This is first biography of Alan “The Horse” Ameche, one of America’s great gridiron heroes. Born in 1933 to Italian immigrants, he grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he played for one of the state’s best-ever high school football teams. From there he went on to break Big Ten rushing records for the University of Wisconsin Badgers, leading them to the 1953 Rose Bowl and winning the 1954 Heisman Trophy. He earned his nickname “The Horse” for his tremendous training ethic, power, and stamina. In a professional ...
This is first biography of Alan “The Horse” Ameche, one of America’s great gridiron heroes. Born in 1933 to Italian immigrants, he grew up in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he played for one of the state’s best-ever high school football teams. From there he went on to break Big Ten rushing records for the University of Wisconsin Badgers, leading them to the 1953 Rose Bowl and winning the 1954 Heisman Trophy. He earned his nickname “The Horse” for his tremendous training ethic, power, and stamina. In a professional career with the Baltimore Colts that lasted just six seasons before injury ended it, he was the 1955 NFL Rookie of the Year and went to the Pro Bowl five times.
The 1958 championship game of the National Football League that pitted Ameche’s Colts against the New York Giants has often been called the NFL’s “Greatest Game Ever Played.” It was the first national title game to be televised, and forty-five million people were watching. It was also the first-ever NFL game to go into sudden death overtime. Ameche and future Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas teamed up on several key plays in the decisive touchdown drive. Ameche’s dramatic one-yard plunge into the end zone ended the game at 8:15 of the overtime period, captured the attention of television viewers across the nation, and laid the groundwork for football to become the enormously popular and lucrative business it is today.
Author Dan Manoyan has delved into Ameche’s history, interviewing the Ameche family, Kenosha friends, Wisconsin Badger players, and several of his Baltimore Colts teammates—including NFL Hall of Fame members Lenny Moore, Gino Marchetti, Art Donovan, and Raymond Berry—to offer revealing insights about Alan Ameche the man. Manoyan gives a fuller picture of him as an Academic All-American, a devoted husband and father, a highly successful businessman after his football career, a patron of the arts, and a committed philanthropist.
“With power, speed and heart, Alan Ameche carried Wisconsin football into the big time.”—Sports Illustrated
Ameche is an odd choice for a biography. While he is still somewhat remembered as the 1954 Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and for scoring the winning Colts touchdown in the first sudden-death NFL championship game in 1958 (hyped as the "greatest game ever played"), defeating the Giants, the All Pro fullback had a brief NFL career and died at age 55 nearly 25 years ago. There was much more to this first-generation American than football, however. Sportswriter Manoyan shows that Ameche was a successful entrepreneur, generous philanthropist, and humble, hard-working family man whose life stands in stark contrast to many of the biggest stars of today's game. VERDICT An admirable subject, but reader interest will probably be limited to Colts fans and University of Wisconsin followers.
Dan Manoyan has retired from a nearly four-decade career as an award-winning sports writer for publications including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Dallas Morning News, Waukegan News-Sun, and Kenosha News. He is author of the book Men of Granite and now lives in Alan Ameche’s hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin.
List of Illustrations Foreword by Pat Richter Preface Acknowledgments 1 A Man for All Seasons 2 The Early Years 3 The Kenosha Kid 4 Enter the Architect 5 Transitioning to Greatness 6 The Best There Ever Was? 7 The Millers Tale 8 The Year of the Horse 9 Coming Up Roses 10 Here Comes the Bride 11 Pasadena Dreamin'g 12 Ivy and the Boys 13 The Iron Horse 14 The Home Stretch 15 Holding the Heisman 16 Moving on, Again 17 Weeb's Tangled Web 18 A New Leading Man 19 An Unfortunate Situation 20 The Greatest Game 21 Burgers, Burgers, and More Burgers 22 Father Was a Fullback 23 A Funeral and a Wedding 24 A Houston Finale Index