Name: Cliff Battles
Pro Career: 1932 – 1937
Team Affiliation(s): Boston Braves, Boston Redskins, Washington Redskins
College: West Virginia Wesleyan
Induction Class: 1968
Brief Bio: In an era when grit and muscle dominated the gridiron, one player flashed pure brilliance of what the future would hold for the sport. That player was Cliff Battles. In 1932, Battles won the league’s rushing title as a rookie and in the next season became first player in league history to rush for 200+ yards in a single game. When the Redskins moved to Washington in 1937 and legendary owner George Preston Marshall acquired young stud “Slingin’” Sammy Baugh, fans thought a slew of championships were inevitable with the Battles/Baugh tandem. That assumption grew as Battles helped lead the Redskins to their first league championship with 3 rushing touchdowns against the New York Giants to win the Eastern Division and then another touchdown against the Bears in the championship game. However, Marshall’s refusal to increase Battles’ salary from $3,000 led to the star’s retirement after the 1937 season and left many fans wondering what could have been. In just six short seasons, Battles won the league rushing title twice and was named All-NFL five times. His 3,500+ career rushing yards were unprecedented in those early smash-mouth, defensive-focused days of the NFL.
Career Stats: 60 games played; 3,511 rushing yards; 23 rushing TDs; 546 receiving yards; 4 receiving TDs; 1 passing TD; 15 INTs; 1 INT TD; 2 Punt Return TDs; 1 Kickoff Return TD
Featured Card: 1935 National Chicle #10. As one of the game’s brightest stars of the era, there is little wonder why Battles was included in the first nationally distributed football card set. Trivial Beckett value of this vintage gem is $400 while current eBay prices are all over the place. There is one raw copy for $135 and a PSA 8 starting at $1,399; however, most copies do appear to fall into the $400 ballpark. If you’re interested in anything Battles, there are several HOF focused releases and newer sets that include Battles with singles that can be found for less than $10.
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