Freddie Joe Steinmark enters the Hall of Fame via several routes: as an outstanding athlete at Wheat Ridge High School and the University of Texas; as a courageous individual best expressed in the he book he authored…”I Play To Win”…; and as an inspiration that continues to influence the lives of many.
Steinmark died of cancer at 10:30 p.m., June 6th 1971; 48 days after doctors gave him only hours to live. He was 22 years old.
The dramatic turn in what appeared to be the development of All-America defensive back with the Texas Longhorns, came shockingly and stunningly swift. In the 10th game of Steinmark’s junior season, he was named the game’s outstanding defensive back as No. 1 Texas, defeated second-ranked Arkansas in a thriller, 15-14. It meant the national title to Texas.
Texas was in the midst of putting together a string of 31 straight wins and Steinmark played in 21 of these.
But Steinmark complained of a “mushy” aching in his left leg just above the knee for part of his junior year. He played the entire Razorback game and then submitted to x-rays for further examination. Surgery was ordered and Steinmark was told that if the leg were malignant it would come off immediately. Steinmark understood.
Freddie Joe did not require much psychological attention. He was his own best therapist. He soon set out on crutch as prosthesis on a series of appearances that would aid in the amassing of many dollars The American Cancer Society.
He was honored at the While House and by sportswriters and organizations all across the country.
“Most of all, we like to think that Freddie had something to do with President Nixon spearheading the largest appropriation ever for cancer research,” his father Fred Steinmark said.
Freddie Joe began playing football at the age of seven with the North Denver Rough Riders in the Young American League in Denver.
He lettered three years in football and baseball at Wheat Ridge High School and was named All-Metro and All-State in both sports.
At Texas, Steinmark was All-Southwest Conference his junior year and was honorable mention All-American.
Freddie Joe’s book is out of print now, but Texas high school football coaches still use copies to hand out players in their “must read” program.
Another honor for Freddie Joe Steinmark came when the new scoreboard at Memorial Stadium in Austin was dedicated by the University to their former student athlete. That would appeal to a ‘defensive back.’
I play to win.