Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Class of '63

Fifty years ago today, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio inducted its inaugural class.

Not surprisingly, the Packers were well-represented. The Packers had already won eight World Championships and were the reigning champs.

Eleven of the 17 charter members who were enshrined into the national pro football Hall of Fame on Sept. 7, 1963 in Canton, Ohio. From row from left: Earl (Dutch) Clark, Earl (Curly) Lambeau, Mel Hein, John (Blood) McNally and Don Hutson. Back row from left: Sammy Baugh, Cal Hubbard, Bronko Nagurski, George Halas, Red Grange and Ernie Nevers. They hold busts of themselves to be displayed in the Hall. (Associated Press)
Of the seventeen members of that Class of 1963, four were Packers. Two of them were such towering figures that their names still hang at the stadium today, Curly Lambeau obviously first among them. The other titan was Curly's longtime collaborator Don Hutson; player, coach, entrepreneur and to this day considered by many to be the best receiver ever to play the game.

The other two were no less deserving of immortality. Johnny "Blood" McNally, the fabled "Vagabond Halfback", spent the bulk of his career with Green Bay but also had stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers and three franchises that even in 1963 must have seemed like ancient history: the Pottsville Maroons, Duluth Eskimos and Milwaukee Badgers. Cal Hubbard was a dominating tackle who forced a trade to the Packers from the New York Giants after a 1928 road game in Green Bay. His off-season job as a minor-league baseball umpire led to an interesting second career. Before his football days were even over, Hubbard had worked his way up to the majors. He went on to be a pioneering figure in baseball, introducing the concept of the modern-day officiating crew, and was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1976. He remains the only person enshrined in the country's two great halls of fame.

Here we see the four former Packers touring the new museum:

Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, from left, Cal Hubbard, Johnny McNally, Don Hutson and Curly Lambeau stand at the Green Bay Packers display inside the Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio, on Sept. 7, 1963. The former Wisconsin players were enshrined today in a ceremony. (Associated Press)
Interesting. That sideline jacket is still on display:


As it was in 1963, so it remains today: you can't write the story of the NFL without the Green Bay Packers.

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