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RIP Ben Agajanian who at 98 was the oldest living Giant

Defenderdawg : 2/13/2018 8:37 pm
Kicker who joined the Giants after the LA Dons of the AAFC folded, helped beat the Bears in 1956

“The most dominant championship performance in the history of the New York Giants came on a brutally cold Sunday 55 years ago, on the tundra of Yankee Stadium. The Giants clubbed the Bears, 47-7, with the help of a club-footed kicker, a pioneering son of Armenian immigrants who is now the oldest living Giant player, a man who would spend five decades in pro football, and arguably do more than anybody in history to alter the perception of the kicking game.

Of course Ben Agajanian remembers the 1956 NFL Championship. He kicked two first-quarter field goals from 17 and 43 yards out with the Giants running away to a 34-7 halftime lead...”

“I didn’t jump up and down the way the players do today,” Ben Agajanian says from his home in Cathedral City, Calif. “I was cool.”

An accident in college left him with just one toe on his kicking foot

“He was a college football kicker at the University of New Mexico and had a summer industrial job in 1941 when an accident in the factory irreparably damaged all but the little toe of his right foot. Agajanian begged the doctors to save his toes, but when told they could not, he bargained with them to shave the nubs down to an identical size so he could still kick -- or try to kick.”

He kicked for 14 teams from the 1940’s to the 1960’s in three different leagues...
Link - ( New Window )
Sorry the NYT link on his passing  
Defenderdawg : 2/13/2018 8:40 pm : link
Ben Agajanian, Square-Shoed Kicking Star, Dies at 98
Giantology : 2/13/2018 8:45 pm : link
What a life and career that guy had. RIP, Toeless Wonder.
RIP Brother!  
old man : 2/13/2018 8:45 pm : link
You lived a great life!
Watching Ben was interesting to say the least.  
Red Dog : 2/13/2018 8:52 pm : link
It was readily apparent that he didn't have a whole kicking foot, but he was still an outstanding place kicker.

And as the article points out, in an era of 33-man rosters - meaning that most kickers were at least nominally position players (Browns great Lou Groza was an OT, GIANTS legend Pat Summerall was an End although he didn't line up there often, Packers part-time place kicker Jerry Kramer was a Guard and his teammate Paul Horning who also place kicked was a halfback, etc.) - Agajanian was a specialist who got a slot on the team because he was so good.

truebluelarry : 2/13/2018 8:53 pm : link
Agajanian was the most influential kicker in history and the man most responsible for the modern kicking game (refining technique to a science, kicker's step oriented alignment, timing the snap & hold, alignment, coaching methods, PAT & FG blocking), even more-so than Pete Gogolak (soccer-style predominance duly noted, of course).

I'd been hoping Agajanian would receive a worthy HOF induction during his lifetime. He is truly worthy.
Agree with Larry - Ben belongs in the HOF.  
Red Dog : 2/13/2018 8:55 pm : link
Hope he is eventually enshrined.
Agajanian talks of his career and time in NY  
Defenderdawg : 2/13/2018 8:56 pm : link

“ I broke my arm with the Steelers in 1945 and they said, “You can still kick.” And they kept me for kicking, and look at the record books. I made four out of four in 1945. The team was a poor team and they didn’t score much, and they didn’t kick much. So I came home and quit football. Jock Sutherland came out as the new coach and wrote a letter and wanted me to come back. I said, “No,” and I opened a sporting goods store in Anaheim and moved to Long Beach. After I came home, the Hollywood Bears called and said, “Would you kick for us?” And I said, “Yeah, if I just kick. I am not gonna play.” They said, “OK.” Well I kicked 15 field goals and the Rams called me, the Redskins called me, and the L.A. Dons were just forming and they called me and I signed with the L.A. Dons. And I broke the records and everything, and kicked a 53-yarder, which was a league record. It still is because the league folded up.

But anyway, I did real well and when the league folded, the Giants called me. So I go back to New York and my wife wouldn’t stay at New York, so in ’54 and then ’55 I said, “I want to fly back and forth.” And they said, “Well, come back here.” And I went back and kicked for them. Then in ’56 I held out and wouldn’t go back and forth. So finally they let me go back and forth after Gifford missed a field goal. He kicked the ball and hit the center’s ass with the ball. His own center. And the ball rolled back and Cleveland picked the ball for a touchdown. I think it was Bob Gain, took the ball. I think they tied Cleveland, and Gifford went to Wellington Mara and said, “Hell, if we tie Cleveland, Jimmy Brown and them, we can win the championship. Bring Ben back, I can’t kick, I can’t do everything.” So I flew back and forth every week and helped them out and we won the championship.

And you know what? We had a big reunion 20 years later in ’76, then in ’96 we had another reunion. We all went back to New York and I sat way in the back and Gifford has the microphone, and Sam Huff gets up and tells how he knocked Jimmy Brown out-of-bounds and fore-armed him. Everybody’s bragging and talking, and I’m sitting way back there. Somebody said, “Why don’t you say something?” I said, “No, I’m nobody.” If it wasn’t for me, they wouldn’t be there. I knew that. The way I kicked several field goals that were instrumental in winning, and we won the championship by one game, the playoffs, then we went into the championship and beat the Bears on an ice-frozen field. Even there I kicked two field goals on an ice field that you couldn’t walk on. I had one tennis shoe and one kicking shoe without any cleats. I took the cleats off and I did just a little one-step kick, and boom, kicked a 34-17, two field goals. I think the 40-something was as good as any 60-yarder anywhere. But in the field and weather and everything like that, that just made us roll. And we beat them 47-7. But I got no credit because the newspaper people don’t give a damn about kickers. I kept saying things will change, I kept saying, “Everybody will have a kicker.” I went 10 years as the only guy kicking. Everybody was a player-kicker. But evidently I had the talent that they wanted, and if people wanted me, I’d go. I’d go for nothing. I never argued about salary. My first salary was $200 a game, with the Eagles. And you know what? I got married back in Philadelphia and I bought a ring and I bought a little car, and drove home, all on the $200 a game. My room was $5 a week. So I didn’t need any money. That takes care of half of your questions.”

Link - ( New Window )
idiotsavant : 2/13/2018 8:57 pm : link
AcidTest : 2/13/2018 9:00 pm : link
a great life. RIP. God bless.
I was at the game.  
scouser : 2/13/2018 9:05 pm : link
The Bears and Harlon Hill were big favorites, but the Giants blitzed them out of the park. When Ben hit his 47 yd Field goal we all agreed the game was over. Nothing was going to stop the Giants that day.
Agajanian vs Groza was a marquee matchup back in the day.  
truebluelarry : 2/13/2018 9:05 pm : link
From the New York Herald Tribune 11/24/54:

Agajanian trained Don Chandler, who had only been a punter,  
truebluelarry : 2/13/2018 9:12 pm : link
to place kick. Intially Chandler handles only kickoffs, but went on to have a great career as a place kicker of renown in his own right. He still holds the Giants single-season record for most points tallied (1962 or 1963, I don't remember off the top of my head).

From the New York Herald-Tribune 10/19/56:
great stuff -  
Del Shofner : 2/13/2018 10:48 pm : link
He was still consulting with the Giants  
NikkiMac : 2/14/2018 5:40 am : link
And Cowboys in the Parcells era coaching Giants kickers in the off season
He's the type of guy that makes Giants' history so legendary...  
kinard : 2/14/2018 2:42 pm : link
... with Ben's passing I wonder now who has the mantle of being "the oldest living Giant"?
Del Shofner : 2/14/2018 6:57 pm : link
In comment 13832390 kinard said:
... with Ben's passing I wonder now who has the mantle of being "the oldest living Giant"?

The real Del Shofner is now 83. Probably some Giants older than that out there, though. Interesting question. You'd think the Giants PR Dep't might say as part of the tributes to Ben.
After some research, the best I can tell (could be wrong)  
Defenderdawg : 2/14/2018 9:01 pm : link
(1) Frank LoVuolo E D7-St. Bonaventure 1949 NYG 1949 5-1-1924

5-09-17 LoVuolo reflects on Bona playing career, coach Devore

(2) Bill Hachten G D13-Stanford 1947 NYG 1947 11-30-1924

(3) Bill Mackrides QB W-PHI 1953 NYG 1953 7-08-1925

12-11-12 Before there was Colin Kaepernick, there was Bill Mackrides

(4) Dick Woodard LB D21-Iowa 1948 NYG 1950-1951, 1953 07-26-1926

9-21-2016 Redskins Quarterback Kirk Cousins' Great Uncle Used To Play In Washington

(5) Carl Fennema C/LB UDFA-Washington 1948 NYG 1948-1949 10-17-1926

(6) Herb Johnson HB NYG 1954 7-10-1928

(7) Hugh McElhenny HB TR-MIN 1963 NYG 1963 12-31-1928

10-14-17 Hugh McElhenny recalls Y.A. Tittle, fellow member of ‘Million Dollar Backfield

(8) Art Hauser T W-CHI Cards 1959 NYG 1959 6-19-1929

(9) Bob Hudson DB D12-Clemson 1951 NYG 1951-1952 4-05-1930

(10) Fred Benners QB D8-SMU 1951 NYG 1952 6-22-1930

(11) Harland Svare LB TR-LA 1955 NYG 1955-196 11-15-1930

6-08-17 Former professional football player does his best to hold onto memories, love of the game

(12) Al Barry G TR- 1958 NYG 1958-1959 12-24-1930

(13) Dick Modzelewski DT TR-PIT 1956 02-16-1931

(14) Wayne Berry HB D7-Wash State 1954 NYG 1954 8-2-1931

12-9-16 Earning their spot in the Hall

(15) Larrye Weaver HB UDFA-Fullerton JC NYG 1955 11-17-1931

(16) Bob Topp E D13-Michigan 1954 NYG 1954 4-22-1932

12-7-16 Football, medicine and just a bit of vodka

(17) Rosey Grier DT D3-Penn State 1955 NYG 1955-1962 7-14-1932

(18) Vince Costello MLB TR-CLE 1967 NYG 1967-1968 8-04-1932

4-12-16 STARK HS ICONS: Vince Costello’s journey to the NFL started in Magnolia

(19) Hank Burnine E D12-Missouri 1955 NYG 1955-1956 11-09-1932

(20) Lindon Crow DB TR-CHI Cards 1958 NYG 1958-1960 4-04-1933

(21) Andy Nelson S TR-BAL 1964 NYG 1964 5-27-1933

5-26-17 Former Colts star Andy Nelson gets surprise for his 84th birthday

(22) Johnny Hermann DB D10-UCLA 1956 NYG 1956 10-17-1933

(23) Henry Moore HB D2-Arkansas 1956 NYG 1956 4-03-1934

(24) Sam Huff MLB D3-West Virginia 1956 NYG 1956-1963 10-04-1934

9-2-16 Sam Huff needs help making life decisions; there is a fight over who should do it

(25) Del Shofner E TR-LA 1961 NYG 1961 12-11-1934

(26) Milt Plum QB TR-LA 1969 NYG 1969 1-20-1935

11-10-16 Former Browns QB Milt Plum reflects on possibility of Tom Brady, Patriots tying his interception-free record against Seahawks

(27) Don Maynard FL D9-UTEP 1957 NYG 1958 1-25-1935

(28) Darrell Dess G/T TR-PIT 1959 NYG 1959-1964 TR-WAS 1966 NYG 1966-1969 7-4-1935

(29) Erich Barnes LCB TR-CHI Bears 1961 NYG 1961-1964 7-4-1935

(30) Dick Lasse LB W-WAS 1962 NYG 1962 11-13-1935

(31) Joel Wells HB TR-GB 1961 NYG 1961 11-26-1935

(32) Joe Walton TE TR-WAS 1961 NYG 1961-1964 12-15-1935

9-30-17 Joe Walton honored as Pitt's Honorary Captain at Rice game
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