Ralph Vince
refer to caption
Vince prior to the 1922 Rose Bowl
Position:Guard, tackle
Personal information
Born:(1900-03-18)March 18, 1900
Vinci, Italy
Died:October 29, 1996(1996-10-29) (aged 96)
Shaker Heights, Ohio
Height:5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight:175 lb (79 kg)
Career information
College:Washington & Jefferson College
Career history
*Cleveland Indians (1923)
Player stats at PFR

Ralph D. Vince (March 18, 1900 – October 29, 1996)[1] was an American football player for the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Bulldogs, and the Cleveland Panthers. He later coached at Baldwin–Wallace College and John Carroll University. Outspoken and inventive as a coach, he was the inventor of the face mask. The original he created is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.[citation needed] He also was the first coach to put an armband of plays on his quarterbacks' wrists, now a common sight in the game.[citation needed] He attended Washington & Jefferson College and played in the 1922 Rose Bowl. He is distinguished as being the first Italian to play in the National Football League (NFL).[2][3][4]

Biography[edit | edit source]

College football[edit | edit source]

Ralph was an Italian immigrant who grew up working in the coal mines of southern Ohio. He watched his first football game as a senior at Martins Ferry High School. Realizing that a football scholarship was his ticket out of the coal mines and into college, he joined the varsity team. Ralph succeeded, and the next year, attended and played for Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania.

He played both offense and defense for the Presidents. In 1922, the team played the favored University of California to a scoreless tie in the Rose Bowl. On the 60th and 70th anniversaries of that game, Vince was an honored guest at the Rose Bowl.

Professional career and college football coach[edit | edit source]

After graduating from Washington & Jefferson in 1922, Ralph enrolled at Western Reserve University's Law School. In order to pay his way through law school, Ralph played in the early National Football League for the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Bulldogs. He also coached football for St. Ignatius High School.

Ralph coached St. Ignatius to its first city championship in 1925. The Wildcats' record from 1923 through 1926 under him was so impressive, that he was asked to coach at John Carroll University. He coached John Carroll for seven years and served as the school's athletic director for two years. In 1935, Ralph left John Carroll to practice law, however he still stayed in sports by officiating at high school, college and NFL games.

Legal career and later years[edit | edit source]

Vince was appointed as a Cleveland Municipal judge. He also served for two years as a councilman and four years as a law director in University Heights. During World War II, he agreed to coach football at University School for one year, however he later stayed on with the school for an additional 12 years.

In the early 1950s, he presided over the lawsuits regarding the SS Noronic disaster. The SS Noronic was a passenger ship that was destroyed by fire in Toronto Harbour in September 1949 with serious loss of life. Vince heard 669 lawsuits filed by those who were injured or lost their relatives in the tragedy.

Ralph retired as a senior partner of the Burke Haber Berick law firm in 1990. He also helped found the Cleveland Touchdown Club. In 1991, the Ralph Vince Fitness Center was dedicated at John Carroll University.[5] In 1986, he was inducted in the Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame.[6]

Head coaching record[edit | edit source]

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
John Carroll Blue Streaks () (1927–1931)
1927 John Carroll 3–2–3
1928 John Carroll 6–3
1929 John Carroll 5–3–1
1930 John Carroll 3–5–2
1931 John Carroll 4–4–2
John Carroll Blue Streaks (Ohio Athletic Conference) (1932–1933)
1932 John Carroll 5–4–1 3–2–1 T–9th
1933 John Carroll 5–2–2 3–2–2 8th
John Carroll: 31–23–11
Total: 31–23–11
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.