Many remember hard hitting Big Red special teamers like “Dr. Doom” John Barefield and Ron Wolfley, but a long forgotten “wedge-buster” from the 1960s was Mal Hammack.
Malcolm “Mal” Hammack started his career with the Chicago Cardinals in 1955. The Roscoe, Texas native played college ball at the University of Florida where he was second team all-SEC fullback. Chicago drafted him in the third round and wanted him to play linebacker, however, his weight of 200 pounds was on the light side, even in 1955.
Hammack was used sparingly at linebacker his rookie season and was soon moved to full back where he would play most of his career. But he earned his mark on special teams. Hammack was a fierce competitor, loved contact, and was known for his body-jolting blocking and tackling. He was the lead Kamikaze and captain of the special teams.
“I like to go down on punts with a chance to kill the ball close in or maybe jolt the ball out of a receiver’s hands,” Hammack told Bob Broeg of the St. Louis Post Dispatch in a 1966 interview, “but I believe the most satisfaction is in peeling back to help block for a punt return, hopeful that it might go all the way. The most satisfaction, that is, next to winning.”
Posted by Bob Underwood The 15th annual Jim Hart Celebrity Golf Classic benefiting Sunnyhill, Inc. was held on Monday, June 6 at The Legends Country Club in Eureka, MO. Jim Hart, Roger Wehrli, Jackie Smith, Jim Bakken, Johnny Roland, Mel … Continue reading →
(Excerpt from February 20, 1978 Edition of Sports Illustrated)
HIS PLAYERS HAVE LITTLE USE FOR ST. LOUIS OWNER BILL BIDWILL, AND THE TEAM IS DISINTEGRATING. COACH DON CORYELL AND ALL-PRO GUARD CONRAD DOBLER ARE GONE. TERRY METCALF MAY BE THE NEXT DEFECTOR.
Written by Joe Marshall
Above the hallway leading to the offices of the St. Louis Cardinals’ coaches in Busch Memorial Stadium there is a new ceiling. A leak caused the old ceiling to collapse back on Dec. 10. For St. Louis, more than the roof fell in that day. The Cardinals were springing leaks all over the place. On the heels of a 26-20 loss to Washington that ended his team’s playoff hopes, St. Louis Coach Don Coryell leveled a verbal blast at local fans and the Cardinal management. “I’m not staying in a place I’m not wanted,” Coryell raged. “I’d like to be fired. Let me have a high school job.”
Last Friday, two months to the day from Coryell’s outburst, the Cardinals patched up one of their leaks by announcing that through a “mutual agreement” between Coryell and and team owner Bill Bidwill, Coryell would no longer be the coach. Unfortunately, Bidwill’s patchwork wasn’t as neat as the handiwork on the ceiling. For the last two months the Cardinals, who under Coryell had been one of the NFL’s most successful and exciting teams, have been in turmoil, and the once dazzling Cardiac Cards were being called the Chaotic Cards.
PENNANTS HAVE NOT RECENTLY FLOWN OVER THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS. THIS YEAR THE BASEBALL CARDINALS BROUGHT ONE HOME, AND THE FOOTBALL CARDINALS MAY BRING ANOTHER FROM THE SCRAMBLE OF THE NFL EASTERN DIVISION.
In St. Louis last week a bunch of guys with sledgehammers were knocking down an old burlesque house to clear ground for a new stadium, which means that by the spring of 1966 night baseball and Sunday afternoon football will have replaced sex in at least one area of the leafy and pleasant town on the banks of the Mississippi River. For the citizens of St. Louis, who sat 18 years in the gloom of Busch Stadium waiting for their baseball Cardinals to win another World Series, the new stadium is a merit badge for patience. A further reward may be granted to St. Louis fans before the first graffito is scratched into the concrete of the new stadium. The football Cardinals leaped off to a flourishing 3-0-1 record in the NFL’s Eastern Division.
There may have been no player more respected in the Big Red locker room than Wayne Lee Morris. The six-foot-200 pound running back was a quiet, unassuming leader who did whatever the coaches asked of him.
The Cardinals selected Morris in the 5th round of the 1976 NFL draft out of Southern Methodist University. But the team was already stacked at running back with Pro Bowlers Terry Metcalf and Jim Otis as well as solid backups Steve Jones and Jerry Latin. Morris was hardly guaranteed a roster spot.
“In high school they had me starting on the varsity as a sophomore,” he told Tom Barnidge of the St. Louis Post Dispatch after the draft. “In college, I joined the varsity as a freshman. Now I’m trying to join it again. I hope this is one more stepping-stone.”
Morris was well-known in Dallas. He rushed for 3623 yards in three seasons at South Oak Cliff High School and was named an All-American in three different publications.
At SMU, he was the nation’s top freshman rusher with 884 yards and went on to set the school’s career rushing record. He ran for 154 yards in his first varsity game against Wake Forest and racked up 202 yards against Texas his senior season.
Morris knew that he would once again have to prove himself in the NFL.
Former St. Louis Cardinals defensive lineman Luke Owens grew up in Cleveland and wanted nothing more than to beat his boyhood favorites. However, the Big Red were winless in ten games against the Browns since Luke had joined the team in 1958.
“You’ve got to live around those guys most of the year the way I do to appreciate the chest-puffing, back slapping adulation they get,” Luke told the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1963. “I get tired of it. We’ve tied ’em a couple of times, but never beat ’em. I’d like to blow ’em right into the lake (Erie).”
But on November 17, 1963, Big Luke finally saw his longtime dream come true when the Cardinals defeated the Browns 20-14 at Municipal Stadium.
“It’s like Christmas for me,” Owens said in the locker room as his teammates presented him the game ball.
The record has stood the test of time. And it might just stand for the rest of time.
When Jim Bakken retired from the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979, after 17 seasons in the NFL, he was the franchise’s all-time scoring leader with 1,380 points.
Forty-four years later, that hasn’t changed. Bakken still holds that record—and he may never let go of it. Of the 49 players below him on the team scoring list, most are retired or playing for another team. The only exceptions are 37-year-old kicker Matt Prater (42nd with 137 points) and quarterback Kyler Murray (tied for 47th with 120 points).
“I guess I didn’t really think about that,” Bakken says when asked if he ever imagined his record would last this long. Actually, he takes more pride in a single-game NFL record he set.
(Editor’s Note: Story updated at 6:52 PM 01/26/2022)
Tim Van Galder passed away this morning at his St. Charles, MO home after a long battle with cancer. He was 77 years old.
The lovable, confident, handsome Wisconsin native was affectionately known as TVG. He was the St. Louis Cardinals 6th round draft choice in 1966 out of Iowa State. Van Galder spent time on the team’s taxi squad early in his career and served in the Army for a couple of years, before returning to the Cardinals in 1971.
“I waited for camp to start,” he told Jim Barnhart of The Pantagraph in 1973. “The Cardinals had (Jim) Hart and (Pete) Beathard. Another fellow and I were trying for the third quarterback spot. But this fellow was injured in a motorcycle accident and I got the third string job.”
Van Galder got his big break in 1972 when he was named starting quarterback in the season opener against Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts. TVG completed 10-15 passes for 110 yards in the Cards 10-3 upset victory. “The defense won the game,” Tim quipped after the contest.
Jim Brown played the last regular season game of his career at Old Sportsman’s Park (Busch I) and was ejected from the game for fighting with Joe Robb. Mark Tomasik breaks it down with an excellent story below. Interesting to see Robb talk about the mutual lack of respect between the players and Big Red management even in 1965. That was a common theme throughout their stay in St. Louis.
In the last regular-season game he played in the NFL, running back Jim Brown was ejected for fighting with a St. Louis Cardinals defensive lineman.
The incident occurred on Dec. 19, 1965, in the regular-season finale between the Cardinals and Cleveland Browns at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Just before halftime, Brown and Cardinals defensive end Joe Robb hit and kicked one another. The referee tossed both from the game. Brown still finished as the NFL rushing leader for the eighth time in nine seasons.
Despite a stellar performance by Cardinals safety Larry Wilson, who intercepted three passes and returned one 96 yards for a touchdown, the Browns won, 27-24, and advanced to the NFL championship game against the Green Bay Packers. Video
Brown, 29, played in the title game, won by the Packers, and then retired from football, launching an acting career with a role in the film…
Pat Fischer was a jack of all trades in college while playing for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He started at quarterback and defensive back his senior season and was a fabulous kick returner. The Omaha native still holds the Cornhusker record with a career average of 18.3 yards per punt return. He was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1974.
The diminutive Fischer stood just 5 foot-9 inches and was deemed by many to be too small to play in the pros, however the St. Louis Football Cardinals drafted him in the 17th round of the 1961 NFL draft.
“I was selected in the 17th round of the draft, so whenever anyone would ask I could say that I was drafted. I didn’t have to say the round, just saying that I was drafted by an NFL team was enough to impress people,” Pat told the Washington Times in a 2008 interview.
Several St. Louis Football Cardinals alumni met for their annual Christmas Party on Sunday, December 19 at Circa Pub & Grill in Des Peres, MO. Circa is owned by former quarterback Jamie Martin who played 16 seasons in the NFL, … Continue reading →
MacArthur Lane was the Cardinals top draft pick in 1968 out of Utah State. The 6-foot 1-inch, 200 pound running back played sparingly his first two seasons in St. Louis, although he did lead the team in kick off returns in 1969.
Lane had his breakout season in 1970 when he scored 13 touchdowns and gained 1342 all-purpose yards out of the Big Red backfield. He scored 4 touchdowns against the Eagles in an October game at Busch Stadium and scored 3 touchdowns against the Boston Patriots in November.
Despite a Pro Bowl season, Lane was not satisfied. He told Jeff Meyers of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he was bitter at the end of the 1970 season because, “We just stopped running the ball,” thereby diminishing his chances of gaining 1000 yards, he believed. Additionally, after a 7-2 start, the Cards lost their last three games of the season and missed the playoffs.
Lane became further dissatisfied after the Cardinals failed to sign him after his Pro Bowl season. He became surly with the press and it affected his play on the field. He rushed for only 592 yards and three touchdowns under new head coach Bob Hollway.
“I should have been signed in January of 1971,” Lane told Jeff Meyers in a 1972 interview. I got like that because I was under a lot of pressure because I hadn’t signed. There there was a lot of pressure because we weren’t winning. The pressures were there, all right, both internal and external.”
At 29 years of age, Lane took a pay cut in 1971 and was playing for 90% of his 1969 salary which was based on two unproductive years.
(Editor’s Note: Mark Tomasik writes about Colts running back Tom Matte’s big game against the Cards in 1964. It was the fifth consecutive roadgame for the Big Red to start the season. The game was originally scheduled to be played in St. Louis but was moved to Baltimore because of the baseball Cardinals playing in the 1964 World Series against the Yankees.)
Baltimore Colts halfback Tom Matte made the longest run of his NFL career the first time he faced the St. Louis Cardinals. On Oct. 12, 1964, Matte took a handoff from Johnny Unitas and rushed 80 yards for a touchdown, helping the Colts to a 47-27 victory over the Cardinals at Baltimore. A versatile runner […]
Some may remember former top pick Joe Namath spurning the Cards in 1965 to sign a lucrative contract with the New York Jets of the American Football League. It wasn’t the first time the Cardinals tangled with an AFL team over a draft selection.
Three years earlier the NFL Cardinals and AFL Dallas Texans went to court over Kentucky All-American center Irv Goode who the Grid Birds drafted in the first round of the 1962 draft. Shortly after signing with the Big Red, it was reported that the Texans claimed to have inked Goode to a contract just a few days earlier. But the Kentucky native had no plans to play in Dallas.
“I’m working for the Cardinals this summer,” Goode told the St. Louis Post Dispatch in June of 1962. “My wife and I are staying with her folks in Kirkwood.”
It took a few months, but ultimately a judge ruled that Goode belonged to the Cardinals. The 6-foot 4-inch 240 pound lineman arrived at his first training camp and realized he wasn’t going to get much action at center behind Bob DeMarco. But, an injury to starting left tackle Ed Cook provided an opportunity for Goode to not only learn a new position, but get playing time.
“I like it,” Goode said of his new position in a St. Louis Post Dispatch interview in September 1962. “When Ed Cook got hurt and they tried me at tackle, that was the longest I had got to play in a long time.”
“It’s different. It’s more man against man. Playing center your first concern is making the snap, getting the ball back right. Then in your blocking you usually drop back and just help out.”
A golf outing and Memorial were held last week in honor of longtime Cardinals and Rams coach Jim Hanifan who passed away last November at the age of 87.
Many of Hanifan’s former players and fellow coaches attended the Thursday Memorial Service including Dan Dierdorf, Jackie Smith, Dick Vermeil, Carl Peterson, Luis Sharpe, Adam Timmerman, and dozens of others.
Dierdorf and Vermeil gave eulogies, Jackie Smith sang Danny Boy, and countless stories were told by friends and family into the night.
On Wednesday, the first annual Jim Hanifan Memorial Top Golf outing was held to benefit Cherish. Many former players were in attendance such as Mel Gray, Johnny Roland, Joe Bostic, Irv Goode and Willard Harrell. A good time was had by all.
Hanifan’s daughter Kathy, son Jim, and grandson Austin were in town to participate in the celebration of his life.
Hanifan was the offensive line coach for the Cardinals from 1973-1978 and was head coach from 1980-1985. He later returned to St. Louis and became the offensive line coach for the Rams under Dick Vermeil in 1997 where he would remain until 2002. A couple of years later he moved to the Rams radio booth and became a beloved straight-shooting sidekick of Steve Savard. Hanifan remained in St. Louis until his death in 2020.
Charles Pierre Latourette’s childhood dream was to someday become a surgeon.
“I’d like to think that some day I can do just in part for other people what Dr. (Fred) Reynolds (The Cardinals team physician) did for me,” Latourette told the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1970.
Latourette was a football star at Jonesboro (AR) High School and played college ball at Rice University where he was an All-Southwest Conference safety. In 1965, Latourette returned a kick that helped the Owls, who were four touchdown underdogs, upset Texas 20-17.
Latourette made it clear to pro football scouts that he planned to study medicine after graduation. “Forget me in the draft,” he warned. As a result, he was not selected by a professional team in the 1967 NFL Draft. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t wanted.
The Denver Broncos and Cardinals both offered him rookie contracts in 1967, so he thought it over and decided to give pro ball a try before entering med school. He chose to play for the Cardinals.
“Even though Denver offered more outright, I figured I might as well go all out and try to play with the best,” the 6-foot, 190-pounder told the St. Louis Post Dispatch in 1967.
While Cardinals safety Larry Wilson rightfully became a national darling, many believed Jimmy Hill was the best cornerback in the NFL in the early 1960s.
The Dallas, TX native was a star offensive end at Booker T. Washington High School where he was named to the all-Texas team in 1945 and 1946. He caught 134 passes and scored 16 touchdowns or the Bulldogs and also set a high school record in track and field in the low hurdles.
Hill attended Sam Houston State College in Austin, TX where he starred in four sports. He was named All-American honorable mention in 1948 and 1949 as a running back and once ran for 5 touchdowns in a game. In addition to football, Hill was a sprint champion in track racking up a 9.5 mark in the 100 yard dash and also starred on the baseball and basketball teams. He was named the school’s best all-around athlete his last three years in college.
Hill was good enough in baseball as a pitcher to garner interest from the Washington Senators and Cleveland Indians. In 1950, he was offered a contract by the Montreal Alouettes to play football in the Canadian Football League and the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League, but he decided to teach and coach football after college.
“If you are a coach, you coach; if you are a scout, you scout,” Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill once said. “We believe in a policy of separation.”
More times than not, that policy did not work for the St. Louis Football Cardinals.
After the 1973 NFL draft, the Cards promoted Kentucky native George Boone to the position of director of player personnel. From 1974 to 1987 only the Green Bay Packers had fewer collective Pro Bowl appearances among their draft picks.
And only three teams saw a higher percentage of their number one draft choices fail to develop into quality players.
(Editor’s Note: This story was written by Kay Burnett and originally published in a 1978 Edition of Pro! Magazine.)
It’s three-fourths of the way through the 1978 season—time to check on yourself just to make sure you haven’t blown all your tubes watching 11 successive Sundays of Cardinal and NFL football.
Like all good psychological tests, this one begins with a variation of the word association challenge. If you’re a Cardinal fan, your tester says “Big” and you say “Red.” He says “long bomb,” you say “Hart to Gray.”
He tosses out the time-worn football phrase, “three yards and a cloud of dust,” and your immediate response is the name of just one standout Cardinal running back.
If you miss this one, you will be declared legally a victim of amnesia for the past six years, the time 6-foot, 225-pound Jim Otis has played for the St. Louis.