mentioned that he loved Breezy Point and looked forward to Memorial Day every year. So, I think it is only fitting the Pointer initiate this story, and I also want to point out that Pudgie told me several times how much he appreciated the publicity provided to the Mariners, in running articles on the team. Three of those articles made the front page of the Pointer and covered the 600-wins, the 2015 and 2016 Spring football games between the Brooklyn Mariners and the FDNY, so a big thank you to the Rockaway Point News.
However, let’s begin with recapping who the winningest football coaches are at each level of American football.
In professional football, Don Shula has 328 career wins (.676 winning %) followed by George Halas with 318 wins (.671 winning %) and Tom Landry with 250 wins (.605 winning %). These facts are for top NFL coaches per Wikipedia. Top winning percentages for coaches with more than 50 wins includes .759 Guy Chamberlin, .750 John Madden, and .738 Vince Lombardi.
Current and retired firemen came out in droves for Pudgie’s funeral at St. Thomas Aquinas in Brooklyn.
This article was originally published in The Rockaway Point News, 10/7/2016.
Brooklyn Mariners Football Est. 1957
Legendary Football Coach Pudgie Walsh who passed away on Wednesday, September 21st.
Finally, MaxPreps’ list of the top 25 winningest high school coaches of all time shows John McKissick of Summerville HS at 621 career wins and a .786 winning percentage. He is followed by J.T. Curtis of John Curtis Christian HS in Louisiana with 550 wins and .891 winning percentage. Coach Curtis is still active with 48 years coaching and has won an average of 12 games per season, so he stands a chance of exceeding both Pudgie and John McKissick someday, if he coaches for 60 seasons or more. The third most winningest HS coach is Larry Campbell of Lincoln County Georgia with 477 wins (.844 winning %). Sports Illustrated, by the way, also published an article on John McKissick indicating he had 621 wins when he retired.
Now here comes the controversy! The on-line encyclopedia, Wikipedia, claims one loss for McKissick was converted to a win, because of a forfeit created by an ineligible player. This gives him 622 wins and the record. Unfortunately, Wikipedia does not have any information what so ever on Pudgie Walsh, the Brooklyn Mariners or FDNY Football. When my son joined the Brooklyn Mariners in 2014, they started the season with 600 wins after reaching that plateau in the final game of the 2013 season. At the time, I offered to film their games, which Pudgie gladly accepted. I have filmed most of their games since August 2014, with help from Chris Potter, and kept track of all wins since then. I can tell you they won 9 games in 2014, beat the FDNY in April 2015, won 8 more games in 2015, beat the FDNY again in Spring 2016 and finally had two wins in 2016 before Pudgie died making the win total 621. This only counts Pudgie’s wins as the Brooklyn Mariners head coach and it only counts two of the wins he had over the FDNY. Pudgie told me he did not count Mariner wins over the FDNY, but his son John who played in many of those games said the Mariners always won. Videos show that these games are hotly contested battles with a full contingent of referees and are played during the Spring when the FDNY and NYPD season occurs. They should count. Finally, what about Pudgie’s FDNY Football victories?
The FDNY Football website and Google searches reveal no historical information about the win loss record of the FDNY Football since 1972, when Pudgie started the team. I can only find current year wins and losses, however, it appears that the very first game FDNY Football played was the 1973 Fun City Bowl against the NYPD at Midwood High School Field, where 4,000 fans overflowed the stadium on East 17th Street & Avenue K. This was the Mariners home field at the time. At Pudgie’s wake copies of the program from the second Fun City Bowl were handed out and the outcome of the first game was 21-20 in favor of the NYPD, so that is all I have on information from the FDNY on games coached by Pudgie. I can use help tracking down facts on all the other years, so if any reader knows please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NYPD Football website has a count on the win loss record between themselves and FDNY Football, and as of 2006, it stands at 23 wins and 11 losses. If you do the math here, 34 annual games can be played from 1972 to 2006, so some of those 11 NYPD losses are FDNY wins and should be attributable to Pudgie as head coach. I believe Pudgie retired in 1996, so if someone at the NYPD knows the win-loss record by year, please send it to me.
In Billy Ahern’s final remarks about Pudgie at Celemente’s after the funeral services, he starts off by mentioning comments he made to Pudgie about this FDNY vs. NYPD football rivalry being started. Billy warned him that he would get fired the first time one of the players got hurt, but Billy is quick to point out how wrong he was and how amazing it is that instead the idea spread across the entire country and has raised millions of dollars for families of injured and killed public servants. The National Public Safety Football League is the offspring of Pudgie’s idea and in 12 out of the past 19 years either NYPD or FDNY was US National Champion.
There is no doubt that Pudgie Walsh is the winningest coach in football history. However, this article will need a follow-up story to provide feedback on the number of victories for Pudgie Walsh in his football coaching career for both the Brooklyn Mariners and the FDNY Football team. Once more information is available I will send it along. In the meantime, I would like to post an open request for any information from your readers on FDNY Football victories during 1972 thru 1996 that will help validate Pudgie Walsh’s legacy.
By Mike Nilsen
Two years ago, when the Rockaway Point News ran a cover story on Coach Pudgie Walsh and his Brooklyn Mariners Football Team breaking the 600-win barrier, it was the only publication in the country that picked up on the amazing achievement. Well, it looks like the Pointer can now be the publication that initiates the dialog to establish Pudgie’s legacy, as the all-time winningest coach in American Football History at any level – professional, semi-pro, college and high school. Right now, there is amazing set of facts on the internet showing that both Pudgie Walsh and John McKissick of Summerville High School are tied at 621 wins! The big issue here is that Pudgie did not count any wins he had coaching the FDNY Football team he started in 1972 and led for 25 years, nor did he count any wins the Brooklyn Mariners had over FDNY Football, except the last two that I filmed. Once the wins for FDNY Football are established, the legacy of Pudgie Walsh being the winningest football coach in history will be secure (for now)!
In her eulogy at St. Thomas Aquinas church, Pudgie’s sister Joy
Founded by Pudgie Walsh
Copyright ©. Brooklyn Mariners Football. All rights reserved.
Unfortunately, the facts are less available and established at the semi-pro level on teams, leagues, coaches, etc. On Wikipedia, there is a page for the oldest continuous semi-pro team the Wisconsin Racine Raiders. They have 581 wins since 1953, however, this was accomplished under 17 different head coaches, since 1957, when Pudgie took over the Mariners.
At the college level, John Gagliardi amassed 489 wins (.775 winning %) at St. John’s University in Minnesota and has the record for most college years coaching at 64. He coached 6 more years in high school, but there are no records on how many wins he had at St. Mary’s/Trinidad Catholic in Colorado. If he won every game coaching high school over six years, he still has no chance of exceeding 600. The second winningest coach in college football is Joe Paterno of Penn State with 409 wins (.749 winning %) followed very closely by Eddie Robinson of Grambling with 408 wins (.690 winning %) and then Bobby Bowden of Florida State with 377 wins (.739 winning %).
Written by Mike Nielsen