38 days to Packers football: Cal Hubbard

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With 38 days left until the start of the NFL season, our countdown to the big day continues.

Thursday, Sept. 4, is the day when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to take on the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.  

Over the  course of the next 38 days we focus on the number that represents the days remaining … and for today that number is 38.

Our most recent look was at number 39,  Francis Louis “Jug” Earp – a Packers Hall of Fame Charter member.

Today we focus in on number 38.

I would really have liked to focus on the team’s current #38, Tramon Williamsbut we’ll save that for a day when Tramon has retired and left his own legacy.

OK, so in addition to Tramon Williams, are there any other #38s you might remember? Well, how about the likes of Tobin Rote,  Estus Hood and Matt Snider? Maybe?

Cal Hubbard was elected to both the Pro Football and MLB halls of fame.

Cal Hubbard was elected to both the Pro Football and MLB halls of fame.

But what about Norman JeffersonBruce Pickens and Jeremy Thornburg? No, I didn’t think so.

So once again we go back several decades to a guy by the name of Cal Hubbard, a tackle from those great, dominating 1930s teams

John Maxymuk, the author of “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore them,” brings us an entire chapter about him in his book … a chapter called “All Time Teams and Hall of Fame.”

Here is how Maxymuk describes the big man:

Robert Cal Hubbard was a big Missouri farm boy who was born at the turn of the last century and who had a celebrated, long, and divergent career in professional sports. After graduating high school, Cal spent a few years working on the farm before enrolling in 1922 at tiny Centenary College in Shreveport, La., in order to play  football for his boyhood hero, Bo McMillan. When McMillan moved to Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Penn., the next year, Hubbard continued to follow him and sat out of football for a year. He then played for McMillan at Geneva from 1924-26 and made All America in his senior year.

That final year was highlighted by Geneva’s 16-7 upset of mighty Harvard when Hubbard was practically a one-man team.

Hes Geneva roommate, Pip Booth, recalled that “Hubbard moved like a cat and always smashed into the ball carrier with his face or chest. Once I saw him smash down the whole side of a defensive line by himself. He was six to eight years older than most of us, and we looked up to him more as a father than as a teammate.”

He joined the New York Giants in 1927 as they won their first NFL championship; in his second year he made All Pro for the first of six consecutive seasons … after two seasons … he had had enough of the big city and made known that he wanted to go to Green Bay. He joined the Packers in 1929.

Hubbard joined the Packers the same year with fellow stars guard Mike Michalske and halfback Johnny Blood, and Green Bay won the next three championships with their help. That made four in a row for Cal. Hubbard and Michalske shored up the defensive line to the extent that the Packers surrendered only 22 points for the entire 1929 season while Johnny Blood helped them score 198.

Curly Lambeau had Cal stay in the line on defense, ending his “linebacker” days. Hubbard was sometimes listed as weighing as much as 270 pounds, but he asserted that he never weighed more than 250 in his playing days, but that was still gigantic stature for those days of two-way football.

Opposing quarterback Harry Newman said of Cal, “Green Bay had the most brutal lineman in the game, Cal Hubbard. He played tackle and was about 6-5 and maybe 270 pounds. He played with the same kind of intensity that Dick Butkus did later. We used to say of Cal that even if he missed you, he still hurt you. When he tackled you, you remembered it. I do to his day.”

In 1969, Cal was voted the NFL’s greatest tackle for its first 50 years; Don Hutson, Jerry Kramer, and Ray Nitschke also made that same team. In addition, he was selected along with Hutson and Clarke Hinkle to the league’s 75th anniversary two-way team; other Packers on the overall 75th anniversary team were Hutson, Nitschke, Ted Hendricks, Jan Stenerud, and Reggie White.

Green Bay has selected its own All-Time team on several occasions.

On their 25th anniversary in 1946 the team chosen by a Green Bay Press Gazette poll consisted of ends Don Hutson and Lavvie Dilweg, tackles Hubbard and Cub Buck, guards Mike Michalske and Buckets Goldenberg, center Charlie Brock, “quarterback” Arnie Herber, halfbacks Johnny Blood and Verne Lewellen, and fullback Clarke Hinkle.

For the 1957 team selected in honor of the opening of the new City Stadium, the only change was Tony Canadeo replacing Lewellen.

A 22-man team was selected for the 50th anniversary in 1969, and 15 slots unsurprisingly were filled with Lombardi-era player.

Along with Hutson, Hinkle, Dilweg, Larry Craig and Bobby Dillon, Cal was one of six old-timers picked – he was chosen at both offensive and defensive tackle. In 1976, teams were selected for both the “Iron Man Era” and the “Modern Era.” Cal made the Iron Man team.

Cal is also a member of at least six halls of fame. He is the only man to be a member of both the baseball and pro football halls, and he is also in the College Football Hall of Fame, the Packers Hall of Fame, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted into Cooperstown in 1976 and was one of four Packers  who were charter members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963 along with Curly Lambeau, Don Hutson, and Johnny Blood.

 

 

Here is the list of all Packers players who have worn #38 the past 50 years:

From To AV
Estus Hood 1978 1984 18
Norman Jefferson 1987 1988 1
Blaine McElmurry 1997 1997 0
Mike Mercer 1968 1969 1
Bruce Pickens 1993 1993 0
Tobin Rote 1950 1951 0
Brian Satterfield 1996 1996 0
Hurles Scales 1975 1975 3
Matt Snider 1999 1999 0
John Sullivan 1986 1986 1
Jeremy Thornburg 2005 2005 0
Tim Webster 1971 1971 0
Adrian White 1992 1992 1
Tramon Williams 2007 2013 33
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