OK, Trainor, you found me out! [Any Cardinals fans out there? Inside Report, Jan. 28] Yes, I was eight years old in 1947. And yes, there were only two ventricles to my heart. The pathetic White Sox occupied one. The wonderful, Bear-beating Chicago Cardinals owned the other, much larger one. Everything else in life was secondary. (It would be that way for a few more years until I recognized that loveliest of all God’s creation, girls.)
I still have a vivid memory of sitting at the kitchen table alongside my dad listening to the radio broadcast of the December Bears-Cardinals game. The Cards beat the Bears twice that year! No, they beat the pants off the Bears! Twice!
The Cardinals had a wonderful backfield. “Pitching” Paul Christman was quarterback. The halfbacks (yes, that’s what they were called) were Elmer Angsman and a rookie named Charlie Trippi. The fullback was a guy named Pat Harder. Pat wasn’t his real name (it stood for point after touchdown). As I recall, the center was a guy by the name of Marshall Goldberg, and the ends were Boris Dimancheff and Billy Dowell. So now you know my pantheon of heroes. But that’s only half the story.
Our family doctor, and close family friend, Ralph O’Halleron (Uncle Ralph to me), was the team physician for the Cardinals. Through the years until I started playing high school football, my older brothers and I would receive bench passes for every Cardinals home game. It was wonderful – my vocabulary of cuss words was far more developed than that of any of my friends.
A few years later, the Cards fell from the heights with a thud. By the early ’50s they were at best a mediocre football team. Still, two names stand out. The first was Ollie Matson, one of the best running backs of that era and a predecessor to the great Jim Brown. The other was a halfback by the name of Billy Cross. Billy Cross also joined my pantheon, a halfback who weighed less than 160 pounds. But, damn, could he run! And he played defense, too! By the time of Billy Cross, I knew I wasn’t going to be a big guy. But I knew I could be like him!