ISBELL SIGNS; PACKERS DRIVE AHEAD
AUG 9 (Green Bay) - Cecil Isbell, one of the NFL's leading ground gainers in 1938 following a brilliant career at Purdue university, late yesterday signed his contract for the coming season. He has been practicing with the tears since Saturday, the opening day of drills. Isbell never was a holdout, Coach E.L. Lambeau emphasized in announcing the action. He just never got around to talking terms. Lambeau sent him a contract several weeks ago. Isbell arrived on scheduled time, ripped through two or three practice sessions, and last night dropped into the coach's office with the message: "Your terms are O.K. Here's the contract." Isbell, signed when his Purdue career ended, was added to the Green Bay squad principally to bolster the team's forward passing standard. He turned out instead to be a magnificent ball carrier. He was off to a great start in the Chicago All-Star game of 1938, when here terrorized the field and led the Collegians to a decisive victory over the Washington Redskins. Big and tough, with a blazing competitive spirit, the sophomore left halfback already is rated one of the team's most valuable men. He can do everything with a football, and has his heart set upon playing with a National professional championship team... RAIN NO HANDICAP: A steady drizzle of rain which fell throughout their third practice session failed to keep the Green Bay Packers indoors yesterday, as they punched through another speedy workout under the direction of Coach E.L. Lambeau and Assistant Richard (Red) Smith. Time hasn't started to cramp the Packers yet, but as a matter of record their opening contest is but little more than two weeks away, being a doubleheader engagement with the Pittsburgh Pirates at City stadium Friday night, Aug. 25. Following the usual lengthy calisthenics drill yesterday, the squad was divided into two sections. One, under Smith, consisted of all guards and tackle, the men being given instruction and practice in the delicate art of pulling out to run interference...PRACTICE FORWARD PASSING: While this was going on the ends, centers and backs met with Lambeau and participated in a forward passing session. Most of the tossers did satisfactory work, and Carl Mulleneaux, veteran end, turned in some classy receiving. Frank Steen, the wingman from Rice who comes here with a great reputation as a pass snatcher, also lived up to his reputation. The Packers then swung into punting practice, with no less than 12 men booting the ball. Kickers were Clarke Hinkle, Arnold Herber, Wayland Becker, Eddie McGroarty, Larry Buhler, Swede Johnston, Obbie Novakofski, Weenie Wilson, Cecil Isbell, Frank Balasz, Dick Weisgerber and Hank Bruder. Balazs' kicks averaged 10 yards farther than those of the others...LIKE KELL'S WORK: Following the drill Lambeau commented favorably on the work of big Paul Kell, the Notre Dame tackle who is beginning to look as though he is the answer to part of the Packer line problem. Kell, weighing 228 pounds fresh from the showers, is an enthusiastic, peppery individual with a world of fight, and the coach didn't pull punches in praising his attitude. Of course, the Packers haven't engaged in scrimmage yet, and none is contemplated pending further conditioning work, but there certainly is no cause for pessimism in the city yet...ARRIVE ON THURSDAY: No further new men joined the squad yesterday, but others are on the way. Tuffy Thompson and Charley Schultz, Minnesota halfback and end, respectively, will arrive Thursday, possibly too late for practice that day, and Ernie Smith has sent word that he will report the same day. The absolute deadline is Saturday, Lambeau said. Bill Lee has wired from the south that he will head north soon with his Alabama teammate, Don Hutson. Both are unsigned. Thus by Saturday the squad should be about intact, except for Norman Purucker, halfback who is completing summer scholastic work at the University of Michigan. He will report Aug. 21. Lambeau, who became enthusiastic over the team's end situation the day before, yesterday commented favorably regarding his centers, another spot which became soggy with wear before the end of the 1938 campaign...CENTERS LOOK GOOD: "We have five, big tough centers," he pointed out, "and we regard ourselves as very strong in that position. A coach would find it hard to be downcast with such men as Lee Mulleneaux, Tom Greenfield, Bud Svendsen, Bunny Schoemann and Charley Brock on the squad." Brock is one of the four All-Stars who will work with the team only until Friday, leaving that evening for Chicago to report to Head Coach Elmer Layden of the College All-Americans. The coach added that he believes the 1939 team will be the fastest in Packer history. He particularly liked the running of right halfback Larry Buhler yesterday. Today's program was expected to include the assimilation of more new plays - four were added yesterday - and perhaps a workout on pass defense, slated to be a vital matter in the league this season, with all teams preparing aerial artillery.
LOOKING UP IN THE REALM OF SPORTS
AUG 9 (Green Bay) - If anyone asked you to pick, two or three seasons in advance, the fifth place clubs in each of the major baseball leagues, you might come quite close, but you very likely would find the assignment requiring serious thought and more than a little break in the luck. Yet that gag wouldn't be half as exacting as the job facing coaches in the NFL each fall, as they glance through thousands of names prominent on collegiate rosters, and therefrom select their choices in the annual league draft. The word draft means lots of things. It is the way soldiers are called to go to war, and it is what you sit in when you catch cold. It also means drawing things, and it is applied to horses when they are not nimble, but draft in football means you will play with us next season, if the price is right? The job is no setup for any coach. For one thing, he never knows for certain just what he'll be needing the most next fall, in the way of talent. Perhaps he will be short on blocking backs, perhaps his center needs bolstering more, maybe his ends collapsed with a reverberating swoosh and the wings have to be revarnished for the next campaign. To help him out - in reverse English - many professional football players have a habit of retiring at the conclusion of a long and bitter campaign. After some four months of sweating and being tossed about during the raw months of the year, the idea of continuing their gridiron careers is usually well impregnated with salt come mid-December, and they very frequently comments, for all to hear, "That's enough! It's my last season of football." This makes it necessary for a coach to be a mind reader, as he doesn't want to draft players for their positions if they are just kidding - and he doesn't want to be caught short if they aren't. A rough glance at the galaxy of stars now assembled under the banner of the Green Bay Packers indicates that the team did excellently last fall in its long-range draft selections. Of the 19 drafted by Green Bay, six are signed and already are working out with the squad; two were signed and have not reported yet; another accepted terms and was prevented from reporting because of an operation. The last-named chap is Bill Gunther, Santa Clara blocking back, who not only went under the knife, but experienced hemstitching which made it impossible for him to attempt a 1939 pro football career. New Packers who were drafted, who agreed to terms and now are working out here are Larry Buhler, Minnesota back; Charles Brock, Nebraska center; Frank Balasz, Iowa fullback; Jack Brennan, Michigan guard; Paul Kell, Notre Dame tackle; and Tom Greenfield, Arizona center. Men who signed and are planning to report this week are Charles Schultz, Minnesota center, and Larry Craig, South Carolina end. The latter, a magnificent pass receiver, is playing daily baseball but is expected to arrive here before the weekend. The rest of the draftees didn't come to terms. They are Lynn Hovland, Wisconsin guard; Francis Twedell, Minnesota guard; Vincent Gavre, Wisconsin quarterback; Dan Elmer, Minnesota center; Roy Bellin, Wisconsin halfback; Johnny Hall, T.C.U. blocking back; Charles Sprague, S.M.U. end; Bill Badgett, Georgia tackle; John Yerby, Oregon end; and Williard Hofer, Notre Dame back.
PIRATES AND PACKERS WILL PLAY SOFTBALL
AUG 9 (Manitowoc) - The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Green Bay Packers, who are scheduled to open the 1939 professional football season with a doubleheader exhibition game at Green Bay on the night of August 25, will get together 10 days earlier for a softball game at Walsh Field, Two Rivers. The Pirates are training at Two Rivers while the Packers are getting in condition on their home field. Arrangements for the softball game next Tuesday night were completed last night when the Packers' emissary, Arnie Herber, invade the Pirates' lair to confer with George Kast, manager of the Pittsburgh club's softball team. Proceeds of the game which is to be played under lights starting at 8 o'clock will go into the clubhouse funds of the softball teams.
PACKERS' SPEED IS SHOWN AT PRACTICE
AUG 10 (Green Bay) - The devastating speed with
which the Green Bay Packers' 1939 team is gifted was
demonstrated at yesterday's practice, when Coach E.L.
Lambeau wound up his workout by chasing the players
through a spectacular relay race, involving every
member of the team. The Packer drill program now has
settled down to something of a routine, and it will
continue was such until the time for the first scrimmage.
This will take place at some time as yet unannounced
by the coach, but it will be prior to the doubleheader
with the Pittsburgh Pirates at City stadium Friday night,
Aug. 25. With the practice program as yet less than a
week old, two facts already have been established - the
team will be the fastest in Green Bay's history, and the
new men appear to be the equal, at least, of any
freshman class the Packers have had. Whether the
latter estimate will be revised under stress of scrimmage
remains to be seen...EIGHT STILL ABSENT: Eight men,
expected to report by Saturday, still are missing, and of
these three - Don Hutson, end, Bill Lee, tackle, and
Tuffy Thompson, left halfback - are not under contract.
The other five - Larry Craig, end; tackles Charles
Schultz, Ernie Smith and Slats Wyrick; and Norman
Purucker, left halfback, are signed up and on their way
Thirty-eight men were on the practice field yesterday,
which means that the complete squad, if all report, will
total 46. The Packers who worked out Wednesday
included six ends, five tackles, eight guards, five
centers, three blocking quarterbacks, three left halfbacks, four right halfbacks and four fullbacks. This collection of gridiron beef and talent will be reduced tomorrow night when Buhler, Balazs, Bruder and Jacunski leave to join the College All Stars at Evanston. After the usual lengthy calisthenics yesterday, the squad conducted an equally long drill on pass defense and offense. During the offensive work, defensive backfields and lines were set up to simulate game conditions. Assistant Coach Richard (Red) Smith then worked out with the tackles and guards, who practiced pulling out to run interference, and Coach Lambeau took over the ends, backs and centers...POLISH UP PLAYS: Punting occupied the players' time again, with most of the men being pretty consistent. They then went into a signal drill, absorbed a few new plays and polished up their old ones. The relay was a real treat. The squad was divided into two teams, with men from the same positions running against each other, and the galloping gridders surged back and forth down the field, each man running a good 50 yards. The team members worked themselves into a frenzy of excitement, and the relay served to display some astonishing speed on the part of many of the Packers. Charley Brock, a center burned up the turf like an end, while Al Moore maneuvered his 220 pounds in a way surprising to the coach, Frank Balazs, Swede Johnston and Baby Ray were others showing a world of smoke, remarkable in such large men. An interesting duel was staged between Wilson and Novakofski, two of the fastest men on the squad. Both halfbacks, they started their lap when Wilson holding a one-yard lead, and the margin was just the same when they handed the footballs to the next runners.
50 SEEKING PLACES ON BAY SQUAD
AUGUST 10 (Green Bay) - Veterans of the Green Bay Packers who have made professional football a career faced a stiff fight today from a score of college hopefuls who sought their jobs. From all part of the country the boys from college fields have come to join the Green Bay squad and fight it out with 28 veterans for places on the 1939 team. The complete squad of 50 is the largest in Packer history. It is no easy job these recruits have cut out for themselves, for the men they would replace brought Green Bay a western division title last year in the National league and many were on the team which took the championship three
years ago. Some of the veterans - like Milt Gantenbein, an end, Clarke Hinkle and Hank Bruder, backs - have grown old in the Packer service, but show little sign of slowing up. They are back again, more intent than ever to prove their worth. Only four members of last year's team are missing. Bob Monnett and Paul Miller, halfbacks, retired. Frank Butler, a center, and Bernie Scherer, an end, were traded to Pittsburgh for Tuffy Thompson of Minnesota. Coach E.L. Lambeau, who has guided the team since it was formed in 1919 and to four national championships, believes he has the making of another great club. "We have backs to burn," he said today, "and we should be stronger than ever on the line." The coach has 11 veteran backs and eight recruits trying for regular positions. He probably will carry 12 to 14 backfield men, so six or seven of the potential ball carriers will be among the missing when the time comes to cut the roster, after the second league game. Lambeau and Line Coach Richard (Red) Smith also are confronted with the problem of cutting down their big squad of linemen. There are 31 candidates for jobs on the forward wall. About 20 is the limit which can be carried. The club begins play with a doubleheader with Pittsburgh here August 25. Two practice games will be played to give the coaches a chance to see what all of their men can do under fire.
TUFFY THOMPSON OF MINNESOTA REPORTS
AUG 11 (Green Bay) - Boiling over with fire and early season determination, the Green Bay Packer football squad was joined by Tuffy Thompson, former Minnesota fullback, as Coach E.L. Lambeau sent the team through another stiff workout yesterday. Thompson, who was obtained from the Pittsburgh Pirates this season, promptly displayed a world of speed, a lot of pep, and the same wiry build which made him one of Minnesota's most feared ball toters a very few seasons back. The tackle personnel took an upward bounce today when three men reported - veteran Ernie Smith, Southern California; Bill Lee, the giant from Alabama;' and Charley Schultz, a Minnesota husky who is breaking into the pro game. All three arrived last night...SPORTSWRITER PRESENT: A visitor at yesterday's practice session was George Strickler, Chicago sportswriter who is en route to Superior to cover training activities of the New York Giants. He handled his newspaper's publicity on the Packers prior to the All-Star game in which Green Bay figured. Only three Packers now are missing, and Lambeau expects that all but one will be in uniform by tomorrow. The lone exception is Norman Purucker, Michigan halfback who is mopping up credits at Ann Arbor summer school. He will report Aug. 21. Lambeau took today action on the case of Champ Seibold. He pronounced the Oshkosh veteran tackle as a definite holdout, and added "we doubt very much that Seibold will play with the Packers this season."...FAILS TO REACH TERMS: Champ failed to come to terms with the Packers this season, and has not reported for practice, although he has been in the city several times. Except for Seibold, the only missing players are Don Hutson, Alabama end; Larry Craig, South Carolina end; and Slats Wyrick, U.C.L.A. tackle. Lambeau expected all of them to arrive tonight or early tomorrow. Hutson is the only one of the trio who is unsigned...DISPLAYS GREAT SPIRIT: Witnessing the daily workouts of the Packer squad this season leaves these two prime impressions - the team packs speed in excess of any previous Green Bay squad, and its spirit is equal to that of any. Whenever a play went wrong yesterday - a dropped pass, a fumble, a misunderstood signal - the entire squad stormed verbally over the offender, in a barking chorus, which left the shamefaced individual determined to prevent the mishap from happening again - and it never did. They shoved off with the usual intensive calisthenics drill, and then tried shooting a few forward passes, with the tossing done by Eddie McGroarty, Andy Uram, Joe Laws, Tuffy Thompson, Frank Balazs, Arnold Herber, Weenie Wilson and Obbie Novakofski. Uram, who did little passing for the Packers last year, was throwing the oval with accuracy yesterday from his left halfback position...ALL-STARS TO LEAVE: For Balazs, Harry Jacunski, Larry Buhler and Charley Brock, the early season practice with the Packers is about finished. All four leave early Saturday morning for Evanston, Ill., where they will report to the College All-Stars. They won't be back in Green Bay until Aug. 31, the day after the All-Star game. Following the aerial session the squad was split up, with most of the linemen reporting to Assistant Coach Richard (Red) Smith for blocking instruction and practice. The rest engaged in punting drill. With Bunny Schoemann and Lee Mulleneaux snapping the ball, the kickers were Arnold Herber, Wilson, McGroarty, Novakofski, Dick Weisgerber, Clarke Hinkle, Balazs, Hank Bruder and Cecil Isbell. Back in the safety position, receiving the boots, were the men who'll be handling that work during the fall campaign - Eddie Jankowski, Joe Laws, Herman Schneidman, Buhler, John Lock, Uram and Thompson...RED CAN TAKE IT: Red Smith was his own blocking dummy during the other drill, letting the Packer ends, tackles, guards and centers smack into him, and failing to acquire a dent in the process. There has been no rough work as yet, but Lambeau, in looking over his squad, said that it probably will hold its first scrimmage Monday. Here's a warning to enemy backfields - keep your eyes on Herber and Hinkle during the fall months. Both of them were spearing passes yesterday, which may mean that Coach Lambeau has decided to use them both at times on the receiving end, same as last year. When the signal drill started, short passes rattled on all sides as the Packers clicked through an aerial offensive workout. Some of the combinations who were especially effective were Uram to Becker and Isbell, Novakofski to Gantenbein, Al Moore and Frank Steen, Herber to Carl Mulleneaux, Moore, Becker, Jankowski and Steen, Isbell to Gantenbein and Thompson to Isbell...SHOWS CLASS ON SPINNER: Thompson showed class on a spinner play, barging through the line from his left halfback position, and drew the favorable comments of both Lambeau and Smith. The players fooled the coach on one play. They whooped through a quarterback sneak, with Herman Scheidman lugging the ball, and Lambeau commented, "I haven't given them that play yet. It's one we had last year." The drill brought out the fact, already suspicioned, that the Packers right flank will feature three great pass receivers this season. Steen, Moore and Carl Mulleneaux all are right ends, all are big, all fast and each a fine hand at gathering in those aerial bombs. Moore is an amazing prospect. He weighs 220 pounds and is one of the fastest men on the squad. Furthermore, he looks capable of walking through a brick fireplace standing up...SET UP INTERFERENCE: There was much hard running on display yesterday, with Isbell, Novakofski, Balazs, Herber, Hinkle and Buhler monopolizing the ball carrying behind powerful screens of interference. They wound up with 100-yard races by positions, the men lining up at the fence and galloping the length of the field. Competition among the tackles and centers was won by Baby Ray and Charley Brock, who finished in a virtual dead heat. Swede Johnston led the guards for most of the way, but fell back near the end and the race was won by Nick Miketinac, with Jack Brennan right on his heels. When the ends cruised the distance, Steen, Moore and Carl Mulleneaux finished on the line together. The backs all ran at once, with Thompson speeding home first, Novakofski second, Uram third and Balazs fourth.
LOOKING UP IN THE REALM OF SPORTS
AUG 11 (Green Bay) - The thing which is most surprising to Dave Woodward, trainer of the Green Bay Packers, is the amazing condition in which the squad has reported for its first 1939 rehearsals. Now Dave is no newcomer to athletic squads. For years he did the chief rubbing down and patching up work at the University of Minnesota, and already he has become an institution with the Packers, presiding over the squad's tiny but well-organized training quarters, tucked away under the southeast end of massive City stadium. He has seen football players, not by the hundreds but by the thousands, and yesterday he said: "This is the finest looking bunch of athletes I ever have seen." Dave likes to enlarge upon his statement. He went on enthusiastically: "Can you believe it? Only two or three of that squad of nearly fifty men are overweight. Look at Milt Gantenbein - down to 198 pounds, and looking like a youngster breaking into the game. Look at Tiny Engebretsen - best shape he's started a season in years. Look at Buckets Goldenberg. Look at these new kids - long, stringy, tough, hard as nails. Did you ever see a better conditioned bunch of men?" No, we never did, but we hesitate to stress it too strongly for the reason that it sounds so very much like preseason ballyhoo. The team is marvelous, we can't lose, we will win the championship. Our cause will conquer. Well, maybe it will and maybe it won't. A fumbled punt along in November, a blocked kick at Detroit, a touchdown run at Cleveland, an intercepted pass - any one of these things may wipe out all the magnificent work done under the hot summer sun. The Packers may lose to an inferior squad. They may defeat a superior one. But they do look great right now. Whatever next week's opening scrimmage will develop, whatever weaknesses, as yet unsuspected, crop out among the individuals, the fact remains the Green Bay Packers have reported for a season's work at the peak of their several physical and mental conditions. There are no injuries on the Packer squad at present, other than two or three leg strains which resulted from too strenuous stretching on opening day. These are being thinned out under the lamps. Of course, scrimmage is another thing. The four All-Stars - Frank Balazs, Harry Jacunski, Larry Buhler and Charley Brock - pulled the smartest stunt of the season by reporting to the Packers for this first week. They showed an eagerness to cooperate with the Green Bay championship campaign, they enabled themselves to establish an early acquaintanceship in Green Bay, and familiarity with Packer plays, and they steamed themselves into advance condition for the All Stars. Coach Curly Lambeau's chief regret is that, now they are here, they can't remain straight enough.