Souvenir to cherish – Packers fans were so hungry for victory at the time of the 1955 season opener that they stormed the pitch of the old City Stadium with 20 seconds left when Gary Knafelc scored the touchdown against the three-time West Detroit Conference champion.
Time of death bed – Season 1-10-1, 1958. The Packers were enjoying their new stadium and TV money, but the season was such a disaster and the organization was in such disarray, the future of the franchise was. stake.
If you were a fan – Fan tours to the Packers-Bears game in Chicago as well as home games in Milwaukee on the Chicago & North Western and Milwaukee Road trains may have peaked in popularity in the 1950s. The trips were often sponsored by taverns. locals, and the railroads converted empty baggage cars into bar cars for a party on wheels.
Breaking the myths – Conspiracy theorists who tried to sell their readers the seemingly absurd idea that someone connected to the Packers set Rockwood Lodge on fire aren’t telling you that a fire inspector warned warden Melvin Flagstad a few weeks earlier than the faulty wiring in the building had to be repaired; the fire occurred in broad daylight on a rare January day in Wisconsin, where there was freezing rain, thunder and lightning, and 25 mph winds fanning the flames; the nearest fire department was nearly 15 miles away; the lodge stood on a ridge which would have made it extremely difficult for anyone to squeeze through; six people were inside, including four children aged 12 and under; and the cost of operating Rockwood was very low compared to the skyrocketing salaries resulting from bidding wars with All-America Football Conference teams.
Best player – Bobby Dillon. He’s been called to the Pro Bowl four times and he’s also made at least one of the top three all-professional news services teams (first team, not second) in five different seasons. His club record of 52 career interceptions still stands, even though he retired after eight years and played when NFL seasons were just 12 games long.
Forgotten by history – With coach Lisle Blackbourn making the picks and talent scout Jack
Vainisi doing the heavy lifting, the Packers selected six future members of the Professional Football Hall of Fame out of three drafts in 1956, 1957 and the first four rounds in 1958. Prior to Vince Lombardi’s arrival, both were criticized for their selections. Then when the Packers started winning under Vince Lombardi, sports writers from Green Bay and Milwaukee tended to praise Blackbourn on those draft, overlooking Vainisi. More recently, Vainisi has been awarded the lion’s share of the credit. In truth, they both had an eye for talent and deserve to share the kudos.
Among the rare photos of the chapter – Rarer than any photo in this chapter is the information gleaned from the personal papers of Packers president Dominic Olejniczak during the 45-day coaching search that led to the hiring of Vince Lombardi in 1959. The dossier was shared by Tom Olejniczak, son of Dominic, a local lawyer. and a former member of the Packers executive committee. Tom Olejniczak was also not alone among those who provided information and photos for “The Greatest History of Sport”.
The biggest game – The grand opening of Green Bay City Stadium on September 29, 1957, which ended with the Packers winning over the Chicago Bears 21-17. The next day, the Green Bay Press-Gazette declared the weekend’s events to be the most spectacular in the city’s history.
Unsung hero – Bob Mann made history in 1950 when he became the first modern-day African American to play for the Packers. Although he dominated the NFL in receiving yards and finished second in receptions while playing for Detroit in 1949, Mann was a 26-year-old Navy veteran and a street free agent when the Packers signed it at the end of November.
Center of controversy – When coach Gene Ronzani was fired with two games remaining in the 1953 season, he took refuge in the Packers office building for four days, then bought his own ticket and accompanied the ‘team on his train ride to the West Coast, where he sat in the press box for two games predicting the games before the snap and guessing the coaches. Needless to say, it was an uncomfortable situation for interim coaches Hugh Devore and Scooter McLean.
Only in Green Bay – The fight to build a new stadium for the Packers lasted two years and focused on where to build it: East Side or West Side. The city council consisted of 24 members, 12 on the east side and 12 on the west side, and they turned the project into the ultimate Green Bay turf war.
Unfortunately, but true – Co-founder Curly Lambeau almost begged to return to the Packers as general manager before Lombardi was hired in 1959. At the end of his interview with team president Dominic Olejniczak on December 26, 1958, Lambeau asked him: “Ole tell me – do I have a chance?” The executive committee never seriously considered Lambeau.
Would you believe – The Packers offered Forest Evashevski, head coach of the University of Iowa, the coaching and general manager positions on January 18, 1959. When he turned them down, they turned their attention to Lombardi but did not. not paid him as much as they had offered Evashevsky.
Saved from oblivion – The Women’s Quarterback Club was organized in 1950 and billed as the first of its kind in the country. At a time when the Packers were desperate for fans, they reached out to women to buy tickets to the games and get more involved. The club was formed in response to these calls. In their sophomore year, the members responded by inviting the players’ wives to join in and putting on a style show; and, in their third year, hosting a welcome celebration at the end of training camp and their own cheering section at the Packers-Bears game in Chicago. The club lasted for five seasons.
A life of mystery – As a lawyer and nephew of Dr John R. Minahan, Vic McCormick inherited most of his estate rather than Minahan’s second wife. By 1950 McCormick was wealthy enough to be Lambeau’s main financial backer in his efforts to turn the Packers into a private franchise. Over time, McCormick’s net worth increased to $ 17 million. But in 1970, McCormick married a woman he was dating in Quebec, Canada – she was 42 years younger than him – and by 1980 his net worth had fallen to less than $ 500,000.
A quote to remember – “We’ve always had patches on our pants and a mortgage on our house, figuratively speaking, and I hope we always will – near the little guys who never fail us,” said the former president of the Packers, Lee Joannes, in celebration of the successful 1950 stock sale.