Decades ago, Anamosa Chief of Police Leonard Norton told his son Bing, “Ralph Beardsley was the star amongst stars.” He saw him play football back in the 1930s and ‘40s. Ralph’s teams helped set the Iowa state record of 47 undefeated games in a row.
Since 2014, I have trying to get Ralph’s Blue Raider football jersey 20 retired. I’m asking our school board to make this policy: If a Blue Raider player was enshrined into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame or played in the NFL, their number would be retired. Superintendent Larry Hunt told me our school board will discuss this honor for Ralph this summer.
Anamosa has retired three football numbers: Don Norton’s 22, Arnie Rushford’s 33 and Marshal Yanda’s 77. In 1941, Nile Kinnick was Ralph’s freshmen coach at Iowa. In 1942, Ralph started at offensive guard for the Hawkeyes.
Ralph was the first of only two Blue Raiders to be enshrined into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame, the other is Don Norton. Ralph, Don and Marshal are our only three Blue Raider Hawkeyes since 1895.
Here are six of the highest accomplishments a high school football player can achieve: enshrined into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame, voted Iowa High School Athlete of the Year, named 1st team all-state back-to-back years (from all classes), receive votes for the Iowa High School All-Century Football Team, be recruited to play Division I football and be undefeated all four years in high school.
Ralph accomplished all six of these honors. There are 190 football players enshrined into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame. Over 100 of these players played in the NFL. My research shows that Ralph is the most decorated Iowa high school football player of all time.
Ralph left Iowa with Nile Kinnick and his head coach Eddie Anderson and entered into WWII.
Including Ralph’s state title in the shot put, the state of Iowa has honored him nine times. Retiring his number is three-quarters of a century overdue. Anamosa school board, please retire Ralph’s 20 before this football season.