Thursday, November 29, 2012

1939 Team Photo

This photo was published in the Milwaukee Journal's color Sunday supplement on November 12, 1939.

Always a leader among professional football teams, the Green Bay Packers this year are again in the thick of the championship battle. Since this picture of the squad was made there have been several additions and releases of players. Cecil Isbell, star halfback, was not present for the photo. Shown are:

Front row (left to right) — Paul Engebretsen, guard; Francis Tewdell, guard; Pete Tinsley, guard; Buford Ray, tackle; Charlie Schultz, tackle; Paul Kell, tackle; Clarence Thompson, halfback; Don Hutson, end.

Second row (same order) — Capt. Milt Gantenbein, end; Eddie Jankowski, fullback; Buckets Goldenberg, guard; Arnie Herber, quarterback; Joe Laws, quarterback; Andy Uram, halfback; Russ Letlow, guard; Dick Weisgerber, halfback; Hank Bruder, quarterback; Frank Balazs, fullback.

Third row — Ernie Smith, tackle; Jack Brennan, guard; Frank Steen, Clarke Hinkle, fullback; Larry Craig, end; Bud Svendsen, center; Charlie Brock, center; Bill Lee, tackle; Al Moore, end; Harry Jacunski, end; Asst. Coach Richard (Red) Smith.

Back row — Ernie Smith, tackle; Jack Brennan, guard; Frank Steen, end; Tom Greenfield, center; Larry Buhler, fullback; Warren Kilbourne, tackle; Carl Mulleneaux, end.

—Journal color photo
You'll notice that the caption is a bit off. They've skipped the first two people in the third row, reprinting the first three people in the back row instead.

So who are our two mystery men? The first unidentified person is obviously Head Coach Earl Louis (Curly) Lambeau. The second eludes me. The Packers' website doesn't list anyone wearing #18 in 1939. Quarterback Hank Bruder wore the number in 1938, but there he is in the second row wearing his new #5.

I have another team photo from 1939, this time featuring the Packers' new white alternate jerseys, and there we find the answers.

There he is: second row, third from the right.

The caption identifies him as "Mulleneaux". Not wide receiver Carl Mulleneaux, who played for the Packers from 1938-41 and 45-46; he's there in the back row, fifth from the right, wearing #19. No, this was Lee Mulleneaux, Carl's brother.

Lee was in his eighth NFL season in 1939, having previously played for the New York Giants, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Gunners, Pittsburgh Pirates (now Steelers) and Chicago Cardinals. He came to the Packers from Chicago partway through the 1938 season and played six games for the Blue and Gold that year.

Lee Mulleneaux was injured early in 1939, possibly during Training Camp. It doesn't appear that he ever played in a game that season—he has no stats on—but he reamained on the inactive list, and when the Packers won their fifth World Championship in December, the players voted to give Lee a full share of the championship purse.

Lee retired after that season, his brother Carl went on to have a Packer Hall of Fame-worthy career in his own right, and our mystery for the day has been solved.

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