(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.
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.