For the very elite athletes that have been enshrined into the hall of fame and played in the Big Ten, such as Ralph Beardsley, Don Norton and Marshal Yanda, it’s more than just a game. Ralph was enshrined into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame, Don was enshrined into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame and the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame, and Marshal was enshrined into the Junior College Football Hall of Fame.
It’s more than just a number, ask Jackie Robinson’s family or watch the movie “42.” After serving in World War II, Jackie broke the color line in modern day baseball on April 15, 1947. Each April 15 all 750 Major League Baseball players wear 42 to honor him. All 30 teams retired his number.
Denny Norton was our special guest as we took 25 St. Pat’s students to the University of Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame. Don won a state, national and world championship. Individually, Don was a state champion (high jump), 1st Team All-American and all-pro. We saw two bronze plaques of Don Big Ten Championship teams bolted to the brick at Kinnick Stadium.
We met some Iowa Hawkeye football players. I told one athlete, “This is Denny Norton, his brother Don played on the Iowa Rose Bowl Championship teams of the ‘50s.” The athlete said, “Coach Ferentz talks about the 50s Rose Bowl teams.” I’m sure Ferentz also talks about Yanda, Kinnick and the Iron Men. Kinnick was Ralph’s freshmen coach, and some of the Iron Men were on Ralph’s 1941 team.
Denny and Steve Norton recently wrote a letter to the editor in the Journal-Eureka supporting Anamosa retiring Ralph’s Blue Raider football jersey 20. Ralph left Iowa after his sophomore year, in which he was a starter for the Hawks, and entered into WWII with his brother Bob, Nile and Ben Kinnick, Iowa Coach Eddie Anderson and Jackie Robinson.
It’s time Ralph’s 20 joins Don’s 22 and Marshal’s 77 as the only three Blue Raider Hawkeyes since 1895.