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.