(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.
Larry Wilson was a humble man, from humble beginnings who never forgot where he came from. Wilson was born and raised in the small town of Rigby, Idaho and would later become the greatest athlete in Rigby High School history, earning 16 Letters in football, baseball, basketball and track. Larry went on to star at the University of Utah and then with the St. Louis Cardinals of the National Football League.
On July 7, 1967, the town honored Larry Wilson by retiring his high school number 7 and naming their football field “Larry Wilson Field.” Over 300 friends and acquaintances of Larry descended on Rigby to help honor “Willy.” Even Cardinals vice president Bill Bidwill flew in unexpectedly to participate in the celebration.
According to Wilson family friend, Michelle Barber, the name Larry Wilson Field was supposed to remain in perpetuity. However, when the new high school was built in the early 1990s, Larry’s name was removed and replaced with the name of a local doctor who never played ball in Rigby.
Michelle grew up watching Larry play football and said she and her late father, Dean Allgood, would watch the Cardinals whenever they were on television. Dean was a good friend of Whitey Wilson (Larry’s father) and the family felt terrible when Larry’s name was removed from the field.