Al Carapella (1947-50)

Alfred “Al” Richard Carapella (born April 26, 1927) is a former American and Canadian football defensive tackle who played for the San Francisco 49ers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats.


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Al Carapella
No. 45, 75
Position: Defensive tackle
Personal information
Born: April 26, 1927
Tuckahoe, New York
Height: 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight: 235 lb (107 kg)
Career information
High school: Tuckahoe High School
College: Miami (FL)
NFL Draft: 1951 / Round: 5 / Pick: 54
Career history
  • San Francisco 49ers (1951-55)
  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats (1956 CFL)
Career highlights and awards
  • 1970 University of Miami Hall of Fame
  • 1954 Pro Bowl
  • 1951 College All-Star Football Classic
  • 1950 All-American First Team (AP)

Early life
Carapella was born on April 26, 1927 in Tuckahoe, New York. During the Depression, Carapella lived with his three siblings in a cold water flat in Tuckahoe. While attending Tuckahoe High School, he lettered in football and baseball, excelling at both. Carapella was named to Westchester County’s All-County football team in 1942, and he helped Tuckahoe High’s baseball team win conference championships in 1943 and 1944.

After his junior year, Carapella had his older brother sign a waiver to allow him to try out for the New York Giants baseball club. After a tryout at the Polo Grounds, the Giants signed Carapella to a minor league contract. He was assigned to the Richmond Colts, then moved to the Erie Sailors. Because he signed a professional contract, Carapella was ineligible to compete in high school athletics during his senior year.

Upon graduating from Tuckahoe High School in 1945, Carapella was drafted into the United States Army. Carapella was deployed to Germany, where he played football with the Berlin Bears, an interservice team composed of several college and NFL football players. Upon noticing that he could compete with players of that caliber, Carapella decided to pursue football when he was discharged from the Army. He asked his former high school coach to try to set up some workouts with college programs, and Carapella was invited to try out for the Miami and Kentucky. Carapella garnered scholarship offers from both schools, but his offer letter from Kentucky was addressed to his uncle by mistake, and he was unaware of the offer until after he had enrolled at Miami.

University of Miami
During his first year at Miami, Carapella played on the freshman football team, playing offensive line and fullback. In his senior year, Carapella helped lead the undefeated Hurricanes to an Orange Bowl berth, where they were defeated by Clemson by a score of 15-14 after Miami surrendered a late safety.

From the 1951 IBIS, the University of MIami yearbook:
“Out of the depths of obscurity rose Al Carapella to become the FIRST All-American in UM Football annals!

A year ago Al was just another tackle, but last Fall, the Tuckahoe, New York lad was immense at the defensive line slot.  His rise was instrumental in shooting Miami’s gridiron stock higher than its most loyal supporter had ever dreamed.Carapella climaxed his three years of varsity play by being named on the Associated press’s mythical defensive eleven.  Although the likable physical education major confined most of his efforts to stopping the opposition’s backs, he also was adept at blocking and could have played on the offensive club had he not been so valuable on defense.

After graduating from high school in 1945, Al served two years in the Army and entered the UM in the Fall of ’47.  He played on the Frosh squad as a fullback, but when Andy Gustafson arrived on the scene in the Spring of ’48 there was a great need for tackles, so Al was switched up front.

His first two years on the varsity, Al displayed periodic greatness, but most of the time, he was just another ballplayer.  This year, he reported for practice with renewed vigor.  As early as the tuneup game with Stetson, in September, it was evident that the 231 pound senior was headed for his best year.  However, no one dreamed at that time that Al would be named on any All-American team.  Even after the season ended and Miami had received its Orange Bowl bid, it was doubtful is any UM gridder would receive such acclaim, since the night that the AP sports editor viewed the Canes, they played most miserably in being tied by unknown Louisville.

On the morning of December 6, it was announced that Al Carapella had been awarded a berth on the AP’s All-American team.  It took 25 years for Miami to produce an All-American, but it won’t be 25 more before another Hurricane receives such an honor.”

Al was a 3 time letterman in football and also was a catcher on the UM baseball team.

In October, 2010, he was honored as a Miami Sports Founder by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

First All-American
University of Miami lineman Al Carapella was the first All American football player in school history. A native of Tuckahoe, NY, Carapella was named first team All American by the Associated Press in 1950. After beginning his college career as a fullback, Carapella moved to defensive line and became a dominant force. He was a key member of the 1950 Hurricanes which finished the regular season 9-0-1 before eventually losing to Clemson in the 1951 Orange Bowl. Carapella went on to play five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers from 1951 to 1955, earning All Pro honors in 1954.