1961 Packers-signed ball donated to HOF
A pass that started as Bart Starr to Harry Purinton landed in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, with a few additional tosses and catches — and 55 years — in between.
The Purinton family, including siblings Dick, Helen, Jim and Martha, on Friday donated to the Hall an NFL football signed by almost every member of the 1961 World Champion Packers.
"The truth is, it really just sat on a shelf. This is a much better way to be cared for in the future," said Dick Purinton, who owns and operates the Washington Island Ferry in northern Door County.
The ball came into the family's possession when father Harry Purinton was named Barbershopper of the Year on May 4, 1962, for the Land O'Lakes District, which covered all of Wisconsin, Michigan's Upper Peninsula and parts of Minnesota and Northern Illinois. Harry was newsletter editor, district judge, historian and president of the Green Bay Chapter's Baylanders Chorus.
The football was part of the award, delivered by the Packers quarterback, who tossed it to Harry at the head table in the Hotel Northland. There seems to be some doubt about whether Harry caught it — he always said he did, as does Jim, who was 10 at the time — but it unquestionably touched down in the family living room.
"One thing we did agree on, the football should be seen by more people and cared for in a better way," Dick Purinton said. "Over the years, it did get thrown a time or two by family members. A ball made of leather, signed with ballpoint pen, only keeps its integrity so long."
Hall of Fame archivist Don Sipes said it is a very complete artifact, missing only one signature they are aware of. (On the other hand, one player signed twice and one signature is not identified). He said the Hall has signed balls from different teams, but none from 1961.
"You don't see those in such good shape, so complete," Sipes said.
The ball is in a display case on the second floor of the Packers Hall of Fame at Lambeau Field, near the replica Vince Lombardi office. It has 44 signatures; 12 of the signers are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and 28 in the Packers Hall of Fame.
Family members came from as far as Shanghai, China, and New Jersey for Friday's presentation.
Harry F. Purinton 1961 Packers football signatures
Red Cochran, coach, Packers Hall of Fame
Phil Bengtson, coach, Packers Hall of Fame
Norb Hecker, coach
Vince Lombardi, head coach, Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame
Bill Austin, coach
Em Tunnell, Pro Football Hall of Fame
Jim Ringo, Packers and Pro Football Halls of Fame
Bart Starr, Packers and Pro Football Halls of Fame
Forrest Gregg, Packers and Pro Football Halls of Fame
Tom Moore, Packers Hall of Fame
Herb Adderley, Packers and Pro Football Halls of Fame
Dan Currie, Packers Hall of Fame
Willie Davis, Packers and Pro Football Halls of Fame
Max McGee, Packers Hall of Fame
Boyd Dowler, Packers Hall of Fame
Fuzzy Thurston, Packers Hall of Fame
Jesse Whittenton, Packers Hall of Fame
Bill Forester, Packers Hall of Fame
Elijah Pitts, Packers Hall of Fame
Henry Jordan, Packers and Pro Football Halls of Fame
Dave Hanner, Packers Hall of Fame
Ron Kostelnik, Packers Hall of Fame
Bob Skoronski, Packers Hall of Fame
Gary Knafelc, Packers Hall of Fame
Willie Wood, Packers and Pro Football Halls of Fame
John Roach (signed twice)
Jerry Kramer, Packers Hall of Fame
Bud Jorgenson, trainer
Hank Gremminger, Packers Hall of Fame
Paul Hornung, Packers and Pro Football Halls of Fame
Jim Taylor, Packers and Pro Football Halls of Fame
Ron Kramer, Packers Hall of Fame
Ray Nitschke, Packers and Pro Football Halls of Fame
One signature has not been identified, but looks something like Ron Ellarwele.
Another player listed in Pro-Football-Reference.com did not sign the ball: kicker Ben Agajanian, who played only three games with the Packers.