Sports

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” -Vince Lombardi

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Fr. Dan with two of his younger 1st cousins, likely in Manitowoc, shortly after his ordination—so mid-1940s? I think I know who the girls are, but am not positive, so I won’t speculate.  Photo acquired from family members.

Mary Elizabeth Haws (Aunt May) is my grandfather’s (Edward Mathias Haws) next younger sister. Like him, she was born in Kossuth, Manitowoc, Wisconsin. In 1915, at age 25, she married John J. Carroll in Chicago, Illinois. John Carroll was born in Brooklyn, so I’m not quite sure how the two of them met and fell in love.

By 1910, Aunt May was no longer in her parents’ household. Many Wisconsin girls found employment in the homes of Chicago’s North Shore residents, (as my great-grandmother, Dorothea Harry did) so it’s possible she was working there and they met that way. Their oldest child, Gerard Paul (my 1st cousin, once removed), was born in 1916 in Chicago¹, but the young family soon moved to New York—specifically Brooklyn. That was where Gerard’s only sister, Virginia, was born in 1918.

Gerard Paul attended Catholic schools and seminaries in Brooklyn, eventually making his First Profession of Vows in 1940 with the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians), and being ordained in 1944. For his ordination he chose the name “Daniel.” That was the good old days when priests and nuns had to choose an entirely different name for their religious life. He spent the rest of his life as Father Dan(iel).

Where do sports fit in? It’s coming.

Vince Lombardi is of course, a famous Brooklynite. He was three years older than Fr. Dan, but they both attended Cathedral Prep and St. Francis. They knew each other from their high school years, becoming close friends. Fr. Dan became a staunch Green Bay Packers fan, and apparently Coach Lombardi would leave a sideline access pass for him, if the Packers were playing nearby.

Fr. Dan died 2 September 2002. In the 2-page memorial paper I received, it said, ” . . . there’s even a picture of him [Fr. Dan] sitting on the bench next to Lombardi on a cover of Sports Illustrated.” WOW! I didn’t pursue checking that out until a couple years later, when my cousin, Maria (his grand-niece), asked me about it. Her son was writing a report for school and she wanted to verify the story. I decided to help.

Lombardi would certainly find his way onto the Sports Illustrated cover—the question is, how many, and was Fr. Dan in the photo, too? It turns out Lombardi had three covers. I even located a web page with images of every cover! Unfortunately, none of them showed Lombardi on the bench, and zooming in or using a magnifying glass didn’t reveal any priest nearby.

Of course, we know from the “Napoleon” legend (Family Legend) that stories sometimes get garbled along the way. Maybe the photo wasn’t on the cover, but inside the magazine? It was worth checking out. Of the nearby libraries, the only one to have a complete collection of Sports Illustrated magazines was the main (downtown) Indianapolis branch. So I dropped my son at school one day, borrowed a digital camera from a friend, and drove the 10 miles to downtown Indy.

The magazine back issues were stored in the closed stacks. The librarian did a double-take when I handed her the slip requesting all the issues from 1959-1968! I explained what I was trying to find. A short time later she rolled a cart up to the table I’d commandeered and left me to my task.

How does one eat an elephant? Small bites! Since I had no clue as to when the photo was taken, I decided to start at the beginning and proceed chronologically. I briefly thought of skipping the non-football season issues, but remembered that sports get written about off-season, too. Skipping some, then maybe having to go back and check them anyway, seemed a bad plan. I also considered using the table of contents to decide what pages to check, but realized that was a bad plan, too. I opened the first issue and started flipping through, page by page.

It was like reliving my childhood. Sports names I hadn’t thought of in years jumped off the pages at me. The fashions of the 1960s came flooding back as the ads flew by. I remembered styles that would have been better forgotten. Since I was looking for a photo, rather than an article, I made reasonably good progress through the issues. They were old magazines, though, so I also needed to be reasonably careful with the pages.

Suddenly, there it was, on page 20 of the 19 December 1960 issue: a 4.75″ x 5.75″ black and white photo of Fr. Dan and . . .  Paul Hornung.

NOT Lombardi!

Of course, not exactly chopped liver, either. It was the December 10th playoff game usually referred to as the “Mud Bowl.” It’s not the only game to earn that title, but being a playoff game increased its importance.

In the photo, Hornung is sitting on the bench warming up after having made what would be the only touchdown in the 13-0 shutout against the San Francisco 49ers. His number “5” is barely visible against his previously white jersey. Fr. Dan looks on from the side, in his overcoat and fedora, hand on his hip. That was an era when you went to the game far more dressed up than today’s fans do! Of course, Fr. Dan is not identified in the photo caption, or in the article, but from the few photos I have of him, there’s no mistake.

How did he end up at that game? Throughout his career as priest, Fr. Dan was assigned many places: Colombia, Wisconsin, Mexico, Arizona, Alabama, and California, to name a few. Some were longer assignments (5-10 years) others were shorter (1-2 years). In 1960, he was in Galt, California, about 90 miles from Kezar Stadium. I’d certainly make that drive to see the Packers!

I was THRILLED with my find, photocopied the article and used the digital camera for a better shot of the photo. Unfortunately, the licensing fee for me to include it here is beyond my budget, but you can find the back issue at your local library with the details from above, or visit Getty Images and search for “Hornung bench.” You will easily recognize it from my description.

If you are wondering, yes, I DID search through the remaining issues in the unlikely event that there had been TWO photos—maybe one with Lombard! No such luck. I’ll settle for the one victory, and the satisfaction of knowing Fr. Dan was friends with some of the best football players and coaches in history.

#52Ancestors


¹”Illinois, Cook County, Birth Certificates, 1871-1940,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N7S8-XLQ : 18 May 2016), Gerard Paul Carroll, 21 Mar 1916; Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States, reference/certificate 10641, Cook County Clerk, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,308,595.