Wilson Rutherford "Bud" Schwenk Jr. (August 26, 1917– October 1, 1980) was a professional American football quarterback who played four seasons for the Chicago Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts, and New York Yankees.

Bud Schwenk
A headshot of Bud Schwenk from a 1946 Cleveland Browns game program
Schwenk in 1946
No. 64
Position:Quarterback, halfback
Personal information
Born:(1917-08-26)August 26, 1917
St. Louis, Missouri, US
Died:October 1, 1980(1980-10-01) (aged 63)
St. Louis, Missouri, US
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:201 lb (91 kg)
Career information
High school:Beaumont (St. Louis, Missouri)
College:Washington University
NFL Draft:1942 / Round: 3 / Pick: 19
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Pass attempts:662
Pass completions:315
Passing yards:3,924
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

Schwenk grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he starred on the Washington University Bears football team. He set numerous college football records for passing in the 1941 season, his senior year. After college, Schwenk played one season for the Cardinals in the National Football League (NFL), before leaving to serve for three years in the United States Navy during World War II. Upon his discharge, Schwenk joined the Cleveland Browns, a team under formation in the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC). After one season with the Browns during which the team won the AAFC championship, Schwenk was traded to the Buffalo Bills and then to the Colts before the start of the 1947 season. He went on to have his best year as a player, setting a professional football record for passing attempts in a season. Despite his success, the Colts put Schwenk put out on waivers, and he was picked up by the New York Yankees, where he played for one year before leaving football.

After his playing career, Schwenk spent 30 years as an executive in St. Louis at Junior Achievement, a national nonprofit that prepares young people for the workforce. He served as the chairman of Missouri's state athletic commission in the 1970s and was on the board of the St. Louis Better Business Bureau. He was inducted into the Washington University sports hall of fame in 1991. His jersey number 42 is the only one retired by the school's football program.

High school and college careerEdit

Schwenk was a native of St. Louis, Missouri and attended the city's Beaumont High School.[1] A three-sport athlete, he became a star halfback who both threw forward passes and ran with the ball at Washington University in St. Louis.[2][3] He played for the Washington University Bears football team, starting as a junior in 1940. He set a college football record the following year by running and passing for a combined 516 yards in a single game.[4] He surpassed a three-year-old college record for completed passes in a season later in the year, with 114.[5][6] He passed and ran for a total of 1,628 yards.[6]

Professional careerEdit

Schwenk was recruited by professional football teams and was drafted by the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League at the end of 1941.[7] That December, he said he had abandoned plans to play in the National Football League because of World War II.[8] Nevertheless, he played for the Cardinals during the 1942 season.[9] He broke the NFL record for most passes completed in his first season, although the Philadelphia Eagles' Davey O'Brien also broke the record and beat him with 146.[10] Schwenk did not play between 1943 and 1945 as he served in the U.S. Navy during the war.[6]

Following his discharge from the Navy, Schwenk signed with the Cleveland Browns of the new All-America Football Conference.[6] Limited by an ankle injury, Schwenk played sparingly for the Browns in the 1946 season, substituting on occasion for quarterback Otto Graham.[11] The Browns won the AAFC championship that year.[12] Schwenk was traded to the Buffalo Bills for fullback Jim Thibaut early in 1947.[11] The Bills then sent him to the Baltimore Colts in August.[11][13]

With Baltimore, Schwenk had the best season of his career, passing for 2,236 yards and throwing 13 touchdowns.[7] Down by five points in a game against the Bills in October, Schwenk threw a last second completion to Lamar Davis, who caught it but was ruled out of bounds a foot outside the end zone. Officials allowed the game clock to tick down to zero, giving Buffalo the victory as the Colts argued that it was a score. A near-riot broke out after players began shoving each other and spectators came down on the field.[14] In November, Schwenk bested his own professional football record, set while with the Cardinals in 1942, of 295 passing attempts in a season.[15] The Colts, however, put him out on waivers after the season, and he was picked up by the New York Yankees.[16] Schwenk played for the Yankees in 1948 before leaving professional football.[7]

Later lifeEdit

Schwenk began work in 1950 as the chief operating officer of the Mississippi Valley branch of Junior Achievement, a non-profit that prepares young people for the workforce.[1] He stayed at Junior Achievement for 30 years.[1] He engaged in civic organizations in St. Louis, and was on the board of the city's Better Business Bureau.[1] He also was a director and founder of the Spanish Lake Bank & Trust Company.[1] Between 1971 and 1975, he was chairman of the Missouri State Athletic Commission.[1]

Schwenk died in 1980. He was inducted into the Washington University Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, and his number 42 jersey is the only one retired by the Washington Bears.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f "W.R. "Bud" Schwenk". Junior Achievement. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Washington Sports Hall of Fame Bios". Washington University in St. Louis. Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  3. ^ "Jim Conzelman May Not Quit". The Miami News. St. Louis. United Press International. January 16, 1940. p. 3B. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  4. ^ "Bud Schwenk Sets Record". Youngstown Vindicator. Seattle. United Press International. November 13, 1941. p. 25. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  5. ^ "Schwenk Surpasses O'Brien Pass Record". The New York Times. St. Louis. Associated Press. November 20, 1941. Archived from the original on November 18, 2015. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d "Browns Add Star Passer in Schwenk". Cleveland Plain Dealer. February 20, 1946. p. 18. The Cleveland Browns added another brilliant passer yesterday with the signing of Wilson (Bud) Schwenk, who starred for the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League in 1942 before enlisting in the Navy. Schwenk completed 114 of 234 passes for Washington University in St. Louis in 1941, his pitches piling up 1,157 yards. He also picked up 471 yards from scrimmage for a grand total of 1,628.
  7. ^ a b c "Bud Schwenk NFL Football Statistics". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  8. ^ "Bud Schwenk Drops Pro Football Plans". The Christian Science Monitor. St. Louis. Associated Press. December 24, 1941. p. 15. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  9. ^ "Kimbrough Leads Army All-Stars To First Victory". The Evening Independent. Denver. Associated Press. September 7, 1942. p. 14. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  10. ^ "17 Pro Passing Marks Are Set". The Telegraph-Herald. Chicago. International News Service. February 12, 1943. p. 9.
  11. ^ a b c "Browns Sign Cowan, Get Thibaut in Deal". Cleveland Plain Dealer. April 12, 1947. p. 12. Thibaut, former Tulane captain, was obtained in exchange for Quarterback Bud Schwenk, who was sidelined much of last season by an ailing ankle.
  12. ^ Piascik 2007, p. 64.
  13. ^ "Bills Sell 3 To Colts". Cleveland Plain Dealer. August 27, 1947. p. 20.
  14. ^ "Buffalo, Colts Game Almost Ends in Riot". The News and Courier. Buffalo, N.Y. International News Service. October 13, 1947. p. 6. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  15. ^ "Pro Grid Records Get Shoved About". The Free Lance-Star. New York. Associated Press. November 25, 1947. p. 4. Retrieved August 13, 2012.
  16. ^ "Ask Waivers On Schwenk". Cleveland Plain Dealer. New York. Associated Press. September 16, 1948. p. 21.


  • Piascik, Andy (2007). The Best Show in Football: The 1946–1955 Cleveland Browns. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58979-571-6.

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