One of Colorado College’s all-time great hockey players has died, leaving behind a remarkable athletic legacy at the school.
That’s because Andy Gambucci, 87, was not just an all-time hockey great but one of the best athletes to ever don a Tigers uniform.
The Eveleth, Minn., native, who passed away Saturday due to complications from congestive heart failure according to family members, was a standout center fielder in baseball and a record-setting running back in football.
In 1952, he broke Pro Football Hall of Famer Dutch Clark’s school record with 16 touchdowns despite often leaving the game early to save his body for the upcoming hockey season. He was named as the Rocky Mountain Conference’s Most Valuable Player that fall.
“I easily could have had twice as many touchdowns that season,” Gambucci said in a 2010 interview with the school. “I’d score two or three quick ones, then get pulled out.”
He is in the CC Athletics Hall of Fame twice; individually and as a member of the 1950 NCAA championship team. He entered the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
In hockey, Gambucci recorded 91 points (62 goals) and was a freshman on the 1950 title team. He helped the Tigers reach the NCAA playoffs three times.
"Hockey was my passion but football was pretty close,” he said during a 2013 Gazette interview.
The Eveleth, Minn., native was an area resident much of his entire adult life. Gambucci was the senior vice-president and director of marketing for Acordia Insurance of Colorado from 1982-95.
Gambucci took home a silver medal as part of the U.S. hockey team at the 1952 Oslo Winter Olympics.
He turned down contracts and $500 signing bonuses – good money in those days -- with the NHL's Boston Bruins and the NFL's Chicago Bears to play and coach in Italy.
"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," the 1953 graduate said in an interview six years ago. "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 (number of) games in Italy and enjoyed the hell out of it."
He gave back to hockey by serving as a Western Collegiate Hockey Association on-ice official for 22 years. As expected, the former Tiger was unwelcome in Denver.
"Some fans threw a piglet on the ice with my name on it,” he said in 2014. “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."
“I really wanted to take him (the piglet) home to my kids,” Gambucci said in a 2010 interview. “But some guy stole him and I was heartbroken. But, really, I took it all with a sense of humor.”