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Toiling on the practice unit for a number of seasons, Van Galder began to impress the St. Louis coaching staff. His hard work paid off when the former Cyclone earned the starting QB job for the Cardinals as a 28-year-old rookie in 1972. “You have to remember, I played not a bunch, but in some exhibition games, so I had a little experience,” Van Galder said. The Cardinals would begin the 1972 campaign on Sept. 17th and their first opponent was going to be formidable. Van Galder would be going head-to-head against one of his childhood heroes in Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts at Memorial Stadium. Van Galder would navigate the Cardinals to a 10-3 road upset win in the season-opener, completing 10-of-15 passes for 110 yards with zero interceptions. The win over the Colts shocked the NFL. The Associated Press ran this story following the game:
Tim Van Galder has qualified for the National Football League’s pension plan for football players. It could mean a lot larger pension than the one he’d have gotten if he had remained in the Army.
The 28-year-old rookie- by NFL rules- directed the St. Louis Cardinals to a 10-3 upset of the Baltimore Colts Sunday as pro football began its 1972 season. “Not only was this my first regular season start, it qualified me for the NFL pension,” explained Van Galder, who upstaged one of the game’s old pros, Johnny Unitas. He spent three years on St. Louis’ taxi squad and two years in the Army before getting into a regular season game. – Associated Press
Van Galder was the talk of pro football. He will always remember beating Johnny U. “It was a little overwhelming because as a kid I watched a Colts game with Unitas the year they won the NFL title in 1958,” said Van Galder. “Now fast-forward 14 years later and I’m going to start against him. I couldn’t believe it. In the first quarter I’m standing next to one of my teammates and I said, ‘You know who’s playing out there? It’s number 19. It’s Johnny U.’ I was like a little kid. It was just so neat. As things turned out, we won the game and that was kind of my 15 minutes of fame.” Van Galder started the first five games of the Cardinals’ 1972 season, becoming the first of only four players in Iowa State history to start a game at QB in the NFL – David Archer, Sage Rosenfels and Seneca Wallace joined the club later. The Cardinals’ coaching staff opted to hand over the reins to the offense in mid-season to Jim Hart, who remained the team’s starting QB for the next nine seasons. No question, one of the best quarterbacks in franchise history. I enjoyed my time with the Cardinals and I tricked them long enough to send me a pension check.”
When he was cut by the Cardinals, Van Galder had already begun positioning himself into another career in sports broadcasting. He stayed in St. Louis working with KMOX-TV as a sports anchor beginning in 1973. However, NFL teams still needed quality QBs, and calls kept coming. The first came from the Cincinnati Bengals where an innovative offensive coordinator named Bill Walsh was starting to perfect his “West Coast” offense. “I went there for a few weeks, but it didn’t work out,” Van Galder said. “He (Walsh) was a neat guy. He explained everything. When he put in a new play, you understood what he was trying to do. He was great. Anyhow, that didn’t work out so I came back to St. Louis and started doing TV full-time.” The 1973 season was coming to a close and the New York Jets began to show interest. Joe Namath was out for the season with a separated shoulder and the Jets back-up, Al Woodall, also went down with a knee injury. The Jets were frantically seeking a back-up for third-string QB Bill Demory until Woodall returned. Enter Tim Van Galder. “I get a call from the Jets because their quarterbacks were out with a number of injuries,” Van Galder recalled. “Namath was out for the year and Woodall was banged up and going to be out at least three weeks. They needed somebody to backup Bill Demory. I went to my boss at the TV station and got it arranged for me to go to New York to finish off the season.” Namath, or the aptly-named Broadway Joe for his off-the-field exploits, was one of the most polarizing figures in professional sports at the time. Soon, Van Galder would be thrust into his legendary world. “The second day I was there, Joe comes up to me and says, ‘Tim, where are you staying?’” Van Galder said. “I was only going to be there three weeks and I told him I was staying at one of the assistant’s apartment. He said, ‘Well hell, you’re more than welcome to stay with me.’ I thought to myself, ‘Me, with Joe Namath?’” One could only imagine the stories Van Galder has about his three-week stint as roommates with Namath. He offered this one up for us. “My wife came out to visit me for a few days,” Van Galder said. “I got home one afternoon and we were all shooting the breeze in Joe’s apartment. I asked him where a good spot we could get a bite to eat. He said, ‘Oh, you got to go to this great place on Lexington.’ I said, ‘Great!’” Not thinking that Namath needed company, Van Galder never imagined to ask him if he wanted to come along. The next moment stunned Van Galder. “It was so cute and I wish I had a movie of it,” Van Galder remembered. “He was kind of moving his head back and forth and he says, ‘Do you think it would be okay if I came too, if I went to dinner with you two?’ I said, ‘Of course!’ He says, ‘Great, I’ll get a date.’ The next part was just like the movies. He pulls out this little black book and he starts paging through it. He picks up the phone and calls a girl, and I can only hear his end of the conversation, but I remember hearing him say, ‘Yeah, I know I haven’t talked to you in six months.’ We all went out on a double-date and had a great time.” Van Galder will always cherish the brief bond he made with Namath. “My God, he couldn’t have been a nicer gentleman,” Van Galder said. “He was the most down to earth, nicest fella you would ever want to meet.”
Van Galder played one more season of baseball in 1966 where he will forever be an answer to an Iowa State trivia question. On May 6, 1966, Van Galder became the last Cyclone pitcher to throw a no-hitter, helping the Cyclones defeat Colorado, 4-2. Van Galder struck out six batters, issued six walks and two runs crossed the plate, but none of them were earned and zero Buffaloes could muster a hit. “I would make a bad pitch and they would hit it right to somebody,” Van Galder said humbly about the historical game. “There is so much luck in that (throwing a no-hitter).”
Van Galder officially hung up the cleats after the 1973 season and went back to work at KMOX-TV as the sports anchor. He stayed there until the mid-1980s. As the NFL started to grow in popularity, so did its exposure on national television. NFL television contract revenue began to skyrocket and the demand for broadcasting games followed suit. CBS owned the rights to NFC games and was seeking color analysts for its broadcasts. CBS zeroed in on Van Galder, who was a perfect choice. He was already working in the profession and he had knowledge of the game. “I worked two games in 1975, one with Don Criqui and the other with Al Michaels,” Van Galder said. Van Galder was slated for more games in 1976. His partner that season was a young up-and-coming broadcaster named Bob Costas. The pair had already formed a friendship the year before. Costas’ first job after graduating from Syracuse was the play-by-play man for the American Basketball Association’s (ABA) St. Louis Spirits on KMOX radio. KMOX housed both its television and radio departments in the same building. “His (Costas) very first job out of college was with the Spirits on KMOX,” Van Galder said. “We were in the same building. They were just one floor above. I got to know him really well. My nickname around here was TVG. I nicknamed him, YBC, young Bob Costas. To this day, he’s listed as YBC in my phone.” Van Galder enjoyed covering NFL games with Costas. “He’s a great guy and so talented,” Van Galder said. “It was so easy to work with him. My deal was I wasn’t such a big name and I probably wasn’t that great at it either. But, all you are doing is telling folks what they just saw. It’s not science, but it was fun.”
I met TVG when he came to work at GMAC Mortgage as a loan officer. We had so much fun and became such great friends. He was not only so good to me but also my family. One memory I’ll always love him for is when he spent hours with me and my family in the waiting room at mercy hospital while my sister had a 17-hour brain surgery for a tumor to be removed. With his kindness and him being so witty he brought such calmness to all of us. He had surgeries that I was able to take care of him and “Boss” him around. Lol I was with Tim his last days and helped to make him comfortable. He wanted to know if I was going to sell him back his Condo! I will never forget my dear friend and will always hold a special place in my heart for him. He’s not suffering anymore and I thank God for that. Rest In Peace TVG we loved you so.❤️❤️
Tim and I referred to each other by our numbers all these years. We always talked to each other on our birthdays and we’d begin by saying “hey one six back at you one seven”. Our friendship covered 55 years! And never wavered. I will miss my good friend Timmy! RIP old buddy! Jim Hart
I’ll never forget back in the 90’s playing in a golf tournament at Norwood Hills in a foursome behind TVG, he had these horrible looking Billy Bob teeth reminded me of Jerry Lewis, anyway he was really having fun with the cart girls and hole sponsors as he’d take them out and put them back in, he was a real pistol and will be missed by all that knew him! Godspeed TVG! - Vince Throckmorton
TVG and I shared a lot of fun times mostly drinking beer, me listening to jokes and playing golf. We played in two state of Missouri seniors partners events, finished 3rd one year and 5th the second year. The 5th place finish was unusual because final day of tournament I hurt my back lifting clubs out of trunk
I was deeply saddened by the news last week of TVG's passing. I am one of many friends of Tim's from out in Palm Desert, California. I first met TVG in 2003 and as a golf professional and a member of the PGA of America, TVG and I hit it off right away and quickly became great friends and golfing buddies. He always referred to me as "Jime" (Spanish for Jimmy) or "Pards", like he called many of his friends. After golf there were always a few "Quiet Ones" (cocktails) and lots of laughs. My wife Crystal and I lived with TVG for a couple of years just prior to us getting married and buying a house of our own. TVG will always be with us and the many memories with him over the past 18 or 19 years will forever be cherished. I have countless jokes in my mind that he told over the years and although I can recall many of them (there must have been thousands!) I very seldom will share them with others because only he could deliver them "TVG Style". The man could sure tell a joke and I would hate to ever butcher one of his because my delivery would never do it justice! Anyway, I could go on forever about Tim as he was certainly one of a kind and truly one of my best friends I've ever had. Both Crystal and I send our deepest sympathies to TVG's family for their loss and we both already miss him very, very much.
Dear Co, thanks for our 60 year friendship, and all the great memories we shared on and off the field!!! I’m glad your struggle is over and pray that you’ll connect with your family soon!!! 🏈🙏❤️💕 Brekker
I literally grew up with Timmy Van Galder. He came out from Wisconsin with his 4 brothers, where his father, Clark Van Galder, was the head football coach for Fresno State. Timmy started the 3rd grade with me at Del Mar Elementary. We remained good friends, despite the family moving back to Wisconsin. He would come to Fresno and visit, and talk over old times. I’ll miss Timmy greatly.
My late husband, Steve Van Galder (known as SVG by Tim) was a forever golfing buddy with cousin Tim when he came each summer to play in the NFL Alumni Golf Tournament in Madison, WI. They were always on the same team going from younger VG’s, who played “lights out” to older VG’s whose balance and distance on the course were beginning to raise the scores, but not diminish the absolute fun the 2 of them had together. We lived in Janesville and Tim would oftentimes stay at our house during these golf outings. Our late nights out on our deck came with all of the same fun conversations that everyone mentioned at Tim’s service today (I watched virtually from Janesville). About 10 days ago I sent Tim a text with a couple of photos of him with Steve. Knowing he was not doing well, I hoped that someone close by him would be able to read it to him and show him the pictures. We loved him so much… and I know Steve absolutely was waiting at heaven’s gate for Tim ….with golf clubs in hand for both of them to head out onto heaven’s #1 Tee. I wish all of you great strength during this time. Aren’t we all so fortunate to have such fond and wonderful memories of Tim? Thank goodness for memories!!! Love to all of you, Sue VanGalder
To say Tim Van Galder merely was personable is like saying Tiger Woods has been just OK at golf.
"He was as charismatic and magnetic figure as St. Louis ever has had," Lou Tevlin, executive sports producer at Channel 4 when both worked there, said. "He was the Joe Namath of St. Louis."
"TVG," as he was known locally, turned a relatively nondescript run as a quarterback with the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals into a high-profile sportscasting career that began in 1973 and lasted nearly a decade and a half. And he remained the proverbial man about town for many years after that.
And what a life it was for Van Galder, who died of cancer on Wednesday at his home in St. Charles. He was 77.
He once roomed with Namath. He was "discovered" for his TV career by legendary broadcaster Regis Philbin. And he had a nearly five-decade friendship with iconic sportscaster Bob Costas.
"He was one of those guys who had a magnetic personality," said Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive lineman Dan Dierdorf, who blocked for Van Galder in his brief NFL run, then succeeded him as the sports director at what now is KMOV (Channel 4) before ascending to a national sportscasting career. "He had the too-cool-for-school vibe. He was very popular on the team and fun to be around, then had a great career on TV."
Costas launched his iconic national sportscasting career at KMOX (1120 AM) about the same time Van Galder began at Channel 4. The stations were in the same building, overlooking the downtown riverfront near the arch, and they became pals though Costas is about eight years younger.
"We were very good friends," Costas said. "We played a lot of golf together in ’90s and into the early 2000s."
They remained friends after Costas left town and he said the news of Van Galder's passing, though not unexpected, "hit me hard."
There were a lot of good times to remember, including how Van Galder would conclude meetings of the 1-2-3 Club, a group of people from wide-ranging backgrounds tied to St. Louis athletics, with a joke.
“It always was a new one,” Costas said. “He was a great joke teller. He knew how to set it up, he’d have great inflections.”
And TVG had his own acronym for Costas — YBC, as in Young Bob Costas. That's what legendary KMOX broadcaster Jack Carney called Costas when he was a pup at the station, and Van Galder ran with its shortened version for decades.
"I can’t remember him ever calling me anything but YBC," Costas said.
Van Galder's carefree ways burst through on the air, where he'd be seen without a tie and sometimes sit or lean against the desk instead of sit behind it.
"Too many people when they try to do TV or radio try to be somebody they are not," Dierdorf said. "When he was at Channel 4, he was being TVG."
Among the lessons Tevlin said he learned from Van Galder: "Give it all you got professionally but when you leave work, you leave it behind and live life. Man, did TVG ever live life!"
Those two adhered to that motto, often hitting the town after work.
"TVG entered a room and quickly owned it with his authenticity and smile," Tevlin recalled. "A ladies man, larger than life personality.”
That could lead to some interesting situations.
“Former Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds reminded me a bit of TVG," Tevlin said. "Some guys didn’t like him — mostly because their girlfriends/wives did like TVG. And secretly, guys wanted to be like TVG. Outstanding athlete in everything he did, charming, good looking and had a really cool job on TV."
After Van Galder was cut by the Cardinals following the 1972 season, he had a couple brief shots in the NFL but never played again. One was with the New York Jets because legendary QB Namath and others on the depth chart were injured. So TVG arrived as roster insurance for the final three weeks of the season.
Renowned playboy Namath quickly warmed to the free-spirited newcomer, and invited Van Galder to move in with him for the his brief stay.
"I was married at the time, so I didn't do too much carousing with him," Van Galder once told the Post-Dispatch. "But what a place he had — a pool table, spiral staircase, the works."
Van Galder expounded on his Namath experience in an interview he did with Mike Green of Iowa State University's athletics department in 2015, when TVG was inducted into its Hall of Fame for his football and baseball exploits.
“My wife came out to visit me for a few days,” Van Galder told Green. “… I asked him where a good spot we could get a bite to eat. He said, ‘Oh, you got to go to this great place on Lexington.’ I said, ‘Great!’”
Van Galder didn't bother to invite Namath to accompany them, thinking "Broadway Joe" had other plans. That led to an memorable moment Van Galder described in that interview.
Namath “says, ‘Do you think it would be OK if I came, too?’ I said, ‘Of course!’ He says, ‘Great, I’ll get a date.’
"The next part was just like the movies. He pulls out this little black book and he starts paging through it. He picks up the phone and calls a girl, and I can only hear his end of the conversation. But I remember hearing him say, ‘Yeah, I know I haven’t talked to you in six months.’ We all went out on a double date and had a great time.”
Van Galder's television run was sparked by Philbin, said longtime TVG friend Tevlin. In the early ’70s, Philbin's career had not blossomed into the national prominence it eventually reached, and he'd fly from Los Angeles to St. Louis once a month to record episodes of a variety show that Channel 4 aired late Saturday nights.
Tevlin said Philbin and Van Galder once ended up in the same restaurant in St. Louis and quickly hit it off. Philbin was friends with station management (it was KMOX-TV then), which was the reason he had the job. Tevlin said Philbin pushed for Van Galder to be hired, telling the powers that be that "Timmy had the 'it' factor — and boy did he have a lot of it!”
Van Galder was on the air a short time later. Philbin — a big sports fan — came on with him on occasion. But it was not an easy transition for a guy who had no formal training in the broadcast business.
"There were a lot of blunders, big bad blunders," Van Galder said in 1981.
Included were calling Paavo Nurmi, the famed distance runner from Finland known as "The Flying Finn," "The Flying Nun." Other times, words more suitable for a football field than a newscast slipped through.
"You could fill a book with them," Van Galder once said of his mistakes. "No, make that two books."
But he worked hard and got much better and his broadcast career lasted nearly two decades, including time on sports-talk radio. He also was in the home siding business and owned a lounge and managed another. He really enjoyed those latter positions.
"I didn't pay myself worth a damn, but I spent next to nothing in the bars," he once told the Post-Dispatch. "It's a hell of a life if you're single, staying there till late at night, sleeping in and playing golf in the daytime."
In his spare time he was a top-notch local golfer.
On the field
Van Galder was selected by the Cardinals in the sixth round of the 1966 draft and banged around on the taxi squad and in the Army before finally getting his chance to play, and start, in 1972.
His first pass was memorable — it should have been a 61-yard TD hookup with Hall of Fame tight end Jackie Smith, who was behind the Baltimore Colts' defense and in stride with the throw. But the perfectly placed ball bounced off his hands, which were at chest level.
"I told him I didn't know which end of the ball to try to catch, you throw so wobbly," Smith jokingly said this week.
They later hooked up on a 71-yard strike that helped the Big Red to a 10-3 victory on the road. However, Van Galder made just four more NFL appearances, all that season. But his off-field life, as ebullient as it was, was just taking shape.
"I was always kind of a ham," he once told the Post-Dispatch. "When I played for the Cardinals, I had to be; I didn't play very much."
Van Galder's teammates enjoyed his company. The Big Red in those days held training camp just north of Chicago, and Smith said some of the boys would venture in to the big city for a few cold ones in their free time “but made sure we got back by curfew.”
Van Galder, who had a Corvette, would push the limits.
“More than once TVG came screeching in at the 11th hour," Smith said. "He was always a playboy, but a very dedicated player. He was an interesting character, that’s for sure. Everybody liked him.”
So much so that a group of his teammates remained close all these years later.
“A lot of us spent the day (he died) talking about him,” Smith said. “He was a great part of our lives. He handled himself very well, even when he was weak toward the end. He still was as much like TVG as he ever was.”
Final arrangements for Van Galder, who had been single for many years and had no children, are pending. They are being handled in part by his nephew.
How did TVG perceive himself? He reflected in a 1991 interview with the Post-Dispatch.
"I'm more than 20 years out of college and I haven't had to grow up yet," he said. "What's that saying, 'Growing up is optional, growing old is mandatory.' Well, that's me."
It's an outlook he was able to maintain for a lifetime, a rollicking life summed up succinctly by his buddy Costas.
"He was fun and funny," Costas said. "He wasn’t one of the greatest players, but he was one of the greatest guys."
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