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Man Donates Hutson Jersey to Packer HOF


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Packers relic a gift from the heart

Man donates Hutson's No. 14 jersey, a prized childhood possession, to team Hall of Fame

By DON WALKER

dwalker@journalsentinel.com

Posted: Sept. 1, 2005

The Green Bay Packers called him Little Rock, the kid who lived at Rockwood Lodge, the old training camp for the team in the late 1940s just south of Dyckesville.

Dan Flagstad displays a picture of Curly Lambeau. Flagstad has fond memories of Lambeau and the Packers training at Rockwood Lodge near Dyckesville, which Flagstad's parents managed.

Little Rock was always around, playing catch with Irv Comp, the Packers' quarterback, or talking with Indian Jack Jacobs, or sitting wide-eyed in front of Curly Lambeau at a team meeting until Curly himself gave the boy the heave-ho.

"Irv used to come early for training camp and he didn't have anyone to throw to," said Little Rock. "He asked me to run some routes. He could knock me down with a pass. I think back now: What a lucky kid I was."

Little Rock, whose parents, Mel and Helen Flagstad, ran Rockwood Lodge for the Packers in those days, never forgot. And now Dan Flagstad, the boy known as Little Rock, has got something to give back to the Green Bay Packers.

Today at Lambeau Field, Flagstad and his family will officially donate an old Packers' jersey to the Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame. Packers' president Bob Harlan is expected to be on hand and what he and the Packers are getting isn't any old team jersey. . . .

This one belonged to No. 14, Don Hutson, one of the greatest players to ever play professional football.

Though Hutson represents a large part of the Packers' storied history, Hall of Fame officials consider Flagstad's donation to be an important addition to the collection.

"I think it's one of the more significant donations we've had since I've been involved with the Hall of Fame in 1993," said Hall of Fame archivist Tom Murphy. "With the value of these things today, people can make a lot of money. The fact that he's willing to donate it, that's fantastic."

The jersey, which the Packers plan to display as soon as possible with another Hutson jersey, is in good condition, Murphy said. The cotton silky blend is dark navy blue, with gold shoulders and small, gold numbers.

Flagstad admitted that his mother cut the sleeves back so he could wear the jersey as a child, but that doesn't bother Murphy.

For Flagstad, the jersey and the story leading up to today's ceremony has brought back a flood of memories of his childhood and his parents. As a condition of the donation, Flagstad asked the Packers to include a plaque with the jersey that remembers his parents.

Mel Flagstad, Dan's father, was a religious man. Sunday was God's day, he told his son, unless the Packers needed him to work that day at Rockwood Lodge. For all his involvement with the Packers, Mel never saw the Packers play.

According to the Packers' media guide, Lambeau used $25,000 of the team's money to buy the large lodge and the accompanying property after World War II.

After the war, the Packers, who had heard of Mel Flagstad's talent in the kitchen, hired him to be their chef. Helen Flagstad ran the dining room.

For Dan Flagstad, it was an idyllic few years. "The locker room was a mecca for me," said Flagstad, 68, who runs Service One Transportation Inc., a transportation and warehousing firm in Sheboygan Falls. "The smells and the equipment all around, I'll never forget it."

One summer day in 1948, an equipment manager asked Little Rock to sort out clean laundry. When he was done, the equipment manager pointed to a leather steamer trunk where other jerseys were kept. "Pick one out," he told the boy.

Little Rock knew which one he wanted. No. 14. He grabbed the prized possession.

On Jan. 24, 1950, Rockwood Lodge burned to the ground. One week later, Curly Lambeau, the loser in an internal power struggle among management, resigned from the Packers.

The team and the Flagstads moved on, too.

For decades, Flagstad kept the jersey in a cedar chest at the foot of his bed. Occasionally, he would pull it out to show to family and friends. .

As the years went, Dan Flagstad began to wonder just how valuable the jersey might be. Should it be insured? Who should have it? "We had a couple of conversations about the jersey in the last two years," Tim Flagstad said. "I wasn't sure he was going to leave it to me or whatever. He said he wanted to donate it in memory of his father. When I first heard that, it shocked me."

Tim Flagstad realized his father was right. "In reality the jersey doesn't link me to my father. It links him to his father," Tim Flagstad said.

Dan Flagstad, it is clear, is a proud man. According to Tim, his father would have a hard time giving the Packers the jersey and taking anything in return.

Except a plaque in memory of his parents.

"I never looked on this as a financial opportunity," Dan Flagstad said.

Without Dan knowing, his wife, Jamie, gave the jersey to Tim and the jersey was brought to Green Bay a few weeks ago.

"Tom (Murphy) asked if he could take a peek at it," Tim Flagstad said. "He opened the box and he looked like he had just opened a case with the Dead Sea Scrolls inside. The look on his face was priceless.

"We felt then and there that it was the right decision."

"We are real excited to have this piece, there's no doubt about it," Murphy said.

So is Little Rock.

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