Deceased Football Autographs

Buried With Their Cleats On

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.

 

Click here to read the 2-page letter Frank Aschenbrenner wrote to me on Jan. 22, 1991, regarding some of his football experiences. 

Herman “Reds” Bassman (1913-2010)

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.
    Herman Bassman

 

Reds Bassman autographed this card for me and responded to some questions in May 1998.  He was buried in Brith Achim Cemetery, Petersburg, Virginia.

J. R. “Junior” Boone (1925-2012)

 

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.

                  Ed Sprinkle

 

He was interred in the Chapel of the Light Mausoleum, Fresno, California.

Marty Brill  (1906-1973)

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. 

Alex Burl  (1931-2009)

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.

     Alex Burl

 

 

Ken Carpenter  (1926-2011)

Halfback/Offensive End—(Oregon State) Cleveland Browns 1950-53, Saskatchewan Roughriders (CFL) 1954-59, Denver Broncos 1960

 

Lew Carpenter  (1933-2010)

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 Carpenter

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.
    Jim Brown

 

 

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."

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.

         Jerry Kramer

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.

      Sam Huff                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Lynn Chandnois  (1925-2011)

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!"
    Art Rooney

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.
    George Guerre

 

Noble Doss  (1920-2009)

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.
    Noble Doss

 

Chuck “Mighty Mouse” Fenenbock (1917-1998)

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]

Bob "The Blond Blizzard" Fenimore  (1925-2010)

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.
    Homer Cooke

 

 

George "Sonny" Franck  (1918-2011)

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.

Nick Gennock  (1916-2007)

Back—Curtis Bay Coast Guard Cutters 1942-43

 

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.

George Gonda (1921-1994)

Halfback/End—(Duquesne) Pittsburgh Steelers 1942, Richmond Rebels (Dixie League) 1946

 

Byron Haines (1914-2008)

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. 

Joe Heap  (1931-2011)

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.

     Frank Leahy 

 

He was buried in All Saints Mausoleum in Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Warren "Fats" Heller  (1910-1982)

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.

Ralph Kercheval  (1911-2010)

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.
    Shipwreck Kelly

 

 

 

 

Ralph Kercheval autographed this circa 1930s Jack Sords cartoon in 1989.   He was buried in Lexington Cemetery, Lexington, Kentucky.

Bill Lazetich  (1916-2009)

Halfback—(Montana) Columbus Bullies (AFL) 1939, Cleveland Rams 1940-42

 

Joe "The Maniac" Maniaci  (1914-1996)

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.
    Sid Luckman

 

 

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).

Dom "Jabs" Moselle  (1925-2010)

Halfback/Defensive Back—(Superior State) Cleveland Browns 1950, Green Bay Packers 1951-52, Philadelphia Eagles 1954

 

Edwin W. “Ned” Oldham  (1936-2011)

Halfback—(Navy, 1955-58)

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.

 

Elliott "Bus" Ormsbee  (1921-2010)

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]

 

Lindell Pearson (1929-2011)

Halfback—(Oklahoma) Detroit Lions 1950-52, Green Bay Packers 1952

 

 

Jim "Poodles" Podoley  (1933-2010)

Halfback—(Central Michigan) Washington Redskins 1957-60, New York Giants 1961-62

 

He is buried in Fort Lincoln Cemetery, Maryland.

Duane Purvis  (1912-1989)

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.

        Duane Purvis,

        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. 

Bobby Robertson  (1917-2009)

Halfback/Defensive Back—(Southern California) Brooklyn Dodgers 1942, St. Mary's Pre-flight Air Devils 1945, Los Angeles Bulldogs (PCFL) 1945

In 1941, I was covering a punt that Bob had received.  I had him pinned on the sidelines, no way to miss, he gave me a couple of moves and I got nothing but air.
    Burr Baldwin

 

I also have a 4-page letter dated February 6, 1993, sent to me by Robertson. Included with the letter were 4 photos of an annual reunion of PCFL players.  In the photos were players including Woody Strode, Al Krueger, Moose Mulleneaux, Red Morgan, Ned Mathews,  Gus Shaver, Nick Pappas, Bill Fisk, and Ben Agajanian.

Orban “Spec” Sanders (1918-2003)

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.
    Lou Tomasetti

 

Curt "Two Tone" Sandig  (1918-2006)

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.

     Homer Burkett

 

Curt Sandig is buried in Mart Cemetery, Mart, Texas. 

Paul Sarringhaus  (1920-1998)

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.
    George Lynn

 

 

Paul Sarringhaus autographed this 1945 Jack Sords cartoon. 

Otto "The Claw" Schnellbacher  (1923-2008)

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.”
    Arnie Weinmeister

 

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. 

Vic "Stumpy" Schwall  (1925-2000)

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

 

 
  

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.

Bernie Semes  (1919-2001)

Halfback/Defensive Back—(Duquesne) Card-Pitt 1944

 

Bernard Semes is buried in Beaver Cemetery, Beaver, Pennsylvania. 

Dean Sensanbaugher (1925-2005)

Halfback/Defensive Back—(Army/Ohio State) Cleveland Browns 1948, New York Bulldogs 1949

 

Charlie "Choo Choo" Shepard  (1933-2009)

Halfback/Defensive Back—(North Texas State) Pittsburgh Steelers 1956, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL) 1957-62

 

Sollie Sherman  (1917-2010)

Halfback/Quarterback—(Chicago) Chicago Bears 1939-40

Will Sherman  (1927-1997)

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.

Floyd Simmons  (1925-1996)

Halfback/Defensive Back—(Notre Dame/Willamette) Chicago Rockets 1948

 

Floyd Simmons is buried in Evergreen Memorial Gardens, Vancouver, Washington. 

Verda "Vitamin" T. Smith  (1923-2000)

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.
    Elroy Hirsch

 

Vitamin Smith named George Connor and Ed Sprinkle as the toughest players who he faced.

Harrison Stafford  (1912-2004)

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."

  Bill Sensing

 

 

Harrison Stafford autographed this 1932 A.P. All-American news report announcing his selection on the second team.

Harold R. "Curly" Stebbins (1917-2002)

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.
    Curly Stebbins

 

 

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.

Bob Steuber  (1922-1996)

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

Avatus Stone (1931-2000)

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!”
    Jim Brown

 

 

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.

John "Johnny Strike" Strzykalski  (1921-2002)

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.
    Gordy Soltau

 

 

Johnny Strzykalski autographed this 1942 Jack Sords cartoon. 

"Struttin' Ed" Sutton "The Cullowhee Comet"  (1935-2008)

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. 

Carl "Gaucho" Taseff  (1928-2005)

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.
    Art Donovan

 

Ray "Spud" Terrell  (1919-1997)

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. 

Tuffy Thompson (1914-2000)

Halfback—(Minnesota) Pittsburgh Pirates 1937-38, Green Bay Packers 1939

 

Tuffy Thompson is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery, Jacksonville, Florida

Bob Thurbon  (1918-2000)

Halfback/Defensive Back—(Pittsburgh) Phil-Pitt Steagles 1943, Card-Pitt 1944, Buffalo Bisons 1946

 

Bob Thurbon autographed this 1944 news article.

Eric “Eric the Red” Tipton  (1915-2001)

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

 

 

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

Dick Todd  (1914-1999)

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.
    Jim Ricca

 

 

See a video clip of Dick Todd in a 1946 preseason game between the Bears and Redskins. 

Andy Tomasic  (1919-2008)

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

 

 

Andy Tomasic autographed this 1941 Tom Paprocki cartoon.  I also have a 2-page handwritten undated letter from Tomasic.

He was cremated.

Clarence "Tommy" Tommerson  (1915-2000)

Halfback—(Wisconsin) Boston Shamrocks (AFL) 1938, Pittsburgh Pirates 1938, Pittsburgh Steelers 1939

 

Eddie "Cannonball" Tryon  (1900-1982)

Halfback—(Colgate) New York Yankees 1926-27 [College Football Hall of Fame 1963]

He was the answer to a coach's fondest dream.
    Dick Harlow

 

Harold Van Every  (1918-2007)

Tailback/Defensive Back/Halfback—(Minnesota) Green Bay Packers 1940-41; Second Air Force Bombers 1942

 

 

Hal Van Every autographed this 1937 Art Krenz cartoon. 

Billy "Curly" Vessels  (1931-2001)

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.
    Bud Wilkinson

 

 

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. 

Paul Vinnola  (1922-1994)

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.

Morrie “Dit” Warren  (1923-2002)

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

 

Alex "Big Red" Webster  (1931-2012)

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.

         Fran Tarkenton         

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.

         Sam Huff

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.

        Tom Landry

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.

        Alex Webster

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.

     Frank Gifford

 

This is the 1956 Topps card that I got when I was a kid.  I would have been ten years old.

 

Sid Watson  (1932-2004)

Halfback—(Northeastern) Pittsburgh Steelers 1955-57, Washington Redskins 1958 [U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame 2001]

 

"Squirmin" Herman Wedemeyer  (1924-1999)

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. 

Theodore "Ted" Williams  (1916-1993)

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

George B. "Mike" Wilson  (1905-1990)

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.

"Lighthorse" Harry E. Wilson  (1902-1990)

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.
    Grantland Rice

 

 

Harry Wilson autographed this 1925 cartoon, artist unknown.  It is one of my earliest signed football cartoons.

Robert E. "Bobby" Wilson  (1913-1999)

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."

Tom "Touchdown Tommy" Wilson  (1932-2006)

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.
    Jim Brown

 

Albert "Ab" Wright  (1905-1995)

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. 

Wally Yonamine  (1925-2011)

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.

Howard L. "Howie" Yeager  (1915-2000)

Halfback—(Santa Barbara State) Jersey City Giants (AA) 1938, New York Giants 1941; Los Angeles Bulldogs (PCFL) 1945

 

Howie Yeager declined to autograph a 3x5 card, but printed his name on a questionnaire that I sent to him in November 1993.

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

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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)