1964 “Mud Bowl” Tie Cost Big Red Chance for Title

On November 15, 1964, the Cardinals and New York Giants played to a 10-10 tie at Busch Stadium I in a game that is known as the “Mud Bowl.”

A torrential downpour that day turned the grass field at the stadium the Big Red shared with the baseball Cardinals into a sloppy quagmire that made it a challenge to run, throw or kick the football. It was especially sloppy in the dirt infield of the baseball diamond.

Fifty-eight years later, several Cardinals players still remember details from that game.

“The mud was so thick, it was unbelievable,” center Bob DeMarco recalled. “(Fullback) Mal Hammock nearly drowned at the bottom of a pile.”

“It was just miserable out there,” said tight end Jackie Smith who, after one reception, was knocked to the ground and “just spun on my ass.”

“The band even lost some of their shoes,” said kicker Jim Bakken. “We found shoes out on the field.” The field conditions turned Southern Illinois-Carbondale Marching Salukis into the plodding Salukis. 

Asked after the game if he had ever seen such a mess on a football field, Giants head coach Allie Sherman said, “Well, there is mud and there is mud, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a deeper and stickier kind before.”

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Charley Johnson to Receive Highest Honor from New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University recently announced that former Big Red quarterback Dr. Charley Johnson is this year’s recipient of the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service.

Johnson is one of eight NMSU alumni being honored at the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Awards Celebration on October 21st. They will also be recognized at the homecoming football game against San Jose State on October 22nd at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

Honorees are selected by the Alumni Association Awards Committee based on personal accomplishment, professional achievement, and charitable service.

“This year’s Distinguished Alumni stand for the best of the best, contributing greatly to their career fields, giving back to society and representing NMSU boldly and brilliantly along the way,” said Derek Dictson, President, NMSU Foundation.

Johnson quarterbacked the Aggies to two winning appearances in the Sun Bowl in 1959 and 1960 and was the first two-time C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player. After graduating in 1961, he was selected by the Cardinals in the 10th round of the NFL draft. The Big Spring, Texas native took over as starter in his second season and led the Big Red to a 30-15-3 record from 1963-1966. He led the NFL in completions (223), attempts (420), and yards (3,045) in 1964. He also led the NFL in fourth quarter comebacks in 1966 and 1968 and twice threw six touchdowns in a game during his nine year career with the Cardinals. He was traded to the Houston Oilers in 1970 and finished his career in Denver where he was inducted into their Ring of Honor in 1986. See Charley’s NFL statistics.

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Jim Hart: The Early Years

This is the second in a five-part series of stories remembering Jim Hart, the Cardinals’ all-time passing leader.

The odds were stacked against Jim Hart when he arrived at the Cardinals’ training camp in Lake Forest, IL., in the summer of 1966. Not only was he an undrafted rookie, but he also was last in a line of six quarterbacks.

Sixth-year veteran Charley Johnson was the incumbent starter, and Buddy Humphrey was the backup. Behind them, but ahead of Hart, were Terry Nofsinger, rookie Gary Snook and Jack Ankerson.

Jim Hart on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1967

But a series of serendipitous events moved Hart up in the pecking order. Humphrey was released during camp; Snook, a fourth-round draft pick, was drafted by the Army and never played in the NFL; and Ankerson was moved to tight end and, later, cut. That made Hart the No. 3 QB.

Hart spent the first nine games of the ’66 season on the Cardinals’ taxi squad, meaning he practiced during the week but was inactive on game days. After Johnson suffered a season-ending knee injury in an early November game against the New York Giants, making Nofsinger the starter, Hart was activated for the final five games. His only playing time came in the fourth quarter of the season finale against the Cleveland Browns, where he completed four of 11 passes for 29 yards.

“The only positive thing there was that I got in a vested year toward my pension,” Hart said.

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SI VAULT: TWO FLAGS FOR THE CARDINALS?

(Excerpt from the November 09, 1964 Edition of Sports Illustrated)

Written by Edwin Shrake

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.

John David Crow

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.

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Big Red Legends: Jim Bakken

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.

On September 24, 1967, a windy day at Pitt Stadium in Pittsburgh, Bakken kicked seven field goals (18, 24, 33, 29, 24, 32 and 23 yards) in a 28-14 victory over the Steelers. (He attempted two more field goals into the wind that missed their mark.)

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The Rise of Charley Johnson

(Editor’s note: This story is a reprint from the January 1966 issue of Sport Magazine and was written by John Devaney.)

In sports, some success stories begin with a dream. Here is how one dream of playing professional football came true — at almost impossible odds.

By JOHN DEVANEY

The quarterback was sitting bare-chested, on the edge of the rubbing table. He was holding a white towel to his face, and a large crimson stain was slowly spreading over the towel because blood was pouring from a gash in his chin. The quarterback didn’t seem to notice the blood. He was staring at the floor with the rapt concentration of someone watching scenes from his life flash, one by one, on a movie screen.

This was Charley Johnson, St. Louis Cardinal quarterback, in the visitor’s clubhouse at Yankee Stadium one afternoon late this October. Minutes before he had run off the field, plunging almost blindly through the swirling crowd, after New York had beaten St. Louis 14-10. Twice in the game’s closing minutes Johnson had brought the Cardinals inside the Giant 25, and twice he had failed to get the touchdown that would have won.

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Johnny Roland: All He Does Is Win Football Games

(Editor’s Note: This story was authored by former St. Louis Globe Democrat sports writer Rich Koster and was originally published in Sport Magazine in July 1967)

To appreciate Johnny Roland’s talent, you must be aware of his shortcomings. In a game dominated by specialists, he has no specialty. He’s not as fast as Gale Sayers, as quick as Leroy Kelly, or as powerful as Ken Willard. He’s never run a 10 second 100 and when he throws a football it frequently wobbles or floats. On the longest run of his rookie year, a mere 50 yards from scrimmage, he was hauled down from behind in the open field. He tabulated over 80 yards rushing in only one game and he average an unspectacular 3.6 yards per carry over the season.

So how did the 6-2, 215-pound Roland emerge as the NFL’s Rookie of the Year? And what made him worth a $300,000 bonus contract to the St. Louis Cardinals?

Simple. He wins football games. He wins them the way Frank Gifford used to. And Paul Hornung. With the relentlessness of that 3.6 yard average and the lighting of the big play. He succeeds with versatility. He wins with his head . . . and heart.

A confirmed non-specialist in a world of specialists, Johnny Roland has his shortcomings on the football field. He doesn’t move too fast, he can’t run over people and he throws a wobbly option pass

“Some guys in this league play three or four games a season,” suggest Abe Stuber, who excavates college material for St. Louis. “Roland has shown he plays them all. He gives 100 percent all the time.. That puts him in a different category from the others.”

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Remembering the ’66 season with 66 days till the Cardinals’ season opener

We are one day closer to the start of the 2020 NFL season. As of today, Thursday, there are 66 days until the Arizona Cardinals are supposed to open …

Remembering the ’66 season with 66 days till the Cardinals’ season opener
The 1966 St. Louis Football Cardinals

Remembering the ’65 season with 65 days till the Cardinals’ season opener

We have moved one day closer to the start of the 2020 Arizona Cardinals season. As of Friday, there are 65 days until their scheduled season opener …

Remembering the ’65 season with 65 days till the Cardinals’ season opener
1965 St. Louis Football Cardinals

Remembering the ’64 season with 64 days till the Cardinals’ season opener

We have made it another day closer to the start of the 2020 NFL season. The Arizona Cardinals are scheduled to make their 2020 regular season debut …

Remembering the ’64 season with 64 days till the Cardinals’ season opener