Thomas "Jake" LaMotta '60
Mount Lebanon, Pa. product Tom “Jake” LaMotta became the first Grove City College football player to achieve All-America distinction. The four-year letterwinner launched his record setting collegiate career in 1956. He graduated with a B.S. in Commerce in 1960.
His combination of strength and speed helped him emerge as one of the region’s finest offensive backs. When he graduated, he took with him every varsity rushing record in the first 66 years of Grove City College football.
A leader both on and off the field, he helped revitalize the football program and bolstered the Varsity “G” Club as its president.
As a sophomore under head coach Jack Behringer, “Number 32” helped the Wolverines post a five-game improvement from the previous season by rushing for 610 yards in eight games. It was the team’s first winning record in seven seasons.
Following the 1957 season, LaMotta earned Honorable Mention on the nationwide Little All-America team selected by the Williamson Rating System. He received the same standing on the Tri-State Small College team which was picked by the district coaches.
Probably LaMotta’s most prized recognition was being selected First Team All-State. Players from both the university and college level were grouped together, including Mike Ditka of the University of Pittsburgh.
“Jake” received Little All-America honors again at fullback in 1959, thus becoming the first Grove City student-athlete to earn multiple All-America honors. In 1959, he ran for a College-record 829 yards in nine games. He averaged 5.1 yards per carry. LaMotta’s single-season rushing record and 2,581 career yards were Grove City’s highest for nearly four decades.
He passed away in January 2000.