Morris “Red” Badgro's story is unusual in that he wasn't even sure he wanted to play pro football and, in fact, retired after one year with the NFL’s 1927 New York Yankees to give pro baseball a try.
Red played in major league baseball for two years with the St. Louis Browns but eventually decided to give pro football another look. The football Yankees had folded so Red signed with the New York Giants. During his six-year tenure with the Giants that began in 1930, the team was a solid championship contender every year and Badgro, a two-way end, was one of the most honored stars. He was named to an all-league first or second-team in 1930, 1931, 1933, and 1934.
Badgro, who was born in Ordillia, Washington on December 1, 1902, was highly regarded as a sure-tackling defender and an effective blocker on offense but he was also a talented receiver. In 1934, he tied for the NFL's pass-catching crown with 16 receptions, a significant number in those defense-dominated days when most NFL teams concentrated on grind-it-out football. He also had the distinction of being the first player to score a touchdown in the NFL championship series that began in 1933.
Red made many other key catches that were converted into Giants' victories, including a 15-yard reception that was a key play in a long drive for the game’s only score in a 3-0 New York divisional title win. Badgro had his big defensive moments as well. Playing against the Boston Redskins in 1935, Red blocked a punt and returned it for a go-ahead touchdown.
In 1981, Morris “Red” Badgro at the age of 78 became the oldest person ever elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame at that time. The 45-year span between his final game with the National Football League’s 1936 Brooklyn Dodgers and his election also was a record.
Badgro passed away on July 13, 1998 at the age of 95.
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