History hand-in-hand with Hagemeister
Hagemeister Park has a valuable role in the history of the Green Bay Packers, but Saturday, Nov. 14, it was the site of much more.
The Green Bay Football History event took two different groups of attendees back to the days of Green Bay’s 1897 town team, that team that later became the Packers.
“I thought it was a great second year,” stated Deniss Gullickson, organizer and author of ‘Vagabond Halfback: The Life and Times of Johnny Blood McNally.’ “All the feedback I had was just great. I just ran into a guy that said it was awesome from beginning to end.”
Two sets of descendants were able to make the afternoon show and another came to the evening portion. John Padron, the grandson of Tom Skenadore – the first professional player in Green Bay history – and his wife Maria came early, along with T.P. Silverwood’s granddaughter Maria Silverwood Sharp and her son Steve.
At night, Harry Hanrahan’s grandchildren Margaret ‘Molly’ Piantek, Ken Mollet and Jean McCormick attended while Nancy McCue, granddaughter of founder Fred Hulbert, was unable to make it due to health reasons.
The program spanned 100 years with Chris Havel from the The Fan 107 radio program and author of ‘A Year of Champions-The 1996 Green Bay Packers,’ offering a presentation on those Packers that won Super Bowl XXXI.
“The ‘96 team is my favorite team of all time,” he said, agreeing when a questioner asked if that was the only team in the NFL to have both the top-rated offense and defense.
A highlight of the event was a menu from the old Hotel Northland, with delicious unique dishes of Astoria Salad, Mixed Grill ala Anglaise and Coconut Macaroon Parfait.
“There were things people hadn’t eaten for 50 years,” Gullickson said. “Hagemeister’s chef did an excellent job.”
The men behind the $44 million renovation of the Hotel Northland – Steve Frantz and Dennis Doucette – called their project “affordable luxury” citing regular room rates in the $115-125 range, with a special club and two casual 3-meals-a-day restaurants. “We’re just stewards,” Frantz offered. “This hotel belongs to Green Bay.”
Director John Mitchell showed a trailer from his upcoming ‘Cheeseheads – The Documentary.’ Jim Rice spoke on ‘The NFC North Tradition,’ noting the Packers have a chance to knot the all-time series at 93-93-6 – the first time the records would be tied since 1932 – with a victory on Thanksgiving.
Carl Hanson gave a quick lesson in how old-time news accounts and team schedules differed from today, one influencing the other based on issuing a challenge, or ‘throw a defi’ (for defiance). Jim Lefebvre talked on ‘Curly Lambeau, Jim Crowley and the 1920 Green Bay East High State Champions.’ Crowley became one of Notre Dame’s famous Four Horsemen under Knute Rockne, immortalized by sportswriter Grantland Rice.
Gullickson had opened with a Hail the Champions’ speech about the 1897 town team and he introduced Heritage Auctions’ Chris Nerat, their Packers authority. Nerat flew up from Dallas for the event, and gave free memorabilia evaluations. Heritage Auctions is the world’s largest auction house, doing a billion dollars worth of business last year.
The event will be back next year. David Maraniss – author of the iconic Lombardi biography, ‘When Pride Still Mattered,’ and many other New York Times best-sellers – may be in attendance.
“He said to pencil him in for next year,” Gullickson concluded.