Sun, Jan 01, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Last member of Seven Blocks dies

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

John Druze, left, with other members of the 1936 Fordham football team. Vince Lombardi is No. 40. Druze, the last surviving member of the squad, dies on Tuesday in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 91.

PHOTO: NY TIMES

John Druze, the last surviving member of Fordham University's football offensive line of the 1930s known as the Seven Blocks of Granite, died on Tuesday in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 91.

His death was announced by Fordham.

During the 1920s, Notre Dame's line was dubbed the Seven Mules, and it opened paths for the backfield's Four Horsemen. Hype was still very much alive in college football a decade later when a fearsome Fordham line gained the spotlight.

With Fordham on track to go undefeated in 1936, Tim Cohane, the university's publicist, discovered a newspaper clipping from 1930 paying tribute to Fordham's linemen by calling them the Seven Blocks of Granite. Cohane revived the nickname for the Rams' 1936 and 1937 lines, and it was this second version that gained the greatest renown.

Druze, who was known as Tarzan, was the right end. He was captain of the 1937 team and was also its place-kicker.

The 1936 Rams finished 5-1-2 and lost a possible Rose Bowl bid when they were upset by New York University at Yankee Stadium, 7-6, in the season's final game.

"That was always a blood game," Druze told Newsday in 1986, referring to the rivalry. "Forget about the records. It was like Purdue and Notre Dame."

Fordham's 1936 team shut out three opponents and gave up only 33 points.

The 1937 Rams were 7-0-1 and held five opponents scoreless.

Druze's best-known teammate on the Seven Blocks of Granite was Vince Lombardi, the Pro Football Hall of Fame coach of the Green Bay Packers, who played right guard. But Alex Wojciechowicz, the all-American center and later a Hall of Fame player with the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles, was the star of the Fordham line.

The other linemen were right tackle Al Babartsky, who later shortened his name to Bart, and was, by his recollection, the biggest block at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds; left guard Nat Pierce; left tackle Ed Franco; and left end Leo Paquin.

Druze played for the National Football League's Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938, then became an assistant to Coach Frank Leahy at Boston College. Leahy had coached the Seven Blocks of Granite as an aide to Fordham's head coach, Jim Crowley, one of Notre Dame's Four Horsemen.

When Leahy became the Notre Dame head coach in 1941, Druze joined him as an assistant, and he became a mentor to Leon Hart, an end who won the 1949 Heisman Trophy.

Druze, a native of Irvington, New Jersey, left Notre Dame to become head coach at Marquette, where he served from 1956 to 1958.

He is survived by his wife, Rose; his daughters, Dottie Druze and Jody Faker; six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The Seven Blocks of Granite were stars on the sports pages. But the players were treated the same as all Fordham students. As Druze recalled a half-century later, "You hit the books, you're back on the field and you hit the books again."

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