OCTOBER 24, 1955
With the New York Yankees having won the World Series for the first time in 18 years and the Ohio State Buckeyes undefeated in football, this is an especially fine time to be Howard (Hopalong) Cassady, whose portrait graced our Oct. 24,1955, cover six weeks before he became the third Buckeye to win the Heisman Trophy. Today he is a Yankees employee, having worked for the club in several capacities over the last two decades, from scout to conditioning coach to his current job as first base coach for the Columbus (Ohio) Clippers New York's Triple A team.
Back in 1955 college players supplemented their scholarships by working ( Cassady sold shoes and worked as a night watchman); because of technical limitations, illustrations, such as the one above, frequently appeared on our cover; and, yes, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED cost just 25 cents. The players were different too. Cassady arrived at Ohio State in 1952 standing 5'10" and weighing 155 pounds—less than half the weight of this year's Buckeyes Heisman candidate, tackle Orlando Pace. But as Ohio State coach Woody Hayes told him, "You are big enough if you are good enough," and Cassady was more than good enough, scoring three touchdowns in his first game. Over four seasons as a halfback he averaged 5.7 yards a carry. In his junior year he led Ohio State to the national title, rushing through the mud for 92 yards in a 20-7 Rose Bowl win over USC that capped the season. In his final year with the Buckeyes he scored 15 TDs. Also a fine defensive back who was never beaten deep by a Big Ten receiver, Cassady won the Heisman in a landslide.
Cassady was talented at baseball as well, hitting .319 for the 1955 conference champs as a teammate of future major league star Frank Howard. The man who informed Cassady that he'd won the Heisman was current Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whom he had befriended when Ohio State played the Lockbourne Air Force Base baseball team that Steinbrenner was coaching. In 1973, with an eight-year NFL career well behind him, Cassady began working for Steinbrenner, first with his shipping company and then with his baseball operation. In his role with the Clippers, Cassady coached a number of the 1996 Yankees, including Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter. Proving that he's a pragmatist first and a Buckeyes loyalist second, Cassady used to inspire Michigan native Jeter by whistling the Michigan fight song whenever Jeter reached first base. Presumably Jeter now needs no further inspiration.