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March 10, 2019 Happy Birthday Bill Pritula!

Posted on March 9, 2019 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s post celebrates the ninety-fifth Happy Birthday anniversary of Bill Pritula. William “Bill” Pritula was born on this day in 1922 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, the Pritula family moved to Detroit. Bill Pritula was a very good football player at Chadsey High School. He came to Michigan in 1941 to play football for Fritz Crisler’s Michigan Wolverines.

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Bill Pritula

Pritulla’s Football Was Interrupted by World War II

Bill Pritula did not play as a freshman in 1941. He spent his time on the reserve team learning Crisler’s Single Wing Attack and working hard in the classroom. Apparently, Pritula learned his lessons well since he started all ten games for a team that finished with a record of 7 wins, and 3 losses in 1942. College football teams were already feeling the effects of player shortages due to World War II. Bill Pritula, like many of his teammates, became a two-way player. He played almost every play of every game that season. The press dubbed his fellow linemen the “Seven Oak Posts.” These men (Pritula, Elmer Madar, Al Wistert, Bob Kolesar, Merv Pregulman, Julius Franks, and Phil Sharpe) blocked hard and tackled hard and they did it for 60 minutes a game. They were tough and they were really good!

Like so many men of his generation, Bill Pritula’s life was interrupted by World War II. He entered the United States Army Air Corps in 1943 and did not return to Ann Arbor until 1946.  

Bill Pritula 1947 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Bill Pritula (#54) started out as a center in 1941. He finished as a tackle and a Big Ten and National Champion in 1947. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Pritullla Returned to the Gridiron in 1946

Bill Pritula resumed his Michigan career in 1946 and started 5 games at right tackle. The Wolverines had a good season and finished with a record of 6 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. Unfortunately, many people, Crisler included, felt that this super-talented team had underachieved. The returning players knew they could do better in 1947 and that’s exactly what they did!

The 1947 Michigan Football team lived up to all the hype and expectations. They had a perfect regular season (9-0-0) and won the 1948 Rose Bowl. Crisler’s Wolverines won the Big Ten title, the National Championship. Mr. Crisler was named “Coach of the Year” and retired from coaching after reaching the top of the college football mountain.

The “Mad Magicians” were a great football team and Bill Pritula was a strong player on this outstanding team. He started 9 games at right tackle and earned second team All-Conference honors for his strong play.

Bill Pritula and Some Important Michigan Football “Firsts” 

Here are the ones I found for Bill Pritula: 

·         Played in the first game against Great Lakes on 9/26/1942. Michigan won the game by a score of 9-0.,

·         Played in the first game against Iowa Pre-Flight on 10/10/1942. Michigan lost this game to what amounted to a college all-star steam by a score of 14-26.

·         Played on the first Fritz Crisler team to lose to Ohio State on 11-21-1942. After going 3-0-1 in his first four years, the Buckeyes beat Crisler’s Wolverines by a score of 21-7.

·         The OSU game in 1942 was also the first time that Michigan (#4) and Ohio State (#5) were both ranked when they faced off against each other.

·         Played in Fritz Crisler’s first game against his former player and assistant coach, Biggie Munn on 9/27/1947. Crisler “welcomed” Biggie back to Michigan Stadium and sent him home to steam about a 55-0 loss. Ouch!

·         The 1947 game against the Spartans was also the first televised game in Michigan Football history.

·         Finally, Bill Pritula played on Fritz Crisler’s first, and only, national championship team in 1947.

William “Bill” Pritula was one of those “Greatest Generation” men who did great things throughout his life. He left a great legacy as a Michigan football player. His teams posted a record of 23 wins, 5 losses and 1 tie when he played. The Wolverines won a Big Ten title and a national championship while he was in Ann Arbor. He fought for his country and came home to re-build America. Bill Pritula died on January 24, 2006 at the age of eighty-three. All I can say is, “Thank You” for men like Bill Pritula. May he always rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!

For more information about Bill Pritula’s life go to the following links:




Part II. March 10, 2019 National Day Calendar Update


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