|Cromwell blocks a punt with his left hand|
|Cromwell blocks a punt with his left hand|
|1925 Red Grange-Chicago Bears vs Coral Gables All-Stars, game program|
Off and on for the past twenty-five years I’ve researched the life and career of Red Grange. I’m always looking for anything and everything about the Galloping Ghost. Most of my research was used for my biography on him that was published in 2019. Little did I knew that I would find more material from an online source.
I was doing research on Florida Memory, the website ran by the State Library and Archives of Florida. Within their library that had material from the William A. Fishbaugh Collection, a well-known photographer in Miami during the decades of the 1920’s to the 1940’s. Within this collection I found a treasure trove of photos.
I was surprised and ecstatic to see what I found. Fishbaugh was working in the Miami area when Red Grange and the Chicago Bears visited Coral Gables to play during the famous 1925-1926 barnstorming tour. He took some great images of one of the greatest events in NFL history.
|William A. Fishbaugh, Miami photographer|
(Courtesy: Florida Memory, Fishbaugh Collection)
After World War I the state of Florida saw a land boom in real estate that had never been seen before. With more time and money to spend, Americans ventured to Florida to buy up land in the sunshine state. By 1925 the state’s population exceeded 1.2 million residents. It was an area that was growing. C. C. Pyle, Red Grange’s manager, saw it as an area primed for making money by presenting events (a pro football game) to well-to-do customers.
CORAL GABLES GAME
Friday December 25, 1925
Chicago Bears vs Coral Gables All-Stars; at Coral Gables Stadium
Back in November of 1925, as Grange was finishing up his collegiate career at Illinois, Pyle traveled to Miami he met with Henry R. Dutton, recreational director for the city of Coral Gables. After 48 hours of negotiating the two finally came up with an agreement. Dutton said: “We feel justified in predicating that Coral Gables will be able to stage the greatest program of post-season football in the history of the game.” Tim Callahan, a former Yale guard who was team captain in 1920, was hired by Dutton to coach the team. The plan was for Coral Gables to build a stadium that would have a capacity of 20,000.
As for the split of the gate Pyle held all the cards. He had the “star” that everybody wanted to see. Dutton gave in to the demands. Pyle drew up a standard three-page contract- which he would do for all the stops on the southern and western games. For this stop he asked for a guarantee of $25,000, an unheard of sum for a pro football game. Pyle asked for $5,000 up front on the day the contract was signed and the rest ($20,000) deposited in the Illinois Trust & Savings Bank by December 19th. Pyle then got 66% of the gate receipts. The game was set for Christmas Day 1925.
|1925 Game Contract, C.C. Pyle and Henry R. Dutton of Coral Gables|
(Courtesy: Pro Football Hall of Fame)
Because of the large guarantee tickets were set very high at $5.50, $8.80, $11.20 (end seats), and $13.20 (center-midfield). Ads in the Miami Herald and Miami Daily News read:
“Red” Grange and his team of ex-college stars versus CORAL GABLES Collegiate All-Stars
Christmas Day- December 25th at
Coral Gables Athletic Stadium; Game Called 3 p.m.
They could be purchased at Tiny Parker Reservation (Ticket) Agency located in the lobby of the Alta Vista Hotel. Arriving in Coral Gables, a town roughly six miles from Miami, Red and the Bears stepped off the train at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 23rd, as the team was met by fans and a police escort to the hotel. Later that evening Red, Pyle, and the whole Bears team attended a banquet held at the Coral Gables Country Club. Hosted by the Illinois Alumni the 200 guests, including the town’s mayor Edward Dammers, toasted Red. The evening was followed by a night of music and dancing.
The following day the Bears conducted a workout. When they visited the empty field where the game was to be played what they found was hundreds of busy workers building a stadium on four and half acres of land. Work started on the stadium just two weeks earlier, but it wasn’t until Dec. 16th that the construction crew got really busy. Crew Supervisor J.W. Ricketts oversaw 82 large trucks who hauled lumber and supplies to the site. His staff included 400 workmen, working 8-hour shifts to have the stadium ready by Christmas Day. A chef was hired to prepare sandwiches and hot coffee for the laborers. Each day saw 100,000 feet of lumber sawed and put into place with 35 tons of cast iron pipe laid. When the stadium was finish 600,000 feet of lumber had been used with 250,000 riveted bolts. The U-shape arrangement of seats stretched 1,120 feet around the eastern, northern and western side of the stadium in 17 sections. Coral Gables Stadium was completed at midnight on Dec. 23rd with the final touches to the stands that would seat 16,000 spectators. Seats rose up 24 rows, some 66 feet from top to bottom with a press box.
Also at the site was photographer William Fishbaugh. The 51-year Fishbaugh was a well known photographer in Miami, mainly doing photo work for land developer George Merrick, who had developed Coral Gables in the 1920's. Fishbaugh's images sold the town to the buying public who wanted to live in the Florida sun. At this time Fishbaugh was assigned to shot photos of the stadium being built and the Grange football game.
For the next few days Fishbaugh took photos of the stadium being built.
|Dec. 19, 1925 (two photos of stadium)|
|Dec. 21st (Three photos) |
|Dec 24th (Two photos, day before game)|
At the workout Red suffered a black eye. During one play he ran smacked into the elbow of one of his teammates. The swelling mark under his left eye showed that the sport wasn’t even easier in the Florida sun. The Coral Gables All-Stars were hand-picked by Tim Callahan. His roster featured some very talented players from three NFL teams- the New York Giants, Pottsville Marrons and the Frankford Yellow Jackets:
Frankford Yellow Jackets: Bull Behman (tackle), Joe Spagna (guard)
New York Giants: Joe Alexander (center); Lynn Bomar (end); Jack McBride (fullback)
Pottsville Maroons: Charlie Berry (end); Jack Ernst (quarterback); Duke Osborn (guard)
Game day arrived on Christmas Day. The crowd was a big disappointment. Newspapers reported that half the stadium was filled with 8,000 spectators. In the press box to cover the game were Larry Dailey of the Chicago Herald-Examiner, Jack Sell of the Miami Herald and Steppy Fairman (Winnipeg Tribune). The 3:00 p.m. kickoff saw the weather rather warm and the newly sodded field more sandy than grass as players would call for the water bucket many times.
Fishbaugh was there again with his camera. During the pre-game he shot a wide angle of the flag raising ceremony, as well as the captain hand shake between the Bears George Trafton and the All-Stars Charlie Barry. He also captured Red Grange kneeling on the sidelines. A great image of the Galloping Ghost during his famous tour.
|Pre-Game Flag raising ceremony, Bears vs Coral Gables All-Stars. To the right you see tiny Joey Sternaman with Ed Healey to his left. (Courtesy of Florida Memory, Fishbaugh Collection)|
|Red Grange kneeling (Courtesy: Florida Memory, Fishbaugh Collection)|
|George Trafton (right) of Bears shakes hands with Charlie Berry (left) of All-Stars. Referee Hap Smith in middle. (Courtesy: Florida Memory, Fishbaugh Collection)|
As for the game the small crowd saw a defensive battle with little thrills- although they were given a chance to have better seats. Midway through the first quarter the Bears called a timeout. Larry Dailey of the Chicago Herald-Examiner wrote: “The spectators on the end section ($11.20 tickets) were invited to occupy the middle stands (midfield seats at $13.20 tickets), which were not half occupied and they made a wild scramble for more advantageous seats.” After just one carry in the first quarter Red came alive in the second. His first big carry went for 22-yards. To finish off the drive Red plowed through for a 4-yard touchdown. That was all the scoring for the day. In the second half Red thrilled the fans one last time with a 52-yard scamper. The Bears won 7-0.
The Miami News reported that Red had 9 carries for 94 yards and that the game, “proved dull and uninteresting to the small crowd of football fans who braved the top prices of $5.50 to $13.20. which were tacked up as an entrance fee.” But it did praise the redhead, “Dixie has seen the most talked of football player in America in action, and Dixie was not disappointed. Grange is still Grange, there is no other.
|Game Action, Bears vs Coral Gables All-Stars (Courtesy: Florida Memory, Fishbaugh Collection)|
Although the crowd was small Red, Pyle and the Bears still made out. The $25,000 guarantee made sure of that. The typed-up statement had the total gate at $20,725.91 which 66% went to the Red-Pyle-Bears group. In the end Coral Gables and the city of Miami refused to pay the obscene ticket prices to make a bigger gate. The guarantee was enough for the tour to make a profit, but Dutton and the city of Coral Gables did not. After the game the stadium was torn down to make way for more housing. The tour was now headed to Tampa.
|Gate Recepit Bears vs Coral Gables All-Stars (Courtesy: Pro Football Hall of Fame)|
Fishbaugh’s action shots were a little too wide to get in close. Both teams wearing dark jerseys didn’t help too.
I was very pleased to find these important images.
By TJ Troup
Before Sammy Baugh arrived in the Nation's Capitol the 'Skins had a record of 3-6-1 against New York, and from 1937 through 1943 the Giants continued to get the better of their rivals to the tune of 9-4-1.
Washington, led by Baugh, managed to play in the Championship game four times from 1937 through 1943. The Redskin offense was almost always aligned in a wing formation—either single or double wing.
|Baugh, early in his career|
The paragraph written in The Official Encyclopedia of Pro Football states "Baugh, who had always been a tailback, didn't care for it at first, but then slowly made the adjustment." Frank Filchock had returned from the Coast Guard and had his one outstanding season in his career in 1944.
He led the league in completions, touchdown passes, yards per pass, and also the passer rating at 86.0. Sam finished third in this category at 59.4, and ended the '44 campaign with two straight losses to the Giants.
Baugh completed 39 of 69 for 414 with 1 touchdown and SIX interceptions. Being the competitor he was; must have been a long winter/spring in Texas as he mentally/emotionally looked back on his poorest season.
Washington opened the 1945 season with a loss to the Yanks, and no doubt the upset brought to mind that maybe Baugh and the Redskins were not an elite team anymore. Having film of Sam and his 'Skins of '45 is a joy to watch (much of it in color), and on October 14th Washington dominated the woeful Pittsburgh Steelers 14-0.
Baugh operated out of the t-formation like he was born to it; he completed 18 of 21 for 226 yards, with one score, and no interceptions...this equates to a passer rating of 127.8!
Shredding the Steelers is one thing, how about against the Eagles and Giants? The 24-14 victory over Philadelphia set the stage for those damn Giants and another key game. New York is just not as strong a team in 1945 as they were in '44 but with a record of 1-1-1 another win over Washington elevates them above Washington in the standings.
Baugh continues his pinpoint passing as he completes 19 of 23 for 231 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the 24-14 victory. The blue-clad Chicago Cardinals are much improved with Paul Christman at quarterback and fight back to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Baugh expertly drives the 'Skins goal ward late in the game setting up the winning field goal 24-21.
Earlier in the game, Samuel Adrian Baugh passed from his own end zone as he set up to punt to blocking back Mike Micka for 64 yards. The Chicago Bears had fallen on hard times in 1945, but since the Bears had won impressively over Washington three times in title games the first half of the decade Baugh took great pleasure in beating them 28-21.
His touchdown pass of 68 yards to rookie Steve Bagarus was the key play of the game. Since one of his receivers was mentioned, how about we look at who Sam was pitching to? Wilbur Moore had been a favorite target in the past for Baugh, but not near as much in '45, as Sammy sent Bagarus in motion often and fired accurate passes to the lean rookie.
Bagarus ranked among the league leaders in receiving all season and had one helluva performance in the victory over the Giants; 8 catches for 162 yards. Akins, Condit, and Seymour caught a pass once in a while, but Sammy usually concentrated on getting the ball to his ends. Describing his receivers brings to mind a handful of adjectives—but none of them would remind anyone of Rice, Warfield, Alworth, and the Alabama Antelope Don Hutson.
Turley, Aguirre, Dye, Miller, and Milner ran short out patters or straight up the field and turned around on stop patterns. They needed to whip their heads around cause the pigskin was coming out of Baugh's hand quickly right at them.
They all had their moments, yet Bagarus was the weapon Sam utilized at key times in the game. Washington was back on top in the standings at 6-1 and Slingin' Sam had completed 95 of 136 for 1,228 yards, with 7 touchdowns, and just 2 intercepted.
Yes, folks, he was completing 69.9% of his passes which is unheard of in this era, and averaging 9 yards a pass! His technique while still very similar to his days in the wing formations, had evolved in that he would usually move to his right a few steps and deliver with his three-quarter arm throwing motion. His footwork remained superb and on balance, and since his mind worked so quickly defenders were just not able to anticipate the pass and drive on the throw.
Watching the 16-0 shut-out loss to Philadelphia over and over is a microcosm of a defense; in this case the Eagles that could beat anybody with their fundamentally sound defensive game plans. Philadelphia "took away" Bagarus, and made strong open-field tackles as soon as Baugh's receivers caught the ball. Sam's longest completion was for only 12 yards.
The Eagles were upset by New York on December 2nd as Washington got back in the win column with a 24-0 pasting of Pittsburgh. Baugh was again masterful as he completed 8 of 10 for 163 yards with a season-high three touchdown tosses.
The final day of the season on December the 9th the 'Skins are at home in Griffith Stadium to again end the campaign with the Giants, and with a one-game lead on the Eagles, they can return to the title game with a victory.
The end zone camera color film of this game captures from interesting angles the Washington Redskin offense. Powerful fullback Frank Akins continued to thunder up the middle, off tackle, and even bounce outside as Sam knew how to mix in the running game. The Giants concentrated on Bagarus(why not?) and the quick slippery rookie speedster caught one pass for 32 yards; so Sam again flipped, pitched, fired, and drilled his passes to Dye, Turley, Milner, Miller, and deCorrevont out of the backfield. Baugh ends his season by completing 12 of 20 for 184 yards, with one scoring toss, and again NO interceptions. The passer rating had not yet been devised, yet his rating of 109 for the season remains the best of the pre-modern era.
|Baugh vs the Rams in the 1945 Title game|
Washington would take on the "Cinderella" Cleveland Rams in the championship tilt, and due to weather conditions, and one fateful pass in the wind the 'Skins would come up short. Since America is at war not sure how dedicated the league office was at keeping the weekly stats? There were many, MANY scorekeeping errors during the season, and hopefully, Elias would want my corrections? One of the corrections involves Sammy Baugh.
When the Lions defeated the Packers on December 2nd Lou Brock of Green Bay returned an interception 26 yards (have the film). Charley Brock was credited with the interception return, and as such led the league with 122 yards in interception returns. In actuality, Sam led the league with 114. During the October victory over New York Baugh pilfered a pair of passes and returned them 95 yards; including the longest of his career—74 yards.
He also continued to rank among the league leaders in punting. Sammy Baugh had made a successful transition to t-formation quarterback in his 9th season, and would continue his onslaught on defenses for another seven years!
|Chart credit: PFJ|
By John Turney
We caught up with Steve Hartman in the last couple of months and realized he's still a monumentally busy man. He does TV in Los Angeles and Radio in San Diego, often on the same day.
He does research that envelops him for years and it's really the kind of guy you'd want as a lifeline if they ever had "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" on television again. In fact, he once was. And not just for sports—for Academy Awards as well. He can tell you the winners for that, who's in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and when (high school friend Jane Wiedlin's band the Go-Gos are up this year) and so on.
Then comes sports Halls of Fame, few, if anyone knows them better than Hartman. One of his research finds was the preliminary list for 1967 whc=ich included 77 people, including 15 coaches and contributors.
Way back when Bob Carroll published Steve's list in the Coffin Corner the magazine published by the Pro Football Researchers Association and Hartman bolded those on the list who had been elected to the Hall of Fame.
In speaking to Hartman we asked if we could update his article and he said that was fine so here it is with those elected since also bolded but also underlined. As can be seen, only five of this 1967 list have been added in the last twenty or so years but there are some names that we think should have at least made it with the Centennial Class, namely Wistert and Lewellen and some who were not on this list as well.
"We're all used to seeing the Pro Football Hall of Fame's "Final 15" at election time each year. In 1967, the entire list of nominees was published. Eventually, 34 of the 78 nominees would be enshrined. (They are marked in bold type.)
1920-32BACKS LINEMEN Heinie Benkert Francis "Jug" Earpe Benny Friedman Luke Johnsos Verne Lewellen Jim McMillen Fritz Pollard George Murtagh Glenn Presnell Bob "Nasty" Nash George "Wildcat" Wilson Al Nesser Duke Osborn Duke Slater Herb Stein
1933-1943BACKS LINEMEN Cliff Battles Charley Brock Ward Cuff George Christensen Beattie Feathers Glenn "Turk" Edwards Marshall Goldberg Bill Hewitt Alphonse "Tuffy" Leemans Jim Lee Howell Clarence "Ace" Parker Frank "Bruiser" Kinard Ken Strong Wayne Millner Byron "Whizzer" White Joe Stydahar
1944-1963OFFENSIVE BACKS OFFENSIVE ENDS Frankie Albert Tom Fears Tony Canadeo Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch Charley Conerly Dante Lavelli Pat Harder Pete Pihos Bobby Layne Marion Motley OFFENSIVE LINEMEN Joe Perry Frank Gatski Charley Trippi Abe Gibron Norm Van Brocklin Lin Houston Doak Walker Al Wistert DEFENSIVE BACKS DEFENSIVE LINEMEN Jack Butler Chuck Bednarik Jack Christiansen Gene Brito Tommy James George Connor Warren Lahr Art Donovan Emlen Tunnell Len Ford Leo Nomellini Ernie Stautner Bill Willis Alex Wojciechowicz FOUNDERS-COACHES-OFFICIALS Charley Bidwill-St. Louis Cardinals owner, 1933-47 Paul Brown-Cleveland Browns head coach and general manager, 1946-62 Potsy Clark-coach, Portsmouth Spartans, Detroit Lions, Brooklyn Dodgers, 1931-40 Jack Cusack-Canton Bulldogs manager, 1911-17 Ralph Hay-Canton Bulldogs owner 1919-22 Lee Joannes-founder, Green Bay Packers, 1933-66 Ralph Jones-coach, Chicago Bears, 1930-32 Earle "Greasy" Neale-coach, Philadelphia Eagles, 1941-50 Dan Reeves-Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams owner, 1941-66 Harry Robb- game official, 1925-45 Clark Shaughnessy-coach, Los Angeles Rams, 1948-49 Buck Shaw-coach, San Francisco 49ers, 1946-54; Philadelphia Eagles, 1958-60 Jock Sutherland-coach, Brooklyn Dodgers 1940-41; Pittsburgh Steelers, 1946-47 Andrew Turnbull-Green Bay Packers owner, 1923-28 Arch Ward-founder College All-Star Game, 1934 and AAFC, 1944"
by TJ Troup
There have been many, many men who have played strong dedicated football over their time in the NFL and received very little fanfare. Today's saga is about one of those men—Jim Cheyunski.
Drafted in the 12th round entering the 1968 season the Boston Patriots hoped he could make the team and contribute. During the strange season of 1969, Cheyunski became a starter and played well. The league has had a three-man linebacking trio's that have stood out, and most folks would be hard-pressed to name the starting trio of the Patriots, yet Ed Philpott on the strong side, Cheyunski in the middle, and John "bull" Bramlett on the weak side were strong tacklers, and excellent in pursuit.
After 12 games in '69 with a 4-8 record Boston still had an outside chance at a berth in the expanded playoffs in the last season of the AFL; this did not happen, and the next two years in the northeast the newly named New England Patriots were full of front office drama. Cheyunski continued as a starter, but was sent to Buffalo in April of 1973 in a six-player trade.
Cheyunski was a key part of the revitalized Buffalo defense that earned a playoff berth in 1974, but yet again he was traded—this time in the summer for a 6th round draft choice. Joe Thomas had drafted and traded, and then traded and drafted to put a Colt team on the field that he felt would become a factor in the highly competitive AFC eastern division.
Baltimore won opening day in Chicago, and as such had half as many wins after one game as they did the entire '74 campaign. The Colts under the guidance of new head coach Ted Marchibroda then struggled for four consecutive weeks; all loses.
October 5th, 1975 was in the Coliseum to watch the visiting Colts take on the powerful Rams, this actually was once a bitter rivalry, but now in different conferences they would see each other every few years. The youthful-spirited Colts gave the Rams all they could handle before succumbing late in the game.
Chuck Knox ground attack was productive and relentless, and as I watched began to realize that middle linebacker Mike Curtis while still a quality player was just not the Curtis of old. The write-up in Street & Smith's for that year raved about Curtis, but there were at least ten other middle linebackers in the NFL better than he was in his 10th year.
NFL Films had two shows that were mainstays for fans: "This Week in the NFL" with Summerall & Brookshier, and "Game of the Week". October the 12 the Buffalo Bills were hard pressed but still managed to beat a vastly improved Colt team on the "Game of the Week". Curtis started this game, but at one point Simpson is running left and is dropped for a two-yard loss as massive John Dutton, and quick Jim Cheyunski penetrate into the backfield to make the tackle.
Curtis started in the week five loss to the Patriots, and the so-called improved Baltimore Colts stood 1-4. The Colts had now lost 28 of their last 35 games, and next up Joe Namath and the Jets at Shea. Have the highest regard for Ted Marchibroda and his patience and teaching ability, and those traits had now taken root, and now Jones, Mitchell, and Kunz would bring back the enthusiasm that had been sorely missed.
The Colt offense was balanced and productive beginning with the victory over the Jets. When you watch film of the Baltimore defense, and read the publications all the "ink" was about the defensive line.
|Joe Ehrmann and Cheyunski|
The "Sack Pack" was young, strong, dynamic, and could make play after play. The defensive co-ordinator Maxie Baughan had learned his lessons well from George Allen. Baughan understood the role his linebackers needed to play to solidify the defense. Tom MacLeod was no Ted Hendricks, but was rock solid on the strong side, and was named All-AFC by The Sporting News, and undersized savvy Stan White was one of the handful of weak-side linebackers who played zone coverage with aplomb (8 interceptions) and could also blitz effectively (6½ sacks).
This of course leaves Cheyunski, and my evaluation of him. He was an undersized tackling machine. Instinctive, and very capable of filling inside rushing lanes, the former Syracuse stalwart was exceptional in pursuit, and zone coverage.
Difficult to state which game of the season was his best, yet against the Browns he had 6 lead, and 8 assisted tackles. Baltimore had won four in a row to climb into contention and off to the Orange Bowl and the Dolphins.
Miami had won seven of ten so far against the Colts since '70 and earned a playoff berth all five years. The Colt 33-17 victory was the turning point in the season, and Cheyunski recovered a fumble(one of five takeaways by the defense) and made 3 lead and 4 assisted tackles.
Jim intercepted passes in the wins over Chiefs and the Giants. "Game of the Week" at NFL Films for December 14th would be the re-match of the Dolphins and Colts this time in fog-shrouded Memorial Stadium. As one would expect, Sabol and his talented compadres brought to life the 10-7 overtime thriller.
The Colt express was not going to be derailed, and they finished the season with a victory over the Patriots to finish 10-4 and when the AFC East. One of the keys to playing strong defense are half-time adjustments, and the Colts during the nine-game win streak allowed only 21 points in the 3rd quarter. The first five games of the season Baltimore allowed 152 yards a game rushing but during the win streak only 117.
Bum Phillips did an outstanding job with the Oilers as they fought tooth and nail for a playoff berth in the AFC Central, but there was no doubt coach of the year was Ted Marchibroda.
The playoff match up of the red hot Colts and the 12-2 defending Super Bowl Champion Steelers took center stage, and Baltimore fought valiantly against one of the best teams of that era. Cheyunski led the front seven in their ferocious battle with the Steeler ground attack in Pittsburgh. Jim Cheyunski returned to the Colts and they again earned a playoff berth in 1976.
By John Turney
|Credit: NFL Films|
In 1972 Mendenhall was drafted by New York Giants in the 3rd round (55th overall) of the draft. He became an immediate starter (and an All-Rookie selection) for the Giants at what they called 'middle guard' and recorded 2½ sacks and displayed good discipline in the middle—enough to allow Gregory to roam free in his "rover" position, which put additional pressure on all the other defensive linemen, including rookie Mendenhall but the scheme worked well in 1972. Mendenhall's 6-1 255 build seemed ideal for that position. And for that era, it was, 255 was more than big enough for a middle guard/nose tackle especially one with Mendenhall's quickness.