Alan Ameche
refer to caption
Ameche c. 1960
No. 35
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 (1951–1954)
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
Receiving yards:733
Receiving touchdowns:4
Player stats at PFR

Alan Ameche (/əˈmi/; June 1, 1933 – August 8, 1988), nicknamed "the Iron Horse", or simply "the Horse", was an American football fullback who played for six seasons with the Baltimore Colts in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the Wisconsin Badgers 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]

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

Ameche was 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 unanimous 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 most rushing yards in his first three NFL games (410) until Carnell "Cadillac" Williams broke the record by gaining 434 yards in 2005.[9]

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,[10][11][12] 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.[13]

NFL career statistics

Won NFL Championship
Led the league
Bold Career high
Year Team Games Rushing Receiving Fumbles
GP GS Att Yds Avg Y/G Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD Fum FR
1955 BAL 12 12 213 961 4.5 80.1 79 9 27 141 5.2 18 0 3 1
1956 BAL 12 12 178 858 4.8 71.5 43 8 26 189 7.3 22 0 3 0
1957 BAL 12 12 144 493 3.4 41.1 49 5 15 137 9.1 40 2 3 0
1958 BAL 12 12 171 791 4.6 65.9 28 8 13 81 6.2 18 1 1 0
1959 BAL 12 11 178 679 3.8 56.6 26 7 13 129 9.9 30 1 3 0
1960 BAL 10 7 80 263 3.3 26.3 16 3 7 56 8.0 19 0 0 0
Career 70 66 964 4,045 4.2 57.8 79 40 101 733 7.3 40 4 13 1

Business career

Ameche's Drive-in was a fast-food restaurant chain based in Baltimore, founded by Alan Ameche.[14][15] 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[16] ("A banquet on a bun"), akin to today's Big Mac or Whopper sandwiches, and "Cheerleader" sandwiches (hot ham and Swiss cheese with mustard) and their onion rings.[15] The Loch Raven and Taylor location was open during the Summer of 1960.[who?] 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.[who?] In addition, Ameche's secret sauce was sold in many local grocery stores. The company slogan was "Meetcha at Ameche's!"[15] Ameche's restaurants were informally known by many teenaged patrons as "UM-cheez."[who?]


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.[17][18] He is interred at Calvary Cemetery in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Colts win 23-17 in overtime". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. December 29, 1958. p. 4, part 2. Archived from the original on May 1, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Maule, Tex (January 5, 1959). "The best football game ever played". Sports Illustrated. p. 8.
  3. ^ a b 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. ^ a b "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. ^ "Buccaneers vs. Packers - Game Recap - September 25, 2005 - ESPN".
  10. ^ "Alan Ameche to quit Colts; injury cause". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. June 21, 1961. p. 1, final.
  11. ^ "'Horse' quits after 6 yrs". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. June 22, 1961. p. 1, part 2.
  12. ^ "Colts fullback Ameche retires from gridiron". Montreal Gazette. Associated Press. June 22, 1961. p. 29.
  13. ^ "Professional Researchers Association Hall of Very Good Class of 2015". Archived from the original on June 22, 2017. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ a b c 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ "Alan Ameche dies". The Hour. (Norwalk, Connecticut). Associated Press. August 9, 1988. p. 38.
  18. ^ "Alan Ameche dies of heart problems". Reading Eagle. (Pennsylvania). news services. August 9, 1988. p. 13.

Further reading