I stubbed my toe on this interesting nugget of Michigan football history recently.  It turns out that there was a foiled attempt by wiseguys to bribe an Oregon player prior to game against the Wolverines in the 1960 season opener. 

The failed fixing attempt was revealed to the media after the Wolverines’ 21-0 victory over the Ducks on September 24, 1960. 

Here’s a rundown of what happened:

  • Shortly after the Ducks’ plane landed at Willow Run (just down I-94 from Ann Arbor) airport, Oregon junior halfback Mickey Bruce was approached by a 27-year old school teacher from Brooklyn, NY named David Budin.  Later Budin told police he was acting on behalf of two gamblers from Miami, FL.
  • Budin allegedly offered Bruce $5,000 if he could “let a pass receiver behind him” and if he would cause the Oregon quarterback to “call the wrong plays” in the game against Bump Elliott’s Wolverines.   Michigan was a six-point favorite in the game.
  • Budin targeted Bruce because he claimed to be a friend a former Oregon basketball player named Jim Granada, who in turn was a close friend Bruce’s.
  • Budin and the two gamblers followed the Oregon team to their Dearborn hotel and approached the Oregon junior again.  After this second meeting Bruce went to Oregon coach Len Casanova and told him what was going on.  The FBI was contacted and they turned matters over to the State Police.
  • The two gamblers apparently got wise and split; Budin was arrested Saturday morning before the game back at the hotel.
    Days after the 21-0 victory word of the scandal made the papers but in the end, Budin wasn’t busted for anything beyond a misdemeanor…He was fined $100 for registering in a hotel with a fake name(!).  That’s a crime? 
    FWIW Bruce had an interception in the game.

Naturally Budin was in and out of the news in the 1960s for various gambling-rated encounters, including an investigation of college basketball fixing a couple years later.   He and his son Steven were indicted in 1998 for running an off-shore (incorporated in Costa Rica) gambling operation out of Miami. 

1 Comment

  1. Mickey Bruce died earlier this week at 72 or cancer. I wrote a somewhat more detailed version of this story here: http://bit.ly/ffBFw5. One of the “two gamblers” was the infamous Lefty Rosenthal (the movie Casino was based on his life, with DeNiro as Lefty).