought when I was a kid.  Boemia wrote me that this ink-signed 3x5 originates from the John Smith collection.  This collection was acquired by Lew Lipset in the early 1990s from the Smith family.  Lew sold most of this collection to John Burk (Classic Collectibles)and Burk sold all the Michigan autographs to Boemia.

Jim Cooper  (1924-2010)

Center/Linebacker—(TCU/North Texas State) Brooklyn Dodgers 1948


Jim Cooper is buried in Sunset Memorial Gardens in Odessa, Texas.

John Orien Crow  (1912-1994)

Center/Linebacker—(Haskell Institute) Boston Redskins 1933-34


Brad “Whitey” Ecklund  (1922-2010)

Center/Linebacker—(Oregon) Jacksonville Naval Air Station Air Raiders 1943-44; New York Yankees 1949, New York Yanks 1950-51, Dallas Texans 1952, Baltimore Colts 1953

I was lucky to stay with the same franchise in my pro playing days, the team going from N.Y. to Baltimore via Dallas.
    Brad Ecklund


Up to his dying day, Ecklund loved to eat.  "He loved his groceries," his son-in-law said.  His favorite food? "Volume," his son-in-law said. The man just liked to eat.

Lyle Graham (1915-2009)

Center—(Richmond) Richmond Arrows (Dixie League) 1937-38, Portsmouth Cubs (Dixie League) 1939-41, Philadelphia Eagles 1941, Jacksonville NAS Fliers 1942 [All League Dixie 1937]

Bill Gray  (1922-2011)


Center/Guard/Linebacker—(Oregon State/Southern California) Camp Lejeune Marines 1944; Washington Redskins 1947-48


I also have a 2-page note Gray sent me about his service football days.

Bill “Tiger” Johnson  (1926-2011)

Center—(Tyler Texas JC) Akron Bears (AFL) 1946, San Francisco 49ers 1948-56; Coach—Cincinnati Bengals 1976-78

He was a solid center.
    Y. A. Tittle


Bill Johnson wrote to me in about 1989 that Hardy Brown was "the most punishing player" he'd seen in his pro experience.

Bill Lenich  (1918-2008)

Center—(Illinois) Milwaukee Chiefs 1940-41; Iowa Pre-flight Seahawks 1942


Peter Pund (1907-1987)

Center—(Georgia Tech) [All American 1928, College Football Hall of Fame 1963]


I obtained this 8x10 autographed photo on Oct. 26, 2011 in trade with a collector from Tennessee for three handwritten questionnaires of players who played for the Tennessee Volunteers (Bartholomew, Crawford, Shires).  Pund signed this photo twice, but the signature between his shoe and the ball is difficult to see.  The collector had purchased it from Jim Wiggins originally.

Vaughn “Cisco” Mancha  (1921-2011)

Center—(Alabama) Boston Yanks 1948  [All-American 1945, College Football Hall of Fame 1990]

I signed as the number one pick for $7,500 and I got a signing bonus of $2,500.  Back then, when a man reached the $5,000 a year mark, he thought he was rich.  And it was a big deal to me.
    Vaughn Mancha



Vaughn Mancha autographed this 1945 Jack Sords cartoon in January 1991, twenty years before his death.  He sent me a nice black and white photo that the cartoonist used for his caricature.

Art Statuto  (1925-2011)

Center—(Notre Dame) Fort Pierce Naval Amphibious Training Base Amphibs 1945, Buffalo Bills 1948-49, Los Angeles Rams 1950

I remember the game because of Pepper Martin.  I caused one of his kicks to go wide of the goal posts and as I was lying on the ground I suggested he go back to playing baseball.
    Art Statuto, on an August 17, 1948
     exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers



Art Statuto autographed this 1948 news report of an exhibition game against the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team in which he recovered a fumble.

He was buried at Christ the King Cemetery, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.

Richard "Moose" Stovall  (1922-1999)

Center/Linebacker—(Abilene Christian) Detroit Lions 1947-48, Washington Redskins 1949


Frank Szymanski  (1923-1987)

Center—(Notre Dame) Detroit Lions 1945-47, Philadelphia Eagles 1948, Chicago Bears 1949


Frank Szymanski was one of more than a dozen players who autographed a Notre Dame football banquet program on 8 December 1942.  The program was given to me by Jane O'Connor, widow of  Bill "Bucky" O'Connor.

John Tavener  (1921-1993)

Center—(Indiana)  Miami Seahawks 1946  [All-American 1944, College Football Hall of Fame 1990]

Clayton "Clayt" Tonnemaker  (1928-1996)

Center/Linebacker—(Minnesota) Green Bay Packers 1950,1953-54 [All-American (AP) 1949, College Football Hall of Fame 1980, All Pro 1950]

I caught Clayton Tonnemaker once and I don't think Clayton or I will ever forget it.  Doak Walker had come around the end and had just slipped down.  Clayton was going to make sure he didn't get up and was just startin' to come down with both knees in the middle of Doak's back.  And the timing was just perfect for me.  I was on the other side of Doak and I caught it just in time and I let one ride.  And at that time they had those big, thick plastic masks—big, thick bar—well, I came right through that bar on Clayton.  It must have ended up in the upper deck, knocked Clayton cold, gave him a bloody nose, two black eyes and must have knocked out a couple of teeth.  And, boy, did my elbow hurt.
    Lou Creekmur



Clayton Tonnemaker autographed this 1949 Alan Maver cartoon. 

Lou "Chooch" Tsoutsouvas  (1915-2001)

Center/Linebacker—(Stanford) Pittsburgh Pirates 1938

Lou Tsoutsouvas is buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery, California.

He declined to sign his autograph, but printed his name on a questionnaire that I sent him in January 1994. 

Harry "Ulee" Ulinski  (1925-2008)

Center—(Kentucky) Washington Redskins 1950-51,1953-56

He was a good man, a good football player, a good person.

      Joe Tereshinski 


Milt Vucinich  (1920-2008)

Center—(Stanford) Chicago Bears 1945


Chalmers Walters  (1900-1992)

Center—(Washington) Los Angeles Wildcats 1926


Caleb Van "Tex" Warrington, Jr.  (1921-1993)

Center—(William & Mary/Auburn) Brooklyn Dodgers 1946-48 [All-American 1944]


Tex Warrington is buried in Crestlawn Cemetery, Vero Beach, Florida

Jim Watson (1921-2004)

Center—(Pacific) Washington Redskins 1945

Jim Watson declined to autograph a 3x5 card, but printed his name on a questionnaire that I sent to him in December 1995.

Ray Wietecha  (1928-2002)

Center—(Northwestern) New York Giants 1953-62  [All Pro 1958]

He was a smart savvy guy and a great athlete who could have been a professional baseball player . . . .[our kickers] loved Ray because his snaps always came back to the holder with the laces up, just the way they're supposed to.  The guy was uncanny.  He never even looked at the holder, but in all the years I played with him, I can hardly remember Wietecha making a bad snap.
    Sam Huff


Joe Winkler  (1922-2001)

Center—(Purdue) Cleveland Rams 1945


I also have a 1-page typescript letter undated letter sent to me by Joe Winkler. 

Watch a Video Clip of:

  • Lou Creekmur (Pro Hall of Fame)
  • Art Donovan (Pro Hall of Fame)
  • George McAfee (Pro Hall of Fame)
  • John Mackey (Pro Hall of Fame)
  • Ollie Matson (Pro Hall of Fame)
  • James "Monk" Moscrip (Receivers)
  • Lee Roy Selmon (Pro Hall of Fame)
  • Hank Soar (Defensive Backs/Ends)
  • Ernie Stautner (Pro Hall of Fame)
  • Dick Todd (Running Backs)
  • John Unitas (Pro Hall of Fame)
  • Gene Upshaw (Pro Hall of Fame)
  • Bill Walsh (Pro Hall of Fame)
  • Paul "Tank" Younger (Fullbacks)

Recent Blog Entries

by morevintagefootballautographs2 | 1 comment
by morevintagefootballautographs2 | 2 comments

2010 Deaths

  • Johnny Allen (Centers)
  • Vince Banonis (Centers)
  • Herman "Reds" Bassman (Running Backs)
  • George Blanda (Hall of Fame)
  • Tom Brookshier (Defensive Backs)
  • Al Brosky (Defensive Backs)
  • Lew Carpenter (Receivers)
  • Jack Cloud (Fullbacks)
  • Bull Cochran (Fullbacks)
  • Jim Cooper (Centers)
  • Bobby Davis (Tackles)
  • Don Doll (Defensive Backs)
  • Bill Dudley (Hall of Fame)
  • Brad Ecklund (Centers)
  • Bob Fenimore (Running Backs)
  • Frank Gaziano (Guards)
  • Gene Goodreault (Receivers)
  • John Greene (Receivers)
  • Dick Hoerner (Fullbacks)
  • Stan Jones (Hall of Fame)
  • Bob Kennedy (Fullbacks)
  • Ralph Kercheval (Running Backs)
  • Ron Kramer (Receivers)
  • Cliff Livingston (Defensive Backs)
  • Dick Loepfe (Tackles)
  • Leon Manley (Guards)
  • Don Meredith (Quarterbacks)
  • Bob Momsen (Guards)
  • Dom Moselle (Running Backs)
  • John North (Receivers)
  • Merlin Olsen (Hall of Fame)
  • Elliott Ormsbee (Running Backs)
  • Jim Podoley (Running Backs)
  • Charlie Ream (Tackles)
  • Floyd Rhea (Guards)
  • Les Richter (Defensive Backs)
  • Vic Schleich (Tackles)
  • Saul Sherman (Running Backs)
  • Stan Skoczen (Fullbacks)
  • Gene Spangler (Defensive Backs)
  • Bill Stanton (Defensive Ends)
  • Jim Tarrant (Quarterbacks)
  • George Terlep (Quarterbacks)
  • Nick Toth (Guards)
  • Jim Tyree (Receivers)
  • Hugh Wolfe (Fullbacks)

2011 Deaths

Paul Briggs (Tackles)

George Buksar (Defensive Backs)

Ken Carpenter (Running Backs)

Preston Carpenter (Receivers)

Don Chandler (Running Backs)

Lynn Chandnois (Running Backs)

Lloyd Colteryahn (Receivers)

Clyde Conner (Receivers)

Hal Dean (Guards)

Ralph Felton (Defensive Backs)

Bernie Flowers (Receivers)

Ed Frutig (Receivers)

George "Sonny" Franck (Running Backs)

Gale Gillingham (Guards)

Ralph Goldston (Running Backs)

Bill Gray (Centers)

Garland Gregory (Guards)

George Groves (Guards)

Jimmy Harris (Defensive Ends)

Joe Heap (Running Backs)

Duke Iversen (Defensive Backs)

Bill "Tiger" Johnson (Centers)

John Henry Johnson (Hall of Fame)

Jim Keane (Receivers)

Joe Krupa (Tackles)

Ted Lapka (Receivers)

Jim Lipinski (Tackles)

Nolan Luhn (Receivers)

Lenny Lyles (Defensive Backs)

Vaughn Mancha (Centers)

Norm Masters (Tackles)

Ollie Matson (Hall of Fame)

Hal Miller (Tackles)

Ned Oldham (Receivers)

Lindell Pearson (Running Backs)

Joe Perry (Hall of Fame)

Pete Pihos (Hall of Fame)

Andy Robustelli (Hall of Fame)

Ed Royston (Guards)

Lee Roy Selmon (Hall of Fame)

Harley Sewell (Guards)

Paul Shoults (Running Backs)

Bubba Smith (Defensive Ends)

Herb St. John (Guards)

Art Statuto (Centers)

Bill Stits (Defensive Back)

Norm Willey (Defensive Ends)

Wally Yonamine (Running Backs)

Bob Zimny (Tackles)

2012 Deaths

Tony Aiello (Defensive Backs)

Frank Aschenbrenner  (Running Backs)

John Billman (Guards)

J R Boone (Running Backs)

Royal Cathcart (Running Backs)

John Guzik  (Defensive Backs)

Don Joyce (Defensive Ends)

Don Panciera (Quarterbacks)

John Panelli (Defensive Backs)

Joe Paterno  (Coaches)

Alex Webster (Running Backs)