Big Red alumni, friends, and fans came together for a fun afternoon on Sunday at Circa Pub & Grill in Des Peres, MO. Jackie Smith, Mel Gray, Johnny Roland, Irv Goode, Eddie Moss, Ron Yankowski, Bob Rowe, former assistant trainer … Continue reading →
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 →
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 →
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.”
Several former St. Louis Football Cardinals alumni recently gathered in Chesterfield for the annual Christmas Party. Among those in attendance were Coach Jim Hanifan, Johnny Roland, Mel Gray, Jackie Smith, Bob Rowe, Mark Arneson, Tim Kearney, Ron Yankowski, Ernie McMillan, Eddie Moss, Mike Wood, Terry Miller, Eric Williams, Keith Wortman, Willard Harrell, Jim Otis, Herschel Turner, Tim Van Galder, Jerry Holloway, former Big Red PA announcer Jim Holder, former Mizzou and Dallas Cowboys player Howard Richards, former MIzzou and Raiders player Gus Otto, and Big Red Line cheerleader Melodee Hinkle.
With the NFL celebrating its centennial season in 2019, the league will soon be announcing its top 100 players of all-time. I thought it would be fun to look back and rank the Big Red’s top 100 players who played in St. Louis.
The Cardinals moved from Chicago after the 1959 season and played 28 years in St. Louis before Bill Bidwill moved to the desert in 1988. Several great players played under the arch during this period including four Hall of Famers.
These rankings are only based on the player’s time spent in St. Louis. Consideration was given to the player’s statistics, All-Pro/Pro Bowl selections, team leadership, and impact in the community. It is next to impossible to compare eras, so many of these picks were very difficult.
The Top 100 St. Louis Football Cardinals of All-Time: 30-21
30. PAT FISCHER (CB)
Pat Fischer was the Cards 17th round draft pick in 1961 out of Nebraska. The 5’9″ cornerback was given little chance to make the team, however he impressed coaches with his desire and played special teams for a couple of years before getting his chance to start full time. In 1963, Fisher had 8 interceptions and then followed that up with his best season of his career in ’64 when he picked off 10 passes and scored three TDs He was named to the Pro Bowl and earned All-Pro honors in ’64. He left the Big Red over a salary dispute in 1967 and signed with Redskins where he played 11 more seasons. Fischer finished his seven year St. Louis career with 29 interceptions, 4 fumble recoveries and 4 touchdowns.
As everyone may have guessed, Coach Hanifan was the star of the luncheon telling the packed house how he fell in love with the St. Louis community and the fans after arriving in 1973. “When I first arrived here with Coach Coryell, it took a little while to get used to the area and the people. At the conclusion of that first season, we went 4-9-1. Even with a poor record, there was something special taking place at that time. When I looked into the locker room, I could see the players getting involved in the game and getting involved in the community. And, I myself, had that same experience. Being around the people in the community and truly enjoying being in St. Louis. I used to say, ‘What in the hell do I see here that makes me feel this way?’ You know… there are no mountains, no oceans here… forget about that. So, it has to be the people. The people are what makes St. Louis so great. And that’s why I continue to live here after I retired.”
Former Big Red head coach Jim Hanifan
Former Big Red Pro Bowl center Bob DeMarco recounted playing at old Busch Stadium (Sportsman’s Park) and how fans in the temporary bleachers would offer the players some bourbon on cold Sundays in the mid-60s.
It was a beautiful day for golf as many former Football Cardinal greats participated in the 11th annual Jim Hart Celebrity Golf Outing at The Legends County Club in Eureka, MO. This event benefits Sunnyhill, Inc. which provides services, programs, and opportunities for children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Former Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel served as the honorary chairman of the event and drove the ball right down the middle of the fairway on the first tee. Hart and many of his former Big Red teammates such as Mel Gray, Roger Wehrli, Tim Kearney, Tim Van Galder, Johnny Roland, and Jim Otis were in attendance.
Hart currently lives in Naples, FL and only gets back to St. Louis about once a year. We talked about his induction into the Arizona Cardinals Ring of Honor and was surprised to learn that he did not see Bill Bidwill during his visit. However, you could tell he was honored and humbled by the ceremony last December. We also talked about the late great Bill Wilkerson who was Hart’s college teammate at SIU-Carbondale in the 1960s.