Ex-Buckeyes great ‘Hopalong’ Cassady dies at 85

Field Level Media

September 20, 2019 at 3:04 pm.

Former Ohio State star Howard “Hopalong” Cassady, the 1955 Heisman Trophy winner, died Friday morning in Tampa, Fla., the school announced. He was 85.

Cassady played halfback for the Buckeyes from 1952-55. He also played baseball for the Buckeyes and later worked 40 years for the New York Yankees.

The Columbus, Ohio, native left Ohio State as the school’s career leader in rushing yardage, all-purpose yardage and scoring. Primarily a defensive back, Cassady played nine NFL seasons, seven with the Detroit Lions, with whom he won the 1957 league championship.

Legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes said Cassady was “the most inspirational player I’ve ever seen.”

Cassady earned his nickname as a freshman in 1952, when he came off the bench to score three touchdowns against Indiana. Ohio sportswriters labeled him in a reference to fictional performing cowboy Hopalong Cassidy.

Cassady, whose No. 40 was retired by Ohio State in 2000, scored 37 touchdowns in 36 games with the Buckeyes and was named All-America in 1954 and 1955. He finished third in the Heisman voting as a junior, when he led Ohio State to Hayes’ first national title.

After meeting former Yankees owner and fellow Ohioan George Steinbrenner through their association with the U.S. Air Force, Cassady worked as a conditioning coach, scout and special instructor for the Yankees. At one time, he even coached with the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Columbus.

Cassidy was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979. He and his wife, Barbara, retired near Tampa, the Yankees’ spring training home.