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April 23, 2017 Happy Birthday Anniversary Bob Ptacek!

Posted on April 23, 2017 by Barry Gallagher

Today is a great day to celebrate the Happy Birthday Anniversary of a Wolverine named Bob Ptacek. Robert J. “Bob” Ptacek was born on this day in 1937 in Cleveland, Ohio. Yes, he is another Buckeye who saw the light and chose Michigan.

Bob Ptacek came to Michigan in 1955 to earn a college degree and play football for Coach Bennie Oosterbaan. He spent his freshman year playing on the “rookie” team and learned the ways of Michigan Football.

Bob Ptacek and Little Brown Jub 1958 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Bob Ptacek helped win two straight Little Brown Jug games against Minnesota in 1957 and 1958. His 2 touchdowns in 1958 provided the points needed for victory. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Bob made the varsity team in 1956 and started two games at left halfback in 1956. He also played seven games at quarterback and returned punts and kickoffs. Bob Ptacek played a lot of good football for the Wolverines during his sophomore year. Michigan won 7 games and lost 2 in 1956. They finished second in the Big Ten that season with a record of 5-2-0.

Ptacek didn’t start any games in 1957, but he played in all nine games. Once again, he played quarterback, halfback and performed on special teams. Bob also played defense for the Wolverines in 1957. He helped the Wolverines post an overall record of 5-3-1. Michigan broke even in the conference that year with a final record of 3 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie. They slipped to sixth place in the Big Ten.

Bob Ptacek retuned for his senior year in 1958. He earned the starting quarterback job on what turned out to be Bennie Oosterbaan’s final team. Unfortunately, the 1958 team posted a final record of 2 wins, 6 losses and 1 tie. The Wolverines ended the season with a conference record of 1-5-1. Yes, it was a disappointing season in Ann Arbor.

One of the few bright spots in the 1958 season was the excellent play of Bob Ptacek. The talented Ptacek was on the field a lot. He started all nine games and passed for 760-yards and rushed for another 161-yards. He threw three touchdowns and ran for four more. Bob played the best game of his career in the last game of his career at Ohio State. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 241-yards and 2 touchdowns. Although the Wolverines lost the game, Ptacek’s excellent play kept them in the game until OSU finally won by a score of 20-14.

Bob Ptacek vs Navy 1958 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Bob Ptacek heads up field for more yards against Navy in 1958. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry that day. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Bob Ptacek was named Michigan’s MVP for the 1958 season. Bottom line, Bob was the best player on the team and his teammates knew it. He did everything in his power to win for Michigan, but it wasn’t enough! Sometimes, that’s what happens. Robert J. Ptacek had a very good career at Michigan. He was one of the last “iron men” in Wolverine football. He did it all on offense, defense and special teams. I am sure that he slept well during football season!

Bob did a lot for the Wolverine football program and was associated with some important “firsts” at Michigan:

  • Bob Ptacek played in the first game against UCLA in 1956. Michigan won 42-13.
  • Ptacek played in the first game in Michigan Stadium history with a crowd of 100k against Michigan State in 1956. Sparty won it 9-0. Ugh!
  • Bob played in the first ever game against Georgia in 1957. Michigan won 27-0.
  • In 1958, Ptacek became the Michigan player, and Big Ten quarterback, to complete 24 passes in a single game. Again, that was his 24/35 effort against Ohio State.
  • Finally, on a dubious note, Bob Ptacek played on the first team (1958) in Michigan Football History to allow over 211 points on defense which is why they lost so many games.

So, Bob Ptacek’s Michigan had some “ups and downs,” but definitely more “ups.” He, and his teammates contributed 14 more wins to Michigan’s all-time victory total from 1956 to 1958. Today is a great day to appreciate the contributions Bob Ptacek to Michigan Football History. Thank you Bob for being an outstanding Michigan Man. I hope you have a really Happy Birthday today. Go Blue!




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