Today’s post celebrates the happy birthday anniversary of a Wolverine named Vince Mroz who was born on this day in 1922. Vincent Peter “Vince” Mroz was born in Stanley, Wisconsin. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, his family moved to East Chicago, Indian when he was a child. He grew up to be a pretty good football player at Washington High School.
(Note – Vince Mroz (#71) is pictured here with the letter winners on the 1943 Michigan Football team. Mroz is in the back row – fifth man from the left. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Vince Mroz was good enough to play college football – period! However, he began his college football career in East Lansing. Yup- he played for the Spartans in 1941 and 1942 before he saw the light. Mroz did not letter in his freshman year, but did in his second. He played end on the 1942 Spartan team that finished with a record of 4 wins, 3 losses and 2 ties. When it appeared that Michigan State would not be able to field a football team in 1943, Mroz transferred to Michigan.
Vincent Mroz was a Wolverine for one season – 1943. He did not start any games, but he played enough to earn a letter on a team that finished with a final record of 8 wins and 1 loss. It was Fritz Crisler’s best team in his first six years of coaching in Ann Arbor. The only bad news about this season was that the Wolverinees lost to #1 ranked Notre Dame by a score of 12-35 at Michigan Stadium. The good news was that the 1943 Maize and Blue footballers gave Coach Crisler his first conference championship at Michigan.
Like most men of his generation, Vince Mroz was called to serve his country in 1944. He became an officer in the United States Marine Corps and served until the war was over. Mroz was actually drafted by the New York Giants in the 1945 player draft, but he did not play in the NFL. Instead, he choose to serve his country again as a Secret Service Agent. Vince Mroz had a long and very successful career in the Secret Service. He became famous for his role in shooting a man who was attempting to assassinate President Truman. Check out the Wikipedia article below for the details.
So, Vincent Mroz had a short, but successful, “football career” at Michigan. He only played on one team, but it was a good one! Here are some “firsts” that link Vince Mroz to the great history of Michigan Football:
· Vince Mroz played on the first, and only, team to play a game against Camp Grant on 9/18/1943. Michigan won the game by a score of 26-0.
· Mroz played on the first team to play Notre Dame in a #2 (UM) vs #1 (ND) matchup on 10/09/1943. The Irish won that game by a score of 12-35.
· Vince Mroz played on the first Fritz Crisler team to win eight games.
· Mroz played on the first Fritz Crisler team to go undefeated (6-0-0) in the conference and win the championship in 1943.
· Vince Mroz may have been the first man to play to letter for Michigan and Michigan State, but I am not sure on this one!
· Mroz was definitely the first former Michigan football player to be cited for bravery and for saving a President’s life (Harry Truman)!
Vince Mroz served his country for most of his adult life. It appears that he did it very well. He retired to Adrian, Michigan and died there at the age of eighty-six on July 22, 2008. Today is a great day to remember Vincent Peter Mroz and appreciate his contributions to Michigan football history. May Vince Mroz always rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!
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