Thursday, April 12, 2018









UntitledTown 2018


Mancheski’s YA Novel THE SCRUB Takes You Inside the Huddle

By Grant Cousineau

Janson Mancheski used to play quarterback for the Green Bay East Red Devils, where he won the award for best athlete at his high school and a football scholarship to St. Norbert’s College. The complement he recalls most from his high school days: “good in the huddle,” which is what coaches call players known for being cool and collected in the face of adversity. For being reliable and trustworthy. Leaders.
These are the things high school senior Janus Mann, too, is known for, in Mancheski’s 2018 young adult novel, The Scrub.
In a way, this book is almost a memoir, taking place in the same school, in the same city, parts of it drawn from Mancheski’s own experiences, but put into a modern setting. Having spent his life in Green Bay, Mancheski’s latest novel was written with deep passion and personal memories – not to mention rich Green Bay Packers lore – in a way only he can tell it.
Mancheski’s father was a Hall of Fame football coach for Green Bay East who once played for Tom Hearden, the man who nearly became the Packers head coach in 1957 just after Lambeau Field was built. Hearden would have taken Mancheski’s father with him as an assistant coach, if Hearden hadn’t suffered a stroke that same spring. Instead, they hired Rob McLean, who went 1-10-1 before being replaced by none other than Vince Lombardi the following year. Janson and his father collaborated to retell Hearden’s story in a historical fiction novel titled Shoot for the Stars, released in 2014, shortly before Janson’s father passed away.
Like that book, The Scrub was clearly written from the heart. As Kirkus Review put it, it’s a “rosy, feel-good sports tale,” about a quarterback facing adversity, learning about friendship and leadership. In it, Janus has recently lost his father. His mom and sisters move to Columbus, Ohio to get a fresh start while Janus stays behind in Green Bay to live with his grandmother and finish out his senior year. With a good record, but not playing their best, the Red Devils are coming up on a pair of important games in their season: one against their same-city rival, the Preble Hornets, and the other against the undefeated Sheboygan Golden Raiders, a team stocked with All-American athletes and Division I scholarship prospects.
To deal with the grief of losing his father, Janus “talks” to the ghost of Earl “Curly” Lambeau through a ten-inch statue his dad had given to him the Christmas before he passed away. Through this, and the thirteen-foot statue outside Lambeau Field, Janus communicates with the Packers legend, speaking to him through prayer-like conversations.
Mancheski writes about the town and the Packers not only as a son of the city, but as a fan filled with nothing but love, stopping by familiar Green Bay stops like Frank and Pat’s, Hagemeister Park, and Old City Stadium. He writes with reverent prose, like this:
The afternoon traffic is picking up. I feel a strong connection whenever I ride along these North Side streets. This part of the city is where Curly was born and spent his youth. Curly—and my dad, many years later—both attended East High. Where I go now. You can’t help but feel the wash of football tradition. Especially when the air turns cool in October and November and the painted leaves begin to drift down from the high tree branches.
Between games, Janus keeps tabs on his best friend and his coach’s only son, Barnaby, who was diagnosed at an early age with ALS. He also befriends Asha Silver, who has platinum hair, plays the Indian flute, and looks after her alcoholic, former-boxer dad. Through these relationships, Janus tries to keep his own struggles in perspective while doing his best to help his friends with theirs.
As an accomplished local author, Mancheski’s won a pair of Writer’s Digest awards, as well as the Sharp Writ Book Award for his first novel, The Chemist, back in 2010. In addition to The Scrub and Shoot for the Stars, he’s written a trilogy of crime novels, all set in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Come see Janson Mancheski on Sunday, April 22nd at 10:00 a.m., for his speaker session “A Detective and a Killer Walk into a Bar,” where he’ll be talking about his mystery novel trilogy, as well as his writing process, his latest book, and will stick around for a signing afterward.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


Packerland Pride

The story of Tom Hearden

Janson Mancheski – author of, “Shoot for the Stars: The Tom Hearden Story” reveals a remarkable story hidden in Green Bay Packers' history.
BY RICH PALZEWIC
EDITOR


Tom Hearden 
Tom Hearden is a name that most Green Bay fans haven’t heard. That’s because he was never a head coach for the Packers, but by all accounts was as close as a person could get.

With the 50-year anniversary of Vince Lombardi’s hiring in 1959 fast approaching, I wanted to look deeper into the story about how the legendary coach got to Green Bay – or more importantly how he almost didn’t make it here.

Janson Mancheski, the author of “Shoot for the Stars: The Tom Hearden Story,” says it’s probable that only one out of 100 Green Bay fans would know the name of Hearden.

In my brief time as Packerland Pride editor, I’ve talked to countless people on this matter and only a few were familiar with the former Green Bay East High School coach. I hadn’t known about him until I recently read Mancheski’s book.

Hearden might have prevented Lombardi from becoming the head coach of the Packers if he hadn’t suffered a stroke in the summer of 1957.

He played college football for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame, then professionally in the National Football League as a halfback for the Packers for five games under Curly Lambeau (1927-28) and the Chicago Bears under George Halas a year later.

Hearden then moved into the coaching ranks. After his stint at East he was hired at St. Norbert College in De Pere, going 40-14 in his time there in the middle 40s to early 50s. Then, he became an assistant coach with Green Bay in 1954 and UW-Madison in 1956.

“If you think about it,” Mancheski said, “Hearden is probably the only guy – at least the only one I know – to play for Rockne, Lambeau and Halas in his career. I can’t think of a more historical trio than those three, so he was influenced by some great coaches.

“The impression I always got from my dad was that Hearden was a good clubhouse guy and a great motivator with his speeches. He wasn’t like Lombardi where you hated him at the time until the end of the year when you loved him. He was more of a tactician and learned his fiery oration from Lambeau, who was a master of that.”

Janson’s late father, Alvin “Al” Mancheski, played under Hearden at East and had a successful coaching career himself. Al was a halfback during East’s 36-game winning streak achieved under Hearden in the late 1930s and early 1940s. He also played at UW-Madison under head coach Harry Struhldreher (quarterback of Notre Dame’s Four Horsemen) during the 1941-42 and 1946 seasons, and then coached on the Badgers’ staff in 1947. Mancheski was named the Wisconsin High School Coach of the Year in 1965 and was enshrined into the Wisconsin High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1980.

“My dad used to always tell me stories about Hearden and Lambeau,” said Mancheski. “East High would be practicing and the Packers would be warming up outside the field. When my dad was playing at East he told me that Lambeau and Hearden would always talk through the fence. They didn’t think of the Green Bay players as anything but bigger versions of what they were. They never hero-worshiped back then.”

With Lisle Blackbourn struggling in the last of his four years as head coach in 1957, it was a forgone conclusion that he would be let go after the season. Although not officially ever hired for the job, Mancheski said that his father and late Packers’ historian Lee Remmel always talked about how Hearden would have definitely been named the next head coach had he not suffered his stroke.

“My dad was also good friends with Remmel,” Mancheski said. “They’d sit in the press box to scout opposing teams and they would always chit chat. They’d share stories and both were on the same page that Hearden would have been named the next head coach in 1958. Packers’ historian Cliff Christl and I are good friends, too, and he told me that he got in a few conversations with Lee before he died and confirmed things as well. It was basically a done deal.”

Since Hearden and Al Mancheski became close friends, Janson always left himself to think, “what if?”

“I thought to myself many times that if Hearden had gotten the head job for the Packers, he would have had my dad as one of his assistants since they were close friends,” he said. “It’s almost like it was solidified. I grew up thinking that my dad could have been like (assistant coach) Phil Bengtson and been on the staff.”

Left without Hearden as a possible head coach, the Packers picked Ray “Scooter” McLean to be the interim head coach for the 1958 season, where he went a franchise-worst 1-10-1.
When Iowa head coach Forest Evashevski declined an offer to coach the Packers after McLean’s disastrous year, Lombardi was hired Feb. 3, 1959.

As Mancheski pointed out, both Blackbourn and his predecessor Gene Ronzani were both on four-year contracts, so even if Hearden struggled in 1959 as head coach he most likely would have been around for three more years. If Lombardi had not come to Green Bay when he did, it was thought he would become the head coach of the New York Giants very soon.

That brings up another common question: Could Hearden have made the Packers into winners like Lombardi did?

“My dad, Cliff and a number of others have noted that because of scout Jack Vainisi’s drafting in 1956-59, the Packers were loaded with future Hall of Fame talent,” added Mancheski. “With a proven winner in Hearden, and as someone familiar with most of the players, he would have turned the Packers into winners as well – perhaps not to the successful extent of Lombardi, but who knows?”

During his time in Green Bay as a scout (1950-60) Vainisi was responsible for drafting Forrest Gregg, Paul Hornung, Ray Nitschke, Jim Ringo, Bart Starr and Jim Taylor.

Including current Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy, there have been 14 head coaches for the Green Bay Packers. It’s a good bet had Hearden not suffered a stroke that ended his coaching career, he would have been standing on the sidelines as head coach, too; and what’s even more interesting, Lombardi probably wouldn’t have set foot in Green Bay.

Editor’s notes: With permission from Mancheski, pieces of information from “Shoot for the Stars” have been used in this feature for historical purposes

Janson Mancheski
Shoot for the Stars
How cool is this if you’re a football fan? The year is 1920. Imagine Curly Lambeau (East High coach and Packers’ founder) sitting with Jim (future 4 Horseman) Crowley, and Red Smith (future Pulitzer Prize reporter). Together they discuss a letter from Knute Rockne, which offers Crowley a scholarship to Notre Dame.

Janson Mancheski


“Shoot for the Stars” is a work of historical fiction. While staying true to real life events and historical accuracy, some of the family names, circumstances, places and dialogue were altered for story-telling purposes. The book is based on the stories that Janson learned from his father Al, a protege of Tom Hearden, before he passed away.



Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Posted by Janson Mancheski, excerpt from The Scrub.

“If this were a movie, it would open with an image of the iconic Curly Lambeau statue, cast in charcoal gray, holding an outstretched football in one hand while pointing his opposite forefinger triumphantly down at the playing field—Old City Stadium—where he founded the original Green Bay Packers. But this is not a movie. And we—the East High Red Devils—are not those rough-and-tumble Packers of yesteryear. Instead, we’re just a bunch of high schoolers who are lucky enough to be toiling on the same field where the legendary Curly Lambeau played and coached the Packers to six NFL championships.” (The Scrub)

Get your copy today! http://amzn.to/2ouSgJs
Old Packers Stadium! Curly Lambeau's ghost! An upset of Rocky-like proportions! The Scrub reveals the lives of three teens, each facing insurmountable challenges. Janus Mann is at odds with his football coach; his best friend Barnaby is being…
amazon.com
 
Copies of The Scrub are now available online, or direct purchase at Bosses Bookstore in Green Bay. 

Monday, March 12, 2018


HOW THE GAME OF FOOTBALL WAS INVENTED BY THE VIKINGS

by - Janson Mancheski
 
The Vikings were the first Euros to discover America. They sailed across the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean in their long boats, landed in Nova Scotia, and moved all the way inland to Minnesota. It was there that they first began playing soccer with a pig's bladder. Then the ancestors of Bud Grant picked up the bladder one day and ran with it to steal it, hoping for an easy lunch, and the other players tried to tackle them. When the thieves of the bladder were tackled, the Vikings' giant rally horns blew on the sidelines, and on that fateful day the game of football was invented.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Update on THE SCRUB. A YA novel set in Green Bay.

Author's note: Six months ago, before I decided upon a publisher, I submitted my new novel THE SCRUB for editorial analysis at Kirkus Reviews. Let it be known that the following is not the actual published review, but merely the literary conclusions by one of Kirkus' senior editors.

I should add here that I don't consider publishing this review as in need of a "spoiler alert!" It simply supplies a summation of the writing style and a few major plot points, i.e. what the story is about. It's not anything a reader wouldn't be able to discern by reading the back cover text on the novel.

However, to those who don't want to know too much before reading a story, then please stop here!

For the rest of you choosing to read on, needless to say, I was quite pleased with the editor's assessment.

KIRKUS EDITORIALS
  

Title: The Scrub
Author: Janson Mancheski

References: The Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition and Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary 11th Edition.

I was enormously impressed with this. It’s a masterful job in virtually every respect. The novel is skillfully plotted, the characters have real depth, and the ambience is amazingly authentic. The story is continuously suspenseful, but it also packs a powerful emotional punch.  

The manuscript is also quite polished. My edits are minimal. Beyond catching the occasional typo and missing word, and supplying some missing commas, I’ve suggested some small cuts, fiddled with some punctuation issues, and raised a few minor plot points.  

Structure and Pacing:

The plot structure looks flawless. The narrative builds steadily as we follow young football QB Janus Mann through an emotionally turbulent few weeks in the fall of his senior year at Green Bay’s East High, with all events leading up to the great moment of truth at the end—the team’s big game against what looks to be an unbeatable rival. You narrate that game with great skill. It had me on the edge of my seat, and I can only assume it will have that effect on any reader. 

The subplots are beautifully woven into the overall narrative fabric and skillfully resolved. They include Janus’s complicated relationships with: his girlfriend Asha and her alcoholic has-been of a father, Sam; his short-tempered coach, Ray Grayna; his best friend, Barnaby Grayna, who suffers from ALS; his nemesis, Kroll the Troll; and his widowed mom. And finally, of course, there’s his relationship with the ghost of the founder of the Green Bay Packers, Curly Lambeau. And this last relationship is inspired! It adds a genuinely magical dimension to the story.

A few minor points: 

Characterization:

All the characters are strong, without exception. I have nothing to suggest here beyond the comments made above.

Dialogue:

Your dialogue is absolutely first-rate. You have an exceptional ear for it. You give every major character his or her own distinct voice, and that goes a long way in adding depth and dimension to their personalities. You also do amazingly well capturing the personality and thinking processes of your seventeen-year-old protagonist, Janus, in his first-person narration. We were all young once, I guess, but you really manage to bring Janus alive on the page with an authenticity that is rare in any novel, YA or what have you. 

Grammar and Style:

Your narrative style works well. Janus’s voice, with all its teenage angst, eagerness, playfulness, uncertainty, naiveté, rebelliousness, and sense of mischief, comes through vividly. The narration brilliantly reflects the teenage mind at work, by turns informal, emotional, thoughtful, joyful, sad, uncertain, disjointed, hyperbolic, self-deprecatory, and boastful. So there are many sentence fragments, and thoughts or feelings expressed in a sometimes-cryptic shorthand, with words left out. I have done my best to preserve this style, because it works, but I have also reworked the text in places where some needed linkages or rearrangements were needed for clarity or to avoid awkwardness. 

I really enjoyed working on this, and I wish you great success with it. There is certainly a readership out there for it. 

I look forward to our phone consultation.

Best,

Tom, Editor






Wednesday, February 1, 2017



Al Mancheski  Obit - by Janson Mancheski


ALVIN MANCHESKI, HALL OF FAME FOOTBALL COACH, IS DEAD

Alvin “Doctor Al” Mancheski, the football coach who built winning programs at Sturgeon Bay High School in the 1950s, then at Green Bay East in the 1960s, passed away peacefully in his sleep Wednesday night at his home in Green Bay, Wisconsin. 

Dr. Mancheski (a former optometrist, as well as a high school teacher, wrestling, baseball and football coach), was 96 years old, and had been in failing health for the past six months. 

Born in nearby Denmark Wisconsin on February 23, 1921, the Mancheski family moved to Green Bay when Al was ten. Like East High’s Curly Lambeau before him, if there was one word that would summarize the next 50 years of his life, that word would be “Football.” Al became an outstanding athlete at East High in the late 1930s and 1940, where he was all-conference running back in both his junior and senior years, leading the Fox River Valley conference in rushing. He played under legendary East High and former Packers’ top assistant coach Tom Hearden, whom he viewed as both a mentor and substitute father figure.

Besides playing football, Al lettered in baseball and was an outstanding basketball player. He was also a champion pole vaulter and placed second at the 1940 Wisconsin state high school track meet. Al went on to attend the University of Wisconsin, where his football coach was the former quarterback of Notre Dame’s fabled Four Horsemen, Harry Stuhldreher. When World War II broke out, Al joined the Army Air Corps, and spent most of the time in the Pacific Theater as a medic and physician’s surgical assistant. Back from the war in 1946, Al was named the most valuable player on the Badgers’ newly-formed JV squad. He joined Coach Stuhldreher’s Wisconsin football staff in 1947. Al’s coaching lineage was notable now, with two Hall of Fame coaches (Hearden and Stuhldreher) having served as his mentors. It was time for Coach Al to head a program of his own.

Using his apprenticeships at Wisconsin as a springboard, Al was hired as head coach of the Sturgeon Bay Clippers in 1948. He found immediate success, winning conference championships in '48 and 1950. Along the way, Al also coached wrestling and baseball, while teaching chemistry and physical education at the high school.  

But Al decided to leave coaching football when the GI bill offered him a chance to return to school. His service record as an Army medic gave him impetus toward the medical field. Al had been accepted to medical school at UW-Madison but lacked a single required course in either Spanish, French, or Latin. Even though Al spoke fluent Polish, he was turned down for entry. Thus Al enrolled at Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago, and graduated with an Doctor of Optometry degree two years later.


Moving back to Green Bay, Al signed on as an assistant football coach with Green Bay Catholic Central, under the outstanding tutilidge of Head Coach Ted Fritsch. Ted was a former Hall of Fame fullback for the Green Bay Packers, and local football legend. Al and Ted became close friends and Al was quick to learn a number of new tricks from another master of the game. Ted had played the bulk of his career under Curly Lambeau, and was known as a clever and savvy football mind. Yet after his stint at Catholic Central, Al still longed to run his own program. He jumped at the chance, one year later, to return to the Sturgeon Bay Clippers.

Almost immediately, Al was able to rekindle the success the Clippers had experienced during his first stint with the program. They steadily regained their winning traction and finally became dominant in their final three seasons. Al's teams at Sturgeon Bay won championships in 1948 – 50, and 1958 – 59, at one point going 20 – 1.

Now it was time for Al to take on an even larger challenge. Relocating back to his home town, Al took over the reins at his Green Bay East alma mater in 1960 – 68, where his undefeated team won the Fox River Valley Conference championship in 1965. The Red Devils earned the state’s highest rankings in both the AP and UPI polls. That same year, Coach Al was named the Wisconsin Football Coach of the Year. He also won the Fox Cities Sports Award. His COTY award was presented by college football legend Woody Hayes.

After leaving East High to devote time to his growing optometric practice, Al remained an assistant coach at Premontre High School (formerly Catholic Central) for the next five years. He afterwards served as a long-standing member of the WISAA Football Championship Selection Committee. In 1965, Al was honored as a charter member of the Wisconsin Football Coaches Hall of Fame.

In a coaching career that spanned 25 seasons, Al Mancheski won multiple accolades as a great motivator. He was considered an innovator in his time, and among the first to implement weight training for high school players. He also taught his players “vision/quickness” reaction training, and supplied them with contact lenses in lieu of glasses while playing.

So what made Al such a successful football coach? Several factors went into creating his formula for winning; and much of it was formed by taking bits and pieces from the coaching masters he had played under, and learned from. Al had learned, first, how to motivate players through speeches from the great Curly Lambeau, passed along to him via Lambeau's protege: Tom Hearden. Also from Lambeau, Al learned to be innovative. Curly Lambeau dominated the NFL by emphasizing the forward pass (Arnie Herber to Don Hutson), and how speedy running backs (Johnny Blood McNally) could then flourish in a spread open offense.

Second, Al learned his misdirection offense from both Tom Hearden at East, and Harry Stuhldreher at Wisconsin. These mentors had both played for legendary Knute Rockne's (Four Horsemen) Notre Dame-era championship teams. The emphasis was on variations of the Notre Dame box and single-wing offense, where a direct center snap to the running backs created a multitude of variations, all designed to confuse the defense. 

But Al added his own flare to his winning philosophy. He created a version of the single-wing, which he called the "Twing" offense. (The press called it the "Go" offense.) This set the four ball carriers in a straight line behind the center, where each back was equally likely to receive the hike. When the ball was snapped, the backs all moved in different directions, some spinning or taking juke steps, crossing one another, sometimes with their backs completely turned to the defense. The result was defenders had to guess who the true ball carrier was -- often guessing incorrectly. This resulted in numerous plays each game where the defense ganged-up on one presumed target, only to find the real ball carrier sprinting down the opposite sideline and outrunning the confused defenders for gashing gains of thirty, forty, or fifty yards ... quite often sprinting untouched across the goal line. 

The third aspect to Al's coaching philosophy was what he called "the edge." This was a combination of psychological ploy and physical execution. Again, he learned this technique passed down from Knute Rockne (see "Gipper" speech) via Harry Stuhldreher; and from Curly Lambeau (little Green Bay underdogs), as well as from Tom Hearden (everyone's against us!). Al's variation was by giving his players something the other team's didn't have, and it instilled a sense of confidence that spread through the entire team. Initially Al did this with weight training. In the summers, he had his players lifting weights together in the park across from the high school. This was in 1960, long before team training with weights was in vogue. Not only did it foster team unity, but also made his players stronger and more developed, presumably, than many of their opponents.

Even back in the late 1950s, Al instituted "vision reaction training" for his entire team. This was a series of techniques he had learned in optometry school, which involved teaching players visual cues, which then allowed their bodies to react quicker, and respond faster, to stimuli. An early proponent of this technique was the legendary Cleveland Browns' founder and coach, Paul Brown. Coach Brown also believed in quickness training, advocating that "the eyes lead the body." Thus the faster your brain could process what you're eyes were seeing, the quicker your body could react.

Every time Al's teams took the field, his players believed they held not only a motivational edge, but also a physical advantage over their opponents as well. In short, Al's players knew they were stronger, faster, and quicker than anyone they were playing. And with their Twing offense, which confounded defenses, they also likely thought they were more clever. What a huge advantage!  

On the defensive side of the ball, Al's Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay East teams played a "combination" defense. This was a philosophy of man-to-man defense up front, where each lineman's job was to defeat the player across from him. The scheme allowed linebackers and defensive backs to play their own match-up assignments on the opponent's skill players -- similar to stiff man-to-man defense in basketball. With his Clippers' and Red Devils' players stronger and quicker than most opposition players, Al's defenses could smother their opponents by winning at every position, on nearly every play.

The fourth aspect to Al's winning philosophy was the "Kiss Method." (Decades before it became popular in today's sports lexicon.) Keep-it-Simple-Stupid! This meant that his strategy kept things simple so players' mistakes were reduced to practically nill. Fumbling the football was a mortal sin; and the same went for penalties. Al's teams played with great discipline. This aversion to making mistakes, however, did have its drawbacks. Even though Al's teams had great athletes, and excellent punters and place kickers, they rarely attempted field goals. Mostly for fear of having the kick blocked; and yet, Al always reasoned that with his deceptive offense, his teams were just as likely to make first downs on fourth downs, no matter how great the yardage. Why settle for three points, he reasoned, when the odds are just as likely you will score six?

The same thing went for passing the football. Al's desire to reduce mistakes created a reluctance to put the ball in the air. Yet this ultimately worked to his team's advantage. Al stacked the deck with his passing attack, by using it sparingly. With all the misdirection running plays his offense created, when his quarterbacks did pass, they usually found their receivers wide open against unsuspecting defensive backs. By lulling the defenders into passivity, Al's teams used their passing attack as a fatal weapon. When they did spring an unexpected pass, the plays were so well-designed and cleverly disguised, that they usually met with a near-perfect execution. 

This modest passing attack, while not amassing a volume of receptions, nevertheless made a national high school All American out of East High's fabulous tight end, Pat "Bone" Harrington. And if not for a freak injury in college at Northwestern, Harrington was well on his way to collegiate All-American status, and a lengthy career in professional football.


Yet all things considered, Al Mancheski's greatest attribute was perhaps in taking losing programs and turning them into winners. Both Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay East were downtrodden programs when Al arrived on the scene. They were both high-success, championship programs when he departed. Al's career winning record as a head coach for thirteen years at Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay East high schools combined, stands at 61 - 27 - 7. 

A lifelong Packers and Badgers fan, Al often told stories of himself in high school, practicing on the East High field while Curly Lambeau’s Packers warmed up outside the Old City Stadium fence. The fact that Al’s long-time mentor and friend, Tom Hearden, played and coached with Curly Lambeau, allowed Al into the Packers’ inner circle. When Hearden was nearly named the team’s head coach for the 1958 season, he assured Al that he’d place him as an assistant on his new coaching staff. But alas Tom Hearden's health took a tragic turn before named as the Packers' head coach.

Throughout his life, Al maintained close friendships with a number of his assistant coaches. In particular, Gene and Faye Bray (and family), and Tom and Betty Van Lieshout (and family). And also with his neighbors and good friends Don Johnson and Gene Van Hout. Al relished his trips back to Sturgeon Bay, where he was honored multiple times by the athletic department, Clippers' Nation, and the local community for helping put Sturgeon Bay athletics on the map during his long tenure with the football program. Many of Al's former players at both Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay East, in later years, kept in touch with Coach Al and revered him as a friend and mentor. 

In his later years, having retiring from coaching as well as his optometry practice, Al turned to book authorship. He conveyed his personal story about Tom Hearden’s life to his son, Janson, and together they co-authored the novel Shoot For the Stars – The Tom Hearden Story. It tells the remarkable tale of one man’s life in football, much the same way Al’s own story reads. The book has received rave reviews since it's publication in 2015, and is considered by football and non-sports fans alike as one of the finest sports-themed novels ever written. 

Al is survived by his wife, the former Dawn Marie Trask, whom he married in 1951; his sons Janson, Mark, and Randall, all of Green Bay, daughters Nancy (Nubs DeCleene, deceased) and Amy (King) and her husband Paul, along with grandchildren Chase and Somer DeCleene. 

A funeral has been scheduled for 10 A.M. Monday at St. Mary of the Angels church. It is the same small Polish parish on the East Side of Green Bay, where at the age of ten, Al Mancheski first learned how to play the game of football.

Friday, May 13, 2016

JOHNNY BLOOD TALKS TO JIM “4 HORSEMAN” CROWLEY

Here’s my radio script copy that I was too chicken to run: RADIO SCRIPT 
ANNOUNCER: Today we’re interviewing two ghosts of Packers past. Take it away, gentlemen:
BLOOD: Hi. I’m Johnny Blood. Hall of Fame running back for the Green Bay Packers.
CROWLEY: And my name’s Jim Crowley. I grew up in Green Bay. And I’m still remembered as one of Notre Dame’s all-time greatest ball carriers.
BLOOD: One of the Four Horsemen, weren’t you, Jim?
CROWLEY: You betcha. The Four Horsemen, Knute Rockne… those were the days, eh Johnny?
BLOOD: That they were, my friend.…. But the reason were talking to you today, is that you can read about many of our exploits—
CROWLEY: (Laughs): Both on and off the field—
BLOOD: — Along with Curly Lambeau, Tom Hearden, and many other great players in the entertaining new football novel SHOOT FOR THE STARS. It’s chock full of behind-the-scene stories many fans have never heard of.
CROWLEY: Where can folks get ahold of this book, Johnny?
BLOOD: Any bookstore can order it. Or Amazon. Or Barnes and Noble.
CROWLEY : So maybe we settle our long-time bet? Who the greatest running back in Green Bay history really was?
BLOOD: Let’s let the fans decide. They’re usually right.
CROWLEY: SHOOT FOR THE STARS. What football was like back when men were men, and their broken noses proved it.
BLOOD: By the way, Jim. You’d be a lot better looking today if you’d played with a facemask.
CROWLEY: At least I didn’t play with a constant hangover…
They argue as voices FADE: … I think I’ve still got a few loose teeth, Jim…. And likely still a hangover… Just a little tired, my friend… Remember that time against the Bears? 
ANNOUNCER: SHOOT FOR THE STARS… The perfect gift for every football fan you know. Order your copy today.