Starr & Lombardi: Packer Legends Visited Janesville

On August 4, 1956, Bart Starr threw his first professional touchdown pass right here in Janesville, Wisconsin, at Monterey Stadium in an exhibition game. Read all about it in the Monday, August 6, 1956 edition (there was no Sunday paper at the time). We scanned this from our microfilm collection.

In this photo, Coach Lisle Blackbourn is pictured with Rev. G. E. Carlton from St. John Vianney Catholic Church, along with Packer players Billy Bookout and Howie Ferguson. Vince Lombardi was not hired as coach until February 4, 1959.

Click once or twice to enlarge

Bart Starr's return to Monterey Stadium on October 15, 2010 to dedicate a plaque is explained in the September 21 issue of the Janesville Gazette - read it now.

Vince Lombardi spoke in Janesville on February 25, 1969. An audio cd of this speech may be purchased at Videogenics, or borrowed from the library. Our local history pamphlet file for Vince Lombardi includes a note that Howard Gage, owner of Videogenics, recorded Lombardi's speech and recalled that the Master of Ceremonies for the event was Bob Rhodes, former editor of The Janesville Gazette. The library has a copy of the text of Lombardi's speech. While reading "Lombardi and Me" by Paul Hornung, library staff noticed an entry in the Table of Contents: 'Appendix B: Lombardi's Farewell Speech, Given February 26, 1969, in Janesville, Wisconsin'. The date of the speech is listed incorrectly. It was given on February 25, part of a 'Town Hall Series', at what is now the Janesville Performing Arts Center, in the former Marshall Middle School building next to the library.

Here's an excerpt:

"Thank you, thank you, thank you, Bob, for that wonderful introduction. Anytime I hear all of those things, in an introduction like that, I always can hardly wait to hear what I have to say. I am flattered of course to be invited here, to be one of your speakers in the town hall series. This is my first attempt at anything like this; usually I speak at after-dinner banquets, I mean after-dinner speaker at banquets and so forth and so on, but very seldom am I asked to appear in auditoriums, such as this, and in a town hall series. I want to say, however, that I am flattered to be asked, very much so. The last few weeks, as Bob said a little bit, have been very, very hectic for me. In fact I am somewhere on a cross, somewhere between a Baptist minister who bought a secondhand car and never had the vocabulary to run it and a football...a football coach who died and went to hell, and never noticed the transition....."

After his speech, Lombardi answered questions from the press.

We scanned The Janesville Gazette article from our microfilm of February 26, 1969, with the headline: "Lombardi Not Surprised by Jets' Super Bowl Win". This was the victory predicted by the brash Jets quarterback, Joe Namath.

At the time of the speech Lombardi was the new coach and part owner of the Washington Redskins. It was his last public speech in Wisconsin. Lombardi died on September 3, 1970.

--submitted by sb, 10/6/2010

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