Hinkle’s Hat in the Ring

On October ninth and tenth in 1953, both the UPI and AP wire services ran with the unsolicited announcement by former Green Bay fullback Clarke Hinkle that he was applying for the 0-2 Packers’ head coaching position then held by Gene Ronzani. In 3+ years at the helm, Ronzani’s record at that point was 12-26, although he had just signed a three-year extension in January.

Hinkle’s desire was “to restore the Packers to their place in the football world.” He added, “I do not expect to get the job. But I certainly would take it if offered because there must be a reawakening all around among loyal fans as well as players. I know I could do much to bring about a revival.”

Hinkle at the time was working for a steel company in West Virginia and his only coaching experience was in semipro ball. 11 years later, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Hall’s second class of inductees. As for Ronzani and the Packers, Gene was relieved of his duties less than two months later, following a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Lions that dropped the Packers to 2-7-1. The coaching reins were turned over to the three assistants – Scooter McLean, Hugh Devore and Chuck Drulis – for the season’s concluding road trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Drulis then left the team two days after Ronzani’s ouster, reportedly to take care of his ailing father. Oddly, Ronzani traveled to the West Coast on the same train with the team in order to take a vacation. He defended his strange action by saying, “Why shouldn’t I come out here? Remember, I had planned on this trip anyhow. I like California. This is the first chance I’ve had for a vacation in three years, despite a clause in my contract – that is, my ex-contract – that said I was to get three weeks’ vacation a year. So, why not take advantage of the chance? I have no family, so I can move as I please.” Ronzani even watched the game against the 49ers from the press box. He would never be a NFL head coach again, and Hinkle remained working in industry.

2waychinklec  1948lchinkle

Hinkle custom cards are colorized.

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