Sunday, June 19, 2011

Orange Bowl Snapshot: Burdine Stadium

The Orange Bowl Stadium pictured in the early 1940s

When the Orange Bowl Stadium opened in 1937, it was originally named Roddy Burdine Stadium. Burdine was one of the city's great economic figures of the early 20th century and was the head of the Burdine's department store chain. His father William Burdine founded Burdine's as a dry goods store in 1898. Roddy Burdine had been a big supporter of Miami's growing sports scene in the 1930s. He was one of the leading advocates to build a football stadium for the newly born Orange Bowl Committee headed by Ernie Seiler.

Unfortunately, Burdine passed away in 1936, one year before the stadium was completed. As a tribute to Burdine, the City of Miami passed a resolution to name the facility after the late merchant. The stadium originally seated 23,330 costing just $340,000 in construction. Although the stadium was officially called Burdine Stadium, most fans and members of the media referred to it as simply the Orange Bowl.

Over the next couple of decades, the stadium would expand in size. In 1948, Burdine Stadium added an upper deck. By 1959, the stadium's official name was changed to the Orange Bowl.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Orange Bowl Snapshot: Pete Banaszak

November 20, 1964: University of Miami fullback Pete Banaszak gains yardage during Miami's 35-17 homecoming victory over Vanderbilt.

A native of Crivitz, Wisconsin, Pete Banaszak came to Miami after being recruited by former longtime Hurricane assistant coach and fellow Wisconsin native Walt Kichefski. A physical and bruising runner with good hands and blocking skills, Banaszak lettered at UM from 1963-65 and led the Canes in rushing as a sophomore and senior while teaming in the same backfield with fellow running back Russell Smith.

Banaszak went on to a long and outstanding pro career with the Oakland Raiders from 1966 to 1978. He returned to the Orange Bowl several times as a member of the Raiders. Banaszak made his pro debut against the Miami Dolphins on September 2, 1966. It also happened to be the first game in Dolphins history. The Raiders would win 23-14.

More than a year later, Banaszak was one of four former University of Miami players on the Raiders roster which won the AFL title and played the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II at the Orange Bowl. (Jim Otto, Bill Miller and Dan Conners were the other three former Canes on the 1967 Oakland roster) The Raiders were overmatched by the veteran Green Bay dynasty and lost 33-14. It would be the last game of Vince Lombardi's legendary coaching career with the Packers.

The Raiders were the NFL's winningest team of the 1970s and were consistent Super Bowl contenders. But it took 9 long years for Banaszak to get back to football's biggest stage. Oakland lost 4 AFC championship games, including 1973 to the Dolphins at the Orange Bowl. But in 1976, Banaszak and the Raiders finally got their ring, beating the Vikings in Super Bowl XI. He scored a pair of touchdowns on short runs near the goal line in Oakland's 32-14 victory.

Banaszak was extremely dependable at the goal line and short yardage situations. He led the NFL with 16 touchdowns in 1975. Banaszak finished his career with 3,772 yards rushing, 1,022 yards receiving and 52 total touchdowns in 173 games.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Orange Bowl Snapshot: Miami High vs. Coral Gables 1966

November 10, 1966: Coral Gables High School fullback Tom Bailey grabs a 37 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Craig Curry against Miami High. The Cavaliers beat the Stingarees 20-7, ending Miami High's 20 game win streak in front of 11,445 fans at the Orange Bowl.The victory was sweet revenge for Gables, which saw its 28 game win streak snapped by Miami High the previous season. Bailey would go on to play his college football at Florida State University and played four seasons (1971-74) with the Philadelphia Eagles. Bailey died in 2005. He was 56.