Alan Ameche

Last updated

Alan Ameche
Alan Ameche 1960.jpg
No. 35
Position: Fullback
Personal information
Born:(1933-06-01)June 1, 1933
Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.
Died:August 8, 1988(1988-08-08) (aged 55)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Height:6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight:218 lb (99 kg)
Career information
High school: Bradford (Kenosha, Wisconsin)
College: Wisconsin
NFL Draft: 1955  / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:4,045
Rushing average:4.2
Rushing touchdowns:40
Player stats at NFL.com  ·  PFR

Alan Ameche ( /əˈmi/ ; June 1, 1933 – August 8, 1988), nicknamed "The Iron Horse", or simply "The Horse", was an American football player who played six seasons with the Baltimore Colts in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and won the Heisman Trophy during his senior season in 1954. He was elected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons in the league. He is famous for scoring the winning touchdown in overtime in the 1958 NFL Championship Game against the New York Giants, labeled "The Greatest Game Ever Played." [1] [2]

Contents

With colleague and former Colts teammate Gino Marchetti, Ameche founded the Gino's Hamburgers chain. [3] He also founded the Baltimore-based Ameche's Drive-in restaurants.

Early life

Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as Lino Dante Amici to Italian immigrant parents who came to the United States in the late 1920s, although they returned for a year to Italy during his childhood. The family then returned to Kenosha, where he attended Bradford High School. Ameche was a cousin of actor brothers Don and Jim Ameche. [4]

College career

Ameche earned consensus All-America honors at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he played linebacker as well as fullback in single-platoon days. In four years as a Badger, he gained 3,212 yards, then the NCAA record, scored 25 touchdowns, and averaged 4.8 yards per carry. He played in the program's first bowl game, the 1953 Rose Bowl, as a sophomore, rushing for 133 yards on 28 carries. Ameche won the Heisman Trophy in 1954, the first for the Badger program. [5] [6] [7]

Ameche is one of six Wisconsin football players to have a number retired by the program (35) and enshrined on the Camp Randall Stadium façade as of 2008: fellow Heisman winner and current career rushing record holder Ron Dayne (33), Elroy Hirsch (40), Dave Schreiner (80), Allan Schafer (83), and Pat Richter (88) are the others. Ameche was inducted into the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1967, the College Football Hall of Fame in 1975, [5] and the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 2004.

NFL career

Ameche was the third overall selection of the 1955 NFL Draft and played fullback for the Baltimore Colts from 1955 until 1960. Named NFL Rookie of the Year in 1955, he was a four-time Pro Bowler (1955–58), and the only rookie named to the Associated Press All-Pro team in 1955. [8] Ameche averaged 4.2 yards per carry over his career, and held the record for rushing yards in his first three NFL games until Carnell "Cadillac" Williams passed it in 2005.[ citation needed ]

Ameche may be best remembered for his role in the 1958 NFL Championship Game at Yankee Stadium, often cited as "The Greatest Game Ever Played." Ameche scored the winning touchdown for the Colts on a one-yard run with 6:45 left in overtime as the Colts beat the Giants, 23–17. It was his second touchdown of the day as he also scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run in the second quarter. [1] [2] His overtime touchdown was the last in championship history until Super Bowl LI in February 2017, when James White scored at 3:58 of overtime as the New England Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons, 34–28.

Due to an Achilles tendon injury in December 1960, [9] [10] [11] Ameche finished a relatively short six-season NFL career with 4,045 rushing yards, 101 receptions for 733 yards and 44 touchdowns. He is one of only four players named to the National Football League 1950s All-Decade Team not elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2015, the Professional Football Researchers Association named Ameche to the P.F.R.A. "Hall of Very Good" Class of 2015. [12]

Business career

Ameche's Drive-in was a fast-food restaurant chain based in Baltimore, founded by Alan Ameche. [13] [14] Ameche's had five locations, all located in Baltimore or its suburbs:

The restaurants were known for "no charge" carry out service, signature "Powerhouse" hamburgers [15] ("A banquet on a bun") essentially a Big Mac (1968), about eight years ahead of time, and "Cheerleader" sandwiches (hot ham and Swiss cheese with mustard) and their onion rings. [14] The Loch Raven and Taylor location was open during the Summer of 1960. The Powerhouse sandwich was the featured item. The restaurants were typical drive-ins, with car side order boxes. Orders were delivered by a carhop who attached a tray to the lowered window. The company trademark was a Big Boy-like football player (#35) running through the uprights carrying a hamburger. In addition, Ameche's secret sauce was sold in many local grocery stores. The company slogan was "Meetcha at Ameche's!" [14] Ameche's restaurants were informally known by many teenaged patrons as "UM-cheez."

See also

Death

Ameche had undergone triple bypass surgery at age 46 in 1979. [3] He died of a heart attack in 1988 at age 55 at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, a few days after undergoing another heart bypass surgery, under the care of Dr. Michael DeBakey. [16] [17] He is interred at Calvary Cemetery in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

Related Research Articles

Johnny Unitas American football player

John Constantine Unitas was a National Football League (NFL) quarterback for 18 seasons, primarily with the Baltimore Colts. He has been consistently listed as one of the greatest NFL players of all time following a career that spanned from 1956 to 1973.

John Elway American football player and executive

John Albert Elway Jr. is an American professional football executive and former quarterback who is the president of football operations for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL).

Gino Cappelletti

Gino Cappelletti is an American former professional football player. He played college football for the Minnesota Golden Gophers and was an All-Star in the American Football League (AFL) for the Boston Patriots, winning the 1964 American Football League Most Valuable Player award. Cappelletti is a member of the Patriots Hall of Fame, the Patriots' All-1960s Team and the American Football League Hall of Fame. He served as the Patriots' radio color commentator until July 2012. His nicknames included "The Duke" and "Mr. Patriot".

Raymond Berry American football player and coach (born 1933)

Raymond Emmett Berry Jr. is an American former professional football player and coach in the National Football League (NFL). He played as a split end for the Baltimore Colts from 1955 to 1967, and after several assistant coaching positions, was head coach of the New England Patriots from 1984 to 1989. With the Colts, Berry led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards three times and in receiving touchdowns twice, and was invited to six Pro Bowls. The Colts won consecutive NFL championships, including the 1958 NFL Championship Game—known as "The Greatest Game Ever Played"—in which Berry caught 12 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown. He retired as the all-time NFL leader in both receptions and receiving yardage.

Paul Hornung American football halfback, quarterback, and placekicker

Paul Vernon Hornung, nicknamed "the Golden Boy", was an American professional football player who was a Hall of Fame running back for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 to 1966. He played on teams that won four NFL titles and the first Super Bowl. He is the first Heisman Trophy winner to be selected as the first overall selection in the NFL Draft, play pro football, win the NFL most valuable player award, and be inducted into both the professional and college football halls of fame.

Babe Parilli American football quarterback

Vito "Babe" Parilli was an American gridiron football player. He played quarterback for five seasons in the National Football League (NFL) and three in the Canadian Football League (CFL) in the 1950s, and then in the American Football League (AFL) for all ten seasons in the 1960s.

Gino Marchetti

Gino John Marchetti was an American professional football player who was a defensive end in the National Football League (NFL). He played in 1952 for the Dallas Texans and from 1953 to 1966 for the Baltimore Colts. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972. In 1969, Marchetti was named to the National Football League 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. In 1994, Marchetti was named to the National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. In 2019, he was unanimously named to the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.

Glenn Davis (halfback) American football player and Heisman Trophy winner (1924–2005)

Glenn Woodward Davis was a professional American football player for the Los Angeles Rams. He is best known for his college football career for the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1943 to 1946, where he was known as "Mr. Outside." He was named a consensus All-American three times, and in 1946 won the Heisman Trophy and was named Sporting News Player of the Year and Associated Press Athlete of the Year.

Larry Craig Morton is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 18 seasons, primarily with the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos. He played college football at California, receiving All-American honors, and was selected by the Cowboys fifth overall in the 1965 NFL Draft. Following nine seasons on the Cowboys, a quarterback controversy with Roger Staubach led to Morton joining the New York Giants for three seasons. Morton spent his final six seasons as a member of the Broncos, where he won NFL Comeback Player of the Year and AFC Offensive Player of the Year in 1977. After his 1982 retirement, he became a 1992 inductee of the College Football Hall of Fame. He was also named to the Broncos Ring of Fame in 1988.

Bertram Hays Jones is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for the Baltimore Colts and the Los Angeles Rams. At Ruston High School in Ruston, Louisiana, he was given the nickname, "The Ruston Rifle." Jones played college football at Louisiana State University (LSU). He is the son of former NFL running back Dub Jones of the Cleveland Browns. He was named the NFL Most Valuable Player in 1976 with the Colts. In 2016, Jones was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Tom Matte

Thomas Roland Matte, is a former American football player who played quarterback in college and primarily running back in the National Football League (NFL) in the 1960s and 1970s and earned a Super Bowl Ring. He attended Shaw High School in East Cleveland and is an Eagle Scout. Matte was an All-American back at Ohio State University.

1958 NFL Championship Game Renowned American football event

The 1958 National Football League Championship Game was the 26th NFL championship game, played on December 28 at Yankee Stadium in New York City. It was the first NFL playoff game to be decided in sudden death overtime. The final score was Baltimore Colts 23, New York Giants 17, and the game has since become widely known as The Greatest Game Ever Played. Its legendary status in the pantheon of historic NFL games was again confirmed by a nationwide poll of 66 media members in 2019, who voted it the best game in the league's first 100 years.

John Cappelletti

John Cappelletti is a former American football running back. He played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Los Angeles Rams and the San Diego Chargers.

Joe Dan Washington Jr is a former American football running back in the National Football League (NFL) for the San Diego Chargers, Baltimore Colts, Washington Redskins, and Atlanta Falcons.

Roosevelt Leaks Jr. is a former All-American running back and 2005 inductee to the College Football Hall of Fame. He was the first black All-American player in University of Texas history and went on to play in the National Football League (NFL) for the Baltimore Colts and Buffalo Bills.

Rick Volk American football player

Richard Robert Volk is a former American football player who played for the Baltimore Colts, New York Giants, and Miami Dolphins. He retired with 38 career interceptions and 13 fumble recoveries, and totaled 574 yards on interception returns and 548 yards on punt returns.

Andy Nelson (American football)

Andrew Vaughan Nelson is a former American football safety in the National Football League for the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants. He currently owns and runs a small BBQ establishment, Andy Nelson's Barbecue.

1958 Baltimore Colts season 6th season in franchise history; first playoff appearance and NFL Championship win

The 1958 Baltimore Colts season was the sixth season for the team in the National Football League. The Colts finished the 1958 season with a record of 9 wins and 3 losses to win their first Western Conference title. They won their first league title in the NFL championship game, which ended in overtime with a touchdown by fullback Alan Ameche.

The 1955 Philadelphia Eagles season was their 23rd in the league. They failed to improve on their previous output of 7–4–1, winning only four games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.

Jonathan Taylor (American football) American football running back

Jonathan Taylor is an American football running back for the Indianapolis Colts of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Wisconsin, finishing his college career as the No. 6 all-time rusher in the NCAA and the first player in history to rush for more than 6,000 yards in any three-year span. Taylor finished in the top 10 of Heisman Trophy voting three times, finishing sixth as a freshman, ninth as a sophomore and fifth as a junior. Following each of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he was named a unanimous first-team All-American and recipient of the Doak Walker Award, the award for the top running back in college football.

References

  1. 1 2 "Colts win 23-17 in overtime". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. December 29, 1958. p. 4, part 2.
  2. 1 2 Maule, Tex (January 5, 1959). "The best football game ever played". Sports Illustrated. p. 8.
  3. 1 2 Richman, Milton (November 30, 1982). "Alan Ameche atypical of former pro players". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). UPI. p. 22.
  4. Gregory, Sean (December 29, 2008). "Legends of the NFL's Greatest Game Ever: Alan Ameche". Time. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  5. 1 2 "Alan Ameche, who won for Colts in 1958, among 8 chosen for hall of fame". Gettysburg Times. (Pennsylvania). Associated Press. February 12, 1975. p. 15.
  6. Berghaus, Bob (August 9, 1988). "Ameche recalled as a great player and great person". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1C.
  7. Wolf, Ron (August 11, 1988). "Ameche valued friends, not glory". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1C.
  8. "Alan Ameche only rookie on pro team". Spencer Daily Reporter. (Iowa). Associated Press. January 6, 1956. p. 5.
  9. "Alan Ameche to quit Colts; injury cause". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. June 21, 1961. p. 1, final.
  10. "'Horse' quits after 6 yrs". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. June 22, 1961. p. 1, part 2.
  11. "Colts fullback Ameche retires from gridiron". Montreal Gazette. Associated Press. June 22, 1961. p. 29.
  12. "Professional Researchers Association Hall of Very Good Class of 2015". Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  13. Klein, D. (2008). The Game of Their Lives: The 1958 NFL Championship. Taylor Trade. p. 47. ISBN   978-1-58979-384-2 . Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  14. 1 2 3 Patterson, T.; Smith, D.; Remsberg, E.H.; Gibbons, M.; Berry, R. (2013). Football in Baltimore: History and Memorabilia from Colts to Ravens. Football in Baltimore. Johns Hopkins University Press. p. pt176. ISBN   978-1-4214-1237-5 . Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  15. Bell, U.; Borges, R. (2017). Present at the Creation: My Life in the NFL and the Rise of America's Game. University of Nebraska Press. p. 148. ISBN   978-1-4962-0459-2 . Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  16. "Alan Ameche dies". The Hour. (Norwalk, Connecticut). Associated Press. August 9, 1988. p. 38.
  17. "Alan Ameche dies of heart problems". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). news services. August 9, 1988. p. 13.

Further reading