Morris “Red” Badgro

Morris "Red" Badgro

Morris “Red” Badgro, 1921

Morris Hiram Badgro was born and raised on his family’s farm in the vicinity of Orillia.  He attended the Kent High School where he received his moniker, “Red” for his red hair.

Excerpt from the 1921 Kent High School Annual.

Excerpt from the 1921 Kent High School Annual.

 

Red was a three sport athlete along with his studies and played football for the local legend Claude French.

Red is in the back center.

Red is in the back center.

The 1920 Kent Indians were the first team French coached and the first Kent team after a five year hiatus in the program.  They played on the “Airplane Field’ where the Kent West Mall is today as that was the only dry field in town.

After graduating, Red enrolled at the University of Southern California on a basketball scholarship and won four letters each in football, basketball and baseball.

Badgro at USC

Badgro is listed as the first substitute for USC in this 1924 media program.

Red’s first professional role was with the New York Yankees of the All-American Football Conference in 1927.  He was the 6-foot, 190-pound end who primarily blocked for star Red Grange, the Galloping Ghost.

Yankees Penant

The other New York Yankees play baseball.

When the AAFC went under, Morris Badgro tried his hand as a pro baseball player.  He signed with the St. Louis Browns in 1929.

Badro in Baseball

In late 1930, Badgro got the call from Steve Owen, the coach of the New York Giants.  Red was offered $150 a game, which was then the going rate.  It was a good fit.

Media guide for the New York Giants in 1934.

Game Program for the New York Giants in 1934.

Red was named to the All-NFL team as a first or second team player in 1930, 1931, 1933 and 1934.

Red Badgro Giant 2

Red is on the far right of the photo.

In 1934, Badgro was tied for the NFL lead in receptions with 16, for 206 yards and one touchdown.  That sounds like a great game for receivers in today’s NFL, not a season! The tactics of the game in the 1930s favored defense first and a punishing running game.  Not to mention the players were all two way players!  Red Badgro played tight end on offense and then defensive end.  He also was the kicker and kick returner.  And the games often scheduled back to back on Saturday then Sunday.  It was wild!

The 1936 season saw Red as the player coach for the upstart Syracuse team, but the organization dissolved after two games.  He ended his playing days that season with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Badgro retired with 94 games played, 35 receptions, 560 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.

Badgro turned to coaching, with stints in high school and college ball.  His most well known role was with the University of Washington, as the ends coach and primary scout.

Red Badgro and Jonny Cherber at UW

Red Badgro and Jonny Cherber at UW

In 1954, Red retired from coaching and returned to Kent.

In 1981, Morris Badgro became the oldest player to be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, at the age of 78.  That link includes a great audio clip of Badgro giving is acceptance speech.

The Oldest Player to be enshrined.

The Oldest Player to be enshrined.

Badgro and his wife Dorothea lived in the Kent area for a long while.  In the 1950s, they lived on Titus Ave and 3rd Ave, where the police park their vehicles today.  They moved to Temperance Street in the 1960s.

Badgro Reunion

Red Badgro, Dr. Allan Harn, John Mullen, and Ed Reitan in 1990, reminising about playing on the 1920 Kent football team.

Morris Hiram “Red” Badgro passed away on July 13, 1998 at age of 95 and was laid to rest at Hillcrest Burial Park in Kent, WA.

More information on Red Badgro can be found at:
NFL Hall of Fame
Pro Football Reference
New York Times Obituary
Wayback Machine
Associated Press Obituary

 

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