Ten Essential Packer Books: #1


Run to Daylight by Vince Lombardi with W.C. Heinz (Prentice-Hall, 1963).

Prentice-Hall hired revered New York Herald Tribune sports columnist Red Smith as the general editor of series of sports books in 1962, and the Green Bay native began the series by contracting with the coach of the champion Packers, Vince Lombardi, for a ghost-written memoir. Because the sports editor of Look, Tim Cohane, who had known Vince since both were at Fordham in the 1930s, was unavailable, Smith turned to respected New York freelance magazine writer W.C. Heinz to pen the book.

After meeting with Lombardi, Heinz decided the best course of action was a progressive narrative in which he would follow Lombardi around for a week while the coach prepared the team for a game. Within that seven-day structure, Heinz would incorporate relevant stories and anecdotes into the day-by-day chronicle of the life of an NFL coach.

Fortuitously, the game selected was the October 7, 1962 showdown with the arch rival Lions at City Stadium. Both teams came into the game 3-0, but Green Bay had beaten its three opponents by a combined 100-7 score. The game was a rugged defensive battle on an overcast, foggy day that the Packers pulled out in the last two minutes after Herb Adderley returned an ill-advised Milt Plum pass 40 yards to set up the game winning field goal by Paul Hornung. So the book had a happy ending.

What makes the well-crafted book so special and the most essential Packer book of all, though, are two things. First, it gives the reader an inside view of the workings and the strategic style of Lombardi’s Packers at the height of their powers in the midst of a 13-1 championship season. Second, the book features Lombardi’s incisive thumbnail sketches of each of the 36 players on the 1962 roster, as well as the assistant coaches. Run to Daylight connects the reader to the team more than any other book.

1961tvlombardi2  1963tvlombardi2

1964plombardi  1967pvlombardi

Custom cards in Topps 1961 and 1963 and Philadelphia 1964 and 1967 styles.

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