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Bill Swiacki Sr.
William Adam Swiacki, Sr.
- Height 6' 2", Weight 195 lb.
- High School Mary E. Wells High School, Southbridge, MA USA (later renamed Southbridge High School)
- School College of the Holy Cross, Columbia University
After graduating from high school in 1941, Swiacki started his college career at College of the Holy Cross. He went there for two years before enlisting in the U.S. Army Air Corps in March 1943. He served three and a half years, gaining the rank of second lieutenant. After his discharge, Swiacki enrolled at Columbia University in the fall of 1946. He became a star there. He was most famous for the great catches he made in a remarkable 21-20 upset of Army in October 1947. Army was then a national college football power riding a 32-game winning streak.
After Swiacki died, his quarterback at Columbia, Gene Rossides, said "He was a fine college baseball player, you know. He was a .400 hitter and Mr. Little (Lou Little, the Columbia football coach) arranged for a tryout with the Red Sox. He had the tryout but decided to play football with the Giants."
Swiacki played in the NFL from 1948 to 1952 with the New York Giants and Detroit Lions. In his first year, 1948, he caught 10 touchdown passes -- setting a club record for rookies that held up for 66 years, until Odell Beckham Jr. broke it in 2014.
His one season of minor-league baseball then followed. On July 7, noted columnist Hugh Fullerton provided a few tidbits about Swiacki:
"As catcher. . .Bill rammed into a wire screen and gashed his right arm so badly that several stitches were taken. A week later Swiacki was still warming the bench when a brawl started between the Stamford and Bridgeport players. . .Bill charged out and took on almost the entire Bridgeport team. . .The net result was a gashed nose, cuts over one eye and under the other eye and more hemstitching on his countenance."
"Flash" (as his Leaf football cards billed him) left the Stamford club with permission in early August to join the Giants in training camp.
Swiacki was a member of an NFL champion team with the Lions in 1952. The following September, in a surprise, he announced that his playing days had ended and that he would be devoting his time to business interests at home in Southbridge, Massachusetts. He remained a scout in the east for Detroit.
After just a year, though, Swiacki got back into football as a coach. He was an assistant coach in the NFL (1954; 1958) and head coach of the Toronto Argonauts in the CFL (1955-56).
Swiacki later owned his own real estate and insurance agencies. He was named to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976. However, he was inducted posthumously: he had died at the age of 53 that July, from a rifle shot in the basement of his home (accounts vary as to whether the gunshot was accidental, sustained while cleaning the rifle, or self-inflicted). The induction ceremony took place in December, and his son, future minor-league pitcher Bill Swiacki, was there to accept the honor.