Peter Glen Ladygo, Sr.
Born: June 23, 1928 (West Brownsville, Pennsylvania)
Died: August 22, 2014 (Keyser, West Virginia)
Pete Ladygo played right guard for the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1955, a season during which he also served as offensive team captain.
Ladygo (pronounced laddy-go) signed with Ottawa of the Big Four after spending two seasons in the trenches with the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League. He missed the entire 1953 season with a broken bone in his left leg.
The Rough Riders had a dismal campaign in 1955, as the team’s 3-9 record perhaps reflected controversy over the contested leadership of head coach Chan Caldwell. Ottawa generated as many headlines about a power struggle among the coaching staff as it did about exploits on the football field.
Ottawa considered it a coup to get a player of Ladygo’s calibre.
“I’m pretty happy about being able to persuade Pete to play with the Riders,” Caldwell said after he signed. “He’s a fine player and I think he will be a real asset to the club.”
The only Canadian football game Ladygo ever witnessed before signing was an exhibition game.
“We didn’t get the games on TV in my home at Keyser, West Virginia,” he said. “But from that one game it looked like a pretty good brand of football.”
The Steelers complained he jumped leagues because of a poor season. The likely motivation was money. Ladygo earned $5,000 with the Steelers. The Rough Riders doubled his salary.
The 6-foot-2, 245-pound guard had a solid season despite the uncertainty on the sidelines. He made a one-handed interception in a 19-18 victory over the Montreal Alouettes at Lansdowne Park in Ottawa. A week later, he recovered a fumble by Hamilton’s Lou Kusserow at midfield, setting up a Rough Rider major in a game Ottawa lost, 23-12.
He was born in West Brownsville, Pa., a town on the Monongahela River where coal trains run down the middle of Main Street. His family moved to nearby Pittsburgh so the budding athlete could attend Allegheny High, where he played football. A short stint in the army was followed by enrolment in Potomac State College in West Virginia. (He would be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988.) After two years, he transferred to the University of Maryland. He was a centre and a linebacker for the Terrapins under coach Jim Tatum. On Oct. 7, 1950, Ladygo ran back an interception 23 yards to help underrated Maryland defeat No. 2-ranked Michigan State Spartans, 34-7.
Maryland went 10-0 in his 1951 graduating year, outscoring the opposition by 381-74. He capped his university career by playing for the victorious terrapins over No. 1-ranked Tennessee in the Sugar Bowl in January, 1952.
Ladygo was drafted in the 16th round (No. 186 overall) by the Steelers.
After his professional career ended, Ladygo became a high school shop teacher in Maryland, where he also coached football teams. He also worked as an assistant coach at Potomac State.