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CC's Gambucci headed to Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

October 25, 2013 Updated: October 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm
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The accolades for a remarkable sporting life continue for Colorado College great Andy Gambucci.

The Colorado Springs resident is one of six inductees entering the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame on April 17, 2014.

To be included in such a class was humbling to Gambucci, 84, a three-sport star for the Tigers in the early 1950s. A standout center fielder in baseball, he made his lasting mark in football and ice hockey.

"It's one of the biggest moments in my sports life," he said. "Coming from a small school says a lot about the athletic department at that time."

He is in the CC Athletics Hall of Fame twice - individually in 2004 and in 1998 as a member of the 1950 NCAA ice hockey championship team. He entered the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.

In football, he was the Rocky Mountain Conference's Most Valuable Player after running for a school-record 16 touchdowns during his 1952 senior season.

In hockey, Gambucci recorded 91 points (62 goals) and was a freshman on the 1950 title team.

The Eveleth, Minn., native has been an area resident for nearly his entire adult life. Gambucci took home a silver medal as part of the U.S. hockey team at the 1952 Winter Olympics in Oslo, Norway. After graduation in 1953, he turned down an opportunity to try out for the NHL's Boston Bruins and the NFL's Chicago Bears to play and coach in Italy.

Both offered him a $500 signing bonus and a contract, he said. While pretty good money in that era, the CC graduate had reason to pause.

"I went to a good school and decided that if I was going to get my head beat in, I would do it for more money," he said. "I knew the Italian national team coach from Oslo and he wrote afterward that he would be interested in me playing for him over there. You played half the games in Italy and enjoyed the hell out of it."

He later returned to Colorado Springs to start a successful insurance career and also served 22 years as an on-ice official for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

"Not everyone gives back to the game like he did as a referee, " Tigers coach Scott Owens said. "Most do not want to do that. This honor is deserving for him and great for Colorado College hockey."

Not surprisingly, a former Tiger was not a favorite of Pioneer fans.

"I had a lot of fun in Denver," Gambucci said. "Some fans threw a piglet on the ice with my name on it. An old lady hit me with her handbag and a hippie poured a beer over my head. You get used to it and learn to handle it. Begrudgingly, people have told me over the years since, that they think I did a good job."

Playing in three sports and balancing an active social life made it a challenging and fun four years. Gambucci will always look back on those college years fondly.

"I fell asleep at my desk studying a lot," he said. "Hockey was my passion but football was pretty close. I looked forward to baseball because the pressure was off. The school itself has always been supportive of me. It made me who I am today."

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