Jim Crowley and Tom Hearden - 2 Historical East Figures

Who was Jim Crowley and Tom Hearden?

Jim Crowley

Jim Crowley played football and basketball at East High from 1918-1921.  His high school coach during the 1919 football season was "Curly" Lambeau.  After graduation in 1921, Crowley attended the university of Notre Dame and played football for legendary Coach Knute Rockne.  It was during his time at Notre Dame that Crowley became part of the most famous backfields in college football history, known as the "Four-Horsemen."  It is rumored that Crowley also posed for the Heisman Trophy, but can't be confirmed. Crowley later went on to coach football at Fordham University where he coached a man by the name of Vince Lombardi.

1917 Basketball Season Starts at East High School

(Copied from the 1918 East High Aeroplane school yearbook)


Since 1912 (first organized East High team), East High School has a basketball team Coach Weiser organized the team and one game was played with DePere High School.  Coach Weiser and with the help of Coach Macomber coached the team and were undaunted by the lack of a gymnasium and proper equipment and comparatively green material out of which to form a team, he soon had a fast bunch of basketball players on the floor.  The team had to support itself financially, Coach Weiser and Macomber often guaranteeing its finances, because the athletic department would not support basketball.  For what reason most games played were at points nearby, thus involving little expense.


The team practiced at the old YMCA building on the west side.  The building was not heated and it was difficult for the fellows to do their best in below zero weather.  Practice was held in the West High School gym several times in preparation for the Kiel game and all of the home games were played at West High School. 


The next game of the season was with the West High second team and was lost by quite a large score, due largely to our team’s lack of skill in throwing baskets.  Practice improved this part of the team’s offense but in the next game the crack West High first team was too much for us and East went down to inglorious defeat.  The West High faculty was next taken on and East High almost won this game.  The hard constant practice put in by the team was beginning to show.  The next week the team journeyed to Kiel but returned defeated by a large score because East was unfamiliar with the unusual “rough” tactics employed by Kiel.  A week of practice soon brought proficiency in the line, also; so when Kiel came to Green Bay the following week for a return game, East Green Bay won by a large margin.   This was the last game of the season and was a most encouraging close to a difficult and hard-fought schedule.  The team ended the season with two victories and four losses.  East should count on an exceptional good team next year, as only one of the regulars will be lost by graduation. 


Those who got out for basketball, with their positions, are as follows:


George LeRoux (Captain)

Edward Peplinski



Clarence Dorschel



Everett Beeson

James Crowley 



Lester Cranston

Harold Francis

Clifford Lande

Earl Quackenbush

Arthur Jandrain

Loren Hume

Arlington Mogan


Tom Hearden. Green Bay East/Notre Dame/Green Bay Packers. Curly Lambeau was his coach and mentor. Packers #1 assistant under head coach Lisle Blackbourn 1954-55. Was almost named Packers' head coach in 1958, one year ahead of Vince Lombardi... Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
Walter "Red" Smith. Pulitzer prize (1976) winning journalist/sports writer. Attended East High with Tom Hearden and Jim Crowley. Honored by Wisconsin Sports Hall of Fame.

Curly Lambeau (1917) Tom Hearden (1923) Jim Crowley (1921) Red Smith (1922). All attended East High together, back when the classes were combined. All featured characters in historical Green Bay football novel SHOOT FOR THE STARS.

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Mar 9, 2018Packerland Pride -


Janson Mancheski – author of, “Shoot for the Stars: The Tom Hearden Story.” 



Tom Hearden 

Tom Hearden is a name that most Green Bay fans haven’t heard. That’s because he was never a head coach for the Packers, but by all accounts was as close as a person could get.

With the 50-year anniversary of Vince Lombardi’s hiring in 1959 fast approaching, I wanted to look deeper into the story about how the legendary coach got to Green Bay – or more importantly how he almost didn’t make it here.

Janson Mancheski, the author of “Shoot for the Stars: The Tom Hearden Story,” says it’s probable that only one out of 100 Green Bay fans would know the name of Hearden.

In my brief time as Packerland Pride editor, I’ve talked to countless people on this matter and only a few were familiar with the former Green Bay East High School coach. I hadn’t known about him until I recently read Mancheski’s book.

Hearden might have prevented Lombardi from becoming the head coach of the Packers if he hadn’t suffered a stroke in the summer of 1957.

He played college football for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame, then professionally in the National Football League as a halfback for the Packers for five games under Curly Lambeau (1927-28) and the Chicago Bears under George Halas a year later.

Hearden then moved into the coaching ranks. After his stint at East he was hired at St. Norbert College in De Pere, going 40-14 in his time there in the middle 40s to early 50s. Then, he became an assistant coach with Green Bay in 1954 and UW-Madison in 1956.

“If you think about it,” Mancheski said, “Hearden is probably the only guy – at least the only one I know – to play for Rockne, Lambeau and Halas in his career. I can’t think of a more historical trio than those three, so he was influenced by some great coaches.

“The impression I always got from my dad was that Hearden was a good clubhouse guy and a great motivator with his speeches. He wasn’t like Lombardi where you hated him at the time until the end of the year when you loved him. He was more of a tactician and learned his fiery oration from Lambeau, who was a master of that.”

Janson’s late father, Alvin “Al” Mancheski, played under Hearden at East and had a successful coaching career himself. Al was a halfback during East’s 36-game winning streak achieved under Hearden in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He also played at UW-Madison under head coach Harry Struhldreher (quarterback of Notre Dame’s Four Horsemen) during the 1941-42 and 1946 seasons, and then coached on the Badgers’ staff in 1947. Mancheski was named the Wisconsin High School Coach of the Year in 1965 and was enshrined into the Wisconsin High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1980.

“My dad used to always tell me stories about Hearden and Lambeau,” said Mancheski. “East High would be practicing and the Packers would be warming up outside the field. When my dad was playing at East he told me that Lambeau and Hearden would always talk through the fence. They didn’t think of the Green Bay players as anything but bigger versions of what they were. They never hero-worshiped back then.”

With Lisle Blackbourn struggling in the last of his four years as head coach in 1957, it was a forgone conclusion that he would be let go after the season. Although not officially ever hired for the job, Mancheski said that his father and late Packers’ historian Lee Remmel always talked about how Hearden would have definitely been named the next head coach had he not suffered his stroke.

“My dad was also good friends with Remmel,” Mancheski said. “They’d sit in the press box to scout opposing teams and they would always chit chat. They’d share stories and both were on the same page that Hearden would have been named the next head coach in 1958. Packers’ historian Cliff Christl and I are good friends, too, and he told me that he got in a few conversations with Lee before he died and confirmed things as well. It was basically a done deal.”

Since Hearden and Al Mancheski became close friends, Janson always left himself to think, “what if?”

“I thought to myself many times that if Hearden had gotten the head job for the Packers, he would have had my dad as one of his assistants since they were close friends,” he said. “It’s almost like it was solidified. I grew up thinking that my dad could have been like (assistant coach) Phil Bengtson and been on the staff.”

Left without Hearden as a possible head coach, the Packers picked Ray “Scooter” McLean to be the interim head coach for the 1958 season, where he went a franchise-worst 1-10-1.

When Iowa head coach Forest Evashevski declined an offer to coach the Packers after McLean’s disastrous year, Lombardi was hired Feb. 3, 1959.

As Mancheski pointed out, both Blackbourn and his predecessor Gene Ronzani were both on four-year contracts, so even if Hearden struggled in 1959 as head coach he most likely would have been around for three more years. If Lombardi had not come to Green Bay when he did, it was thought he would become the head coach of the New York Giants very soon.

That brings up another common question: Could Hearden have made the Packers into winners like Lombardi did?

“My dad, Cliff and a number of others have noted that because of scout Jack Vainisi’s drafting in 1956-59, the Packers were loaded with future Hall of Fame talent,” added Mancheski. “With a proven winner in Hearden, and as someone familiar with most of the players, he would have turned the Packers into winners as well – perhaps not to the successful extent of Lombardi, but who knows?”

During his time in Green Bay as a scout (1950-60) Vainisi was responsible for drafting Forrest Gregg, Paul Hornung, Ray Nitschke, Jim Ringo, Bart Starr and Jim Taylor.

Including current Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy, there have been 14 head coaches for the Green Bay Packers. It’s a good bet had Hearden not suffered a stroke that ended his coaching career, he would have been standing on the sidelines as head coach, too; and what’s even more interesting, Lombardi probably wouldn’t have set foot in Green Bay.

Editor’s notes: With permission from Mancheski, pieces of information from “Shoot for the Stars” have been used in this feature for historical purposes.

“Shoot for the Stars” is a work of historical fiction. This means that while staying true to real life events and historical accuracy as much as possible, some of the family names, circumstances, places and dialogue were altered for story-telling purposes. Much of the book is based on the stories that Janson and his father Al talked about before he passed away.


                      The Four Horsemen – from left to right – 

     Don Miller, Elmer Layden, Jim Crowley, and Harry Stuhldreher

On Oct. 18, 1924, Knute Rockne’s Notre Dame squad took on Army at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Led by the backfield of Harry Stuhldreher, Don Miller, Jim Crowley, and Elmer Layden, the Irish upset the Black Knights, 13-7. After the game, New York Herald Tribune sportswriter Grantland Rice penned one of the most famous ledes in sports history. Rice’s iconic memorable headline appeared in the paper’s evening edition, as well as the Sunday, Oct. 19 printing. The Four Horsemen helped lead Notre Dame to its first ever national championship, and the quartet of backs became college football icons.