Kim Beardsley stated, “As an Anamosa High School Alumnus myself, I am proud of Don Norton and Marshal Yanda’s distinguished careers and what they mean to this community. These men deserve every honor accorded to them. It is a compliment to hear my dad’s name brought up with theirs. He, too, would have been honored to be mentioned in their company.”
Steve and Denny Norton wrote me a letter stating, “If it wasn’t for WWII, Ralph Beardsley would have been the first Blue Raider to play in the NFL and not our brother Don.”
I visited with Marshal about Ralph, and he, too, was very impressed with him.
Ralph’s Iowa Class of 1945 had the most players drafted into the NFL in school history with nine players taken. Only one of these players started as a sophomore. Ralph left for WWII after his sophomore year.
Iowa head coach Eddie Anderson stated, “He has a fine streamlined build, understands the fundamentals of the game and can be fully trusted to do his best as a real football player.” Anderson was an NCAA Hall of Fame coach.
Ralph may have the most impressive high school resume of the 185 players enshrined into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame. Over half of these players played in the NFL.
There is a lot of evidence that Ralph would have been drafted into the NFL if he didn’t leave Iowa for WWII. Our school board will be making their decision soon on whether they will retire Ralph’s number 20 jersey. I believe his number should have been the first number retired. It may be the last. I believe if an athlete is enshrined into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame or played in the NFL, they deserve the very unique honor.
Ralph was the first of our first three Blue Raider Hawkeyes, was 1st Team All-State twice when all players were in one division, named Iowa High School Athlete of the Year in 1940, received votes for the Iowa High School All-Century Football Team (1914-2014) and was our first athlete enshrined into the Iowa High School Hall of Fame.