ND FB-LB

Jan 28, 2017

As most of you know, I have been doing research for a book about early (1887-1917) Notre Dame Football.  Since I have been giving away all of my best material, it’s unlikely I will ever sell a copy….but, since I can’t seem to put the brakes on my research parameters, I may not have enough years left to finish it anyway.  LOL.

From its earliest days, Notre Dame was well known as a place which emphasized athletics.  Fr. Sorin strongly believed in the Latin term Mens sana in corpore sano.  He clearly wanted the boys to be healthy.  And, perhaps he knew that they would have a lot of energy to burn off, after the rigorous classroom and dormitory discipline they faced each day.  

Notre Dame’s first great sport was base ball (sic).  During the mid-1860’s, with only 200-300 enrolled students, we had as many as 15 organized campus baseball teams, playing on one of Notre Dame’s 10 diamonds.  Future Hall of Famer Cap Anson, the most significant figure of 19th Century Baseball, was one of ND’s best.  

It can be argued that baseball was still Notre Dame’s most prominent sport until World War I.  Notre Dame has produced at least 85 men who later would play in the Major Leagues.  SHAMELESS PLUG---for a complete review of the Major League Baseball accomplishments of men from Notre Dame, you can check my book, Notre Dame Baseball Greats, from Anson to Yaz, available on Amazon.

Among the 370 Notre Dame Football players in our first 30 years, there were a number who played MLB:

Bergman, Alfred Henry “Dutch”

b. 9/27/1889, Peru, IN; d. 6/20/1961 (71), Fort Wayne. 5’9, 160.

At ND 1909-1912, 1913-1915.  At Georgetown, 1912-1913.  In 1914, he and Rupe Mills became the first two ND men to earn four Monograms in the same year.  WWI-Artillery Captain.  Played Major League Baseball.  He had been a T.B. patient at the Irene Byron Hospital for 13 years prior to his death.  During the 1890’s and early part of the next century three famous men lived within a few houses of each other in Peru, Indiana.  On the streets on either side of Dutch, lived John Francis O’Hara, future President of Notre Dame and later Cardinal O’Hara, Archbishop of Philadelphia; and legendary songwriter Cole Porter.  Porter had a bit of an ND connection.  His Uncle, Louis Cole, had attended ND and his cousin Louis attended with Dutch.  

Daniels, Bernard Elmer “Bert”

b. 10/31/1882, Danville, IL; d. 6/6/1958 (75).  Cedar Grove, NJ.  5’9, 180.

At ND, 1907-1909; Villanova, 1905-1907; and Bucknell, 1909-1910.  

1908-ND football note in SCHOLASTIC: “Daniels did not report until late in the season, but his speed won him a place on the regulars and he would probably have been in at the kick-off Thanksgiving had he not been called home by an accident to his brother. He also seems slated for a berth next year”.

Bert Daniels may hold an unusual "amateur" baseball record:  Most different aliases used in eight Minor Leagues while playing six years of varsity sports at three different colleges.  Daniels was signed for the New York Highlanders (Yankees) by legendary scout Art Irwin.  He compared Bert to Ty Cobb:  "I've seen a lot of young players, but he is far and away the best of them all."  Irwin may have adjusted this analysis if he had known that this "young player" was already 27 years old and a veteran of 10 years of college and semi pro football, which had likely added to the mileage on his legs.

According to interviews he later gave and research done by SABR member Ray Schmidt, Bert played semi-pro football and baseball for the Peoria Trojans and Joliet Standards from 1901 through 1904.  In 1905, he had a chance to play baseball with Albany in the New York State League.  Just before the season, he jumped to Woodstock, Ontario of the Canadian League.  He helped them win the pennant.  While he was there, some collegians from Villa Nova (sic.) told him he could go there for college, and, "if I made good, there wouldn't be any expense".  He took the deal because "at the same time, I could secure an education".

In 1906, he went to Jackson (MI), using his real name.  "I had no idea of changing my name then, because I was proud of it".  Former Big Leaguer Fred Crolius, his baseball and football coach at Villanova, convinced Bert to join his Lancaster (PA) club in the outlaw Tri-State League.  Bert was blacklisted as an "outlaw", because this was a league which was not a party to the National Agreement signed by all professional leagues.

Crolius decided Daniels should use the name "Walsh".  "We were sitting in a cafe and happened to see that name in a big headline.  That was my first alias.  After that, it became easy...but all the while, I was thinking of getting an education."  Bert always equated playing pro sports to having a part-time job to underwrite the cost of his education.  He went back to Villanova in the Fall of 1906 and played football and baseball.

In 1907, he went to Kane (PA).  He gave the name of "Thomas Barrett", a schoolmate from Joliet.  The league folded in July, so Bert went to Waterbury (CT).  Former Major Leaguer Orator Jim O'Roarke discovered who he was and got him banished from the league.  Bert had no money and did not want to get in trouble with the National Commission, so he hopped a freight train and landed in Manchester (CT).  He used the name of "Tom Bothwick".  A Manchester teammate was future Big Leaguer Jean Dubuc, who was then attending Notre Dame.  At the end of the season, Bert went back to Villanova and again played football.

Daniels transferred to Notre Dame, at the semester, because "they needed a first baseman.  They paid everything for me.  They had a dandy baseball cage there with a dirt floor.  That's one reason why I went to Notre Dame."

For the Summer of 1908, Bert went to Allentown (PA) and took the name "Bert Berger".  He returned to Notre Dame for his second season.  He was a great player and popular enough to be selected Captain for the 1909 season, but he was forced to leave Notre Dame because of "professionalism".  That Summer, he played for Altoona (PA) under the name "Bert Ayres".  He stole 48 bases in 52 games.  Scout Irwin went to Altoona to look at Amos Strunk, who would go on to play 17 years in the Majors, but he liked the speed of Daniels so much, he dropped Strunk.  It was said that Daniels ran the hundred in 10.2.  After the season, he attended Bucknell, playing football and baseball before being signed by Irwin.

Bert was a sub outfielder for the 1910 Highlanders, but he led the team in steals and the team led the American League, with a total of 288, which is still the New York Yankees record.  Their second highest total came the following year.  Bert was the team leader (81) for the two years.  

After four years in New York, Bert was released to Baltimore.  On April 22, 1914, he was playing right field when a young pitcher named George Herman Ruth made his professional debut.  According to Ernie Lanigan, in his Baseball Cyclopedia, there were only 200 fans present, owing to the competition from the Federal League.  Both Bert and Babe had two hits in four at bats, as the Babe shut out Buffalo, 6-0.

In The Cincinnati Reds, Lee Allen reported that Garry Herrmann, owner of the Reds had a working agreement which permitted him to pick two players from the Oriole roster.  Herrmann sent his pal Harry Stevens to look over the team and recommend two players.  The scout was apparently unimpressed with both Ruth and Ernie Shore (two pitchers who would later collaborate on a Major League "perfect game" along with being a combined 125-67 during the next four years with the Boston Red Sox).  Stevens (who is in no danger of being elected to the Scouting Hall of Fame) didn't pick Bert either, instead recommending outfielder George Twombly and shortstop Claude Derrick.  Each had a brief and forgettable stay with the Reds.  Ironically, Bert also was called up by the Reds before the season ended.

Later, Bert reminisced about the Babe.  "He was awful fresh and green...my first impression of him was as a motor cycle rider.  He blew his first salary for a motor bike and was always tearing around town like he was going to a fire."

In 1915, Bert hit 28 triples for the Louisville Colonels, which is still the American Association record.

For most baseball players, being hit by a pitch is either a random occurrence or the result of a one-time retaliation.  There have been a small number of players in the history of Major League Baseball who had a knack for "giving it up for the team".  Daniels was one of the elite four-a group of players who stood head and shoulders (and black and blue) above the rest, getting hit in more than 10% of their games played.

Career Leaders in Frequency of Being Hit by Pitch (a silly stat I invented):

PLAYER                     HBP                Games             HBP/GP

1.  Ron Hunt               243                  1,483               .144

2.  Bert Daniels           72                      523                .138

3.  Don Baylor     271                  2,292               .118

4.  Minnie Minoso      192                  1,841               .104

Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Nellie Fox were among the top ten in this stat.  Bert led the American League in 1910, 1912, and 1913 despite missing 146 of his team’s games.  He attracted pitched balls at every level he played.  On 10 different occasions in the Majors, Bert was hit by a pitch twice during the same day.  He holds the American League record for getting hit three times in a double-header (June 20, 1913).  Senators' pitchers hit Bert 18 times, one quarter of his career total.

Will Wedge, writing in the New York Sun, on January 12, 1932, referred to Bert's knack for getting hit by pitches:  "a keen leadoff man who was always getting free passage to first because of a studied knack of running into pitched balls with his elbows, getting on by being hit then being considered smart baseball".

Bert was not afraid to stand in against the hardest throwers.  Two fireballers nailed him the most: Hall of Famer Walter Johnson (five) and near-Hall of Famer Smoky Joe Wood (four).  The first time Bert was hit was within a week of his first game in the Majors.  Hall of Famer Chief Bender hit him on July 2, 1910.

An oddity among the pitchers who hit Bert is that his final American League plunking was from college teammate Jean Dubuc and his final National League bruising was administered by Ed Reulbach, another ND man who also used a couple aliases while playing semi-pro baseball.

Bert displayed the same toughness in the field.  His Grandson, Chip O'Connor recounted a story about Bert playing in the Polo Grounds.  He once ran into the wall while chasing a long fly.  He knocked out some front teeth and was himself knocked unconscious, "but he caught and held onto the ball!"

Bert put his Villanova-Notre Dame-Bucknell Engineering work to good use, working as an engineer for more than thirty years.  He worked for New York Central Railroad, designing terminals and served as City Engineer for Cedar Grove, NJ.

He also kept his hand in baseball, serving as Coach of the Manhattan College Team from 1931 through 1938.  His coaching record was 87-41-1 (.680).  

Looking back on his college wanderings, Bert said "My conscience does not trouble me because I played professional baseball and got an education.  If I had a rich father the proposition would have been easy.  I will say this for the colleges I attended:  they knew I was making money by my skill and muscle, but they also knew I was sincere in my desire for learning."

Kelly, Albert Michael “Red”

b. 11/15/1884, Union, IL; d. 1/28/1961 (76), Zephyrhills, FL.  5’11, 170.

At ND, 1908-1911, LLB.  After graduating from ND, he coached St. Viator’s 1912 team vs. ND, coached by Jack Marks.  Two years earlier, Marks coached St. Viator, against ND, which featured Red Kelly in the backfield, after he transferred from St. Viator.  Major League Baseball player.  After private legal practice, he worked in the Legal Department of International Harvester for 35 years.  Died 10 days after Notre Dame legend, Dr. Tom Dooley.

Mills, Rupert Frank

b. 10/12/1892, Newark, NJ; 7/21/1929 (36), Lake Hopatcong, NJ.  6’2, 190.

At ND, 1912-1915, LLB.  Sorin Hall roommate of Ray “Ike” Eichenlaub.  WWI-Lt.  Major League Baseball.  Rupe put his ND Law Degree to work, in a clever way, in 1916.  The Newark Team (Newfeds) told Mills they would not honor the second year of his contract since the league had folded.  Mills pointed out that his contract was with the team owners and not the League.  He won his point.  The team said they wouldn’t pay him since he was not “working”.  Mills showed up every morning and worked out; took a lunch break; and then worked out again.  After a few weeks, owner Harry F. Sinclair (industrialist and founder of Sinclair Oil Co.) relented and paid off the $1,200 contract.  Ironically, one of the Minor League teams interested in Mills was the Toronto Maple Leafs, coached by Joe “Dode” Birmingham, who had attended ND briefly, in 1905 and had some college football background from Cornell.  Mills was one of three alumni who spoke on behalf of the returned soldiers at ND’s 1919 Commencement.  His talk was referred to as the "dessert of the program”.  Attorney.  Undersheriff, Essex County Sheriff’s Department.  Drowned while saving his friend from drowning when their boat capsized.  At the time of his death, he was the Republican candidate for Sheriff.

Powers, Michael Riley 

b. 9/25/1870, Adams, MA; d. 4/26/1909 (38), Philadelphia, PA.  5’8, 160.

At ND, 1897-1899.  Transfer from Holy Cross College.  Medical Degree, Louisville Medical College.  Major League Baseball player.  Physician.  Died as a result of an internal injury (and poor medical knowledge) sustained during the opening game in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park, April 12, 1909.  After his death, the “Indianapolis Sun” headline was “Tribute Given to Nation’s Hero Given Michael Powers”.  A crowd of 5,000 people followed the hearse to St. Elizabeth’s Church with as many people lining the streets as the procession passed by.  Hall of Fame pitcher Eddie Plank was among six teammates who served as pall bearers.  Powers was the designated catcher for Plank.  According to Bob Bailey, the expert researcher of burial locations for Major League Baseball Players, Doc was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, in Montgomery County, PA, the same resting place for Connie Mack, who owned and managed the A’s.  Connie’s son, Earle Mack, who had a short Major League career with the A’s, also attended Notre Dame.

Shaughnessy, Francis Joseph “Shag”

b. 4/8/1884, Amboy, IL; d. 5/16/1969 (85), Montreal, CANADA.  6’, 178.

At ND, 1901-1906, Pharmacy Degree-1903; LLB-1906.

From the ALUMNUS:  “…(Shaughnessy) star in football and baseball at Notre Dame in the early 1900's and captain of the football team in 1904, has, from that flying start, continued to the top flight of athletic fame as president of the International League of Professional Baseball Clubs. He was elected to this position in 1936 and re-elected in 1937 for a three-year term. Frank's record since he left Notre Dame is one of consistent accomplishment in many fields. Briefly, here it is: Coached football at Clemson College and later assisted with football at both Harvard and Williams; played baseball in the American League with Washington and Philadelphia and with Reading and San Francisco in the minor leagues; managed Roanoke, Virginia, baseball team for three years, winning pennant in one year; practiced law in Roanoke for three years; managed Fort Wayne, Indiana, baseball team and won pennant, one year; owned and managed Ottawa, Canada, baseball team, three years, winning pennant each year; managed Ottawa National League hockey team, three years; officer in Canadian Army in World War, three years; coached McGill University football team, 16 years, and McGill hockey team, five years; managed Syracuse International League baseball team, four years; managed Montreal International League baseball team, two years, winning pennant one year, general manager Montreal team, three years. Frank was married to Miss Katherine Quinn of Ottawa, Canada, in 1908, and is the father of eight sons and one daughter”.  Shag was also manager of the Hamilton, Ontario, team in the Michigan-Ontario League; and Reading and Syracuse of International League.  He was also a coach of the Detroit Tigers for two seasons.  He had been the manager of the Montreal Royals when he was selected as International League President.  In 1933, he acquired the appellation “The man who saved the Minor Leagues”, for creating the “Shaughnessy Plan”, a post season playoff plan, modeled after the NHL playoffs.  Prior to this, fans would quit going to games when their team was no longer a contender for the League Title.

Williams, Fred “Cy”

b. 12/21/1887, Wadena, IN; d. 4/23/1974 (86), Eagle River, WI.  6’2, 180

At ND, 1909-1913, B.S. Architecture.  President of the Notre Dame Architecture Club.  When Cy grew up in Wadena, it was a town of 54 residents.  Two of them played Major League Baseball and two others played in the high minors.  In the DOME, he was described as “…the mildest man who ever scuttled a ship or cut a throat”.  Outstanding track athlete at ND.  Held the Interhall record for the “broad jump” (21 feet).  Major League Baseball.  Four-time National League home run leader.  Cy was a dead pull hitter.  He was the first player for whom a “Williams’ shift” was developed.  In 1978, I related this story to Ted Williams, who enjoyed hearing it because he said he often went fishing with Cy, in Wisconsin, and remembered him fondly.  On September 29th, 1923, Philadelphia baseball fans held a “Cy Williams Day” to honor him.  He received a Rickenbacker touring car and many other gifts.  That same year, he bought the Clover Crest Farm, in Three Lakes, WI.  He was an architect after his baseball career was over.  Cy is one of the finest Major League Baseball players not in the Hall of Fame.

Among our 370 early football players were a dozen or more Minor League Baseball players who did not advance to the Bigs.  Here is the most interesting one:

Brown, Robert Paul “Red”

b. 7/5/1876, Scranton, PA; d. 6/22/1962 (85), Vancouver, BC.  5’8, 146.

At ND 1894-1896, 1898-1900.  Previously attended St. Joseph (now Loras) College.  Bob interrupted his time at ND, enlisting in the Army during the period of the Spanish American War.  Minor League Baseball, player, coach, & owner.  The Vancouver obituary called him “Mr. Baseball”, as he ran the Vancouver Beavers & Capilanos for 53 years, having first been a Minor Leaguer player, scout, and manager.  He got his first baseball job, in Helena, Montana, from ND Football Teammate “Wild Bill” Galen.  Brown was a teammate there with future Hall of Famer Joe Tinker, of Tinker to Evers to Chance Fame.  Bob spent 61 years in Minor League Baseball, winning four league pennants.  In 1909, The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Washington, wrote: "…in addition to netting a greater profit from player sales than any other manager in the history of baseball in the Pacific Northwest, if not on the Pacific coast, has made a lot of deals that, in the baseball business, make old fictitious David Harum look like a Yiddish peddler."

In 1910, the Seattle Sunday Times wrote: "‘Red Robert’, the tobacco leader of the Vancouver baseball club, is the kind of a ball player that Charles Comiskey said Dick Padden was. He can't bat; he can't field much; he is only an ordinary thrower—but he is a mighty good ball player. Bob is always in shape and he is always popping with pepper. He has the controlling interest in the Vancouver club, and as he will keep his bunch up there fighting all the time, he will make all the money any reasonable man should want this year”.  In 1913, he built Athletic Park, which was home to Vancouver Baseball for the next 38 years.  Bob is credited with introducing night baseball to Canada (1930).  The Sporting News, called the “Bible of baseball” named him one of the top ten General Managers, in 1952.  He served as President of the Western International League (1953).  One of his accomplishments was the hiring of Emmett Ashford, who would go on to become the first African American to umpire in the Major Leagues.  Brown was the first person chosen for the Vancouver Baseball Hall of Fame (1960) and was posthumously elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame.  One of his obituaries compared him to some famous baseball team owners: “He was the sole survivor of that breed of independent storekeepers—Charlie Graham in San Francisco, Clark Griffith in Washington, Connie Mack in Philadelphia. They were tough men, gallant, proud, tight-fisted, desperately durable, always close to the line of extinction. They work skillfully, against the odds, to keep their clubs alive”.  In the same obit, from the Vancouver Sun, it was reported: “Hal Straight, one of Brown’s left-handed pitchers 30 years ago and former managing editor of The Sun, once said: ‘Bob came to Vancouver from that shoe store in Aberdeen and brought one of the shoe-strings with him. He did business on it every year afterwards’.” 

Harry Curtis 

Harry Curtis was a fine football player at Syracuse.  He was one of the top field goal kickers in the country.  According to Football:  Facts and Figures, by Dr. L.H. Baker, Harry kicked 15 "goals after touchdown" in the November 5, 1904 Syracuse rout (144-0) of Manhattan College.  The game was called because of darkness.  The Monday, November 7, 1904 edition of the "Syracuse Daily Orange" reported "The feature of the game was the kicking by Curtis.  The game was played during a drizzling rain and snow on a muddy field.  The ball was consequently wet and slippery, but Curtis kicked 15 out of 17 goals".  The "Syracuse University Weekly" of November 12 also credited Curtiss (sic) with two touchdowns from his fullback spot.

Curtis lettered in Football at Syracuse in 1903 and 1904; and baseball in 1904 and 1905 before transferring to ND.  The Notre Dame SCHOLASTIC of 1906 reported:  The best exhibition of drop kicking that has been seen on Cartier Field since the days of Coach O'Dea was furnished by Curtis on Friday. He put twenty-five out of thirty chances between the posts from the 45-vard line.  Curtis who had the bone in his hand broken a week ago suffered a double dose from the injury. The bone was set wrong, and it was only discovered a week after the accident had occurred which occasioned a re-setting of the hand. It was hoped Curtis would get in the game against Michigan "Aggies;" but there appears to be no chance.  Today, Harry would be a kicker, a specialist.  But, in those days, there was no such thing as a specialist.  There were no “holders”, “punters”, “snappers”, “kickers”, or “return men”.  You played both ways and everyone pitched in with these extra duties.  Harry went on to become one of the “graduate managers of athletics”, similar to today’s Athletic Director position.  Harry also played one year, as a catcher, with the New York Giants.

This next guy was a manager in a different “major” league for baseball:

Grant, Donald Chester “Chet”

b. 2/22/1892, Defiance, OH; d. 7/24/1985 (93), South Bend, IN.  5’7, 138

AT ND, 1915-1917 & 1920-1922.  From the SCHOLASTIC account after Notre Dame’s defeat of Case Tech, September 30, 1916:  “Grant, the sophomore quarter, displayed his class by two phenomenal long runs, one for ninety yards and one for ninety-five”.  Oddly, despite his work as a sports writer and ND coach, he was not able to get either of these long runs into the Notre Dame Media Guide.    WWI Captain.  Raised in South Bend, Chet was introduced to sports by his Uncle Angus, a local baseball star and Manager of the South Bend Green Stockings Minor League Team.  Chet became the Sports Editor of the “South Bend Tribune” at age 18.  After covering the Irish for a few years, he decided to enroll at ND, where he played basketball and football.  He was the back-up QB to Jim Phelan in 1916.  He understudied Joe Brandy, in 1920, before becoming the starter in 1921, leading ND to a 10-1 season.  The man below Chet in his final two seasons was Frank Thomas, who would later go on to be the most successful Football Coach at Alabama, until Bear Bryant came along.  A multi-sport athlete, Chet also worked in several sports.  He served as Press Agent for the Chicago Shamrocks Hockey team, of the American Hockey Association, during their two years of operation (1930-1932).  After winning the League title in 1931-1932, owner Jim Norris (future NHL Hall of Famer) folded his club after the NHL let him purchase the Detroit team, which he re-named the Red Wings.  Chet came back to Notre Dame, for the 1934-1940 seasons, as Elmer Layden’s backfield coach.  Chet and Layden co-authored an article, "No Quarter for Quarterbacks," in the November 26 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.  

Grant switched gears in 1946-1947, coaching the South Bend Blue Sox (127-96), in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League, before coaching the Kenosha Comets (62-64)) for 1948.  At the end of that year, while arguing with the umpires, he punched one!  When this writer first met Grant, he was serving as the Curator of the Sports and Games Collection, at the Notre Dame Library.  In 1978, he wrote a fine book which parallels the years of my research, Before Rockne at Notre Dame.

Interhall Football at Notre Dame 

Dormitory sports competition is important at Notre Dame to this day, but was never bigger than in our earliest days.  There were actually times when interhall players would refuse an invitation to be a sub on the varsity because it would preclude them from playing for the interhall football championship!  The interhall teams were a feeder system for the varsity.  The following future Major League Baseball Players were fine interhall football players at Notre Dame during my research period:

Norwood Gibson---one of the starting pitchers on the 1903 World Champion Boston Americans (now Red Sox).

Red Morgan---1906 Boston Americans third baseman, sharing the position with future Hall of Famer Jimmy Collins.  Red also starred in football for Georgetown, after leaving Notre Dame.

Bert Keeley---A top Chicago semi-pro pitcher.  Bert pitched the first complete game doubleheader of 1908.

Ed Reulbach---One of the top pitchers not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Won the N.L. winning percentage title, three years in a row, for the Tinker to Evers to Chance baseball dynasty of the Chicago Cubs.  In 1908, during the heat of the pennant race, he pitched the ONLY double header shutout in MLB history.

Bob Bescher---One of the top base stealers in MLB history.  He held the National League stolen base record for 50 years.  He starred in football at Wittenberg University after leaving Notre Dame.

Henry Thielman---A future dentist, Dr. Theilman was a N.L. pitcher.  He later pitched Minor League Baseball under an alias, because he did not want his dental patients to think he was no more than a professional baseball player—not a worthy occupation in those days.

Tom Whelan---became a fine college football player at Dartmouth and Georgetown, after leaving ND.  He played pro football for three years before the founding of the NFL.  Later he was a teammate of legendary Jim Thorpe on the NFL Champion Canton Bulldogs.  He had a cup of coffee in MLB.

John Mohardt---John is one of the most fascinating ND scholar athletes.  From April 1, 1928 through April 1, 1933, John Mohardt was a "Fellow in Surgery" with the Mayo Foundation, perfecting several medical specialties during that span.  Mohardt's life is one of the most outstanding stories in Notre Dame annals.  Mohardt graduated in a science curriculum suitable for pre-med.  Johnny lacked sufficient funds to pay his way to medical school, so he accepted some professional sports offers.  From 1921 through 1926, Mohardt played football for the Dayton Triangles, Chicago Cardinals, Racine Legion, Chicago Bears, and Chicago Bulls, of the three professional football leagues of the time.  With the '25 Bears, Mohardt played in the same backfield with Red Grange.  In 1922, John also played baseball with the Detroit Tigers and with Denver and Syracuse in the minor leagues.  

When I did my research for (another shameless plug coming) Notre Dame Baseball Greats, I tracked down John’s son.  He told me that John dropped out of high school for two years, to support his family.  He applied to ND, without a high school diploma, which was not necessarily a requirement for college attendance in those days.  According to his son,  Mohardt was given two “tests” for admission---Running and Throwing.  After clearly passing those tests, John would later become a cum laude grad before pursuing his Medical career.

George Halas said of Mohardt, "..(he) was a man with a mission.  He dedicated himself to the medical profession soon after he joined the Bears in the Twenties and never wavered.”  For good measure, Mohardt also served his country.  He enlisted in the Army at the opening of World War II.  He served overseas in North Africa and Italy with the 12th General Hospital Unit.  He was discharged as a Lieutenant Colonel.  He later returned to government service as Chief Surgeon of a V.A. Hospital and later as Assistant Director of the V.A. Surgical Service.  Few Notre Dame athletes exceeded this combination of a college and professional academic and athletic career.

Arch Ward

I am famous for my “tangents”, grasping at any straws to “connect things” to my topics.  Here’s a bit of a stretch.  When Gus Dorais (my choice for the most-underrated Notre Dame Football Player) was helping his former teammate Knute Rockne coach ND, he recommend that Rockne hire Arch Ward to become the first student publicity writer.  Worked out very well.  Arch Ward would later go on to create the Golden Gloves; the College Football All Star Game; the All American Football Conference; and the Baseball All Star Game.

Go Irish!  cap


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