Overnight, Howard Hopalong Cassady passed away in Tampa, FL. Go here for the staff article.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Cassady. As a college student, on a summer day in the mid '90s, I was helping my friend's dad at his parking lot in downtown Columbus. As we were hanging out, a kindly old gentleman came up to Mr. Fischer and the two had a very casual and friendly conversation.
At one point, Mr. Fischer called me over and said, "I'd like you to meet Mr. Hopalong Cassady. It's not everyday you will be able to meet a Heisman Trophy winner." Mr. Cassady extended his hand and said, "Hello, young man. If you are a friend of Tom's then you must be a fine person. A pleasure meeting you." He asked me a few questions about school and then returned to his conversation with Mr. Fischer.
After about another five minutes of laughter filled jokes, ribbing and catching up, Mr. Cassady, waved goodbye and headed on his way.
I still remember watching him walk down the street with his reddish hair glistening in the afternoon sunlight. Hard to believe that brief meeting was over 20 years ago...we have lost a great one.
Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, HB (1952-55)
Born: 1934 (Columbus)
Died: September 20, 2019 (Tampa, FL)
High School: Central
The Buckeyes were 29-8 with Cassady on the team.
1954 National Champion.
1954 Big Ten Title.
1955 Big Ten Title.
1955 Defeated USC 20-7 to win the Rose Bowl.
Went 3-1 against That Team.
1955 Heisman Trophy.
1955 Maxwell Award.
1955 AP Athlete of the Year.
1955 Big Ten MVP.
1955 Team MVP.
1955 All-Big Ten
1954 Team MVP.
1954 All-Big Ten.
1979 College Football Hall of Fame.
1997 Varsity O Hall of Fame.
2005 Columbus Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cassady's Ohio State career per The Ohio State Team Guide:
It didn’t take Ohio State fans long to realize why Howard “Hopalong” Cassady was something special. In his first collegiate game, the season opener against Indiana in 1952, the 150-pound freshman came off the bench to score three touchdowns and lead the Buckeyes to a 33-13 victory. From then on, “Hop” was a regular in the OSU lineup, playing in 36 of a possible 37 games and leading the Buckeyes to a combined record of 29-8 during the next four years.
In 1954, Cassady won unanimous All-America honors and helped the Buckeyes to a perfect 10-0 record and the first of five national championships for Coach Woody Hayes. The 1954 season concluded with a convincing 20-7 win over Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl.
Cassady again won All-America acclaim in 1955, when he rushed for 958 yards and 15 touchdowns. At the end of the year, Cassady’s list of accolades included the Heisman Trophy and recognition by the Associated Press as the 1955 Athlete of the Year.
Cassady, who also was an outstanding defensive back, finished his collegiate career with 2,466 rushing yards. That total still ranks 11th on the all-time OSU rushing list.
Cassady, who prepped at Columbus Central and as a boy would sneak into Ohio Stadium to see the Buckeyes play, also played baseball at OSU, starting at shortstop for three years. He is a member of the Ohio State University Athletics (1997), College Football (1979) and Columbus Baseball (2005) halls of fame.
How Cassady received the nickname Hopalong per Wikipedia:
Cassady earned the nickname "Hopalong" during his first game as a freshman for Ohio State. Columbus sportswriters who saw him play said he "hopped all over the field like the performing cowboy," a reference to the fictional characterHopalong Cassidy. In that game Cassady came off the bench to score three touchdowns in a win over Indiana University.
Cassady's NFL and Clippers career:
After graduation, Cassady was a first round pick of the Detroit Lions. He played defensive back with Detroit, Cleveland and Philadelphia before retiring. “Hop” lives in Tampa, but spent many summers in Columbus as a coach for the Columbus Clippers, the Yankees’ AAA farm club. His jersey number “40” was retired Nov. 18, 2000.
Ohio State records held when he finished his career per Wikipedia:
Cassady held some Ohio State career records for many years following his graduation. He held the career rushing record (2,466 yards) until he was surpassed by Jim Otis in 1969, the career all-purpose yards record (4,403 yards) until he was surpassed by Archie Griffin in 1974, and the scoring record (222 points) until he was surpassed by Pete Johnson in 1975.
Cassay's life after football:
After retiring from football, Cassady became an entrepreneur; he formed a company manufacturing concrete pipe. More recently, he has served as a scout for the New York Yankees baseball team, and as the first base coach for their former AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers.
Cassady was selected by the Lions with the third overall pick of the 1956 NFL Draft. Following his football career, he was a scout for the New York Yankees.
Of Ohio State's six Heisman Trophy winners, Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Cassady, Achie Griffin, Eddie George and Troy Smith, only half are living.