Rare find: 1928 Packers recruiting letter
In the early days of the NFL, there was no television, so teams learned about players by word of mouth, or by reading about them in newspapers or magazines.
That's probably how the Green Bay Packers learned about Lawrence Apitz. In the spring of 1928, they sent a letter to the University of Chicago end, essentially asking him, "Hey, would you like to play for us?"
Robert Lindberg of Los Angeles discovered the letter while visiting his grandparents in MIchigan's Upper Peninsula. It belonged to his grandfather, who was Apitz's nephew. The letter was passed down to Lindberg, who shared it with Press-Gazette Media this week.
There was no draft at that time, either, so teams scrambled to try to sign players as best they could.
George W. Calhoun, the Packers' team secretary, wrote the letter to Apitz. He also was an editor at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, and he wrote the letter on Press-Gazette letterhead.
Dated April 23, 1928, a Monday, the letter reads in part:
"As in past years, the Green Bay Packers will be represented by one of the strongest teams in the National Football League and it is with this end in view that the Green Bay Football corporation is writing you this letter. ...
"If you intend to play professional football, there is no better place than Green Bay, Wis. The Packers are known the country over for their football ability. Ever since 1918, Green Bay has been on the pro gridiron map in big letters. ...
"Our season starts early in September and continues until the middle of December. We will probably play 15 games against the best elevens in the country.
"In case you are interested, we would be pleased to hear from you immediately."
Apitz, who grew up in Bessemer, Mich., passed on the Packers' invitation.
Instead, he spent a year as a teacher and coach at Evansville (Ind.) High School, then returned to the University of Chicago, earning a law degree and coaching the Maroons' ends under the famed coach Amos Alonzo Stagg.
When Stagg became coach at the College of the Pacific in 1933, Apitz went with him and started coaching basketball as well. In 1936, Apitz became football, basketball and track coach at the University of Louisville, where he's a member of its Athletic Hall of Fame despite only modest success.
Apitz left coaching in 1944 and became a sales manager for United Air Lines in Chicago. He died in the early 1950s.