Bleeker, Mel : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Bleeker, Mel

Melvin Wallace Bleeker

A speedster, Bleeker was the track captain of the USC Trojans in 1942 before playing four seasons in the NFL. He led the league in receiving average in 1944, his rookie year.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. August 20, 1920 - d. April 24, 1996

Career Highlights:
Bleeker was a quarterback and back for USC in the early 1940s. In his three seasons, the Trojans had a combined record of 10-15-4. After graduating from USC in 1943, Mel played in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams.

In 1944, Bleeker had the best season of his career. In nine games, he had 8 receptions for 299 yards for an incredible (and league leading) 37.4 yards per catch average! He also had 4 receiving touchdowns, and rushed 60 times for 315 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Eagles had a record of 7-1-2 that year, finishing second in the NFL East behind the New York Giants. Two of Bleeker's teammates on the Eagles that year were fellow rookie Buck Friedman and future New York Giants head coach Allie Sherman.

After two more seasons with the Eagles, who finished second in the NFL East both years with records of 7-3-0 and 6-5-0 respectively, Mel played his final NFL season with the Los Angeles Rams in 1947. That year Bleeker rushed 23 times for 111 yards (4.8 average) and had 3 kick returns for 50 yards as the Rams finished fourth in the NFL West with a 6-6-0 record. Mel played in 28 career NFL games.

Origin:
Los Angeles, California

Career Dates:
Bleeker played as a quarterback at the University of Southern California from 1940-1942. He then played halfback and defensive back in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1944-1946, and for the Los Angeles Rams in 1947.

Physical description:
5'11", 189 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NFL:
Games: 28

Rushes: 139
Rushing yards: 586
Rushing average: 4.2
Rushing touchdowns: 6
Fumbles: 2

Receptions: 14
Receiving yards: 360
Receiving average: 25.7
Receiving touchdowns: 4

Interceptions: 2
Fumble recoveries: 1

Punt Returns: 5
Punt return yards: 40
Punt return average: 8.0

Kick returns: 3
Kick return yards: 50
Kick return average: 16.7



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References:
The Encyclopedia of Football, by Roger Treat (New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1976 -- 14th Edition)
Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League, edited by Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999)
encyclopedia of JEWS in sports, by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)


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