Lost amid the hoopla of the Feb. 1 Signing Day was a news release put out near noon that same day by the Notre Dame Media Relations office.
Former two-time consensus Fighting Irish All-American, 1948 Outland Trophy winner and 1983 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill “Moose” Fischer had passed away at age 89 in Cape Coral, Fla. His death occurred Jan. 20, but the announcement took nearly two weeks, not from disrespect but mainly getting lost in the present and future.
The Notre Dame news understandably demands a focus on the present with six new on-field coaches plus revamped leadership in the Director of Football Performance offices. There also is going to be premium concentration on the future because of 21 new recruits entering the fold, with five already on the campus. Nevertheless, we would be remiss not to honor Fischer’s legacy during the Golden Age of Notre Dame football history.
In 2012 when Notre Dame commemorated the program's 125th anniversary in football, we at Blueandgold.com assembled an all-time 25-man Fighting Irish team: 11 on offense, 11 on defense, a kicker, punter and utility man. Fischer was an easy selection as a guard on the left side, with teammate “Jungle Jim” Martin the tackle.
The difference was that in 1946 Martin was a 22-year-old freshman on the GI Bill who had already been a decorated World War II veteran, including the Bronze Star. On a team laden with such grizzled, battle-hardened veterans — literally and figuratively — who were back from the war, the 19-year-old sophomore Fischer still amazingly won a starting spot in the ultra-intense and physical practices under head coach Frank Leahy.
The 1946-47 national title Notre Dame teams never trailed in a game, and in 1948 as the senior captain on a 9-0-1 unit, Fischer became college football’s third recipient of the Outland Trophy. Teammate George Connor, the right tackle on our all-time team, was the first in 1946.
Born William Anton Fischer on March 10, 1927, he attended Chicago’s Lane Tech High School — the same as new Director of Football Performance Matt Balis — before enrolling in 1945 and starting on teams that never lost a game his last three seasons. On the 1947 national champs, Fischer tied for the team lead in minutes played with 300, thriving on both sides of the ball.
Following his senior year, Fischer was named captain of the East team in the East-West Shrine Game and named Most Valuable Player for his team in the 1949 College All-Star Game. The No. 10 pick in the 1949 NFL Draft, he played at tackle, guard and defensive tackle for the Chicago Cardinals through 1953, earning All-Pro notice in 1951 and 1952.
After retiring as a player, Fischer served as an assistant coach at Notre Dame from 1954-58 under classmate/teammate Terry Brennan, one of the few surviving members, along with quarterback and 1947 Hesiman Trophy winner John Lujack, from the 1940s dynasty. Owner for many years of an automobile dealership in Ishpeming, Mich., Fischer also served as president of the Notre Dame Monogram Club in 1982.
And his heart forever, loved thee Notre Dame.
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