Today’s post celebrates the contributions of an outstanding Michigan Man named John V. Ghindia who went to rest in peace on this day in 2012 at the age of eighty-six. According to the Wikipedia article listed below, John V. Ghindia was born in Niles, Ohio on October 12, 1925. He grew up in Ecorse, Michigan and became an excellent athlete in football, basketball, baseball and rowing. Yes, rowing! In fact, he was on an “eights” crew that won the National High School Rowing Championships in 1943.
John Ghindia, like millions of men of his era, put his college education plans on hold to serve his country from 1943 to 1945. He served honorably in the U. S. Army Air Corps and left as a second lieutenant. Ghindia’s college football story started at Michigan in 1946.
Fritz Crisler’s 1946 Wolverine football team was loaded with talented players. Many of them were men who left Michigan with eligibility remaining. There were also men like John V. Ghindia, who were just starting their college football careers. Ghindia spent his time learning Crisler’s Single Wing Offense in 1946 and getting back into a “civilian” routine. John did not letter as a freshman for Crisler.
John Ghindia returned in 1947 where he was listed on the team roster as a Reserve Quarterback from Ecorse, Michigan. Ghindia did not letter on the 1947 championship team.
The versatile Ghindia was itching to play in 1948 and earned a start at fullback in the season opener against Michigan State. However, he suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Spartans and that was it for 1948. Michigan went on to win their second consecutive national championship behind All-American quarterback Peter Elliott. The only good news for John was that he earned his first letter in 1948.
A healthy John V. Ghindia returned for his senior year in 1949. He was not the starting quarter back for the first game of the season, but he was for the second game. John started his first game against Stanford and led Michigan to a 27-7 over the Indians. He started a total of seven game in 1949 and the Wolverines finished with a record of 6 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. Their conference record of 4 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie was good enough to earn them a tie for the Big Nine Championship.
Interestingly, John Ghindia did not rack up any big numbers while he quarterbacked the Wolverines, at least not the ones that usually counted. He finished the season with 1 completion in 7 attempts for 11-yards. He ran 4 times for -7 yards. However, Ghindia did catch 8 passes for 77-yards. He also returned a punt for ten yards against Northwestern. What doesn’t show up in the stats is Ghindia’s leadership and the bone-crunching blocks that he made for his backfield teammates. Bennie Oosterbaan’s Single Wing Offense asked quarterbacks to do a ton of blocking, hundreds of ball-fakes and hand-offs which he did very well. John Ghindia knew his role on the 1949 football team and he did his job!
Of course, John Ghindia would not be the subject of today’s blog if he wasn’t associated with a Michigan football “first.” I only found a two, so, here they are:
· John V. Ghindia was a member of Fritz Crisler’s first, and only, National Championship team in 1947.
· John V. Ghindia played on Bennie Oosterbaan’s first team at Michigan in 1948, even though it was only for one game!
So, today is a perfect day to remember a Wolverine quarterback who led unselfishly and played his heart out for Michigan. It isn’t always the stars who lead the way for the Maize and Blue. Sometimes, it is men like John Ghindia who quietly make the blocks, encourage teammates and do whatever the coaches need to be done. Yes, men like John Ghindia will always have a place at Michigan. Thanks to men like John V. Ghindia, Michigan football is the winningest program in college football history. May John Ghindia always rest in peace. Go Blue!