billsportsmaps.com

October 14, 2019

1927 Major League Baseball: map with crests & uniforms, final standings and stats leaders; champions: New York Yankees./+ Illustrated article, 1927 MLB champions: the New York Yankees, perhaps the greatest team in MLB history.

Filed under: Baseball,MLB>1927 map & season,Retro maps — admin @ 7:31 am

mlb_al_nl_1927-map_w-uniforms_logos_standings_stats-leaders_1927-ws-champs_new-york-yankees_post_d_.gif
1927 Major League Baseball: map with crests & uniforms, final standings and stats leaders; champions: New York Yankees




By Bill Turianski on 14 October 2019; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

Links…
Sources:
-Baseball-Reference.com, 1927 AL season; 1927 NL season.
-Baseball Hall of Fame’s Dressed to the Nines (uniforms illustrated by Marc Okkonen), exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/database.htm.
-US cities’ populations (1920 figures), biggestuscities.com/1920.
-Attendances. Source: baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/1927-misc.shtml.
Most logos. Source: SportsLogos.net, sportslogos.net/[MLB logos].

From 1903 to 1952 (50 seasons), there were no franchise-shifts in Major League Baseball. The 16 MLB teams from this 50-year period played in only 9 American cities…New York City (3 teams), Chicago (2 teams), Philadelphia (2 teams), Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis (2 teams), Boston (2 teams), Pittsburgh, Washington, and Cincinnati.

Below: a chart of 1920s USA city populations, with 1926 MLB teams noted…
1927_mlb_cities_populations_b_.gif.

    1927 MLB champions: the New York Yankees, perhaps the greatest team in MLB history

Many observers consider the 1927 New York Yankees to be the greatest team ever. The ’27 Yankees featured seven future Hall of Famers: pitchers Herb Pennock and Waite Hoyt, infielders Lou Gehrig (1B) and Tony Lazzeri (2B), outfielders Babe Ruth and Earle Combs, and manager Miller Huggins. After losing to the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 3 in the 1926 World Series, the 1927 Yankees went 110-44 (.714). Only 4 other teams have won more games than that…the 1906 Chicago Cubs and the 2001 Seattle Mariners won 116, the 1998 Yankees won 114 and the 1954 Cleveland Indians won 111. But the 1906 Cubs and the 1954 Indians and the 2001 Mariners did not win the World Series in those years. Also, the 1998 Yankees, though they did win the World Series that year, played in the era of the modern-day 162-game season [154-game season until 1960/162-game season in American League since 1961; 162-game season in National League since 1962].

The 1927 Yankees won the American League by 19 games, the most to that point in AL history. (Note: the Chicago Cubs won the National League in 1906 by 20 games.)

Let’s look at the numbers. The 1927 Yankees had a .307 BAvg, a .489 slugging percentage, and scored 975 runs, outscoring their opponents by a record 376 runs. That .489 Slugging Pct. the ’27 Yankees had – as a team – was surpassed by only 5 other individual players on all the other teams in the AL that season. Babe Ruth’s record-setting 60 homers, when added to Lou Gehrig’s 47 HR, accounted for over 25% of all HRs in the AL that season! Gehrig had a then-record 173 RBIs, while Ruth had 165 RBIs. Gehrig hit .373, Ruth hit .356. Plus Ruth drew 137 Walks, while Gehrig drew 109. Tony Lazzeri had 18 HR & 102 RBIs & and hit .309. Lead-off hitter Earle Combs hit .352. Standout pitchers were Waite Hoyt (22-7, 2.63 ERA), Herb Pennock (19-8, 3.00 ERA), and Wilcy Moore (19-7, 2.28 ERA, 19 Saves). But the thing is, once you get past the sublime accomplishments of Ruth and Gehrig that year, as well as the excellent seasons of Lazzeri, Combs, Hoyt, Pennock, and Moore, there were a lot a mediocre players on the 1927 Yankees. As Robert Creamer of Sports Illustrated pointed out, “it may cause raised eyebrows to realize that such journeymen as Gazella, Wera, Durst, Thomas, Paschal, Giard, Grabowski, Morehart and Collins made up almost 40% of that great team’s roster.” {-excerpt from the August 26, 1958 issue of Sports Illustrated, here.}

The 1927 Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates in 4 games to win the ’27 World Series. It was the 24th World Series, and it was first time that an American League team swept a National League team in the competition. (Note: NL Teams had swept their AL opponents 3 times previously: the Chicago Cubs swept the Detroit Tigers in the 1907 WS; the Boston Braves swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1914 WS; and the New York Giants swept the Yankees in the 1923 WS.)

And then, the 1928 Yankees would go on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1928 World Series. That was the first time a team had ever swept back-to-back World Series contests. No other MLB team has accomplished that feat of back-to-back World Series sweeps…but the New York Yankees went on to do it two more times…in 1938 & ’39, and in 1998 & ’99.

And those two Yankee teams, along with, of course, the 1927-28 Yankees, show up on many, if not all, lists of greatest-ever MLB teams…such as:
{Bleacher Report’s Official Rankings of the 50 Greatest Teams in MLB History, by Joel Reuter at BleacherReport.com, from March 2014},
{Tom Verducci’s Top 10 Teams of All Time, by Tom Verducci at si.com},
{Determining the Best Major League Baseball Team Ever From 1902-2005, from Baseball-Almanac.com},
{The Best MLB Teams Of All-Time, According To Elo, by Reuben Fischer-Baum at FiveThirtyEight.com, from May 2016}…
(For the record, the first 3 of the 4 lists above rank the 1927 Yankees as the best MLB team ever; the list at the 538.com ranks the 1927 Yankees the second-best ever, giving the nod to the Joe DiMaggio-led Yankees of 1939.)

Below: the 1927 New York Yankees & Babe Ruth’s record-setting 60 Home Run season…
1927_ny-yankees_ruth_gehrig_combs_lazzeri_ruth-hits-60-hr_yankees-sweep-pirates-in-1927-world-series_e_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – 1927 NY Yankees road jersey script logo, from mitchellandness.com. “Murderers Row”, featuring Gehrig, Ruth, Combes, Lazzeri [colorized photo circa 1927], unattributed at ebay.com. Babe Ruth, photo unattributed at sabr.org. Ruth crosses the plate and is congratulated by teammate Bob Meusel, after hitting the historic 60th Home Run, photo by NY Daily News at nydailynews.com. New York Daily News front page from Oct. 1 1927 [Babe Ruth hits historic 60th HR), via Baseball by B Smile [twitter.com/@bsmile]. Game 4 of the 1927 World Series, Oct. 6 1927 – NY 4, Pittsburgh 3: photo from the stands at Yankee Stadium…action from the 1st-inning, as Babe Ruth (who later hit a HR in the 5th) has just singled; Earle Combs rounds 3rd to tie the game up 1-1. The Yankees swept the Pirates in 4 games, for their second WS title. This was the first sweep of a National League team by an American League team…photo unattributed at Old Time Baseball Photos twitter.com/[@OTBaseballPhoto].

1927 MLB stats leaders…
ERA, Wilcy Moore (NYY). Wins, Charlie Root (CHC). WAR for pitchers, Tommy Thomas (CHW). BAvg, Harry Heilmann (DET). HR, Babe Ruth (NYY). RBI, Lou Gehrig (NYY). OPS, Babe Ruth (NYY). WAR, Babe Ruth (1927).


Photo and Image credits on the map page…
1927 WS champions New York Yankees…
1927 NY Yankees road jersey script logo, from mitchellandness.com. Babe Ruth [photo from 1927], photo from Getty Images via biography.com. Lou Gehrig [photo circa 1927], unattributed at fineartamerica.com. Earle Combs [photo circa 1926], unattributed at ebay.com. Tony Lazzeri [photo circa 1927], from Baseball Hall of Fame via si.com/all-time-yankees-lineup. Waite Hoyt [photo circa 1927], photo from National Baseball Hall of Fame Library via Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Wilcy Moore [colorized photo circa 1929], colorized photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Bob Meusel [photo circa 1927], unattributed at espn.com. Manager, Miller Huggins [photo circa 1924], unattributed at pinterest.com.
1927 WS G4 ticket, from pixels.com.
1927 WS press pin, from may16.hugginsandscott.com.
Murderers Row, featuring Gehrig, Ruth, Combes, Lazzeri [colorized photo circa 1927], unattributed at ebay.com.
1927 MLB stats leaders…
Wilcy Moore (NYY) [photo circa 1928], unattributed at pinterest.com. Charlie Root (CHC) [photo circa 1927], unattributed at sabr.org. Harry Heilmann (DET) [photo from 1927], unattributed at quora.com. Tommy Thomas (CHW) [photo circa 1927], photo by Sporting News and Rogers Photo Archive via Getty Images via gettyimages.co.uk. Babe Ruth (NYY) [photo circa 1927], McMahon Archive at amazon.com. Lou Gehrig (NYY) [photo circa 1928], unattributed at mondoudinese.it. Babe Ruth (NYY) [photo circa 1927], from Bettman-Corbis/Getty Images via si.com.

Colorized photo of Philadelphia Athletics 1925-27 elephant-logo jersey, photo unattributed and colorized by Natalia Valiukevich/mediadrumworld.com via dailymail.co.uk/article.

___
Thanks to all at the following links…
Sources:
-Baseball-Reference.com, 1927 AL season; 1927 NL season.
-Baseball Hall of Fame’s Dressed to the Nines (uniforms illustrated by Marc Okkonen), exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/database.htm.
-US cities’ populations (1920 figures), biggestuscities.com/1920.
-Attendances. Source: baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/1927-misc.shtml.
Most logos. Source: SportsLogos.net, sportslogos.net/[MLB logos].

May 29, 2019

1926 Major League Baseball: map with crests & uniforms, final standings and stats leaders; champions: St. Louis Cardinals.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball-1926 MLB season,Retro maps — admin @ 8:27 pm

mlb_al_nl_1926-map_w-uniforms_logos_standings_stats-leaders_1926-ws-champs_st-louis-cardinals_post_f_.gif
1926 Major League Baseball: map with crests & uniforms, final standings and stats leaders; champions: St. Louis Cardinals



By Bill Turianski on 29 May 2019; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

Sources:
-Baseball-Reference.com, 1926 AL season; 1926 NL season.
-SportsLogos.net.
-Baseball Hall of Fame’s Dressed to the Nines (uniforms illustrated by Marc Okkonen), exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/[Dressed to The Nines database].
-US cities’ populations (1920 figures), biggestuscities.com/1920.
-Attendances. Source: baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/1926-misc.shtml.

Links…
-An article on the St. Louis Cardinals circa 1926 to 1934…1926-34: The St. Louis Cardinals Were as Dominant as the Great Yankees Teams (by Harold Friend at bleacherreport.com).
-An article on Rogers Hornsby, who has the 2nd-best all-time Batting Average in MLB history (at .358, which is second only to Ty Cobb’s .367 BAvg)…Rogers Hornsby (by C. Paul Rogers III at sabr.org). {Excerpts: ‘Any conversation about the greatest hitter in baseball history must include Rogers Hornsby…’ …‘Although the assessment seems rather harsh given the competition, Bill James has characterized Hornsby as perhaps the biggest “horse’s ass” in baseball history, ahead of even Ty Cobb’.}
-An article on Grover Cleveland Alexander…Alexander provides ultimate relief for Cardinals in 1926 World Series (by Craig Muder at baseballhall.org).

-Here is a link to my map-and-post of 1925 MLB: 1925 Major League Baseball: Map with logos & uniforms. Including final standings, top players, and attendance + 1925 World Series winners: Pittsburgh Pirates. That post (from April 2019) also contains descriptions of the map template used there (and here), as well as a city-by-city look at Major League attendance from the 1920s.

From 1903 to 1952 (50 seasons), there were no franchise-shifts in Major League Baseball. The 16 MLB teams from this 50-year period played in only 9 American cities…New York City (3 teams), Chicago (2 teams), Philadelphia (2 teams), Detroit, Cleveland, St. Louis (2 teams), Boston (2 teams), Pittsburgh, Washington, and Cincinnati.

Below: a chart of 1920s USA city populations, with 1926 MLB teams noted…
1926_mlb_cities_populations_top-25-USA-city-populations-1920_h_.gif

In 1926, led by player/manager Rogers Hornsby, the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the New York Yankees in 7 games, to win their first World Series title. The Cardinals have won the second-most World Series titles, 11 (their last being in 2011). Those eleven World Series titles won by St. Louis are second only to the 27 titles won by the New York Yankees.

1926 MLB stats leaders…
ERA: Lefty Grove (Philadelphia Athletics).
Wins: George Uhle (Cleveland Indians).
BAvg: Heinie Manush (Detroit Tigers).
HR: Babe Ruth (New York Yankees).
RBI: Babe Ruth (New York Yankees).
OPS: Babe Ruth (New York Yankees).
WAR: Babe Ruth.(New York Yankees)
WAR for pitchers: George Uhle (Cleveland Indians).
___
Photo and Image credits on the map page…
1926 WS champions St Louis Cardinals (banner)…
Shoulder-patch crest, from hofmwholesale.com. 1926 STL cap, from dugout-memories.com. 1926 STL WS ring, from pinterest.com. 1926 WS [Sportsman's Park] program, from baseball-almanac.com/ws/yr1926.
Rogers Hornsby [photo circa 1926], unattributed at rogershornsby.com. Rogers Hornsby [1961 Golden Press card] from amazon.com. Les Bell [photo from 1926], gettyimages.com. Bob O’Farrell [photo circa 1926], unattributed at sabr.org. Ray Blades [photo circa 1930], photo by Sporting News and Rogers Photo Archive via gettyimages.com. Jim Bottomley [photo circa 1925], unattributed at baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/bottomley-jim. Bill Sherdel [photo from 1929], photo by Sporting News and Rogers Photo Archive via gettyimages.com.

1926 MLB stats leaders…
Lefty Grove (PHA) [photo from 1925], photo by Charles M Conlon via sports.mearsonlineauctions.com. George Uhle (CLE) [photo from 1926], photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via gettyimages.ca. George Uhle (CLE) [photo from 1927], photo by Sporting News and Rogers Photo Archive via gettyimages.co.uk. Heinie Manush (DET) [photo circa 1924], unattributed at findagrave.com. Babe Ruth (NYY) [photo circa 1925], unattributed at pinterest.com. Babe Ruth (NYY) [colorized photo circa 1926], unattributed/colorized by Jecinici via reddit.com/r/yankees.

-Colorized photo of Philadelphia Athletics 1925-27 elephant-logo jersey, photo unattributed and colorized by Natalia Valiukevich/mediadrumworld.com via dailymail.co.uk/article.

Thanks to all at the links below,
-University of Texas at Austin online archive (Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection), legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/united_states.html.
-Baseball-Reference.com, 1925 AL season; 1925 NL season.
-Major League Baseball (en.wikipedia.org).
-SportsLogos.net.
-Baseball Hall of Fame’s Dressed to the Nines (uniforms illustrated by Marc Okkonen), exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/database.htm.
-MLB.cm/shop.
-US cities’ populations (1920 figures), biggestuscities.com/1920.

April 12, 2019

1925 Major League Baseball: Map with logos & uniforms. Including final standings, top players, and attendance + 1925 World Series winners: Pittsburgh Pirates.

Filed under: Baseball,Baseball-1925 MLB season,Retro maps — admin @ 1:13 pm

mlb_al_nl_1925-map_w-uniforms_logos_standings_stats-leaders_1925-ws-champs_pittsburgh-pirates_post_u_.gif
1925 Major League Baseball: map with crests & uniforms, final standings and stats leaders; champions: Pittsburgh Pirates



By Bill Turianski on 12 April 2019; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.

Sources
-Baseball-Reference.com, 1925 AL season; 1925 NL season.
-Major League Baseball (en.wikipedia.org).
-SportsLogos.net.
-Baseball Hall of Fame’s Dressed to the Nines (uniforms illustrated by Marc Okkonen), exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/database.htm.
-MLB.cm/shop.
-US cities’ populations (1920 figures), biggestuscities.com/1920.

This is a new template and category: MLB retro maps. I plan on posting maps of MLB, from 1925, on into the 1930s.

Aspects of the map-and-chart:
A). 1925 location-map of the 16 MLB teams. Home cities listed, then franchises listed in smaller text below the home-city name. Each team (franchise) has at least one logo from that year (in this case, 1925); the logos are sized to reflect average attendance from that season: the higher-drawing teams have larger logos-and-or-multiple-logos. In this case, that applies to the top-drawing teams in the NL in 1925 (the Pirates, the NY Giants, the Brooklyn Robins [aka Dodgers], and the Cubs), and it applies to the top-drawing teams in the AL in 1925 (the Philadelphia Athletics, the White Sox, the Senators, the Tigers, and the Yankees). Similarly, the lower-drawing teams in MLB that season have much smaller logos on the map (in this case, such as the Red Sox and the Phillies).

B). Population of US cities (1920 figures). A small chart showing the 25-then-largest cities of the USA in 1920 is shown at the upper-left-hand side of the map. MLB representation-by-city is noted there. Populations of MLB cities in the 1920s, and drawing-power of the 16 MLB teams from this era, is discussed below.

C). Attendance {data from baseball-reference.com}.  1925 average attendances are shown at the upper-right of the map. They are also shown below. Further below is an article about MLB attendance team-by-team, circa the 1920s.

D). World Series champions (for 1925, the Pittsburgh Pirates). World Series champions are represented by a prominent section at the top of the map. Shown are uniforms and logos, and World Series winners’ rings (or jeweled stick-pin, in this case). Also shown is photo of a ticket from one of the WS games that year (or maybe a souvenir program from the WS that year, or a Press pin). A photo of the manager of the WS winner is shown, along with 5 or 6 or 7 photos of the top players on the WS-winning team that year. (Top players are determined by WAR [Wins After Replacement].) Players who have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame [HoF] are noted, by a bronze-colored square with year of HoF election listed.

E). Top players in MLB for that season are shown at the foot of the map. Photos of stats leaders in several categories are shown…for Pitchers: ERA, Wins, and WAR (Pitchers); for Position-Players: Batting Average (BAvg), HR, RBI, OPS, and WAR. Again, HoF players are noted.

F). MLB team sections: flanking sections, in alphabetized chart-form, show the 8 NL franchises (of 1925) on the far-left of the map, and the 8 AL franchises (of 1925) on the far-right of the map.

(Note: all 16 of the MLB franchises from this era still exist, although, of course, some franchises [9 franchises] have moved to different cities.) In each franchise’s rectangular box is shown their uniforms from that season, and at least one of their primary logos from that season, along with a narrow bar that is in the team’s colors that season. A photo of the present-day-franchise’s home ball cap is shown [2019 caps]. And franchise info is shown for each team, including: years of existence [seasons in NL or AL], location(s), league-titles [Pennants] and MLB titles [WS titles], plus any franchise movements. Standard abbreviations for each team are used. As far as former teams go, to avoid any confusion, I used baseball-reference.com’s abbreviations. {Here: baseball-reference.com/about/[team_IDs](aka abbreviations).}

G). NL and AL final standings and the World Series result, for that year, are shown in the lower-right-hand side of the map, in a rectangle which is the approximate color of a faded old newspaper. I used a Times Roman font in this section to further evoke the newsprint style of that era.

I tried to make the map look like it was printed in a newspaper from ninety years ago, but then inlaid with full-color logos.

I will post my 1926 MLB map (featuring 1926 WS champions the St. Louis Cardinals), in late May 2019.

    A look at MLB attendance, circa the mid-1920s, by city

(There were 10 cities with MLB teams back then)…

1925 MLB Average Attendance
PHA 11.2 K
CHW 10.8 K
WSH 10.7 K
DET 10.6 K
PIT 10.4 K
NYG 10.2 K
NYY 8.8 K
BRO 8.5 K
CHC 8.0 K
CIN 6.1 K
SLB 5.9 K
CLE 5.4 K
STL 5.3 K
BSN 4.1 K
PHI 3.9 K
BOS 3.5 K
Source:
baseball-reference.com/[1925/MLB/attendance+misc.].

Overall, MLB attendances from the 1920s are rather low by modern standards. But this was in an era before night games, and A-shift workers were at work when most MLB games were played back then (in other words, the working-class baseball fan in the 1920s would usually only be able to get to the ballpark on weekends). Circa 1925, a high-drawing MLB team would be defined as one who drew as little as 10-to-13 K. When the Yankees started dominating in the 1927-28 time period, they were still playing to a whole lot of empty seats at Yankee Stadium, drawing only 15.1 K per game in 1927, and 13.9 K in ’28. It wasn’t until after World War II that MLB teams began drawing in the 15-to-25-K range, and even into the 1950s, the attendances seem pretty low compared to modern figures. For example, 30 years after 1925, in 1955, the top-drawing MLB team was the Milwaukee Braves at 23.1 K per game, while the New York Yankees, then at the peak of their domination of Major League Baseball, were drawing 2nd-best at just 19.3 K.

Generally speaking, the three biggest influences on crowd-size were (and still are): the size of the city itself, the success of the ball club at that point in time, and the quality of the venue.

New York, NY (this city had 3 MLB teams in 1925): The 3 New York City-based teams generally had higher attendances than, say, teams from much smaller cities, like Cincinnati: that’s just logical [NYC had about a 5.6 million population in 1920].

Brooklyn Dodgers: In 1925, the Brooklyn National League ball club was then known as the Robins, although many Brooklynites did also call them the Dodgers. Brooklyn was pretty bad for long periods of time in both the 1920s and the ’30s, and in 1925 they finished in second-to-last (7th place), but Brooklyn still drew a decent 8.1 K per game at Ebbets Field.

New York Giants: The New York baseball Giants, at the Polo Grounds in northern Manhattan, were good enough for 2nd place in the NL in 1925, and the Giants drew a solid 10.2 K per game. The Giants were a dominant team of the early 1920s, coming off of 4 straight NL Pennants and 2 WS titles (in 1921 & ’22).

New York Yankees: A mile east of the NY Giants, across the narrow Harlem River, in the Bronx, were the then-upstart New York Yankees, at their new palace of baseball, Yankee Stadium. The Yankees had been renters of the Giants at the nearby Polo Grounds from 1913 to 1922, but the Giants kicked the Yankees out when they started stealing their media-attention and drawing better than them. (The original Yankee Stadium had opened in April 1923.) The Yankees had won their first AL pennants in 1921 and ’22, and were first-time World Series champions in 1923. The Yankees drew 13-to-15-K per game through these 3 years (1921-23). The Yankees had an off-season in 1925, and finished in 7th in the AL, and their gates reflected that, with an average crowd of 8.8 K (down about 7 K per game, from four years earlier).

Chicago, IL (this city had 2 MLB teams in 1925): America’s second-city back then was Chicago, IL [Chicago had a population of 2.7 million in 1920]. Chicago’s 2 MLB teams – the White Sox and the Cubs – drew well, especially when they fielded competitive teams, but even when losers, both still drew better than most (similar to the 3 NYC teams). Both teams had been successful earlier on, but by the mid-1920s had fallen into mediocrity.

White Sox: At the old Comiskey Park on the South Side of Chicago, the AL’s White Sox drew 10.1 K per game as a 5th place team in 1925.

Cubs: The Chicago Cubs finished in last in the National League in 1925, yet still drew 8.0 K per game at Cubs Park [which was re-named Wrigley Field in 1926].

Philadelphia, PA (this city had 2 MLB teams in 1925): Third-largest city in America in 1920 was Philadelphia, PA [1.8 million population back then]. And there, it was a case of one Philly ball club with very strong drawing power (the Philadelphia Athletics), and one Philly ball club which was a perennially poor-drawing basement-dweller (the Philadelphia Phillies).

Philadelphia Athletics: The Athletics were successful (6 AL pennants and 3 WS titles up to that point), and they had an excellent venue back then (Shibe Park). In 1925, as a 2nd-place team, the Athletics drew best in MLB, at 11.2 K per game.

Philadelphia Phillies: The Philadelphia Phillies played at the bandbox that was the Baker Bowl; in 1925 they drew 2nd-lowest in 1925, at 3.9 K per game, and finished in 6th.

St. Louis, MO and Boston, MA (both these cities had 2 MLB teams each in 1925): Of the 5 cities with multiple MLB teams in this era (New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston), the two smallest of those cities, St. Louis and Boston, had teams that very often struggled at the gate, especially when they were lousy. (Both St. Louis and Boston only had about .75 million people back in 1920.)

Boston, MA: The Boston Red Sox were bad in the 1920s, and averaged sparse crowds at Fenway Park, in the abysmal 3-to-4 K-per-game range; ditto the Boston Braves, at Braves Field.

St. Louis, MO: St. Louis had a big-team/small-team-dynamic like the one in Philadelphia: one very-often-competitive team (the St. Louis Cardinals) that drew generally much better than the local basement-dwellers (the St. Louis Browns). Ironically, the better-drawing and more successful team in St. Louis – the Cardinals – were renters to the sad sack Browns, at the old Sportsman’s Park there.

Detroit, MI and Cleveland, OH: In the 1920s, there were two cities that only had one Major League team (an American League team), yet were slightly larger than the two-team cities of St. Louis and Boston. Those two cities were Detroit, MI [the 4th-largest city in the USA in 1920 with a .99 million pop], and Cleveland, OH [at .79 million, the 5th-largest in 1920].

Detroit Tigers: At Navin Field [Tiger Stadium], Detroit could draw strong crowds: they drew 10.6 K per game as a mediocre .513 Pct/4th place team in 1925. The Tigers remained a top-5-drawing team through most of the 1920s.

Cleveland Indians: Cleveland had less drawing power; they drew 5.4 K in 1925 at League Park, as a 6th place team. The following season of 1926 saw the Indians in a pennant-race, yet they drew an underwhelming 7.8 K.

(Note: the 8th-largest city circa the 1920s was Baltimore, MD [.73 million], but Baltimore, which had a very successful NL franchise in the late 1800s [Baltimore Orioles (I) (1882-99)], was shut out of the Majors from 1903 to 1953. Baltimore had had an AL team in the American League’s first two seasons [Baltimore Orioles (II) (1901-02)], but that franchise moved to New York in 1903, to become the NY Highlanders [then changed their name to the NY Yankees in 1913].) Baltimore would have to be content with a minor league ball club for five decades, before the city lured the struggling St. Louis Browns AL franchise to move to Baltimore and become the Baltimore Orioles (III) in 1954.)

Pittsburgh Pirates: Ninth-largest city in America in the 1920s was Pittsburgh, PA [.58 million]. The Pirates played at Forbes Field from 1909 to 1970. Pittsburgh drew well when they were winning (like in the 1925-29 time period). And the Pirates had the highest NL attendance, and the 5th-highest attendance in all of MLB in 1925, at 10.4 K per game. Under manager Bill McKechnie, the 1925 Pirates were the Major League champions, defeating the reigning champs, the Washington Senators, 4 games to 3, in the 1925 World Series.

Washington, DC and Cincinnati, OH: That covers 14 of the 16 MLB teams circa 1925. The other two MLB teams back then came from considerably smaller cities: Washington, DC [14th-largest US city in 1920 at .43 million], and Cincinnati, OH [16th-largest US city in 1920 at .40 million]. Back then, Washington, DC and Cincinnati, OH, both with populations of around 400,000, were almost half the size of cities like St. Louis or Boston. So it’s not surprising that both MLB teams from these two smaller cities generally drew low crowds.

Washington Senators: But in 1925, the Washington Senators were reigning World Series champs (the Senators won their only WS title in 1924). And in 1925, the Washington Senators were en route to a second-straight AL pennant title, and consequently had some of the largest crowds that year (the Senators drew 3rd-best in all of MLB in 1925, at 10.7 K per game at Griffith Stadium). But to give you an idea of how unusual that was for the often hapless Senators, that 10.7 K per game that Washington drew in 1925 would not be surpassed by the team until 21 years later, in 1946.

Cincinnati Reds: As for Cincinnati, they could maintain somewhat decent crowds when marginally competitive. In 1925, the Reds finished in 3rd in the NL, 7 games above .500, and drew 6.1 K. Which is not bad at all for the team from the smallest MLB city of the 1920s. The Reds played at Crosley Field (1912-1970).

1925 MLB stats Leaders.
ERA: Dolph Luque, Cincinnati Reds.
Wins: Dazzy Vance, Brooklyn Robins.
Batting Avg: Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals.
HR: Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals.
RBI: Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals.
On Base+Slugging Pct (OPS): Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals.
Wins Above Replacement (WAR):
(Position Players): Rogers Hornsby, St. Louis Cardinals.
(WAR for Pitchers): Herb Pennock, New York Yankees.

___
Photo and Image credits on the map page…
Base map: Outline map of USA from University of Texas at Austin online archive (Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection), legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/united_states.html; legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/united_states/usa_blank2.jpg.

Banner: 1925 WS champs, Pittsburgh Pirates…
1925 WS ticket, from hugginsandscott.com. Ticket-stub segment, from sports.ha.com/1925-world-series-game-seven-full-tickets-sheet.1925 Pirates uniforms, illustrations by Marc Okkonen at exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/[1925-PIT]. 1925 Pirates jersey [original], from sports.mearsonlineauctions.com. 1925 Pirates jeweled pin (1925 WS champions pin), from tjscollectiblesinc.com. Bill McKechnie [photo from 1925 WS], unattributed at wilkinsburghistory.wordpress.com. Kiki Cuyler [photo from 1925], unattributed at sabr.org. Max Carey [photo circa 1922], unattributed at sportsecyclopedia.com. Glenn Wright [colorized photo from 1925], photo unattributed/colorized by Baseball In Color at twitter.com/@BaseballInColor; unattributed at pinterest.com. Vic Aldridge [photo from 1925], unattributed at amazon.com. Pie Traynor [colorized photo from 1925], photo unattributed/colorized by Baseball In Color at twitter.com/@BaseballInColor. Lee Meadows [photo from 1927], from Detroit Public Library digitalcollections.detroitpubliclibrary.org.

1925 MLB Stats leaders…
Dolph Luque [photo circa 1923], photo from twitter.com/[@Reds]. Dazzy Vance [photo from 1925], photo unattributed at ebay.com. Rogers Hornsby [photo from 1925], photo by Sporting News and Rogers Photo Archive via Getty Images at gettyimages.com. Rogers Hornsby [US Postal Service stamp from 2000], from mysticstamp.com. Herb Pennock [photo circa 1926], photo unattributed at 1927-the-diary-of-myles-thomas.espn.com/herb-pennock.

Colorized photo of Philadelphia Athletics 1925-27 elephant-logo jersey, photo unattributed and colorized by Natalia Valiukevich/mediadrumworld.com via dailymail.co.uk/article.

Thanks to all at the links below,
-University of Texas at Austin online archive (Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection), legacy.lib.utexas.edu/maps/united_states.html.
-Baseball-Reference.com, 1925 AL season; 1925 NL season.
-Major League Baseball (en.wikipedia.org).
-SportsLogos.net.
-Baseball Hall of Fame’s Dressed to the Nines (uniforms illustrated by Marc Okkonen), exhibits.baseballhalloffame.org/dressed_to_the_nines/database.htm.
-MLB.cm/shop.
-US cities’ populations (1920 figures), biggestuscities.com/1920.

December 6, 2018

American Football League: 1961 AFL season, map with helmets/jerseys & final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Houston Oilers.

Filed under: AFL (gridiron football),AFL, 1961 map/season,Retro maps — admin @ 9:32 am

afl_1961_2nd-season_map_w-final-standings_o-stats-leaders_champions-houston-oilers_post_h_.gif
American Football League: 1961 AFL season, map with helmets/jerseys & final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Houston Oilers



By Bill Turianski on 6 December 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1961 AFL season
-1961 AFL Championship Game (en.wikipedia.org).
-1961 AFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1961 AFL teams’ uniforms (illustrations by Gridiron Uniforms Database at gridiron-uniforms.com/[AFL 1961]).

    The AFL (of 1960-69) had a 10-year battle with the established pro football league, the NFL.

In 1970, the AFL essentially won the battle, by virtue of the fact that the NFL allowed all 10 of the AFL franchises to join the NFL, in a full dual-league merger. Plus, the AFL won the last two match-ups with the NFL…Super Bowl III (1968 season) saw the AFL’s New York Jets beat the NFL’s Baltimore Colts, and Super Bowl IV (1969 season) saw the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs beat the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.

The map (click on image at the top of the post)…
The map shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 8 AFL teams of 1961, the second season of the American Football League (IV) (1960-69). At the lower-right of the map-page are the final standings of the 1961 AFL, along with home jerseys and helmets of the 8 AFL teams of 1961. At the bottom-right corner are the attendance figures for the 1961 AFL, with comparisons to 1960 figures. At the upper-right of the map-page are standout players for the champions, the 1961 Houston Oilers. Below that are 1961 AFL offensive leaders in the following categories: Passing Yardage, QB Rating & TD Passes: George Blanda, Houston Oilers. Rushing Yardage and Yards from Scrimmage: Billy Cannon, Houston Oilers. Receiving Yards: Charlie Hennigan, Houston Oilers. Total TDs: Bill Groman, Houston Oilers.

The AFL survived its first season of 1960 in debt, but relatively unscathed. Although there was one franchise shift in 1961 (the Los Angeles Chargers moved 120 miles south to San Diego), the 8-team AFL stayed afloat, abetted primarily by the league’s five-year television contract with ABC. In 1961, the AFL as a whole averaged 17.9 K per game, which was a slight increase of 7% from their first season (when the new league drew 16.5 K per game). The true explosion in attendance (and popularity) for the AFL was about 4 years further down the road, though. (By 1965, the AFL would have an overall league-attendance of 31 thousand per game, a figure which was led by huge, plus-40-K-size crowds in New York City and Buffalo, NY.) The AFL as a whole lost about $2 million in its second year. But that was less than half the losses of the first season. There was a definite sense that, after two seasons battling the NFL, the AFL was no longer threatened with survival. In fact, in 1961, three teams – the Boston Patriots, the Buffalo Bills, and the Houston Oilers – did not end up in the red.

Below: chart showing 1960 & 1961 AFL attendances (overall-league-average, and all 8 team-averages ([home regular season games])…
afl_1960_1961_avg-attendances_oilers_chargers_bills_texans_patriots_titans_broncos_raiders_b_.gif
Above: Attendance from: profootballresearchers.org/archives/Website_Files/Coffin_Corner/13-04-430.pdf .
Helmet-icons by: gridiron-uniforms.com. Logos via sportslogos.net. Chart by billsportsmaps.com 2018.

    In 1961, the two repeat divisional champions – the Houston Oilers and the San Diego Chargers – were also the best drawing teams.

The Chargers and the Oilers both benefited from the fact that they were from cities which, back then, had no other major-league competition [Major League Baseball would soon place teams in both cities: Houston Astros in 1962, San Diego Padres in 1969]. Both the Oilers and the Chargers drew 27.8 K per game in 1961.

Below are brief profiles of the 8 AFL teams circa 1961…

Houston Oilers.
In 1960, the powder-blue-clad Houston Oilers, drawing a solid 20 K per game, had won the first AFL title (over the Los Angeles Chargers) {1960 AFL map/season, billsportsmaps.com}. And in ’61, in the midst of securing their second-straight title, the Oilers increased their crowds by over 7 thousand per game (at a league-best 27.8 K per game). But after 5 games in the 1961 season, with the Oilers at 1-3-1, owner Bud Adams (AFL co-founder with Lamar Hunt) had fired head coach Lou Rymkus. His replacement was Wally Lemm, who led the Oilers to 9 straight wins to finish the season. And so, on Dec 24 1961, in San Diego, the Oilers faced the Chargers in the AFL title game again. Led by QB/K George Blanda and HB Billy Cannon, and a defense that only gave up 3 points on the day, the Houston Oilers repeated as champions {see illustration further below}.

In 1960, rejected NFL QB George Blanda had came out of retirement to join the Houston Oilers as a 33-year-old. Blanda had been QB/K for the Chicago Bears from 1950-58, but he retired when he learned that George Halas intended to demote him to only placekicking duties. So when the AFL got started up, Blanda realized he could get another shot as a starting QB. In 1960 and ’61, Blanda led the Houston Oilers to the first two AFL titles, setting a TD passing record that stood for 23 years. Blanda threw 36 TD passes in 1961, and was selected as the Associated Press AFL Most Valuable Player. (That 36-TD-passes record was matched by YA Tittle of the NFL’s New York Giants two years later in 1963, and was not beaten until the NFL added 2 games to the season, and was first surpassed by Dan Marino in 1984; and is now held by Tom Brady with 50 TD passes.)

Below: Hall of Fame player who was on the 1961 Houston Oilers: George Blanda (QB/K) [Blanda was 1961 AFL MVP].
houston-oilers-1961_george-blanda_hall-of-fame_d_.gif
Images above – gridiron-uniforms.com/[AFL 1961]; 1962 Fleer card at pinterest.com.

One of Blanda’s main targets as he led the Oilers to those two consecutive AFL titles was Charlie Hennigan. Hennigan was a WR who had played for a small college in Louisiana (Northwestern State), and he had never gotten a chance in the NFL (he wasn’t even drafted by an NFL team). Hennigan was working as a high school football coach and Biology teacher before the AFL came along. In 1961, Hennigan had 12 TD Receptions and had a record-setting 1,746 yards receiving that season. This was a pro football record that stood for 34 years.

Other offensive standouts for Houston in ’61, besides the record-setting Blanda and Hennigan, were…Billy Cannon (HB, with a league-best 948 yards rushing and league-2nd-best 1,534 yards from scrimmage), Charley Tolar (FB, with 796 yards from scrimmage), and Bill Groman (WR, with 1,175 yards receiving and a league-best 18 total TDs). Houston’s offense was so explosive in 1961 that the Oilers ended up scoring 100 points more than any other AFL team that season. The Oilers scored 513 points in 1961 – an average of 36.64 per game. To this day, that is the 4th-best ever in pro football. {See this chart I made from 2013: All-time top 5 pro football offenses…#1: Rams 1950; #2: Broncos 2013; #3: Patriots 2007; #4: Oilers [AFL] 1961; #5: Bears 1941.}

From 1960-64, the Oilers played at the fondly-remembered Jeppesen Stadium, which was basically a glorified high school football stadium (at 36-K-capacity). (The Houston Oilers would go on to play in the Houston Astrodome from 1968 to 1996. The franchise moved to Nashville, TN, as the Tennessee Titans, in the late-1990s.)

San Diego Chargers.
After the 1960 season, the LA Chargers had given up on trying to compete for fans with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. So the Chargers moved down the freeway to San Diego, into Balboa Stadium [a former racetrack], where a second deck had just been added, making it a 34-K-capacity venue. In 1961, the dark-pastel-blue-clad and gold-lightning-bolt-bedecked San Diego Chargers drew 12 thousand per game more than they had drawn in LA, in 1960. But the Chargers peaked too soon in ’61, and coasted once they’d clinched the division, and then lost to the Oilers, again, in the 1961 AFL title game. And a worrying sign was that the 1961 title game did not sell out (5 thousand tickets went unsold at Balboa Stadium on December 24th, 1961). (The Chargers, under innovative head coach Sid Gillman, would go on to appear in 3 more AFL title games [5 in total], but would only win one AFL title – in 1963, when they demolished the Patriots 51-10. The Chargers would move into the 50-K-capacity San Diego Stadium in 1967, playing there until 2016. The franchise moved back to Los Angeles in 2017.)

Below: Hall of Fame player who was on the 1961 San Diego Chargers: Ron Mix (OT).
chargers-1961_hall-of-fame_ron-mix_b_.gif
Images above – gridiron-uniforms.com/[AFL 1961]; 1961 Fleer card from amazon.com.

Buffalo Bills.
Third-best drawing AFL team in 1961 was the up-and-coming Buffalo Bills, who drew 19.0 K at the rock-pile known as War Memorial Stadium. Despite their ramshackle venue, the Buffalo Bills would increase their crowd-size significantly in the following years, up to 43 K per game, en route to their 1964 and ’65 AFL titles. Buffalo might have played in a dump, but the franchise, owned by Detroit-based auto-dealership-heir Ralph Wilson Jr, was one of the three most stable franchises in the early AFL. (The other two stable early-AFL franchises being the Dallas Texans, owned by AFL founder Lamar Hunt, and the Houston Oilers, owned by AFL co-founder Bud Adams, both of whom came from big-oil-money.) In 1961, the Bills were still wearing their original colors of dark-blue-and-silver. The following year (1962), the Bills’ introduced their red-standing-buffalo helmet-logo, and their blue-white-red colors. (The Buffalo Bills would play at War Memorial Stadium until 1972, moving into their purpose-built 80-K-capacity stadium in 1973, in suburban Orchard Park, NY, located 11 miles south-east of Buffalo. The Bills are the only NFL team to lose four consecutive Super Bowl games [1990-93 seasons].)

Below: Hall of Fame player who was on the 1961 Buffalo Bills: Billy Shaw (OG).
buffalo-bills-1961_billy-shaw_hall-of-fame_c_.gif
Images above – gridiron-uniforms.com/[AFL 1961]; 1962 Fleer card from amazon.com.

Dallas Texans.
Fourth-best drawing AFL team in 1961 was the Dallas Texans, a franchise that would end up in Kansas City, Missouri a couple years later [as the Chiefs]. The red-and-gold clad Texans had been the top draw in the AFL in the first season, drawing 24.5 K per game. This was a particularly impressive figure, when one considers the fact that the Dallas Texans of 1960 had to compete for fans with the also-brand-new NFL expansion team, the Dallas Cowboys. But by 1961, competition with the Cowboys, for the local fan-dollar, was starting to erode the Texans’ support. Attendance fell 7 K per game, to 17.5 K in 1961. Dallas Texans owner-and-league-founder Lamar Hunt was beginning to see that his upstart AFL team could not compete locally with the long-established NFL, especially if (and when) the then-basement-dwelling Cowboys improved. The Dallas Texans would go on to win the 1962 AFL title, only to up stakes and move to Kansas City in 1963. (The Kansas City Chiefs went on to win 2 AFL titles [1966 & 1969], and the Chiefs won the last game ever played by an AFL team, Super Bowl IV [Jan 1970], over the Minnesota Vikings. The Chiefs have not appeared in a Super Bowl game since then.)

Below: standout player who was on the 1961 Dallas Texans: Abner Haynes (HB) [1960 AFL MVP & 1960 AFL Rookie of the Year].
dallas-texans-1961_abner-haynes_1960-afl-mvp_b_.gif
Images above – gridiron-uniforms.com/[AFL 1961]; 1962 Fleer card from amazon.com.

Boston Patriots.
Fifth-best drawing AFL team in 1961 was the Boston Patriots, who drew almost exactly the same sized crowds in their first two seasons (16.8 K in ’60; 16.5 K in ’61). The red-white-and-blue clad Patriots played at Boston University’s Nickerson Field. In their first season, the Patriots sported a bizarre-looking helmet-logo: a blue 18th-century-style tri-corner hat, floating on a white field atop red uniform-numbers {see it in the attendance chart further above, or here, at helmethut.com}. They wisely scrapped that confusing logo, and in 1961, the Patriots introduced their new helmet logo, a Minuteman-in-a-3-point-stance-hiking-a-football (aka Pat Patriot; that logo remained up to 1992). As mentioned before, the Patriots broke even in 1961, and this was an example of the relative stability that this franchise offered to the AFL in its wild and woolly early years. But the Patriots in their first eleven years had a vagabond-like existence, playing in 4 different venues…at Boston University (1960-62), then at MLB’s Fenway Park (1963-68), then at Boston College’s Alumni Stadium [in Chestnut Hill, MA] (in 1969), and then at Harvard Stadium (in 1970). In 1971, the Patriots finally got a purpose-built stadium, Foxborough, located completely outside of Boston, 23 miles south-west of downtown Boston, and 21 miles north-east of Providence, RI [hence their name-change to a more regional moniker, the New England Patriots]. (The Patriots would not win a title until 2001, but have now won 5 Super Bowl titles [last in the 2016 season].)

Below: standout player who was on the 1961 Boston Patriots: Gino Cappelletti (SE/K) [1964 AFL MVP].
boston-patriots-1961_gino-cappelletti_b_.gif
Images above – gridiron-uniforms.com/[AFL 1961]; 1962 Fleer card from psacard.com/team-sets/1960-1969-decade-patriots.

In 1961, there were two struggling AFL franchises: Oakland and New York, plus another bad-drawing team, in Denver.
The Oakland Raiders.
The Oakland Raiders were the last AFL franchise to organize, and this hurt them considerably, because the Raiders had no time to secure a viable venue. The largest football venue on the East Bay was in Berkeley: the University of California’s 81-K-capacity Memorial Stadium. But the Cal administrators refused to let the Raiders play there. So the Raiders were forced to play in San Francisco for their first two seasons. In 1960, the black-helmeted Raiders played at the home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, at Kezar Stadium, and they drew just 9.4 K per game. After their first season the Raiders franchise was half-a million in debt and needed a $400,000 loan from Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. to stay afloat. Then in 1961, the Raiders were forced to play at the windy and cold MLB-venue, Candlestick Park, and the Raiders drew a pathetic 7.6 K per game, and posted the league’s worst record (2-12). All this was because there was no suitable venue yet, across the Bay in Oakland. And the city of Oakland would not finish building the delay-plagued Oakland Coliseum complex for five more years. The Raiders threatened to re-locate, and the city of Oakland responded by slapping together a temporary stadium that was basically scaffolding. That was Frank Youell Field, located in a mixed-industrial area near downtown Oakland. It was supposed to be temporary, but thanks to multiple delays in the building of the Oakland Coliseum, the Raiders ended up playing at the small 22-K-capacity Youell Field for four years (1962-65) {see Raiders in the Youell Field era, in this illustration}. (Al Davis would be hired by the Raiders as head coach/GM, in January 1963, introducing the Raiders’ silver-and-black colors that year.) (The Raiders moved to Los Angeles, CA in 1982. After 13 years in LA, the Raiders moved back to Oakland, CA in 1996. The Raiders will move out of Oakland for the second time in 2019 or 2020, this time to play in Greater Las Vegas, NV. The Raiders won the 1967 AFL title, and have won 3 Super Bowl titles [last in the 1983 season].)

Below: Hall of Fame player who was on the 1961 Oakland Raiders: Jim Otto (C).
raiders-1961_jim-otto_hall-of-fame_d_.gif
Images above – gridiron-uniforms.com/[AFL 1961] ; 1963 Fleer card from marketplace.beckett.com.

New York Titans.
The NY Titans were stuck playing at the decrepit old Polo Grounds on the northern tip of Manhattan, NYC. The Titans were drawing poorly for a big-city team (at 15-K-per-game, which most observers felt was a grossly inflated figure). And the Titans ownership group was so cash-strapped that the following year, in order to meet payroll, the franchise would need big cash infusions from Dallas Texans owner-and-league-founder Lamar Hunt. (In 1963, the dark-blue-and-gold clad New York Titans franchise changed ownership, and became the green-and-white clad New York Jets. Then in 1964, the NY Jets would move out of the soon-to-be-demolished Polo Grounds, and into the big new municipal venue built by the City of New York, Shea Stadium in Queens, NYC. And in the ensuing years (1964-on), the Jets’ league-leading attendance would go on to skyrocket past 50 K per game, then past 60-K per game [and to full-capacity at Shea] by ’67. The New York Jets went on to win the 1968 AFL title, then the plucky Jets upset the NFL’s Baltimore Colts to win Super Bowl III [Jan. 1969]. The Jets have not appeared in any title game since then. The NY Jets have played in the state of New Jersey since 1984 [sharing a venue with the NY Giants].)

Below: Hall of Fame player who was on the 1961 New York Titans: Don Maynard (E).
new-york-titans-1961_hall-of-fame_don-maynard_b_.gif
Images above – gridiron-uniforms.com/[AFL 1961]. 1962 Fleer card, unattributed at pinterest.com.

Denver Broncos.
In 1961, the brown-and-mustard-yellow clad Denver Broncos were also drawing poorly, pulling in just 10.6 K per game. But time would later show that the Broncos’ sparse crowds in their first few seasons was mainly a result of how bad the team was (the Broncos went 3-11 in 1961). First proof of that was a year away: in 1962, the now-orange-and-blue clad Broncos won 4 more games, going 7-7, and drawing over 14 thousand more per game, at 25.4 K. (The Denver Broncos have remained on the same site in Denver since their inception in 1960…playing at Bears Stadium/Mile High Stadium [for 41 years up to 2000], and then at Broncos Stadium at Mile High [since 2001]. The Denver Broncos have won 3 Super Bowl titles [last in the 2015 season].)

Below: standout player who was on the 1961 Denver Broncos: Lionel Taylor (SE) [5-time All-AFL].
denver-broncos-1961_lionel-taylor_c_.gif"denver-broncos-1961_lionel-taylor_c_.gif"
Images above – gridiron-uniforms.com/[AFL 1961]; 1961 Topps card from vintagecardprices.com.

    1961 AFL Championship game (the Houston Oilers beat the Chargers in the title game, for the second straight season)…

The 1961 AFL title game was marred by poor officiating. It also featured 13 turnovers. Oilers QB George Blanda gave up 5 interceptions. But his 35 yd TD pass to Billy Cannon in the 3rd Q was the difference (see photos below). The irony was that the Houston Oilers, who had a high-powered offense that set records in 1961, won the AFL title that year thanks to a defense that kept the Chargers from scoring a TD.
http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/houston-oilers_1961_afl-champions_balboa-stadium_george-blanda_billy-cannon_charlie-hennigan_n_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – 1961 AFL title game at Balboa Stadium, program from afl-football.50webs.com. George Blanda scrambling, photo by Hy Peskin at hypeskin.com/1961-afl-championship-houston-oilers-at-san-diego-chargers. George Blanda [photo from 1961 AFL Title game], photo by Hy Peskin at gettyimages.com. Billy Cannon on sideline, photo by Hy Peskin at hypeskin.com. Billy Cannon making a reception, photo by David F. Smith/Associated Press via nytimes.com/2017/11/02/sports/houston-championships. Chargers coaches berate lineman, photo unattributed at goldenrankings.com/AFLchampionship1961. Los Angeles Examiner headline Dec 25 1961, “Old Pro Blanda Whips Gillman Again”, from ebay.com. George Blanda scrambling, photo unattributed at fs64sports.blogspot.com. Oilers [1960 photo] in huddle, unattributed at sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl. Charlie Hennigan, unattributed at nflpastplayers.com. Oilers players on bench [photo circa 1961], screenshot from Full Color Football #1 uploaded by TheAFLHistory at youtube.com.
__
Photo and Image credits on the map page…
Houston Oilers,
Oilers players on bench [photo circa 1961], screenshot from Full Color Football #1 uploaded by TheAFLHistory at youtube.com. Reproduction of 1960-61 Houston Oilers helmet, photo from supersportscenter.com. George Blanda [photo circa 1964], unattributed at goldenrankings.com. George Blanda [photo from 1961 AFL Title game], photo by Hy Peskin at gettyimages.com. Don Floyd [1961 Fleer card], from marketplace.beckett.com. Billy Cannon [photo circa 1961], unattributed at fanbase.com. Charley Tolar [1965 photo/re-done as quasi=1961 Fleer card], from boblemke.blogspot.com. Bill Groman [photo from 1960], photo unattributed at sportsecyclopedia.com/[Houston Oilers]. Tony Banfield [1962 Fleer card], from footballcardgallery.com. Charlie Hennigan [photo circa 1964], unattributed at crazycantoncuts.blogspot.com. Al Jemison [1962 Fleer card], from ebay.com.

Offensive stats leaders on map page,
George Blanda [photo circa 1961], photo unattributed at fs64sports.blogspot.com. Billy Cannon [photo circa 1962], from AP via chron.com/sports. Charlie Hennigan [photo from 1961 AFL title game], photo by http://hypeskin.com/wpbeta/1961-afl-championship-houston-oilers-at-san-diego-chargers//wpbeta/1961-afl-championship-houston-oilers-at-san-diego-chargers/”>hypeskin.com. Bill Groman [1961 Fleer card], from amazon.com.

Thanks to,
-Blank map by anonymous US federal government employee, at File:StatesU.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Thanks to Sportslogos.net for 1960-era AFL team logos.
-Thanks to Buffalo Bills official site for original Bills logo (1960-61).
-Thanks to Infinite Jets blog for hard-to-find full-color NY Titans logo.
-Thanks to the Coffin Corner newsletter, for this pdf, profootballresearchers.org/archives/Website_Files/Coffin_Corner/13-04-430.pdf [AFL attendance by team 1960-69] .
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com.
-Thanks to the contributors at AFL 1961 season (en.wikipedia.org).
-Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

October 14, 2018

NFL 1961 season, map with helmets/jerseys & final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Green Bay Packers.

Filed under: NFL>1961 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 8:26 am

nfl_1961_map-with-helmets_1961-standings_offensive-stats-leaders_home-jerseys_green-bay-packers-champs_post_d_.gif
NFL 1961 season, map with helmets/jerseys and final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Green Bay Packers.




By Bill Turianski on 14 October 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1961 NFL season
-1961 NFL Championship Game (en.wikipedia.org).
-1961 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-Article on Green Bay Packers’ “Heisman/Wisconsin” logo used in late -1950s/early-1960s, The Return of an Old Friend (by Chance Michaels at packersuniforms.blogspot.com from Sept 2010).

    1961 NFL Championship Game: the Green Bay Packers demolish the New York Giants 37-0.
    (The win started the Packers’ unequaled run of 5 NFL titles in 7 years.)

-Birth of a dynasty 1961 Packers would not be denied (by Martin Hendricks on Oct 5 2011 at Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

green-bay-packers_1961-nfl-champs_packers-beat-giants_37-0_new-city-field_vince-lombardi_paul-hornung_jim-taylor_ron-kramer_ray-nitschke_willie-davis_bart-starr_k_.gif

Photo and Image credits above -
1961 NFL title game ticket, from sports.ha.com. New City Field was covered with one foot of hay, to protect the turf from the cold, for a whole month prior to the 1961 NFL Championship Game, photos from Green Bay Press-Gazette Archive via packerville.blogspot.com. Packers TE Ron Kramer scores a TD mid-way through the 2nd Q (21-0), photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Packers FB Jim Taylor on a run, screenshot from pinterest.com via packersnews.com [link broken]. Packers HB/K Paul Hornung on a run, photo by Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated at si.com. Packers MLB Ray Nitschke sacks Giants QB Y.A. Tittle, photo by Robert Riger at gettyimages.com. Packers DE Willie Davis sacks Y.A. Tittle, photo by Green Bay Press-Gazette at greenbaypressgazette.com. After the final whistle, Packers players carry their head coach, Vince Lombardi, off the field, photo by Green Bay Press-Gazette via lohud.com. Packers fans tear down the goal posts, photo by AP via archive.jsonline.com. Vince Lombardi with his 3 main offensive threats in 1961 (L-R): FB Jim Taylor, HB/K Paul Hornung, QB Bart Starr [photo from Dec 3 1961 after clinching the '61 NFL West], photo unattributed at reddit.com/r/OldSchoolCool. “Heisman/Wisconsin” logo used by Packers in late-1950s/early-1960s, packersuniforms.blogspot.com.

1961 Green Bay Packers: 6 All-Pro players; plus 9 from the ’61 Packers were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1961 AP, 1st team.
-Paul Hornung (HB/K): 1961 All-Pro (RB), and 1961 MVP [AP]; Hornung was inducted to the HoF in 1986.
-Jim Ringo: 1961 All-Pro (C); Ringo was inducted to the HoF in 1981.
-Bill Forester: 1961 All-Pro (LB).
-Henry Jordan: 1961 All-Pro (DT).
-Fuzzy Thurston: 1961 All-Pro (G).
-Jesse Whittenton: 1961 All-Pro (CB).
-Jim Taylor (FB); Taylor was inducted into the HoF in 1976.
-Bart Starr (QB); Starr was inducted into the HoF in 1977.
-Forrest Gregg (T); Gregg was inducted into the HoF in 1977.
-Herb Adderley (CB/KR); Adderley was inducted into the HoF in 1980.
-Ray Nitschke (LB); Nitschke was inducted into the HoF in 1981.
-Willie Davis (DE); Davis was inducted into the HoF in 1981.
-Vince Lombardi (Head coach of the Packers from 1959-67). Lombardi was inducted into the HoF in 1971.

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1961 NFL…
Below: In 1961, four NFL teams introduced helmet-logos (Vikings, Packers, Lions, Giants).
nfl_1961_4-new-helmet-logos_vikings_packers_lions_giants_e_.gif
1961 NFL teams’ uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database.
-Expansion team (1961 Minnesota Vikings): the Vikings were so named to reflect the large Scandinavian population in the state of Minnesota. Since their inception in 1961, the Vikings have always worn a purple helmet with viking-horns on each side, with a bit of yellow trim at the base of the viking-horn. Unfortunately, this is a miss-representation of history, because viking invaders (Norsemen) never wore horned helmets. Just think for a moment how impractical and downright dangerous a horned helmet would be to wear into battle: you would always be snagging the horns on things, to say nothing about how it would throw your balance off. The fact is, the only time Norsemen wore horned helmets in battle was in the theatrical productions of Wagner operas first staged in the late Nineteenth century. ‘When Wagner staged his “Der Ring des Nibelungen” opera cycle in the 1870s, costume designer Carl Emil Doepler created horned helmets for the Viking characters, and an enduring stereotype was born.’ {-quote from history.com/news/did-vikings-really-wear-horned-helmets.} So the Minnesota Vikings helmet-logo is based on an historical myth, because vikings never wore horned helmets, at all, when they were busy invading, sacking and pillaging back in the 8th through 11th centuries.

-In 1961, the Green Bay Packers introduced their helmet-logo…‘The oval “G” logo was added in 1961 when [Vince] Lombardi asked Packers equipment manager Gerald ‘Dad’ Braisher to design a logo. Braisher tasked his assistant, St. Norbert College art student John Gordon. Satisfied with a football-shaped letter “G”, the pair presented it to Lombardi, who then approved the addition.’ {-from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Bay_Packers#Logo.} The football-shaped-letter-G helmet-logo remains, though in 1970, the football-shaped-G became more oval-shaped (less pointed at the ends; see below).
Below: the Packers’ helmet-logo was introduced in 1961. In 1970, the Packers’ logo became more oval-shaped…
green-bay-packers_1969_1970_helmet-logo-made-oval-shaped_c_.gif

-In 1961, the Detroit Lions introduced their helmet-logo, of a blue rampant lion in silhouette. The blue-rampant-lion helmet-logo remains, and since 2003, the rampant-lion has had detailing: a thin black outline was added in 2002, and interior details in white were added in 2009.

Below: the Lions’ helmet-logo was introduced in 1961. It remains essentially the same, w/ outline added in 1970, and detailing added in the 2000s…
detroit-lions_1961_helmet-logo_rampant-lion_1970_2003_2009_c_.gif

-In 1961, the New York Giants introduced their helmet-logo, of their city’s initials, NY, in a bold lower-case sans-serif font, with the tail of the y stretched to fit under the n-y, thus forming a square-block shape. The block-shaped-lowercase-N-Y helmet-logo was dropped following the 1974 season, but was re-introduced in 2000.

Below: the NY Giants’ lowercase-NY helmet-logo was introduced in 1962; it remained for 14 years & was re-introduced in 2000…
new-york-giants_1961_helmet-logo_lower-case-ny-logo_1975_1976_2000_b_.gif"

___
Photo and Image credits on map page…
Packers players on map page,
Reproduction of early-1960s Packers helmet, from ebay.com. Early-1960s Packers pennant, from sports.mearsonlineauctions.com. Bart Starr [photo circa 1964], photo unattributed at citelighter.com. Bart Starr and Paul Hornung [photo from 1962], photo by Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated at si.com/nfl/photos.Jim Ringo [photo circa 1962], photo unattributed at ebay via thepostgame.com. Forrest Gregg [photo circa 1964], photo unattributed at packers.com. Fuzzy Thurston and Paul Hornung [photo circa 1964], photo unattributed at valpoathletics.com.
Henry Jordan and Willie Davis [photo circa 1962], photo Vernon Biever at nfl.com via pinterest.com. Bill Forester [1963 Topps trading card], from footballcardgallery.com. Ray Nitschke [photo circa 1962], photo unattributed at dailydsports.com/ray-nitschke. Herb Adderley [photo from 1961 or '62], photo unattributed at ebay.com via pinterest.com. Jesse Whittenton [photo from 1960], photo unattributed at packers.com. Jim Taylor [photo from 1961], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Max McGee [photo from 1961], photo by Marvin E. Newman at gettyimages.com.
Willie Wood

Offensive stats leaders on map page,
Bill Wade (Bears) [photo from 1961], photo by Ray Gora/Chicago Tribune at chicagotribune.com. Sonny Jurgensen (Eagles) [photo from 1963], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Jim Brown (Browns) [photo from 1961], photo by Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated at si.com/nfl/photos/jim-brown-rare-photos. Jim Taylor (Packers) [photo from 1962], photo by Green Bay Press-Gazette via packershistory.net. Tommy McDonald (Eagles) [photo from 1960], photo unattributed at thenumerati.net.

-Blank map by anonymous US federal government employee, at File:StatesU.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1961 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

September 24, 2018

American Football League: 1960 AFL season, map with helmets/jerseys & final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Houston Oilers. /+ Chart of Average Attendance, NFL vs. AFL (the 10 years they were in competition: 1960-69), including NFL/AFL/Super Bowl title-winners in the 1960s.

afl_1960_1st-season_map_w-final-standings_o-stats-leaders_champions-houston-oilers_post_m_.gif
American Football League: 1960 AFL season, map with helmets/jerseys and final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Houston Oilers




By Bill Turianski on 24 September 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1960 AFL season
-1960 AFL Championship Game (en.wikipedia.org).
-1960 AFL season (pro-football-reference.com).

The map… The map shows the 8 teams in the inaugural season of the American Football League (IV) (1960). At the lower-right of the map-page are the final standings of the 1960 AFL, along with home jerseys and helmets of the 8 AFL teams of 1960. At the bottom-right corner are the attendance figures for the 1960 AFL. The map lists all 8 original venues of the 8 charter members of the AFL, and it shows every location that the 8 original AFL teams have played in (1960-69 in AFL, 1970-2018 in NFL). At the upper-right of the map-page are standout players for the champions, the 1960 Houston Oilers. Below that are 1960 AFL offensive leaders in the following categories: Passing Yardage, Frank Tripucka, Denver Broncos. QB Rating, Tom Flores, Oakland Raiders. TD Passes, Al Dorow, New York Titans. Rushing Yardage and Yards from Scrimmage, Abner Haynes, Dallas Texans. Receiving Yards, Bill Groman, Houston Oilers. Total TDs, Art Powell, New York Titans.

The AFL versus the NFL…
In the late 1950s, just as the NFL was becoming a vastly popular sporting entertainment to millions of Americans, here is what the 12-team NFL thought about expansion, as represented by a quote from the Washington owner George Preston Marshall: “There is no excuse for expansion in the National Football League. We furnish football now, for free, through television. Expansion can only weaken the personnel.” The AFL proved this to be a fallacy. Principal founder of the AFL Lamar Hunt, co-founder Bud Adams, the other AFL owners, and all the players who played in the AFL, would prove that there was plenty of room for more pro football teams in America.

In 1960, the AFL started with 8 teams, and the eight ownership groups were dubbed “the Foolish Club”.
To a man, the NFL front office, as well as the front offices of all the 12 established NFL teams, were quite sure the AFL would soon be a bust. But by the mid-1960s, the NFL had realized that the AFL was for real. By the close of the 1965 season, the American Football League, after 6 seasons, had basically become a significant rival to the NFL. The AFL had increased its attendance remarkably. The AFL went from averaging 16 K per game in their first season in 1960, to averaging 31 K per game five years later in 1965. The AFL’s television contract with NBC, and the several major stadiums being built for AFL teams, were indications that in the late 1965/early 1966 time period, the AFL was starting to look like it was a success, a success that could only threaten the NFL. And the AFL was planning on expansion [the Miami Dolphins joined the AFL in 1966 and the Cincinnati Bengals became the 10th AFL team in 1968].

The AFL had a ten-year battle with the NFL that saw the AFL gradually gain more popularity, as the decade of the 1960s wore on. The first indication that the new AFL might be able to challenge the NFL was when the Houston Oilers signed 1959 Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon [of LSU], despite the fact that the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams had signed Cannon two months earlier (the Oilers owner Bud Adams had offered Cannon $3,000 more per season plus a Cadillac). In June 1960, the Oilers’ record-breaking $110,000 contract with Cannon was upheld in court, and the AFL had poached the biggest prospect from out of the hands of the NFL. (The speedy Cannon went on to be the MVP of the 1960 AFL Championship Game {see illustration at the end of this post}.)

A major way in which the AFL was able grab the attention of sports fans was its style of play.
While the NFL of this era centered on the stodgy running game, the AFL was based on the decidedly more exciting passing game, throwing downfield play after play. Visionary head coach Sid Gillman of the Chargers introduced the vertical offense, stretching the football field by throwing deep downfield passes, instead of short passes. Gillman and his proteges were instrumental in making football into the modern game that it is today. But it wasn’t just the Chargers that were emphasizing the passing game in the new AFL: most teams there were doing it. And the league’s first champions, the Houston Oilers, under head coach Lou Rymkus, won titles with an aggressive passing game.

Rejected NFL QB George Blanda came out of retirement to join the Houston Oilers as a 33-year-old.
Blanda had been QB/K for the Chicago Bears from 1950-58, but he retired when he learned that George Halas intended to demote him to only placekicking duties. So when the AFL got started up, Blanda realized he could get another shot as a starting QB. And so, in 1960 and ’61, Blanda led the Houston Oilers to the first two AFL titles, setting a TD passing record that stood for 23 years. Blanda threw 36 TD passes in 1961. (That record was matched by YA Tittle of the NFL’s New York Giants two years later in 1963, and was not beaten until the NFL added 2 games to the season, and was first surpassed by Dan Marino in 1984; and is now held by Tom Brady with 50 TD passes.) One of Blanda’s main targets as he led the Oilers to those two consecutive AFL titles was Charlie Hennigan. Hennigan was a WR who had played for a small college in Louisiana (Northwestern State), and he had never gotten a chance in the NFL. He was working as a high school football coach and Biology teacher before the AFL came along. In 1961, Hennigan had 12 TD Receptions and his 1,746 yards receiving that season was a pro football record that stood for 34 years.

So much for the idea that more pro football teams circa 1960 would result in a weaker on-field product. Here were two guys – Blanda and Hennigan – who were shut out of the NFL, but who went on to glory in the new AFL, setting records that stood for decades. And again, with the record Blanda set in 1961 (as a 34-year-old), we’re talking about a record set for TD passes, one of the most exciting plays in pro sports. Here was the AFL in a nutshell: more chances for the players, and more excitement for the fans.

Average Attendance, NFL vs. AFL (the 10 years they were in competition: 1960-69); plus NFL/AFL/Super Bowl title-winners in the 1960s…
afl_vs_nfl_attendance_1960-69_title-winners_super-bowl_i-iv_winners_chart_e_.gif
Source for attendance figures: pdf at ProFootballResearchers.org [Coffin Corner newsletter, Sept 1991, by Bob Carroll], profootballresearchers.org/archives/Website_Files/Coffin_Corner/13-04-430.pdf. Helmet illustrations from gridiron-uniforms.com.

And so in the summer of 1966, the NFL headed off the threat of a mutually destructive competition between the two leagues, and negotiated a merger with the AFL. This merger created the Super Bowl in the 1967 season, setting the stage for a full AFL/NFL merger in 1970.

In 1959 there were 12 NFL teams, and absolutely no plans for expansion, despite its ever-growing popularity. And, it must be added, despite the fact that there were a whole host of cities shut out of the NFL and clamoring for expansion teams. In 1970, thanks to the success of the AFL, there were 26 NFL teams…and more to come.

In a ten-year-span, the AFL cut the crowd-size difference between the two leagues by almost ten thousand per game (9.8 K). By 1969, 7 of the 10 AFL teams were drawing over 40-K-per-game (NY Jets at 63 K, Oakland Raiders at 53 K, Kansas City Chiefs at 49 K, Denver Broncos at 46 K, San Diego Chargers at 46 K, Houston Oilers at 44 K, Buffalo Bills at 40 K). The AFL went from drawing a quasi-bush league 16.5-K-per-game in their first season, to drawing a very respectable 40.6-K-per-game in their final season of 1969. That was an increase of over 24,000 per game.
(Source: THE AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE ATTENDANCE, 1960-69 [pdf].)

And crucially, by the 1968 and 1969 seasons, the AFL became legitimate where it mattered the most…on the field.
In the end, the AFL proved to be the equal of the NFL by the very fact that the last two match-ups between an AFL team and an NFL team ended with the AFL team being the victor. In the 1968 season, the AFL’s New York Jets shocked the sporting world by beating the favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. And in the 1969 season, the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs upended the favored Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

So in 1970, all 10 teams of the AFL joined the NFL.
This is the only time in the 140-plus-year history of major league sports in the United States and Canada that a competing pro league was fully absorbed into the established pro league, on an equal basis, with no strings attached. Every other such major-leagues-merger was done piecemeal, where the established league got to pick and choose from the rival-league’s roster of teams, and then dictate the terms. Such as with the 8 American Association teams that joined the National League between 1887 to 1892. And such as with the 3 AAFC teams that joined the NFL in 1950. And as with the 4 ABA teams that joined the NBA in 1976. And as with the 4 WHA teams that joined the NHL in 1979. The NFL, circa the late 1950s, had bolted the door on cities like Houston and Boston and Denver and Buffalo and Oakland (and San Diego and Kansas City and Miami). But a decade later, they had to let the whole lot of them in.

57 minute video: Rebels with a Cause: the Story of the American Football League (video uploaded by FWP Film Network at youtube.com).

1960: original AFL teams from the Northeast (Boston Patriots, New York Titans, Buffalo Bills). [Boston Patriots changed name to New England Patriots in 1971; New York Titans changed name to New York Jets in 1963]. Shown on the map-segment below are all the venue-locations of the Patriots franchise, the Bills franchise, and the Titans/Jets franchise (1960-2018).
Original helmets, and primary logos, shown. With all locations the teams have played in (1960-2018).
afl-1960_boston-patriots_ny-titans_buffalo-bills_map_northeastern-usa_c_.gif

1960: original AFL teams from the Southwest (Houston Oilers, Dallas Texans [II]) [Houston Oilers (1960-96) moved to Memphis, TN (1997), and then to Nashville, TN (1998) and became the Tennessee Titans (1999); Dallas Texans (1960-62) moved to Kansas City, MO in 1963, and became the Kansas City Chiefs.].
Original helmets, and primary logos, shown. Shown on the map-segment below are all the venue-locations of the Texans/Chiefs franchise, and the Oilers/Titans franchise (1960-2018).
afl-1960_houston-oilers_dallas-texans_map_southwest-usa_c_.gif

1960: original AFL team from the Mountain West (Denver Broncos).
Original helmet, and primary logo, shown.
afl-1960_denver-broncos_map_mountain-west-usa_c_.gif

1960: original AFL teams from the West Coast (Los Angeles Chargers, Oakland Raiders) [Los Angeles Chargers (1960) moved to San Diego in 1961 (San Diego Chargers 1961-2016), and then moved back to Los Angeles in 2016; Oakland Raiders moved to Los Angeles in 1982 (Los Angeles Raiders 1982-94), and then moved back to Oakland in 1995]. Original helmets, and primary logos, shown. Shown on the map-segment below are all the venue-locations of the Chargers franchise, and the Raiders franchise (1960-2018).
afl-1960_los-angeles-chargers_oakland-raiders_map_west-coast-usa_d_.gif

    Houston Oilers, the 1960 AFL champions…

houston-oilers_1960_afl-champions_jeppesen-stadium_oilers-24_chargers-16_george-blanda_billy-cannon_k_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Chargers and Oilers 1960 helmets/jerseys by gridiron-uniforms.com/[1960 AFL title game]. George Blanda (close-up shot) screenshot from Full Color Football #1 uploaded by TheAFLHistory at youtube.com. George Blanda takes a snap in 1960 AFL title game, photo unattributed at fs64sports.blogspot.com/2010/01/1961-oilers-defeat-chargers-for-first-[afl-title-game]. Billy Cannon, photo unattributed at fanbase.com. Blanda to Cannon for 88-yrad-TD, 3 screenshots from Full Color Football #1 uploaded by TheAFLHistory at youtube.com. Oilers 1960 uniform, illustration by Gridiron Uniforms Database: gridiron-uniforms.com/[Seasons/1960/AFL/Oilers]. Shot from Oiler 1961 training camp, photo by NFL/Getty Images via smithsonianmag.com/history/the-american-football-leagues-foolish-club.

___
Houston Oilers, on map page
Screenshot of AFL founders, Hunt and Adams, from video uploaded by Rusty Brewer at youtube.com.
Oilers players on bench [photo circa 1961], screenshot from Full Color Football #1 uploaded by TheAFLHistory at youtube.com. Reproduction of 1960-61 Houston Oilers helmet, photo from supersportscenter.com. George Blanda [image from 1962], screenshot from Full Color Football #1 uploaded by TheAFLHistory at youtube.com. George Blanda [photo circa 1961], photo unattributed at fs64sports.blogspot.com. Billy Cannon [circa 1960 photo, later colorized by John Turney], unattributed at pinterest.com but originally from nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com. Billy Cannon and Rich Michael [photo circa 1961], photo unattributed at profootballhof.com. Dave Smith [photo from 1961], photo by Hy Peskin/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Al Jamison [1961 Fleer trading card], unattributed at pinterest.com. Mark Johnston [photo from 1960], photo by Neil Leifer/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Bill Groman [1961 Fleer card], from amazon.com.


Offensive stats leaders on map page,
Frank Tripucka, [1961 Fleer trading card], from tradingcarddb.com. Tom Flores [1961 Fleer trading card], from footballcardgallery.com. Al Dorow [photo from 1st Titans game v Buffalo at Polo Grounds], photo by Ernie Sisto/New York Times at nytimes.com. Abner Haynes, [photo circa 1962], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Bill Groman [photo from 1960 AFL title game (on Jan. 1 1961)], photo by Darryl Norenberg via espn.com. Art Powell [photo from 1960 versus Oilers at Polo Ground], photo by Neil Leifer/Getty Images via gettyimages.com.

Thanks to,
-Blank map by anonymous US federal government employee, at File:StatesU.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Thanks to Sportslogos.net for 1960-era AFL team logos. -Thanks to Buffalo Bills official site for original Bills logo (1960-61). -Thanks to Infinite Jets blog for hard-to-find full-color NY Titans logo.
-Thanks to the Pro Football Researchers.org, via their Coffin Corner newsletter, for this THE AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE ATTENDANCE, 1960-69 [pdf].
-pro-football-reference.com.
-Thanks to the contributors at AFL 1960 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

September 2, 2018

NFL 1960 season, map with helmets/jerseys & final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Philadelphia Eagles.

Filed under: NFL>1960 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 5:22 pm

nfl_1960_map-with-helmets_1960-standings_offensive-stats-leaders_home-jerseys_philadelphia-eagles-champs_post_k_.gif
NFL 1960 season, map with helmets/jerseys & final standings + offensive stats leaders; champions: Philadelphia Eagles




By Bill Turianski on 2 September 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1960 NFL season
-1960 NFL Championship Game (en.wikipedia.org).
-1960 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1960 NFL teams’ uniforms (gridiron-uniforms.com).

1960: the NFL is in competition with a new rival league, the American Football League [AFL (IV/1960-69).] (The AFL later merged with the NFL in the 1966-to-1970 time period. The two leagues began playing a championship game starting in 1966 [later named the Super Bowl]; the two leagues’ conferences and schedules were combined in 1970.)

(Note: I will post a map of the American Football League 1960 season, in late September 2018.)

1960 was the NFL’s 41st season. The NFL had 10 teams through most of the 1940s. By the end of 1949, when the NFL’s 4-year battle with rival-league the AAFC ended, 3 of the AAFC franchises joined the NFL…Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Colts (I). So in 1950 the NFL went from 10 teams to 13 teams. But one of those 3 new teams from the AAFC immediately went defunct [Baltimore Colts I/1950 (1-11)/defunct]. So from 1951 to 1959 (9 seasons), the NFL had 12 teams.

In 1960, the NFL finally expanded past the 12-team size for good, when the Dallas Cowboys joined the league. Which made the NFL of 1960 an unwieldy 13-team league, but for only one season. Because plans were already in the works to add another new franchise, the Minnesota Vikings, for the next season, in 1961. And then two more teams would join the NFL later in the 1960s (to make it a 16-team league): Atlanta in 1966, and New Orleans in 1967.

The map… The map shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 13 NFL teams of 1960 (including the expansion team, the Dallas Cowboys; and including the franchise shift of the NFL Cardinals from Chicago to St. Louis) {also see illustrations further below in the 1960 NFL uniforms section}. Final standings for the 1960 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. At the far lower-right are the home jerseys/helmets worn in 1960. At the top-right of the map page is a section devoted to the 1960 NFL champions, the Philadelphia Eagles (also see next 11 paragraphs below). At the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1960 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating: Milt Plum, Browns. Passing Yards and TD Passes: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Rushing Yards: Jim Brown, Browns. Yards from Scrimmage: John David Crow, Cardinals. Receiving Yards: Raymond Berry, Colts. Total TDs [tied]: Paul Hornung, Packers & Sonny Randle, Cardinals.

    The Philadelphia Eagles were champions in 1960, beating the Green Bay Packers 17-13.

The 1960 NFL Championship Game featured two teams that had won multiple championships in the past. The Packers had won 6 NFL titles at this point (1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944). The Eagles had won 2 NFL titles at this point (1948 and ’49). But both teams had sunk into mediocrity through the 1950s, and both teams had sunk so low as to have been last-place-finishers two seasons earlier, in 1958.

The Packers were coached by second-year head coach Vince Lombardi, who at this point in time was a little-known former offensive coach of the New York Giants. When Lombardi arrived in Green Bay before the start of the 1959 season, the Packers had come off of their worst-ever record in ’58 (1-10-1); Lombardi turned the Packers in ’59 into a 7-5 team. And then the Packers won the West in 1960, with an 8-4 record, finishing one game ahead of the Lions and the 49ers.

The Eagles’ head coach was former San Francisco 49ers head coach Buck Shaw, who had totally re-built the Eagles in a 3-season-span, taking them from 2-9-1 in ’58, to 7-5 in ’59, to a league-best 10-2 in 1960. The Eagles clinched the East in 1960 in week 10 (with 2 games to spare). Buck Shaw was 61 years old, and would retire following the 1960 title game.

The Packers featured a group of players who would go on to further glory (and later induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame), but were relatively unknown at this time…QB Bart Starr, HB/K Paul Hornung, FB Jim Taylor, MLB Ray Nitschke. The Eagles featured 34-year-old QB/P Norm Van Brocklin, who had been part of the 1951 NFL-title-winning Los Angeles Rams, and who had the second-best passing numbers in 1960, behind only Johnny Unitas of the Colts. Van Brocklin had the option to call his own plays, and coach Shaw deferred to him with respect to strategy. Van Brocklin’s main target was the diminutive speedster Tommy McDonald (Flanker). The anchor of the Eagles was two-way player Chuck Bednarik, who was a starter at Center, and was also a much feared and hard-hitting Linebacker. Bednarik, who was 35 at the time, would, amazingly, end up playing 58 of the 60 minutes of the 1960 title game. (Van Brocklin, McDonald and Bednarik, as well as backup-QB sonny Jurgenen, would all later be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.)

Back then, the NFL rotated the title game between Eastern and Western champions’ venues. So the 1960 NFL Championship Game was slated to be hosted by the Eastern Conference champions, which meant that the Philadelphia Eagles would host the game at their venue, Franklin Field. Because Christmas fell on a Sunday that year, and because the league did not want to play the game on that big holiday, the game was scheduled for the 26th of December. Franklin Field, which was (and still is) owned by the University of Pennsylvania, had no lighting back then, so the game-time was moved forward to 12 noon, in order to avoid a twilight-gloom if the game went into overtime (as the 1958 NFL title game did). Game-time conditions were less than ideal: although it was a relatively mild 48 °F (9 °C), the field was a thawed frozen surface with scattered puddles, and it became muddy as the game wore on. The Packers, despite being the visiting team, and despite having a worse record than the Eagles, were a 2-to-3-point favorite. On hand was a crowd that numbered considerably more than the venue’s full-capacity (of 60,000)…portable bleachers, seating around 7,000, were installed around the stadium track, and the attendance was 67,325. But still, a local television blackout was enforced (why?), forcing many Eagles fans to drive to New Jersey or to Baltimore to watch the game.

1st Quarter: the Eagles give the ball up twice, deep in their end of the field, but escape with only a 3-point deficit…On the first play after the opening kick-off, Norm Van Brocklin’s deflected lateral was recovered by Packers DE Bill Quinlan, giving the Packers the ball on the Eagle 14. But the Eagles defense held firm: Lombardi went for it on 4th-and-2 from the 6 yard-line, and Chuck Bednarik smothered Packers RB Jim Taylor. The Eagles had the ball now, deep in their own end, but 3 plays later they turned it over again: a fumble was recovered by Packers LB Bill Forester, on the 22-yard line of Philadelphia. However, the Eagles D only gave up one first down, and after 5 plays, Lombadi elected to go for 3 points on 4th down this time, and Paul Hornung converted a 20-yard FG. Then the Eagles and the Packers traded punts; then the Eagles punted again. Then the Packers were driving into Eagles’ territory as the 1st quarter ended…Green Bay 3, Philadelphia 0.

2nd Quarter: an early-2nd-quarter FG by the Packers is answered with 10 points by the Eagles…The Packers’ drive stalled on the 17-yard line, and Hornung made it 6-0, with a 24-yard FG. Then the Eagles and the Packers traded punts. Then the Eagles finally started moving the ball, and scored a lightning-quick TD, after a pair of passes from Van Brocklin to Tommy McDonald (of 22 yards and 35 yards respectively). On the 35-yard-TD-pass, McDonald was knocked out of bounds after crossing the goal-line, right into the first row of the temporary bleachers. It was now 7-6, Eagles. Then the Packers went 3-and-out. The Eagles got the punt on their 26, and then Van Brocklin, now gaining confidence, threw a 41-yard completion to Split-End Pete Retzlaff, who made a fine over-the-head grab, this despite double coverage. Philly got to the Green Bay 8, but after 3 incompletions, they opted to kick, and Eagles K Bobby Walston converted a 15-yard FG. Then, with 3 minutes left in the first half, the Packers drove down the field, but once again failed to score from within the 20-yard-line, this time due to an errant Paul Hornung 17-yard FG-attempt that went wide-left…at Halftime, 10-6, Eagles.

3rd Quarter: no scoring…There were two crucial plays in the 3rd quarter. The first happened with the Packers on the Eagle 26, and driving once again. Paul Hornung was on a sweep; Hornung cut back, and was flattened by Chuck Bednarik and finished off by CB Tom Brookshier. The play put Paul Hornung out of the game (except for his kicking duties), and the pinched-nerve injury that resulted would plague Hornung for the rest of his career. This Packers drive failed (once again), when Jim Taylor was stopped by Bednarik on a 4th-and-2, inches short of the first down marker at the Eagle 24. Then the Eagles put together a drive that came up short when Van Brocklin was intercepted in the end-zone by Packers DB John Symank. Then the Packers went three-and-out. Then the second crucial play of the 3rd quarter occurred: in punt-formation, Green Bay WR/P Max McGee (who had noticed that Philly was not rushing the punter that day) faked the punt and ran up-field, untouched, for a 35-yard gain. The 3rd quarter ended with the Packers driving, at the Eagle 24, after a 14-yard pass play from Bart Starr to WR Gary Knafelc…with the score after 3 quarters: 10-6, Eagles.

4th Quarter: Packers regain the lead, but the Eagles drive to a late TD, and then hold the Packers as time runs out…As the 4th quarter began, the Packers finally found the end zone. From the Eagle 24, Green Bay moved 17 yards via three Jim Taylor runs and an 8-yard run by HB Tom Moore. Then Bart Starr connected with Max McGee for a TD, on a 7-yard slant-play. The Packers, who had gained significantly more first downs and yards throughout the game, reclaimed the lead, 13-10, with 13 minutes left. But the Packers were immediately on their back foot again. Because on the ensuing kickoff, Eagles rookie RB/KR Ted Dean ran it back 58 yards to the Packer 49. Van Brocklin drove the Eagles toward the Packer goal line, but passed the ball only once: 7 plays and a defensive holding found the Eagles on the Packer 5. Then the Greater Philadelphia-born Ted Dean made another huge play, with a five-yard TD run, on a sweep that was led by a key block from Guard Gerry Huth {see a photo of this title-winning play, in the illustration below}. The Eagles had reclaimed the lead (at 17-13), with 5:21 left in the game. The two teams then traded punts (again). Then the Packers got the ball on their 35 with just 1:05 left. They drove deep into Philadelphia territory, to the Eagle 22. With seconds to play (and no time-outs), Starr threw a short pass to Jim Taylor, who got past two defenders to the 8 before Bednarik and DB Bobby Jackson stopped him. Taylor tried to get to his feet, but Bednarik sat on him until time expired; then Chuck Bednarik said, “You can get up now, Jim, this game is over.”

The 1960 NFL title win was the Philadelphia Eagles’ last NFL title until the 2017 season, when the Eagles upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII [52]. As of 2017, the Green Bay Packers would go on to win 7 more NFL titles, including 5 NFL titles in the 1960s alone (among them, the first two Super Bowl titles). The 1960 NFL title game was Vince Lombardi’s only playoff loss in his entire head-coaching-career, a loss he learned something from. He later rued the missed points from chip-shot Field Goals he forsook, saying: “When you get down there, come out with something. I lost the game, not my players.” {-Quote from When Pride Still Mattered, by David Maraniss, via this Jan. 2011 article by Jeré Longman, Eagles’ 1960 Victory Was an N.F.L. Turning Point (nytimes.com/sports).}

Below: 1960 NFL title game: Philadelphia Eagles 17, Green Bay Packers 13.
philadelphia-eagle_1960-nfl-champs_eagles-beat-packers_17-13_franklin-field_norm-van-brocklin_chuck-bednarik_ted-dean_buck-shaw_i_.gif
Photo and Image credits above -
1960 Eagles and Packers helmets, illustrations by gridiron-uniforms.com/[1960]. Ticket from 1960 NFL title game, photo from pinterest.com. Franklin Field [view from top of the stands at 1960 title game], photo by AP via philadelphiaeagles.com. Pacers & Eagles captains shake hands after coin toss, photo by Philadelphia Eagles via courierpostonline.com. Norm Van Brocklin handing off to Bill Barnes (action from the 1st quarter), photo by Neil Leifer/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Chuck Bednarik making a tackle, photo by AP/colorization by John Turney at nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com. Rookie HB Ted Dean (#35) scoring the winning TD, a 5-yard run off a block from OG Gerry Huth (#65), photo by AP via nytimes.com/sports. Chuck Bednarik with Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor after 1960 NFL title game, photo by George Silk/Life magazine via flickriver.com. Bednarik, Van Brocklin and Ted Dean celebrate in the locker room with coach Shaw, photo unattributed at packershistory.net.

1960 Philadelphia Eagles: 3 All-Pro players; plus 4 from the ’60 Eagles that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1960 AP, 1st team.
-Norm Van Brocklin: 1960 All-Pro (QB/P), and 1960 MVL (AP); Van Brocklin was inducted to the HoF in 1971.
-Tom Brookshier: 1960 All-Pro (CB).
-Chuck Bednarik: 1960 All-Pro (LB/C); Bednarik was inducted to the HoF in 1967.
-Sonny Jurgensen: (QB) inducted to the HoF in 1983.
-Tommy McDonald (WR): inducted to the HoF in 1998.

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1960 NFL…
1960: new helmet-logos (Cowboys & Cardinals)…
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1961 NFL teams’ uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database

-Expansion team (1960 Dallas Cowboys): the Dallas Cowboys wore white helmets their first 3 seasons. (The Cowboys’ distinctive blueish-silver helmet color, and pants color, were not introduced until 1964). The white helmet featured a large, plain dark-royal-blue star, and two thin dark-royal-blue center-stripes. The jerseys had contrasting shoulder-pad sections, with a large star at the top of each shoulder. {1960-63 era Cowboys: Eddie LeBarron and Don Mererdith (tailgatingjerseys.com).} {1960 Dallas Cowboys (gridiron-uniforms.com).}
dallas-cowboys_1963_1964_helmet_b_.gif

-Re-located team: in 1960, the St. Louis Cardinals, having just moved from Chicago to St. Louis, MO, introduced a helmet logo on their white helmets. The logo was a large frowning head of a cardinal (in deep red, with black around the cardinal’s eye, and a yellow beak), with the cardinal’s crest elongated so that, from the back of the helmet, the cardinals’ crests almost touch (you can see that in the link below). In a slightly altered form [2005], this logo remains to this day. Here is a photo of the original frowning-cardinal Cardinals helmet {Ken Grey game-worn 1960 helmet {helmet-hut.com)}. This helmet design is, in my opinion, one of the best ever seen in gridiron football. Especially as the years went by, and more and more NFL teams jumped on the colored-facemask-bandwagon, yet the Cardinals organization decided to keep the grey facemask. The re-design in 2005 made the cardinal more angry-looking in a cartoon-ish way {Cardinals helmet logos (sportslogos.net)} {Cardinals in huddle from 2009 (espn.com/blog)}. But at least the Cardinals kept the grey facemask.
st-louis-cardinals_arizona-cardinals_helmet_1960_2005_d_.gif

Other uniform-changes in the 1960 NFL…
-In 1960, the Philadelphia Eagles switched from silver pants to white pants. {1960 Philadelphia Eagles (gridiron-uniforms.com).}
-In 1960, the San Francisco 49ers added a some center-striping to their silver helmets: three red stripes (a thick stripe flanked by two thin stripes). {Photos, circa 1960-62, of San Francisco 49ers players (twitter.com/helmetaddict).} (The Niners would introduce a helmet-logo in 1962, and would switch from silver helmets and pants, to gold helmets and pants, in 1964.)

The following season of 1961 saw three more NFL teams adopt helmet-logos: in 1961 the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants would introduce helmet-logos, and the expansion-team the Minnesota Vikings would also sport a helmet-logo. So by 1961, of the 14 NFL teams, only four would not be wearing helmet-logos: the Browns, the Steelers, the Bears, and the 49ers. And in the following season of 1962, three of those teams would introduce helmet-logos, leaving only the Browns without a helmet-logo.
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Eagles players on map page,
1960 Eagles uniforms, illustrations by Gridiron Uniforms database at gridiron-uniforms.com/[1960]. Circa 1958 Eagles helmet, photo by Heritage Auctions at ha.com. Circa 1960 Eagles pennant, photo from insidetheparkcollectibles.com. Tommy McDonald [photo circa 1961], photo by Neil Leifer via si.com. Pete Retzlaff [photo circa 1960], photo unattributed at prod.static.eagles.clubs.nfl.com. Ted Dean [1961 Fleer card], from amazon.com. Norm Van Brocklin [photo from Sports Illustrated, Dec. 19 1960], photo unattributed at sacrificefly.blogspot.com. Chuck Bednarik [1961 Fleer trading card], from kronozio.com/1961-Fleer-Chuck-Bednarik. Chuck Bednarik [photo from 1960], photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images via si.com. Tom Brookshier [photo circa 1959], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Marion Campbell [1960 Topps card], unattributed at pinterest.com. Sonny Jurgensen [photo circa 1961], photo unattributed at pinterest.com.

Offensive stats leaders on map page,
Milt Plum, 1961 Fleer card, from tradingcarddb.com. Johnny Unitas [photo circa 1964], photo by Focus In Sports/Getty Imgaes via pinterest.com. Jim Brown [photo from 1960], photo unattributed at jimbrown.clevelandbrowns.com. John David Crow [photo from 1962], photo by Neil Leifer/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Raymond Berry [photo circa 1962], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Sonny Randle [photo circa 1962], photo unattributed at fs64sports.blogspot.com. Paul Hornung, photo by Neil Leifer/Getrty Images via gettyimages.com.
___
Thanks to…
-Blank map by anonymous US federal government employee, at File:StatesU.svg (commons.wikimedia.org).
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1960 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

May 28, 2018

NFL 1959 season, map with helmets & final standings & top offensive players + 1959 NFL attendance data. / 1959 NFL Champions: Baltimore Colts.

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NFL 1959 season, map with helmets & final standings & attendance data




By Bill Turianski on 28 May 2018. twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1959 NFL season.
-1959 Baltimore Colts season (en.wikipedia.org).
-1959 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1959 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1959] (gridiron-uniforms.com).

The map… The map, done in the style of late-1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1959. (Note: this map includes the newly-incorporated states of Alaska and Hawaii, both of which were granted statehood in 1959.) Final standings for the 1959 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. Home helmets and jerseys are shown alongside the standings. There also is a small section devoted to 1959 NFL attendance data. At the top-right of the map is a section devoted to the 1959 NFL champions, the Baltimore Colts (also see the next 8 paragraphs, and the illustration, below). At the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1959 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating: Charley Conerly, Giants. Passing Yards and TD Passes: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Rushing Yards and Rushing TDs & Total Yards from Scrimmage and Total TDs [tied]: Jim Brown, Browns. Receiving Yards & Receiving TDs and Total TDs [tied]: Raymond Berry, Colts.

    In a re-match of the 1958 NFL title game, the 1959 Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants (again).

The Colts were the reigning champions, but they had a hard time of it to win the Western Conference in ’59. They had to gain 2 games over San Francisco, and did so, late in the season, with two wins over the 49ers, and the Colts ended up at 9-3, one game above the Bears. The Giants, however, won the Eastern Conference easily, clinching in week 10, and the Giants had the best record in the league in 1959, at 10-2. The New York Giants also had the best defense in ’59, allowing only 14.1 points per game (170 PA), and the Giants also had the second-best offense (with 284 PF). Meanwhile, the Colts were the most potent offensive threat by far (374 PF), averaging 34.1 points. As to the Colts’ defense…well, on paper, the Colts’ D was only ranked 6th-best in terms of points allowed that season (251 PA); nevertheless, the Colts had the most interceptions by far (40, which was 18 more than any other team). And in the end, it was the Colts’ swarming defense, and particularly their ability to pick the ball off, that would decide the 1959 NFL title game.

Because of the NFL’s rotating-home-venue-for-title-game rule back then, the Western Conference was slated to host the 1959 title game, so that meant Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium would host the event, which was on Sunday December 27, 1959. A full-capacity-crowd (57,545) was on hand: the game had been sold out the day after the Colts won the Western Conference championship. Odds-makers were “ambivalent”: Colts by 3 1/2 in Baltimore, Giants by 3 1/2 in New York City. Game-time conditions were mild: 51°F with a slight breeze.

The Colts scored early in the 1st quarter, with a 60 yard pass play from Johnny Unitas to HB Lenny Moore. But then the formidable Giants defense shut the Colts down for the remainder of the first half, and deep into the 2nd half as well. Yet meanwhile, the Colts defense was containing the Giants, and the much-vaunted New York offense could only muster 9 points (off of 3 Pat Summerall FGs). So, midway through the 3rd quarter, the Giants held a slight lead, at 9-7.

Then, late in the 3rd quarter, the game turned on a 4th-and-1 play. The Giants had the ball on the Colts’ 27, which would have been a relatively easy 34-yard FG attempt. However, with their narrow 2-point lead, the Giants decided to go for it, and ran a running play. FB Alex Webster was stopped cold for a 1-yard loss by Colts DT Ray Krouse. The Memorial Stadium crowd erupted, and the momentum was shifting.

Then the Colts answered with 24 points, starting with a swift march down the field that culminated in a 4-yard Johnny Unitas option-rush-TD. The Colts led 14-9 at this point, with 12 minutes to go. Both offenses were then held to 3-plays-and-a-punt. Then, in 3 consecutive possessions, the Giants turned the ball over, via interceptions. The first of the 3 turnovers occurred with the Giants back on their 7-yard line: New York QB Charley Conerly’s pass was picked off at midfield by Colts All-Pro DB Andy Nelson, and Nelson returned it to the Giants’ 15. Two plays later, Unitas used a misdirection-play to connect with TE Jerry Richardson at the 8, and Richardson reached the end zone, and it was now 21-9 Colts.

Then the Giants made another turnover: Conerly’s 3rd-and-eight pass was intercepted by Colts DB Johnny Sample, who streaked 45 yards to a TD, and it was now 28-9 for the Colts. And then three minutes later, with New York at the 50 yard line but even more desperate, Johnny Sample made another interception, this time off of a Frank Gifford halfback-option. Sample returned the pick-off 24 yards, to the Giants’ 26. A few plays later, Colts K Steve Myhra made it 31-9, with a 25-yard FG. It was much too late in the game for New York to mount a serious comeback, although the Giants did drive for a late TD. That made it 31-16, and that was the final score.

And so the small-market Baltimore Colts had defeated the big-city Giants for the second straight year. Johnny Unitas had an MVP-worthy 18-for-29/264 yds/2 TD/0 Interceptions performance, and HB Lenny Moore had 124 yds from scrimmage and a TD. The Colts faithful stormed the field after the final whistle, and had a celebratory goal-post-razing. And then the joyful mob swiped every memento they could get their hands on, including DT Gino Marchetti’s helmet, the sideline benches, and even the iron goal posts themselves (which were smuggled out of the stadium, and later cut into mantle-piece-worthy trophies). Colts DE Art Donovan, who would go on to have a second career as a raconteur and an in-demand late-night talk-show guest, quipped, “Isn’t it great? The Giants shot their mouths off all week. But we played the football.”

But due to the epic battle that was the 1958 NFL title game [aka the Greatest Game Ever Played], the re-match in ’59 (and the repeat Colts’ victory), was fated to be a barely remembered thing (see a 2009 article from the Baltimore Sun for more on that, below).
-The greatest game nobody remembers (Mike Klingaman at baltimoresun.com).
baltimore-colts_1959-nfl_championship-game_colts-31_giants16_memorial-stadium_c_
Photo and Image credits above- 1959 NFL title game program, photo unattributed at goldenrankings.com/nflchampionshipgame1959. Aerial shot of Colts v Washington at Memorial Stadium [photo circa 1960], photo by Robert F. Kniesche attributed (for once) at pinterest.com/[Colts v Washington]. Unitas in pocket under pressure, photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images via gettyimages.fr. Conerly pursued by Marchetti and Donovan, color-tinted photo unattributed at gatorrick15.wixsite.com. Johnny Sample, 2nd interception, photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Colts fans’ celebratory goal-post-razing, photo by AP via si.com. Colts’ ’58/’59 champions logo, image from ebay.com.

1959 Baltimore Colts: 7 All-Pro players; plus 6 from the ’59 Colts that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1959 AP, 1st team. -Johnny Unitas: 1959 All-Pro (QB), and 1959 MVL (AP & UPI & Bert Bell Trophy); Unitas was inducted to the HoF in 1979. -Gino Marchetti: 1959 All-Pro (DE); Marchetti was inducted to the HoF in 1972. -Jim Parker: 1959 All-Pro (OT); Parker was inducted to the HoF in 1973. -Raymond Berry: 1959 All-Pro (WR); Berry was inducted to the HoF in 1973. -Lenny Moore: 1959 All-Pro (HB); Moore was inducted to the HoF in 1975. -Gene Lipscomb: 1959 All-Pro (DT). -Andy Nelson: 1959 All-Pro (S). -Art Donovan: (DT) inducted to the HoF in 1968. -Weeb Ewbank: (Head coach of Colts from 1954-62); Ewbank was inducted to the HoF in 1978.

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1959 NFL… There were very few uniform changes in the 1959 NFL (see Packers and 49ers sections below). However, it would be a different matter in the next few seasons, as more teams finally introduced helmet logos. But as of 1959, just 4 teams wore helmet logos (Rams, Eagles, Colts, Washington). 1959 was the third year that the NFL had mandated that all home teams were to wear their dark jersey, and all road teams were to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey. This was to ensure that television viewers watching NFL games on black-and-white TVs would not have trouble differentiating between the two teams (because in the past, both teams often ended up wearing a dark-colored jersey). This rule would last 7 seasons (1957-63). Then in 1964, teams were given the option of wearing their white jerseys at home; that rule exists to this day.

-In 1959, the Green Bay Packers, now under the leadership of new head coach Vince Lombardi, introduced new uniforms, the template of which has remained the Packers’ signature look to this day. Gone were the white helmets that had been part of the Packers’ uniforms for the previous three seasons, and gone was any navy blue, and also gone was the dark-bluish-forest-green color the Packers had toyed with in the 1956-58 time period {see my 1958 NFL post for more on that/scroll down to ’58 uniforms section there}. While the Packers had worn kelley-green in the late-1940s-to-mid-1950s time period, starting in 1959 the green was now plain-dark-green. The gold was still yellow/orange, and that would be the Packers’ helmet color once again. The helmet featured a dark-green/white/dark-green center-striping. But the new Packers helmet was otherwise blank…the Packers’ now-iconic football-shaped-G logo would not be introduced until 2 years later, in 1961. {1959 Packers uniforms (gridiron-uniforms.com).} The Packers experimented with dark-green facemasks during this time, but abandoned it, probably because the green paint was prone to easily flake off, as you can see in the following post from the excellent packersuniforms.blogspot.com. (Note: The Baltimore Colts also experimented with a colored facemask in this era [a dark-blue facemask]. But the first team-wide introduction of colored facemasks did not occur until 15 years later, when the Chargers got Riddell to embed the color (yellow) into the rubberized coating of the facemask. {See this article by Paul Lukas at espn.com, Uni Watch’s Friday Flashback: How the Chargers started the colored face mask revolution.})

Green Bay Packers helmet history –
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Green Bay Packers Helmet History
Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/packers.

-In 1959, the San Francisco 49ers switched, yet again, from gold to silver helmets (plain silver helmets). The 49ers switched from gold to silver pants as well in ’59. And the Niners also slightly changed the detailing on their white jerseys, introducing a second arced shoulder stripe (similar to the striping on the Colts’ jerseys {1959 49ers uniforms}. All this chopping and changing was blurring the 49ers visual identity during this era. The 49ers of the 1952 to 1964 time period could not make up their mind what their look should be, switching their helmet color 5 times in a 13-year-span…from silver to red to white to gold to silver to gold. {You can see that in Gridiron Uniforms Database’s SF 49ers page.}

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Photo and Image credits on map page…
Colts… Colts’ Raymond Berry-style helmet w/ butterfly-facemask [reproduction of helmet from 1960-63 era], from ebay.com. Johnny Unitas [photo from 1958 title game], photo by Neil Leifer at neilleifer.com. Jim Parker, [photo circa 1960], photo unattributed at profootballhof.com. Raymond Berry [photo from 1960 v Eagles]], photo by Focus on Sports/Getty Images via gettyimages.com. Retro Colts logo from ebay.com. Gino Marchetti [photo circa 1960], photo unattributed at forum.russellstreetreport.com/[Baltimore football greats...]. Andy Nelson [photo from 1959 title game], photo unattributed at sportsecyclopedia.com/[Baltimore Colts]. Jim Mutschellar [photo circa 1960], photo by Baltimore Sun at baltimoresun.com. Art Donovan [photo circa 1958], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Lenny Moore [photo from 1958], photo by Robert Riger/Getty Images at gettyimages.com/robert-riger-archive. Gene Lipscomb [photo from 1959], photo by John G. Zimmerman/Getty Images at gettyimages.com.

1959 Offensive stats leaders…
Charley Conerly [photo from 1959], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com. Johnny Unitas [photo from 1959], photo from Complete Pro Sports Illustrated magazine via nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com/[Johnny Unitas feature]. Jim Brown [1959 Topps card], from sportsviews.com. Raymond Berry [photo from 1963], photo by Walter Iooss, Jr/Getty Images via gettyimages.com.

Map was drawn with assistance from images at this link… worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1959 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

January 30, 2018

NFL 1958 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Baltimore Colts./+ 1958 NFL attendance data & info on 1958 NFL teams’ uniforms.

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NFL 1958 season, map with helmets and final standings; champions: Baltimore Colts./+ 1958 NFL attendance data



By Bill Turianski on 30 January, 2018; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1958 NFL season
-1958 NFL Championship Game (en.wikipedia.org).
-1958 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1958 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1958] (gridiron-uniforms.com).

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1958. Final standings for the 1958 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map page. Home helmets and jerseys are shown alongside the standings. At the lower-right-corner of the map page there is a small section devoted to 1958 NFL attendance data (also see attendance section further below). At the top-right of the map page is a section devoted to the 1958 NFL champions, the Baltimore Colts (also see next 12 paragraphs and the illustration below). And at the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1958 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating and TD Passes: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Passing Yards: Billy Wade, Rams. Rushing Yards and Rushing TDs and Total Yards from Scrimmage and Total TDs: Jim Brown, Browns. Receiving Yards: Del Shofner, Rams.

    Johnny Unitas led the 6-year-old Colts to the 1958 NFL title, over the NY Giants 23-17 (first-ever OT game)

Johnny Unitas, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, was a Pittsburgh-born graduate of Louisville University. At college, he played the dual role of QB and Safety for the Redbirds. Unitas had been a 9th round selection by his hometown team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 1955. But Unitas was cut by the Steelers in the ’55 preseason, with Steelers coach Walt Kiesling under the impression that Unitas was not smart enough to run an NFL offense, even though Kiesling (duh) never even let Unitas take one snap during the entire preseason. So Unitas worked in construction jobs in Pittsburgh in the latter half of 1955, to support his family, and he played semi-pro football for 6 bucks a game.

In the following year of 1956, Unitas got a second chance, when, after a successful tryout, Weeb Ewbank and the then-4-year old Baltimore Colts signed him. A few games into the ’56 season, backup-QB Unitas got his shot, when starting QB George Shaw was injured in the 4th game; and in 1956 the Colts finished 5-7. The next year, 1957, with Unitas now the starting QB, the Colts went 7-5…this was the team’s first winning season. And 1957 was also the first time the Colts drew above 40 K per game (attendance in ’57 for the Colts increased by 6.9 K, to 46 thousand per game). In the following season of 1958, the Colts shot out of the gate, winning their first 4, and the fans continued to flock to Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. The Colts saw an eye-popping 16.9-K-increase in crowd-size, to 53.6 K (which was an impressive 93 percent-capacity), at the 57.5-K-venue [which they shared with MLB's Baltimore Orioles]. The Baltimore Colts (a small-market team) had the third-best attendance in the NFL in 1958 (see attendance section on the map-page, as well as the league-attendance section further below).

So in 1958, the Colts won the Western Conference, going 9-3. The Colts had the league’s most potent offense, averaging 31.75 points per game. Unitas led the league in passing yardage and passing TDs (2,007 yards and 19 TDs). Unitas’ three main targets in ’58 were Hall Of Famers Lenny Moore (HB) and Raymond Berry (End/WR), as well as Jim Mutschellar (TE). Lenny Moore, who was a running back and not a wide receiver, gained a league-second-best 938 yards receiving, while Raymond Berry gained 724 yards receiving (which was the 4th-best that season), and TE Jim Mutschellar gained 504 yards receiving. The Colts ground game was spearheaded by FB Alan Ameche and HB Lenny Moore: Ameche gained a league-2nd-best 791 yards (second only to MVP Jim Brown of the Browns), while Moore ran for 598 yards. And Lenny Moore also had a league-best 1,536 yards from scrimmage. So, the Colts offense was dominant in ’58, and the Colts defense was second-best in that year (behind only the Giants). The Colts’ front four featured two future Hall of Famers: DE Gino Marchetti, and DT Art Donovan. And the Colts had the most prolific secondary that season, with 35 interceptions (including 8 pick-offs by both Ray Brown and Andy Nelson, and 7 by Carl Taseff). The dominance that the Colts had in the NFL Western Conference in 1958 can be seen in the fact that the Colts had the league’s best point-differential by far: +178 pd (which was almost triple the Giants’ pd, of +63).

The Colts had clinched the NFL Western Conference title in the 10th week, and thus, crucially, were able to keep key players rested on the bench for their last 2 regular-season games (which they lost). The Colts won the West by a game, over the 8-4 Chicago Bears and the 8-4 LA Rams. That meant the Colts would face the Eastern Conference champs, the 9-3 New York Giants, who featured a tough defense led by DE Andy Robustelli and LB Sam Huff, and a potent offense featuring the wily 37-year-old-veteran QB Charlie Conerly, star Halfback/End Frank Gifford (the 1956 league MVP), and Flanker Kyle Rote.

But, to get to the 1958 title game, the Giants had to play an extra game – an Eastern Conference tiebreaker – versus the Cleveland Browns, and New York had beaten Cleveland 10-0, a week before the Championship game. So the Colts players were much more rested than the Giants players. The Giants had won the title 2 seasons before (in 1956), 47-7 over the Bears, on a frozen surface at Yankee Stadium. Two years later, for this Giants versus Colts title game of 1958, game-time conditions were much better: 44ºF (7ºC) and dry, with virtually no wind. About 20,000 Colts fans from the Baltimore-area had made the trip up to Yankee Stadium for the game, by car, bus, and specially organized trains. There was a full-capacity crowd of 64,185 on hand at Yankee Stadium. The Colts were 3.5 point favorites (probably due to both the Colts’ offensive capabilities, as well as the Colts being the more rested squad).

Because of the sheer excitement that the closely-fought game caused, and because it was the first NFL championship game to be broadcast nationally on television (on NBC, to an estimated audience of 10.8 million homes), and because of its pivotal timing in the late 1950s (just as the medium of television had begun to broadcast pro sports nation-wide), the Colts versus the Giants in the 1958 NFL title game came to be known as The Greatest Game Ever Played. From youtube.com, ‘The Greatest Game Ever: 1958 NFL Championship‘ (5:33 video uploaded by vslice02 at youtube.com).

The 1958 NFL title game was the first NFL game, play-off or otherwise, that went to sudden-death overtime. It featured two hard-nosed teams with offenses that had the capability to move the ball down the field with lightning-quick efficiency. The Giants were coached by Arkansas graduate Jim Lee Howell, who coached the Giants from 1954 to 1960. Howell’s two main assistant coaches are both in the Pro Footballl Hall of Fame – the Giants’ defensive coach in 1958 was future Cowboys’ head coach Tom Landry (whom Howell had converted from a Giants LB to defensive coordinator 2 years previous in 1956); the Giants’ offensive coach in 1958 was future Packers’ head coach and football demi-god Vince Lombardi (whom Howell had hired from West Point, where Lombardi was Army’s offensive line coach 4 years previous in 1954). The Colts were coached by Weeb Ewbank, who had got his pro coaching start under Paul Brown at Cleveland, and was hired as the Colts’ head coach in their second season (in 1954). Ewbank gave the Colts an unusual pre-game talk… “Not known for emotional speeches, Weeb gave one to his men before the game, reminding them of how they were unwanted by other teams. ‘Unitas, Pittsburgh didn’t want you. We got you for a 75-cent phone call. Lipscomb, the Rams got rid of you. We got you for a hundred bucks. Berry? One leg shorter than the other, with bad eyesight to boot. … So you should win this game for yourselves’…” {-Excerpt from goldenrankings.com/[1958 NFL Championship Game]).

The Giants/Colts 1958 title game had multiple big plays, swift scoring drives, and changes in momentum – the biggest when, in the 3rd quarter with the Colts leading 14-3, the Giants stopped Baltimore on a fourth-and-goal-to-go on the 1 yard-line, for a 4-yard-loss (see color photo in the illustration below, where Unitas is about to hand off to Alan Ameche for that 4-yard-loss). Then the Giants went 95 yards for a TD in 4 plays. That drive was highlighted by a 86-yard pass play from deep within the Giants’ own territory: QB Charlie Conerly threw to WR Kyle Rote downfield left-to-right across the middle. Rote broke a tackle at mid-field, but then he fumbled when hit from behind at the Colts’ 25…Giants RB Alex Webster, who was trailing the play, recovered the fumble and ran it all the way to the 1-yard line. RB Mel Triplett then scored on a 1-yard TD run, and the Giants were back in it, now behind by only 4 points, at 14-10. The Giants then went ahead 17-14 early in the 4th quarter – Conerly’s 46-yard completion to TE Bob Schnelker set up his 15-yard TD pass to Frank Gifford.

In the dying minutes of the 4th quarter, the Colts took over with 1:58 to go, at their own 14-yard line (after a Giants punt). Unitas then put together one of the most famous drives in football history. After two incomplete passes, Unitas made a clutch 11-yard completion to Lenny Moore on third down. After one more incompletion, Unitas threw three straight passes to Raymond Berry, moving the ball 62 more yards, to the Giants’ 13-yard line (Berry had 12 receptions for 178 yds, the most yards from scrimmage in the game, and an NFL title game record.) A 20-yard FG by K Steve Myhra with 7 seconds left sent the game into sudden-death overtime…the first overtime game in NFL history. In OT, the Giants won the toss but failed in their first possession. Then Unitas and Baltimore drove 80 yards on 13 plays on the tired New York defense, and, aided by a key block at the goal line by TE Jim Multschellar, the Colts scored on a 1 yard TD by Alan Ameche, to win the game 23-17. Here is something that has went a little bit forgotten amidst all the hoopla surrounding this game…Johnny Unitas had called all 13 plays of the winning drive.

The 1958 NFL title game became known as The Greatest Game Ever Played…
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Photo and Image credits above -
Illustrations of Colts and Giants 1958 helmets from gridiron-uniforms.com/[1958]. Game program, unattributed at goldenrankings.com. Screenshot of video [Yankee Stadium, exterior shot], image from video uploaded by NFL at youtube.com, ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’ 1958 NFL Championship: Colts vs. Giants. Photo of Unitas in pocket, photo unattributed at chatsports.com. Raymond Berry diving catch in ’58 title game, photo by Hy Peskin/Getty Images at gettyimages.com. Screenshot of Giants D about to stop Ameche on 4th-and-goal, unattributed at sportsblogmovement.wordpress.com. Photo of Unitas passing long, late in game, from baltimorepostexaminer.com. Unitas watches after handing off to Alan Ameche (winning TD in OT), photo by Neil Leifer at neilleifer.com. Colts fans carry Ameche off the field as the goal-posts are torn down, photo by Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated via darkroom.baltimoresun.com. Fans carry Ameche off the field, screenshot of video uploaded by NFL at youtube.com.

The broadcast of the game by the NBC television network is credited with growing, almost overnight, the fan interest in the NFL. The 1958 NFL Championship Game marked the start of the popularity-surge for the NFL… a popularity-surge that has not abated to this day. As pro football historian Bob Carroll notes in his book When the Grass Was Real …’The next morning…for the first time in history, the National Football League was the number-one topic at watercoolers from sea to shining sea. Among the oohs over Johnny Unitas’s passes and the ahhs over Sam Huff’s tackles came many plaintive wonderings why “our town” didn’t have its own pro football team.’…{end of excerpt from page 12 of When the Grass Was Real, by Bob Carroll, published in 1993 by Simon and Schuster, available at amazon.com here}.

-Video: The Greatest Game Ever Played – 1958 NFL Championship Highlights – Colts vs Giants (12:31 video [fuzzy color video] uploaded by Savage Brick Sports at youtube.com).
-From Golden Rankings, 1958 NFL Championship Game, Baltimore Colts @ New York Giants [illustrated article in chart form] (goldenrankings.com).

1958 Baltimore Colts: 6 All-Pro players; plus 6 from the ’58 Colts that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1958 AP, 1st team.
-Johnny Unitas: 1958 All-Pro (QB), and 1958 MVL (AP & UPI & Bert Bell Trophy); Unitas was inducted to the HoF in 1979.
-Gino Marchetti: 1958 All-Pro (DE); Marchetti was inducted to the HoF in 1972.
-Jim Parker: 1958 All-Pro (OT); Parker was inducted to the HoF in 1973.
-Raymond Berry: 1958 All-Pro (WR); Berry was inducted to the HoF in 1973.
-Lenny Moore: 1958 All-Pro (HB); Moore was inducted to the HoF in 1975.
-Gene Lipscomb: 1958 All-Pro (DT).
-Art Donovan: (DT) inducted to the HoF in 1968.
-Weeb Ewbank: (Head coach of Colts from 1954-62); Ewbank was inducted to the HoF in 1978.

1958 NFL attendance figures, and notes on stadia.
In 1958, the NFL was in the midst of its steadily-increasing popularity, and broke 3 million total attendance for the second straight year. There were 3,132,346 tickets sold for the 72 regular season games of the 1958 NFL season, making an average attendance of 43,504. The public were being captivated by the NFL, and the turnstiles told the tale: in a 5 year span, the NFL increased its average attendance by a staggering 11.1 thousand per game…in 1954, the NFL averaged 32.4 K; five years later, in 1958, the NFL was averaging 43.5 K.
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Credits above – sources for figures: pro-football-reference.com/years/1958/attendance.htm; packershistory.net/1958PACKERS/GAME9. Helmet icons: gridiron-uniforms.com/[1959]. Chart: billsportsmaps.com.

In 1958, the highest drawing NFL team was, once again, the Los Angeles Rams, who drew an astounding 83.6 thousand per game. Second-best-drawing team was the 9-3 Cleveland Browns (at 67.1 K). The Baltimore Colts drew third-best (at 53.6 K [which was a league-2nd-best 93.1-percent-capacity; only the Packers at their Green Bay venue filled their stadium better]). Two more teams drew above 50-K: the reigning-champs the Detroit Lions (at 53.4 K), and the San Francisco 49ers (at 52.4 K). And two more teams drew in the mid-40-K-range: the New York Giants (45.7 K) and the Chicago Bears (43.9 K). So there you go: in 1958, these were the 7 NFL teams that were drawing big-time crowds…Rams, Browns, Colts, Lions, 49ers, Giants, Bears. Then there was a rather large divide between those 7-high-drawing teams, and the other 5 NFL teams of 1958.

1958 NFL attendance: A chasm of 12-thousand-per-game separated the top 7 draws (see above) and the 5 lower-drawing teams (see below).
Just as the NFL was becoming more popular circa 1958, there were still 5 franchises that were under-performing at the turnstile. Each of these low-drawing NFL teams back then had their own reasons for drawing poorly. The Chicago Cardinals drew so poorly because the team was doomed to being the after-thought-team in the Windy City, thanks to the Bears’ predominance there (and so the Chicago Cardinals moved to St. Louis two years later, in 1960). The Pittsburgh Steelers were just so consistently bad back then (or at best, mediocre), and were bad for so long, that their crowd-sizes were perpetually stuck in the mid-20-K-range. But also, the aging Forbes Field, which the Steelers rented from MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates, was pretty decrepit at this point and had a somewhat small capacity of around 41,000. Washington, like the Steelers, also had to rent from an MLB team and play in an outdated venue; plus, Washington in the late-’50s was in the midst of a 13-year-slump without a winning season, and crowds at Griffith Stadium had plateaued to the point that they were drawing only 1.2 K better than they were eight seasons earlier in 1950 (Washington drew only 25.4 K in ’50; and 8 years later in ’58 they were only drawing slightly better at 26.6 K). So, in an 9-season-span (1950 to ’58), while the NFL as a whole increased its average attendance by over 14 thousand per game, Washington increased their crowds by only twelve-hundred or so per game.

The Packers’ low attendance in 1958 is a complicated issue. First off, one would expect a drop-off in attendance for the Packers in ’58, because 1958 was the absolute worst season the Green Bay Packers ever had (1-10-1). The Packers were the only NFL team that had two venues, and from 1933 to 1994, the Packers played 2 or 3 games each season in Milwaukee (they played 4 games in Green Bay and 2 home games in Milwaukee during the 1958-60 time period). In 1958, the Packers were not able to draw higher than the 29.7 K they averaged that season for two reasons: small capacity in their new venue in Green Bay (City Stadium (II), which opened in 1957), and low attendance in Milwaukee. The Packers’ City Stadium (II) [now called Lambeau Field] only had a capacity of 32,500 back then. In 1958, the Packers had the league’s best percent-capacity figure, that is, for their four Green Bay home games. The Packers played to an average of 30.8 K in their 4 home games in Green Bay (which was a solid 94.8 percent-capacity). But in their two home games in ’58 at Milwaukee County Stadium (which had a much larger capacity of 43.7 K), the Packers drew poorly: 24.5 K v Rams in October and then only 19.7 K v 49ers in late November. The Packers fortunes would improve vastly with the arrival of Vince Lombardi in the following season of 1959, and the team would, um, pack even more fans in their soon-to-be-expanded stadium, and by 1961, the Packers were back to their title-winning ways. And despite being located in the smallest NFL market by far, the Green Bay Packers have been playing to basically-full-capacity ever since then. And after the 1994 season, the Packers’ organization came to the conclusion that, because demand for tickets was so great, they no longer needed to play a few of their games each season in Milwaukee. But as early as 1958, looking at the poor support Milwaukee residents gave the (admittedly bad) ’58 Packers, one could say that the small-town Green Bay Packers could already could stand on their own, without the crutch of a big-city venue.

There was one more team that was drawing significantly below the NFL average of 43-K in 1958, and that was the Philadelphia Eagles (see next two paragraphs).

1958: Philadelphia Eagles move into Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania…
Franklin Field dates back to 1895, with its current structure installed in the 1920s. When the Eagles played there (for 13 seasons, from 1958-70), it had a capacity of 60 thousand. It was, and still is, the home of the Ivy League college football team the Penn Quakers. It was also the home of the annual Army-Navy Game from 1899-1935. As the Stadiums of Pro Football.com site says, “Franklin Field is the answer to a trivia question that even the most dedicated NFL fans might not know. It is the oldest football stadium in the country.” {-Quote from Frankiln Field at stadiumsofprofootball.com.} The Eagles move to Franklin Field was beneficial purely because it was a move from a baseball park to a venue designed for rectilinear sports like gridiron football. The Eagles moved into Franklin Field not as renters (the U. of Penn is a not-for-profit organization), but the Eagles donated about $75-to-100-K per year to stadium upkeep. However, the Eagles were not allowed to profit from sales of food and drink, or from parking fees. So, it was not an ideal set-up, and the Eagles later jumped at the opportunity to move into the city’s new multi-purpose venue, Veterans Stadium, in 1971 (which, of course, was also the home of the Philadelphia Phillies MLB team [from 1971-2003]).

Prior to 1958, the Eagles, like the Steelers and like Washington, had played in an MLB ballpark that was antiquated. Since 1942, the Eagles had played at Connie Mack Stadium [aka Shibe Park], which only had a capacity of around 39,000, unless temporary bleachers were installed (as the Eagles were doing during their dual-championship-era of 1948 and ’49). And, like Pittsburgh and like Washington, the Eagles circa the mid-to-late-1950s were also bad, so this contributed to their small crowds. The Eagles drew worst in the league the year before, in 1957, when, in their last season at Connie Mack Stadium, and as a 4-8 team, they drew only 21.6 K. The next year (1958), with the move over to Franklin Field, the Eagles increased their crowd-size by 7.4-K-per-game (to 29.0 K per game). Their attendance had increased thanks to the venue-change, and despite the fact that Eagles were in a re-building mode and were really bad in ’58 (finishing last in the East, at 2-9-1). The next season of 1959, the Eagles, under aging-but-still-very-effective QB Norm Van Brocklin, vastly improved (to 7-5), and that helped to draw 10-thousand-more per game to Franklin Field (the Eagles drew 39.2 K in ’59). And then in 1960, the Philadelphia Eagles would be NFL champions. These days, the Eagles draw very well and have no attendance issues (well, other than a disproportionate amount of unruly fans).

Helmet and uniforms changes for 1958 NFL…
1958 was the second year that the NFL had mandated that all home teams were to wear their dark jersey, and all road teams were to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey. This was to ensure that television viewers watching NFL games on black-and-white TVs would not have trouble differentiating between the two teams.

Below: Washington’s ‘feather-helmet’ (worn from late 1958 through to 1964; replaced by the feathered-spear helmet)
washington-redskins_1958_feather-helmet_h_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – gridiron-uniforms.com/[Washington 1958]; helmet photos from helmethut.com.

-In 1958, Washington introduced the ‘feather-helmet’, which was worn for the last two games of the season. Washington was the fourth NFL team to introduce a helmet-logo {here are the first three helmet-logos in the NFL}. The feather-helmet was an unusual back-of-the-helmet-oriented logo, of a large feather, in pale-red-and-white, on a brownish-burgandy helmet {1958 Washington}. {Here is a photo from 1960, Washington v Eagles, that shows the feather-helmet from several angles.} The weird feather-logo helmet lasted 7 years, and that was replaced in 1965 by a diagonally-positioned gold-spear-with-feather logo {1965 Redskins uniforms}. Washington’s feather-helmet had the same problem that the original Colts’ horseshoe helmet (of ’54) had…the logo was oriented to the back of the helmet, making it hard to see from the front.

-In 1958, the Chicago Cardinals ditched their alternate red-helmets, wearing only a (plain) white helmet {Cardinals 1958}. The Cards kept the plain white helmet again in ’59, and then upon moving to St. Louis in 1960, introduced their now-iconic frowning-cardinal-head helmet, which in my opinion is one of the best looking helmets ever made {1960 Ken Gray game-worn Cardinals helmet {helmet-hut.com)}.

-In 1958, the Los Angeles Rams ditched their yellow/orange [aka gold] jerseys, which the Rams had worn for some games in every one of their 14 previous seasons (going all the way back to their last year in Cleveland {1945 Cleveland Rams}). {Here is what the Rams looked like in 1957, when they were the only NFL team to sport 3 different jerseys; here were the rather plain 1958 Rams uniforms.} {Here is a photo of Rams HB Frank Arnett from 1958, on the bench during a Rams game at the LA Memorial Coliseum. By the way note, in the background of this photo, the huge crowd at the Coliseum that day; again, this was when the Rams were drawing 83 thousand per game, which was 40 thousand per game more than the league-average.} The Rams have worn yellow/orange jerseys a few times in the modern era {throwback-uniforms in 1994, and an alternate uniform (color rush) in 2014}.

-In 1958, the Green Bay Packers did not wear any gold in their uniforms (no yellow/orange gold or metallic-gold). Green Bay, in ’58, for some strange reason, only wore dark-forest-green-and-white at home, and wore white-and-dark-blue on the road…and their helmet was a plain white helmet with a dark-green center-stripe. This Packers’ alternate helmet-and-color-scheme of white-and-dark-forest-green was worn for parts of 3 seasons (1956, ’57, ’58). Green Bay’s 1958 gear was the only season in the Packers’ history, besides {1922}, when any shade of gold was not in their colors. It was also, coincidentally or not, the Packers’ worst season ever [1-10-1]. {Here are the dreary and eminently forgettable uniforms of the 1958 Green Bay Packers.} {Here is the only color image I could find of this shade of Packers green: photos of Forrest Gregg and Bart Starr from pre-season 1956.} It really is a forgotten period in the history of the Packers. By the way, if you look closely at the ’58 Packers home jersey you can see that the green had a bit of blue in it: a dark-bluish-grey-shade-of-green (ie, forest-green), not the simply-dark-green they have worn since 1959. So, after their strange 3-year-experiment with white helmets and a weird shade of dark-bluish-green, in 1959, with the arrival of coach Vince Lombardi, the Packers began wearing their current color-scheme of gold (yellow-orange) and plain-dark-green. A couple years after that, the Packers’ introduced their football-shaped-G-logo. The Packers’ helmet logo was introduced in 1961…which just so happens to be the year that the Packers started winning NFL titles again.
___
Photo and Image credits on map page…
Baltimore Colts…
Colts’ Raymond Berry-style helmet w/ butterfly-facemask [reproduction of helmet from 1960-63 era], from ebay.com. Johnny Unitas, photo [from commemorative issue of Baltimore Sun, following Unitas' death in 2002], photo unattributed at nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com/[Johnny Unitas feature]. Unitas and Colts offensive line after a snap, Life magazine photo [from 1960], photo unattributed at grayflannelsuit.net/blog. Jim Parker [segment of 1959 Topps card], from ebay.com. Gino Marchetti [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at sportsecyclopedia.com/nfl/[Baltimore Colts]. Raymond Berry [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Gene Lipscomb [photo circa 1959], photo unattributed at helmethut.com. Lenny Moore [photo circa 1959], photo unattributed at nflpastplayers.com/lenny-moore. Art Donovan, photo [from 1958 preseason] by Baltimore Sun at baltimoresun.com. Alan Ameche [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at pinterest.
1958 Offensive stats leaders…
Johhny Unitas (Colts) [photo from 1958 title game], photo unattributed at chatsports.com. Billy Wade (Rams) [1960 Topps card], from footballcardgallery.com. Jim Brown (Browns), [action-photo from 1958 game v Steelers], photo by Diamond Images/Getty Images via gettyimages.co.uk. Del Shofner [photo from 1958 game v Colts], photo by Al Paloczy/The Enthusiast Network/Getty Images at gettyimages.com.

Map was drawn with assistance from images at these links…
48-state-USA/southern Canada, worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
Section of Mexico, as well as coastlines-&-oceans, lib.utexas.edu/maps/hist-us.
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1958 season (en.wikipedia.org).
-Thanks to pro-football-reference.com and to packershistory.net for attendance data from 1958; thanks to Mike at sports-reference.com/feedback for swift reply and correction of Packers’ attendance discrepancy, of 1958 week 9 game, at pro-football-reference.com.
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

December 17, 2017

NFL 1957 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Detroit Lions./+ 1957 NFL attendance data & info on 1957 NFL teams’ uniforms.

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NFL 1957 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: Detroit Lions



By Bill Turianski on 17 December 2017 twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1957 NFL season
-1957 Detroit Lions season (en.wikipedia.org).
-1957 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1957 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1957] (gridiron-uniforms.com).

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1957. Final standings for the 1957 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. Home helmets and jerseys are shown alongside the standings. There also is a small section devoted to 1957 NFL attendance data. At the top-right of the map-page is a section devoted to the 1957 NFL champions, the Detroit Lions (also see the next 6 paragraphs and the illustration below). At the far-right-hand-center of the map page, are 1957 Offensive leaders in the following categories: QB Rating & Passing Yards & Passing TDs: Johnny Unitas, Colts. Rushing Yards & Rushing TDs: Jim Brown, Browns. Total Yards from Scrimmage & total TDs: Lenny Moore, Colts. Receiving Yards: Raymond Berry, Colts.

The 1957 Detroit Lions are champions, demolishing the Cleveland Browns 59-14, and winning their third NFL title in 6 years.
During the 1950s, in just a 6-year span, the Detroit Lions and the Cleveland Browns faced each other 4 times in the NFL title game. They had previously met in 1952, 1953, and 1954, with Detroit winning in close games in ’52 and ’53, and with Cleveland winning big in ’54. But in 1957, the underdog Detroit Lions won big over the Cleveland Browns, 59-14, thanks to 5 turnovers and the steady leadership of back-up QB Tobin Rote.

The betting line was Browns by 3 points, and the Las Vegas odds-makers probably gave that 3 point edge to Cleveland because it was a case of a veteran coach (Paul Brown) versus a rookie coach (the Lions’ George Wilson). And also, the Lions’ team leader and longtime-QB, Bobby Layne, was out injured. And looking at the regular season stats, Detroit had, on paper, a mediocre +20 points difference, which was only 6th-best in the league that year. But the Browns had never won in Detroit. Plus, the Lions were the hottest team in the league at that point, having won their last 4 games, and 6 of 7 (including beating Cleveland 20-7 in week 11). And the Lions were coming off a Tobin-Rote-led 24-point comeback-win over the 49ers, in the Western Conference tiebreaker playoff game, a week earlier. So, the oddsmkers might have thought Cleveland were favorites, but there were plenty of signs pointing to a Detroit win.

1957 NFL Championship Game: Detroit Lions 59, Cleveland Browns 14…
detroit-lions_1957-nfl-champions_briggs-stadium_tobin-rote_h_.gif
Photo and Image credits above – Aerial photo of Briggs Stadium, circa mid-1950s, photo from Virtual Motor City via photos.metrotimes.com. Detroit Lions 1950s-era logo [2014 retro-redesign], image from irononlogo.com. Interior shot of Briggs Stadium, circa mid-1950s, photo by Wayne State University via Virtual Motor City via photos.metrotimes.com. Photo of Tobin Rote [in 1957 NFL title game], by Marvin E. Newman at gettyimages.com. Illustrations of Lions and Browns 1957 helmets, by gridiron-uniforms.com/[1957]. Bobby Layne, on crutches, hugs Tobin Rote post-game, photo by AP via freep.com. Detroit Free Press front page [Dec. 30 1957], photo from freep.com.

Aided by two 1st-quarter turnovers (1 FR, 1 INT), all 3 possessions by the Lions in the first quarter led to scores (1 FG, and then two 1-yard-TD-runs: the first by QB Tobin Rote, and then another 1-yard-TD by HB Gene Gedman). Then, early in the 2nd quarter, Detroit pulled a trick play…Tobin Rote, who was also the place-holder for Field Goal attempts, called for a fake-FG in the huddle. It resulted in a 26-yard TD pass to End Steve Junker. That made it 24-7, and the rout was on. A 19-yard interception for a TD, by Lions DB Terry Barr, gave the Lions a 24-point lead at halftime (31-7). In the 2nd half, the Browns scored an early 3rd quarter TD, but the Lions answered with 4 TD passes, 3 by Rote, and the final TD pass by 3rd-string QB Jerry Reichow. In the 3rd quarter, Rote threw a stupendous 78-yard-pass to End Jim Doran, and then a 23-yard-TD-pass to Steve Junker. In the 4th quarter, Rote threw a 32-yd-TD-pass to End Dave Middleton. And so, with the game safely in hand, Rote was substituted for Reichow, who then threw a 16-yard TD pass to HB Howard ‘Hopalong’ Cassady. Final score: Lions 59, Browns 14.

The 45-point margin of victory by the Lions made it the most lopsided NFL title game since the Bears’ 73-0 win over Washington in 1940. The Lions had won their fourth (and last) NFL title.

1957 Detroit Lions: 3 All-Pro players; plus 7 from the ’57 Lions that were later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Note: All-Pro, below, means: 1957 AP, 1st team.
-Jack Christiansen (DB/KR): 1957 All-Pro; Christiansen was inducted into the HoF in 1970.
-Joe Schmidt (MLB): 1957 All-Pro; Schmidt was inducted into the HoF in 1973.
-Lou Creekmur (OT): 1957 All-Pro; Creekmur was inducted into the HoF in 1996.
-Bobby Layne (QB); Layne was inducted into the HoF in 1969.
-Yale Lary (DB/P); Lary was inducted into the HoF in 1979.
-Frank Gatski (C); Gatski was inducted into the HoF in 1985.
-John Henry Johnson (FB); Johnson was inducted into the HoF in 1987.

Two games into the next season (1958), the Lions front-office decided to stick with Tobin Rote, and part with the older and more expensive Bobby Layne. Layne was traded to the basement-dwelling Pittsburgh Steelers, and it is said that an incensed Layne predicted that the Lions would not win another championship for 50 years. He was right. The Detroit Lions have gone 1-10 in the playoffs since 1957, and are the oldest NFL franchise that has never won a Super Bowl title. They haven’t even made it to a Super Bowl: the closest that the Detroit Lions have ever got to a Super Bowl appearance was a loss to Washington in the 1991 NFC championship game. As of late December 2017 [with the Lions failing to qualify for the playoffs], it has been 60 years and counting since the Lions have been the NFL champions. There is just one thing I don’t understand…why is the player who led the Lions to their last NFL title, Tobin Rote, not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? (See following link.)

-From the Detroit Athletic blog, Tobin Rote belongs in Canton (by Howard Bak at detroitathletic.com/blog).
-From the Detroit Free Press, 1957 Detroit Lions: Full 60th anniversary coverage (freep.com/story/sports).
-From Golden Football Magazine site, NFL Championship Games: 1957, Cleveland Browns @ Detroit Lions [illustrated chart-style article] (goldenrankings.com/nflchampionshipgame1957.html).
-Video of 1957 NFL Championship Game (at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, MI), Detroit Lions 56, Cleveland Browns 17 [1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 1]; [1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 2]; [1957 NFL Championship - Lions vs. Browns - Vol. 3] (videos uploaded by Vol Brian at youtube.com).


1957 NFL attendance.
Note: also see the 1957 NFL Average Attendance chart at far-lower-right of the map page {source: pro-football-reference.com}.
In 1957, the NFL was in the midst of its steadily-increasing popularity, and broke 3 million total attendance for the first time. There were 3,062,449 tickets sold for the 72 regular season games of the 1957 NFL season. That averaged out to 42,534 per game (up an impressive +3,914 per game or up 10.1%, from 1956). The highest drawing NFL team was once again the Los Angeles Rams (at 68 K). Second-best draw was the 8-4 San Francisco 49ers (at 65 K), who drew 19-thousand-more-per-game than in 1956 (a league-best 43.9% increase). The 49ers drew so well in ’57 because they had an almost-championship-caliber team, one that came very close to winning the Western Conference (Detroit beat them in a rare conference [divisional] playoff tiebreaker game). So Bay Area fans responded by flocking in droves to Kezar Stadium, to see the Niners. Third-best attendance in 1957 was Detroit (at 55 K). The Detroit Lions of the 1950s, who won 3 NFL titles in that decade (1952, 1953, 1957), really packed them in at Briggs Stadium [aka Tiger Stadium], back then. Fourth-best crowd-size in 1957 was the much-improved Cleveland Browns (at 54 K), who featured rookie sensation Jim Brown (rushing yardage-leader & Rookie of the Year). The Browns had the second-best attendance improvement (17-thousand-more-per-game or +36.2%, from 1956). The other NFL teams of 1957 which drew above 40-thousand were: the reigning champions the New York Giants (at 48 K), the Baltimore Colts (at 46 K), and the Chicago Bears (at 44 K). The Colts are noteworthy here, as it was the still-young franchises’ first plus-40-K-attendance season (6.9-K more per game than in 1956). Their increase in attendance came thanks to the galvanizing presence of Johnny Unitas, who, in his first full-season as their starting QB, led the Colts to their first winning season (7-5). Unitas led the NFL in passing yardage and QB rating in 1957. In the following two seasons (1958 and ’59), the Colts would be champions.

New stadium for Green Bay in 1957. One more thing with respect to attendances deserves a mention…1957 was the first season of Green Bay’s new City Stadium (II) [renamed Lambeau Field in 1965]. The stadium the Packers had played in from 1932 to ’56, the bare-bones City Stadium (I), had just a 25,000-capacity {see this aerial photo circa mid-1950s}. A few years previously, the then-basement-dwelling Green Bay Packers had been told by the league office to either build a bigger stadium or move full-time to Milwaukee (Green Bay played 3 of their 6 home games, each season, in Milwaukee, during this era; in 1958 they started playing 4 in Green Bay and 2 in Milwaukee). When the Packers opened their new stadium in 1957, City Stadium (II) had a 32,500 capacity. {Here is an aerial photo of the first game played at what is now called Lambeau Field, from Sept. 29 1957.} The Packers were drawing 22.4 K in the last 3 games at the old stadium in 1956 (which was 89.7 percent-capacity). In 1957, the Packers drew to almost full-capacity for their first 3 games in the brand-new City Stadium (32.1 K at 98.7 percent-capacity). And remember, this was when the Packers were really bad (3-9 in ’57; 1-10-1 in ’58). The next year of 1958, the Packers drew 27.9 K overall, averaging 30,824 in their 4 home games in Green Bay (which was a solid 94.8 percent-capacity), but in their two home games in ’58 at Milwaukee County Stadium [capacity: 43.7 K], the Packers drew worse: 24.5 K v Rams mid-season and then only 19.7 K v 49ers in late November. So their brand-new and 7.5-K-larger stadium was being filled pretty well, despite how bad the Packers were in this era. The problem was the Packers’ Milwaukee games in the 1956-58 time period: they were getting lousy attendance (like less than 50 percent-capacity in the 43.7-K Milwaukee County Stadium). One might be tempted to say that that was an example of how the small-town Packers were no longer able to hold their own in the modernizing NFL of the late 1950s. But the problem wasn’t in their small-town venue (in Green Bay). The Packers’ attendance problem was in their big-city venue, in Milwaukee. (How ironic, and a foreshadowing of the fact that the Packers, way down the road, in 1995, stopped playing games in Milwaukee, because they could sell out Lambeau Field easily and they did not need the crutch of the big-city venue in Milwaukee anymore.) Today, the only thing that still remains from Lambeau Field’s original structure of 1957 is some concrete that comprises the nearest stands to the field, and the structural steel below that. {For more on that, see this article with a great photo of old City Stadium (II)/Lambeau Field circa early 1960s, Lambeau Field started with a chain-link fence around it (by Cliff Christl, Packers team historian, at packers.com)}. Lambeau Field is the oldest continually-operating NFL stadium, and after the Boston Red Sox’ Fenway Park and the Chicago Cubs’ Wrigley Field, Lambeau Field is the third-oldest continually-operating major league venue in the USA and Canada. (Lambeau Field now has a 81.4-k-capacity.) The next NFL team to change their venue would be the Philadelphia Eagles in the following year (1958), when the Eagles moved from the decaying Connie Mack Stadium [aka Shibe Park], into the much-larger Franklin Field.


Helmet and uniform changes in the NFL in 1957.
{1957 NFL uniforms at Gridiron Uniform Database site.}
-In 1957, it became mandatory in the NFL for home teams to wear their dark jersey, and for the visiting team to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey. Previously, NFL teams could wear whatever colored jersey they wanted, even if the two teams both ended up wearing dark-colored jerseys. And some teams only wore one jersey the whole season (as the Bears, the Lions, and the 49ers did, the season before, in 1956). This rule change showed the growing influence that television had on the NFL…the rule change was necessary because, on their black-and-white televisions, viewers at home could not distinguish between the two teams when both were wearing dark-colored jerseys. So home-team-dark-jerseys, and visiting-team-whites, was mandated.

-In 1957, the Baltimore Colts would introduce their large-horseshoe-in-center-of-helmet logo, which the Colts franchise still uses to this day; likewise the Colts new jersey design which featured arced shoulder stripes {1957 Colts}. The Colts had previously worn a small-horseshoe-on-the-back-o-f-the-helmet {see this illustration I made for my 1956 NFL post}. Sixty years later, the Colts wear still this exact same helmet-design, with only the dark blue color having changed (and only very slightly, see this illustration I made in 2013, Baltimore/Indianaplois Colts: the 4 shades of blue the Colts have worn}.

-In 1957, the San Francisco 49ers switched their helmet-color from white to gold (a blank metallic-gold helmet), and they also switched to gold pants {SF 49ers 1947-48 gold helmets/3-stripe-red-jerseys [YA Tittle]}. Both the gold helmets and gold pants had been first worn by the 49ers back in 1949, when the team was in the AAFC. Also in 1957, the white jersey of the 49ers had a unique red-gold-red striping {1957 49ers}; {here is a very nice color shot of the 1957 49ers [running out onto the field v Rams at LA Coliseum}...a very nice look, but in the following season of 1958, the Niners went back to their plain-one-color-striping on the sleeves of their white jerseys, which was in the same style as the red jersey's striping, and which dated back to 1950, and which is still worn to this day. The 49ers would keep the gold-helmets-and-pants for one more season ['58], before switching back again to silver helmet and pants (and then introduced the S-F-in-football-logo on that silver helmet in 1962), then the Niners switched back to gold helmet and pants once again, for good, in 1964.

-In 1957, the Chicago Bears, because of the new dark-jerseys-at-home/light-jerseys-away rule, wore white jerseys for the first time in 17 years (worn last in 1940) {1957 Rick Casares game-worn jersey.} (The Bears still wear essentially the same white jersey to this day.)

-In 1957, the Cleveland Browns added jersey-numbers to their orange helmets. {Reproduction of 1957 Jim Brown helmet (pasttimesports.biz).} {1957 Browns.} {black-and-white photo of 1957 Browns helmet w/ jersey-numbers [Jim Brown].} This was the first instance of the color brown on the Browns’ helmet (brown stripes flanking the center-white-stripe appeared in {1960}). The Browns would only wear this jersey-numbers-on-helmet style for 4 years (1957-60).

-In 1957, the Green Bay Packers’ alternate helmet-&-color-scheme of white-and-dark-forest-green was worn (this color-scheme existed for 3 seasons for the Packers [1956, '57, '58]). The Packers wore this white-and-dark-forest-green gear only once in ’56 (on opening day). But here, in 1957, when the NFL introduced the aforementioned rule that said home teams must wear dark jerseys at home and light-colored jerseys on the road, the Packers wore the white-and-dark-forest-green colors for all 6 of their road games {1957 Packers}; {1957 Packers at Rams, with Packers in white helmets-and-jerseys-with-dark-green-trim}. Then, in the next season (1958), the Packers wore white-helmets-with-dark-forest-green-jerseys for all games making it the only season in the Packers’ history, besides {1922}, when gold (yellow-orange or metallic-gold) was not in their colors. 1958 was also the Packers’ worst season ever [1-10-1]. {Here are the dreary and forgettable uniforms of the 1958 Green Bay Packers.} In 1959, with the arrival of coach Vince Lombardi, the Packers began wearing their current color-scheme of gold (yellow-orange) and dark-green. And were much better.

-In 1957, the Los Angeles Rams wore white jerseys for the first time ever (they only had worn yellow/orange or blue or red/black ['37] or red ['49] jerseys previously). Like the Bears, the Rams had been wearing only one uniform for several seasons (the Rams wore just a yellow/orange jersey from 1951 to ’56). The Rams were the only NFL team in 1957 that had three jerseys (blue, yellow/orange, white) {1957 Rams}.

-In 1957, the New York Giants introduced a subtle alteration of their helmets, placing jersey-numbers on the front of their blank-dark-blue-helmet-with-red-center-stripe. This helmet-design does not get noted at Gridiron Uniforms Database, but at MG’s Helmets, and at the Helmet Project site, the numbers-on-front-of-helmet design for the Giants of this era is noted, but just not by a specific year [when the design originated]. Well, I’ve looked at plenty of 1950s-era Giants helmets recently, and I can tell you for sure that the numbers were added to the front of Giants’ helmets in 1957 (and the jersey-numbers stayed on the front of Giants helmets all the way up to 1974). All you have to do is look at this photo from the Giants’ 1956 title-march {1956 NY Giants on the bench: Gifford, Beck, Conerly, Webster}, and then look at this photo from 1957 {Giants defense takes down Jim Brown, 1957}. The Giants put those jersey-numbers on the front of their helmets in ’57. Even without the Giants’ small-case-NY logo {which wasn’t introduced until 1961}, that ’57 Giants helmet-design with the jersey-numbers on the front was a pretty solid look. I wish more teams would utilize that look (like the Steelers do; see below).

-In 1957, the Pittsburgh Steelers, like the Browns, introduced jersey-numbers on their yellow/orange-gold-with-black-stripe helmets {1957 Steelers}. The Steelers wore this style for 5 years, from 1957-61 {The next link show this style of helmet, 1960 Steelers [Bobby Layne in Steelers huddle].} In 1962, the Steelers got rid of the large-jersey-numbers-on-the-side-of-helmet, and kept the plain yellow/orange-gold-helmet-with-black-stripe, and then later in the ’62 season they finally introduced a logo…the Steelers’ US-Steel-with-starbursts logo (Nov. 1962). {Here is a shot of safety Willie Daniel in the 1962 Steelers’ gold-helmet with US-Steel-and-starbursts logo, which was worn for the last 5 regular season games in 1962.} The US-Steel-logo-with-starbursts on a black helmet was introduced in Jan. 1963. The US-Steel-with-starbursts logo has always been worn on only the right-side of the Steelers’ helmet. In 1963, along with the introduction of the modern-day black-helmet-with-US-Steel-logo, the Steelers re-introduced jersey-numbers on the helmet, but smaller numbers worn on the front of the helmet…a look that the NY Giants pioneered in 1957 (see Giants’ section above). The Steelers have worn the small-jersey-numbers on their helmets ever since 1963…{Steelers helmet circa 1963 (John Baker)}; { Steelers’ helmet ca. 1980 (Jack Lambert)}; {Steelers’ helmets ca. 2016}.
___
Photo and Image credits on map page…
Detroit Lions…
Detroit Lions mid-1950s-era leather helmet and plastic-shell helmet, photos unattributed at The Football Book published by ESPN via uni-watch.com/2007/10/30/uni-watch-book-club-the-football-book/. Bobby Layne, 1st photo (color) by George Gellatly at nfl.com. 2nd photo of Bobby Layne, photo unattributed at nflpastplayers.com/bobby-layne. Lou Creekmur, photo by Frank Rippon/NFL at nfl.com. Color photo of four 1957 Lions players [Charlie Ane, Howard Cassady, Tobin Rote, Yale Lary], photo unattributed at helmethut.com. Tobin Rote, 1st photo: 1959 Bazooka trading card from footballcardgallery.com. 2nd photo of Tobin Rote: photo of Rote from 1957 NFL Championship Game, by Marvin E. Newman at gettyimages.com. John Henry Johnson, photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Joe Schmidt, photo unattributed at sportsattic2.com/nflphotos/Schmidt,Joe. Jack Christiansen, photo unattributed at profootballhof.com/players/jack-christiansen.
1957 NFL Offensive leaders…
Johnny Unitas [photo from preseason 1957], photo by Ozzie Sweet/Sport magazine [Dec. 1958] via nflfootballjournal.blogspot.com/[Johnny Unitas feature]. Jim Brown [photo from 1957 v Cardinals], photo by Cleveland Browns via waitingfornextyear.com. Lenny Moore [photo from preseason 1957], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Raymond Berry [photo of 1957 Topps card], from myalltimefavorites.com/indianapolis-colts.

Map was drawn with assistance from images at these links…
48-state-USA/southern Canada, worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
Section of Mexico, as well as coastlines-&-oceans, lib.utexas.edu/maps/hist-us.
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1957 season (en.wikipedia.org).
Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

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