Although both members of the Packer Hall of Fame born on Halloween are deceased, Cal Hubbard and Ted Fritsch all sharing a birthday is a remarkable confluence of Green Bay talent. Robert Cal Hubbard was a big Missouri farm boy who was born at the turn of the last century and who had a celebrated, long and divergent career in professional sports. After graduating high school, Cal spent a few years working on the farm before enrolling in 1922 at tiny Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana in order to play football for his boyhood hero, Bo McMillan. When McMillan moved to Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania the next year, Hubbard continued to follow him and sat out of football a year. He then played for McMillan at Geneva from 1924-1926 and made All-America in his senior year. That final year was highlighted by Geneva’s 16-7 upset of mighty Harvard when Hubbard was practically a one-man team.
He joined the New York Giants in 1927 as they won their first NFL championship; in his second year, he made All-Pro for the first of six consecutive times. On offense, he played tackle and occasionally end, while on defense he is sometimes credited with being the first linebacker because he would back up off the line to take his stance with the Giants. After those two years, he had had enough of the big city and made known that he wanted to go to Green Bay and joined the Packers for 1929, the same year as fellow stars guard Mike Michalske and halfback Johnny Blood. It’s no coincidence that Green Bay won the next three championships with their help. That made four titles for Cal. Hubbard and Michalske shored up the defensive line to the extent that the Packers only surrendered 22 points for the entire 1929 season while Johnny Blood helped the offense score 198. Curly Lambeau had Cal stay in the line on defense, ending his linebacker days.
Hubbard was sometimes listed as weighing as much as 270 pounds, but he asserted that he never weighed more than 250 in his playing days, which was still gigantic stature for those days of two-way football. Opposing quarterback Harry Newman later told Richard Whittingham that, “Green Bay had the most brutal lineman in the game, Cal Hubbard. He played tackle and was about 6’5″ and maybe 270 pounds. He played with the same kind of intensity that Dick Butkus did later. We used to say of Cal that even if he missed you, he still hurt you. When he tackled you, you remembered it. I do to this day.”
Hubbard started baseball umpiring in the minor leagues in 1928 and worked his way up to the International League by 1931 as his football career was winding down. He left the pros in 1934 to be a line coach at Texas A&M for one year, and then returned to Green Bay in 1935. The following year, he saw action with both Pittsburgh and the Giants, but of more importance, he was promoted to American League umpire. Over the next 16 seasons as a big league umpire, he worked four World Series and three All Star Games. When a hunting accident marred his vision in 1952, he was promoted to assistant supervisor of umpires and then to American League Supervisor of Umpires in 1954. He held that post until 1969 when he retired.
In that same year, Cal was voted the NFL’s greatest tackle for its first fifty years; Don Hutson, Jerry Kramer and Ray Nitschke also made that same team. In addition, he was selected along with Hutson and Clarke Hinkle to the league’s 75th anniversary two-way team. Cal is also a member of at least six Halls of Fame. He is the only man to be a member of both the Baseball and Pro Football Halls, and he is also in the College Football Hall, the Packer Hall, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. He was inducted into Cooperstown in 1976, but was one of four Packers who were charter members of the Pro Football Hall in 1963 along with Curly Lambeau, Don Hutson, and Johnny Blood.
Ted Fritsch was a native Wisconsinite who attended Stevens Point, where the Packers would later hold training camp in the mid-1950s. His coach at Stevens Point, Eddie Kotal, was a former Packer player and assistant coach who talked Curly Lambeau into signing Fritsch as an undrafted free agent in 1942. Fritsch quickly established himself as a fullback/linebacker second only to Clarke Hinkle in team history. Ted was a two-time All-Pro, scored both Green Bay touchdowns in the 1944 NFL title game and the NFL’s top scorer with 100 points in 1946. He actually signed with the Browns of the All-America Football Conference, but Paul Brown let him out of that contract when the Browns brought in Marion Motley. Fritsch spent nine years in Green Bay from 1942-50 and usually served as the team’s field goal kicker as well, although he hit on only eight of 37 attempts in his final two seasons. A convivial and gregarious man who was popular wherever he went, he was elected to the Packer Hall of Fame in 1973.
Two other starting Packer linemen were also born on Halloween: Claude Perry and Ross Verba. While Claude “Cupid” Perry can’t measure up to Hubbard, he was a very good two-way tackle who came to Green Bay in 1927 after starring for Alabama’s first national championship team in 1926. On the Green Bay line, he played alongside two former Tide teammates—Bruce Jones and Jim Bowdoin. He and Jones also played together at Walker High School. Claude was generally a starter for the Packers from 1927-35, aside from four games in the middle of 1932 when he was loaned to the Brooklyn Dodgers. He surfaced in the second American Football League in 1936 before retiring from playing. During World War II, Perry enlisted in the Marines at the age of 41 and later returned to his native Alabama and worked in the coal mining business. Verba was Green Bay’s top draft pick in 1997 and was a solid starter with a nasty streak at tackle and guard from 1997-2000 until he left for Cleveland as a free agent.
(Adapted from Packers by the Numbers)
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