Cal Hubbard

Robert Calvin Hubbard (October 31, 1900 – October 17, 1977) was a professional American football player and Major League Baseball (MLB) umpire. After playing football at Centenary College and Geneva College, Hubbard played in the National Football League (NFL) between 1927 and 1936 for the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Pirates, playing the bulk of his career with the Packers.[3] Hubbard is credited as being one of the inventors of the football position of linebacker.[4]

He was also an umpire in the American League (AL) from 1936 to 1951, then worked as an umpire supervisor until 1969. George Halas affectionately called Hubbard the "Big Umpire."[5]

To date, Hubbard is the only person to be enshrined in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Cal Hubbard
Cal Hubbard Football
No. 27, 36, 38, 39, 40, 41, 51, 60[1][2]
Personal information
Born:October 31, 1900
Keytesville, Missouri
Died:October 17, 1977 (aged 76)
St. Petersburg, Florida
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:253 lb (115 kg)
Career information
High school:Glasgow (MO)
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:105
Games started:77
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Early life

Cal Hubbard was born in Keytesville, Missouri to parents Robert P. and Sarah "Sallie" (Ford) Hubbard.[6] He grew up in modest means as the son of a small family farmer. Cal graduated from Keytesville High School, but because the school had no football team he also attended one year at Glasgow High School in nearby Glasgow, Missouri, which did offer football.[6] Already tall and weighing 200 pounds as a 14-year-old, Hubbard displayed natural athletic gifts. He aspired to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York; however a physical discovered he had flat feet, eliminating him from eligibility.[6]

From an early age Hubbard was involved with sports. He umpired pickup baseball games at the age of 18.[7] Hubbard chose to attend a college or university that offered football, selecting Chillicothe Business College in Chillicothe, Missouri[6] while also continuing to work around his family farm.[4] A chance meeting in 1922 with Bo McMillin, the new football coach at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana, led Hubbard to enroll and play football there from 1922 to 1924.[6] Hubbard was the school's first All-American.[8] Georgia Tech coach Bill Alexander once watched Centenary when it was in town to play Oglethorpe. "Bo, this Oglethorpe bunch has fast backs, but the line is light and green. If you turn that Hubbard loose, he might kill some of them. Have Cal 'hurt his knee', why don't you, and let him sit on the bench?"[9]

When McMillin moved on to suburban Pittsburgh's Geneva College, Hubbard followed him and played there in 1926 (after a year of ineligibility for switching schools in 1925). Geneva opened the season with an upset of Harvard.[10]

In an era when 6-foot players were considered tall, Hubbard was noted for remarkable speed for a player of his size, listed officially at 6-foot-2, 253 pounds but as high as 6-foot-5 in Packers' sources.[3] He starred as a tackle and end, playing off the 7-man line in a style similar to that of a modern linebacker.[11] Hubbard completed his college education in 1927, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Geneva College.[6]

Professional career

Football career

Hubbard moved on to the National Football League in 1927, signing with the New York Giants for a salary of US$150 per game.[3] Playing alongside Steve Owen his rookie year, he helped the Giants defense allow opponents to score just twenty total points all season as they won the league championship.[12] For his efforts Hubbard won all-league honors by the press the following year. But with a lifelong dislike for big cities, he didn't feel comfortable in New York and a 1928 road game in Green Bay led him to request a trade to the Packers, threatening to retire otherwise.[3]

Under Packers coach Curly Lambeau, Hubbard and the team won the NFL title in each of his first three years there (1929–1931). The 1929 team surrendered just 22 points. Lambeau had Hubbard play in the line, ending his "linebacker" days.[2] The NFL named its first official All-League team in 1931 with Cal Hubbard being one of that inaugural list. He was chosen for the honor again in 1932 and 1933.[3] Mel Hein said Hubbard was "probably the greatest tackle I ever played against."[13]

Once while playing the Chicago Bears with Ukrainian fullback Bronko Nagurski, the Bears prepared to punt. Hubbard went to the halfback Red Grange and said: "I promise not to try to block the kick, Red, but get out of the way so I can get a shot at that Polack." Grange, glad not to try to block Hubbard for once, obliged. Cal tore through the line, slammed into Nagurski and bounced off. Rising slowly, he turned to Grange and said: "Hey, Red, don't do me any more favors."[5]

Hubbard stepped away from professional football following the 1933 season, taking a job as the line coach at Texas A&M in 1934.[14] However, he was persuaded to return to play after that one year on the sidelines, returning to Green Bay in 1935. The Giants wooed him back to start 1936 with them, but he played only six games the entire season, five for the Giants and a final game for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the future Steelers.[3] Hubbard returned to football coaching briefly, serving as head coach of his alma mater Geneva College in 1941 and 1942.[6] He was among the initial class of inductees to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. In a 1969 poll by the Hall of Fame committee, Hubbard was voted the NFL's greatest tackle of all-time.[4]

Baseball career

Hubbard with umpire's equipment.

Even while Hubbard's football career was going full-force, he began to focus on a second career in baseball officiating. From 1928 onward he spent his football off-season umpiring in minor league baseball.[6] By 1936 Hubbard had been called up to the major leagues, umpiring in the American League from 1936 to 1951, a contemporary with the likes of Yogi Berra.[5] Soon recognized as one of the game's best officials, he was selected to work in the 1938 World Series, followed by Series appearances in 1942, 1946 and 1949.[15] In addition, he umpired in the All-Star Game in 1939, 1944 and 1949, behind the plate for half of the 1939 and 1944 midsummer classics.[16]

Hubbard found the then-common practice of officials moving to different positions on the field during a game to be confusing and hampered accuracy when making calls. Applying his football experience to baseball, he devised a system where each official had clearly defined duties and also added an additional official to the crew.[3] This was the foundation on which MLB established new officiating standards in 1952.[16]

While hunting during the 1951 off-season a ricocheting pellet from a friends shotgun blast accidentally struck Hubbard in the right eye.[17] The damage was extensive enough to force his retirement from baseball officiating. However, the American League soon hired him as an assistant supervisor for league officiating crews, and in 1954 he became the top supervisor, a position he would hold until retiring for good in 1969.[6]

Final years

Cal Hubbard
Cal Hubbard plaque
Career highlights and awards
  • American League Umpire (1936–1951)
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodVeterans Committee

Never a fan of big cities, Hubbard had moved to Milan, Missouri, in 1944.[18] He left in 1945 but moved back in 1948 for good.[6] Milan was a small town much like his native Keytesville, which is about fifty miles to the south on Missouri Route 5. A lifelong avid fisherman and hunter, the rural areas of Sullivan and neighboring counties offered ample opportunity. Hubbard stayed involved in community affairs, especially children's sports, as much as his schedule would allow. In honor of his efforts the football field at Milan High School is named Cal Hubbard Field.[19]

Hubbard developed emphysema in the last few years of his life, so doctors suggested that he move away from the cold weather in Missouri. He relocated in 1976 to St. Petersburg, Florida.[20] In recognition of his contributions to the game as an umpire and supervisor, Cal Hubbard was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976, only the fifth umpire to be so honored up to that time.[6]

Hubbard died due to cancer October 17, 1977, in St. Petersburg. He is buried in the Oakwood Cemetery, Milan, Missouri. He was survived by wife Mildred and two sons, Dr. Robert Hubbard, and William "Bill" Hubbard.[21]

Awards and honors

  • Member, Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (inducted 1954)
  • Charter Member, Pro Football Hall of Fame (inducted 1963)
  • Member, College Football Hall of Fame (inducted 1962)
  • Member, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (inducted 1965)
  • Member, Helms Foundation Hall of Fame (inducted 1969)
  • Member, Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame (inducted 1970)
  • Named to All-Time All-Professional football team (1970)
  • Member, National Baseball Hall of Fame (inducted 1976)
  • Member, Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame (Beaver County, Pennsylvania) (inducted 1976)
  • Member, Centenary College Athletic Hall of Fame (inducted posthumously, 1990)
  • Named to the Grantland Rice All-Time, All-American football team
  • Cal Hubbard Field (football) at Milan High School in Milan, Missouri is named in his honor.
  • Cal Hubbard Field (baseball) at Keytesville, Missouri High School is named in his honor.


  1. ^ "Uniform Numbers of the NFL".
  2. ^ a b "Packers by the Numbers".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Biography: Cal Hubbard". Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame website. 2013. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Reed, William F. (September 5, 1994). "Early Master:Cal Hubbard". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c Bob Broeg (October 23, 1977). "Cal Hubbard: 'Big Umpire' Was A Man For All Sports". p. 16. Retrieved May 21, 2016 – via open access
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Robert Calvin Hubbard bio". The State Historical Society of Missouri via website. 2013. Retrieved April 5, 2013.
  7. ^ "Cal Hubbard, 76, Dies". York Daily Record. October 18, 1977. p. 15. Retrieved May 21, 2016 – via open access
  8. ^ "Robert". Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
  9. ^ Edwin Pope. Football's Greatest Coaches. p. 10.
  10. ^ Henry McLemore (April 26, 1937). "Cal Hubbard Chooses Star Pro Grid Team". Oshkosh Daily Northwestern. p. 15. Retrieved May 22, 2016 – via open access
  11. ^ Richard Whittingham. What a Game They Played: An Inside Look at the Golden Era of Pro Football. p. 62.
  12. ^ Lew Freedman. "New York Giant: The Complete Illustrated History". p. 19.
  13. ^ Richard Wittingham. We Are the Giants. p. 183.
  14. ^ "Cal Hubbard: First To Enter Two Halls of Fame". Daytona Beach Sunday News-Journal. February 3, 1976.
  15. ^ "A Legend dies". Beaver County Times. October 17, 1977.
  16. ^ a b "Cal Hubbard – Missouri Sports Hall of Fame". Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
  17. ^ "Hubbard, Cal – Baseball Hall of Fame". Baseball Hall of Fame.
  18. ^ Source: Cal Hubbard Memorial Plaque, Sullivan County Courthouse grounds, Milan, Missouri.
  19. ^ Jordan, Ben (April 5, 2013). "Milan to hit gridiron on new field". KTVO TV via website. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  20. ^ Barrickman, Bob (January 16, 2003). "Double play". The Beaver County Times. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  21. ^ "Cal Hubbard obituary". The New York Times. October 18, 1977. Retrieved April 6, 2013 – via Baseball Almanac.

External links

1924 Centenary Gentlemen football team

The 1924 Centenary Gentlemen football team represented the Centenary College of Louisiana during the 1924 college football season. Players included Cal Hubbard and Swede Anderson.

1927 All-Pro Team

The 1927 All-Pro Team consists of American football players chosen by various selectors at the end as the best players at their positions for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1927 NFL season. Selectors for the 1927 season included the Green Bay Press-Gazette poll and the Chicago Tribune.

1928 All-Pro Team

The 1928 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1928 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Green Bay Press-Gazette (GB), based on the results of a questionnaires sent to the league managers and reporters, and the Chicago Tribune (CT).The Chicago Tribune picked quarterback Benny Friedman as the captain of its team, calling him "not only a great player but a magnificent showman," "a great passer and a field general par excellence."

1929 All-Pro Team

The 1929 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1929 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Green Bay Press-Gazette (GB), based on the return of 16 ballots sent to the team owners, managers, and sports writers of clubs in the NFL, Collyer's Eye magazine (CE), and the Chicago Tribune (CT).

1929 Green Bay Packers season

The 1929 Green Bay Packers season was their 11th season overall and their ninth season in the National Football League. The club posted an undefeated 12–0–1 record under player/coach Curly Lambeau, earning them a first-place finish and the Packers' first National Football League Championship. A victory celebration of 20,000 fans greeted them upon their return to Green Bay from their final game in Chicago.Before the start of the season, the Packers signed three future Hall of Famers: Johnny "Blood" McNally, Cal Hubbard, and Mike Michalske, who along with Lambeau led the Packers to the top of the league. Green Bay's current throwback uniform is based on the ones worn in 1929 in respect of the season that the Packers won their first championship.

1932 All-Pro Team

The 1932 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1932 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, seven of the eight NFL coaches for the Associated Press (AP), the United Press, and Collyer's Eye (CE).Five players were selected for the first team by all three selectors: Portsmouth Spartans quarterback Dutch Clark; Chicago Bears fullback Bronko Nagurski; New York Giants end Ray Flaherty; Green Bay Packers tackle Cal Hubbard; and Chicago Bears guard Zuck Carlson.

1938 World Series

The 1938 World Series matched the two-time defending champion New York Yankees against the Chicago Cubs, with the Yankees sweeping the Series in four games for their seventh championship overall and record third straight (they would win four in a row from 1936 to 1939, and five in a row later from 1949 to 1953).

Dizzy Dean, who had helped carry the Cubs to the National League pennant despite a sore arm, ran out of gas in the Series as the Yanks crushed the Cubs again, as they had in 1932. Yankee starting pitcher Red Ruffing won two games, although he allowed 17 hits in 18 innings pitched. After Game 2 of the Series, the Bronx Bombers would not return to Wrigley Field for nearly 65 years until a three-game interleague series with the Cubs beginning June 6, 2003.

This was the first World Series at Wrigley Field since the bleacher reconstruction of 1937 which had significantly shortened the left-center field power alley.

1976 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1976 followed the system in place since 1971.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and

elected two, Bob Lemon and Robin Roberts.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players.

It selected three players: Roger Connor, Cal Hubbard, and Freddie Lindstrom.

The Negro Leagues Committee also met in person and selected Oscar Charleston.

Bob Monnett

Robert C. Monnett (February 27, 1910 – August 2, 1978) was a professional American football player who played halfback for six seasons for the Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1973.

Charley Brock

Charles Jacob "Charley" Brock (March 15, 1916 – May 25, 1987) was an American football center and linebacker.

Geneva Golden Tornadoes football

The Geneva Golden Tornadoes football program represents Geneva College in collegiate level football. The team competes in NCAA Division III and is affiliated with the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC). The team is also a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association. Since its initial season in 1890, the team has won over 500 games. Home games are currently played at Reeves Field, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Several Geneva College players have received national attention, including Cal Hubbard and Larry Bruno.

Gerry Ellis

Gerry Ellis (born November 12, 1957

in Columbia, Missouri) is a former professional American football player who played running back for seven seasons for the Green Bay Packers.

Hank Bruder

Henry George "Hank" Bruder Jr. (November 22, 1907 – June 29, 1970) was an American football player in the National Football League. He played nine years with the Green Bay Packers from 1931 to 1939 and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1972. Bruder attended Northwestern University, where he was a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity.He was part of the offensive line that blocked for Pro Football Hall of Fame back Johnny "Blood" McNally.

Hank Gremminger

Charles Henry "Hank" Gremminger (September 1, 1933 – November 2, 2001) was an American football player, a defensive back in the National Football League for eleven seasons. He played ten seasons for the Green Bay Packers (1956–1965) and one for the Los Angeles Rams in 1966.

List of Geneva Golden Tornadoes head football coaches

The Geneva Golden Tornadoes football program is a college football team that represents Geneva College in the Presidents' Athletic Conference, a part of the NCAA Division III. The team has had 29 head coaches since its first recorded football game in 1890.

Among the coaches in the history at Geneva College include College Football Hall of Fame members Bo McMillin and Cal Hubbard.

The current coach is Geno DeMarco who first took the position for the 1993 season. He leads the list with the most games coached and the most total wins. J. B. Craig has the highest winning percentage of the coaches at .859, accumulated from 1900 through the 1903 seasons and a total of 32 games. Arthur McKean managed the most tie games with 7.

List of Green Bay Packers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are currently members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL), and are the third-oldest franchise in the NFL. Founded in 1919 by coach, player, and future Hall of Fame inductee Curly Lambeau and sports and telegraph editor George Whitney Calhoun, the Packers organization has become one of the most successful professional football teams, having won a total of 13 professional American football championships—nine NFL Championships and four Super Bowls—the most in the NFL. The franchise has recorded 18 NFL divisional titles, eight NFL conference championships, and the second most regular season and overall victories of any NFL franchise, behind the Chicago Bears. In 1963, the Pro Football Hall of Fame was created to honor the history of professional American football and the individuals who have greatly influenced it. Since the charter induction class of 1963, 31 individuals who have played or coached for the Packers have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Of the 30 inductees, 25 made their primary contribution to football with the Packers, while five only contributed a minor portion of their career to the Packers and two were assistant coaches. Of the original 17 individuals inducted in 1963, four spent the major part of their career with the Green Bay Packers. This includes the founder Curly Lambeau, the NFL's all-time offensive tackle Cal Hubbard, the 1941 and 1942 Most Valuable Player Don Hutson, and 1931 All-NFL player Johnny (Blood) McNally. The first two decades of the Hall of Fame's existence saw 17 Packers enshrined, including one inductee who was not a player for the Packers, Vince Lombardi. Coaching the Packers from 1959 to 1967, Lombardi led the team to five NFL Championships, plus winning the first two Super Bowls against the American Football League, and an overall winning percentage of .754. The most recent Packer to be inducted was Jerry Kramer in 2018.

List of Green Bay Packers players

The following is a list of notable past or present players of the Green Bay Packers professional American football team.

Mack Flenniken

George M. "Mack" Flenniken (January 24, 1905 – May 26, 1956) was an American football player and coach. He played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Chicago Cardinals in 1930 and the New York Giants in 1931.. Flenniken served as the head football coach at Geneva College from 1928 to 1929, compiling a record of 7–11–1. He played college football at Centenary College of Louisiana and at Geneva.

Reeves Field

Reeves Field, also known as Reeves Stadium is a football stadium located on the campus of Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, United States. It was named in honor of local banker John T. Reeves, whose heirs donated land for the complex.

Constructed in 1925, Reeves Field is one of the oldest sports venues in Pennsylvania. The current seating capacity is 5,500. The stadium hosts the Geneva College Golden Tornadoes and the local high school football team, the Beaver Falls Tigers. Notable football players who played at Reeves include Joe Namath and Cal Hubbard.

The stadium has also hosted the Victory Bowl twice at Geneva, which is a championship football game for the NCCAA. The first game was in 2003 when Geneva defeated North Greenville College and the second in 2007 when Malone College defeated the Golden Tornadoes 45-17. This became Malone's first win in the Victory Bowl. It was also Geneva's first loss, having won the championship in 1998, 1999, 2002, and 2003.

In the fall of 2007, the Golden Tornadoes played their first season as part of the Presidents' Athletic Conference at Reeves.

Cal Hubbard—championships, awards, and honors

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