Tom Tracy-The Last Hurrah

In 1957,  the Detroit Lions and the San Francisco 49ers finished tied for the  Western Conference title with 8-4 records.   John Henry Johnson, the Lions’ number one runner, was injured and out for the Playoff Game at San Francisco.    The Lions relied on a little known stocky running back,  Tom Tracy.    The Lions came from behind 27 to 7 to beat the Forty Niners 31 to 27.  Tracy gained 86 yards in 11 carries.

The following spring Pittsburgh Steeler coach Buddy Parker lured Tom Tracy away from the Detroit Lions.  It was one of the better moves in Pittsburgh history.   Tracy led the Steelers in rushing in the 1958 to 1960 timeframe.  He was in the Pro Bowl in each season.  TT was especially good in 1960 when his old teammate,  John Henry Johnson, also came from Detroit.  The Tracy-Johnson combination gave the Steelers their best rushing duo up to that time.

Because of his stocky built and straight away strength, Tracy earned the nickname of Tom “The Bomb”.  Aside from being a good runner, Tracy was a fine receiver, a good blocker, and often kicked field goals and extra points.   Tom Tracy was also a  threat to pass on the halfback option play.  In 1961, Tracy went down hill sharply and the Steelers cut him in the 1962 pre-season.  The Steelers relied on John Henry Johnson, whose best years were ahead.  Dick Hoak and rookie Joe Wolmack were also there for depth in the backfield.

Noone claimed Tracy after the Steelers cut him, which was a surprise.  Some ten games into 1962, rookie Wolmack suffered a career ending injury.  Pittsburgh then reclaimed Tracy.  In week 12 at Forbes Field against the St. Louis Cardinals,  Tracy carried seven times for 73 yards.  For this day  he averaged ten yards per carry.  Good things happened for Pittsburgh on this Sunday:

–it was their seventh win and the Steelers  won the next two for a 9-5 season.   This was the most victories for Pittsburgh in any season;

–Lou Micheals kicked four field goals;

–John Henry Johnson passed the 1,000 yard mark for 1962.  The first Steeler ever to do this;

–Willie Daniel returned an interception 59 yards for a touchdown;

The Steelers defeated  the St Louis Cardinals 19 t0 7.  Tom Tracy did nothing thereafter and retired after 1963.  This day though for Tracy and Pittsburgh was a memorable Last Hurrah.

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