Baseball Or Football?
Bob Griese was born on February 3, 1945 in Evansville, Indiana, where he grew up with two siblings and his parents, Sylverious, a plumber, and Ida (Ulrich), a secretary. Griese was involved in sports from a young age, competing regularly with his older brother Bill. When Griese was ten his father died, and the traumatic event seemed to solidify the boy's already quiet, serious personality. He played basketball and baseball as a youth. He did not play organized football until he was a freshman at Rex Mundi High School. During his last two years in school he was named as the best quarterback in Indiana. He also excelled as a baseball pitcher, posting a 17-1 record, with his only loss coming in the 1963 American Legion World Series.
Not heavily recruited out of high school, Griese, who wanted to get his education, passed up an offer from the Baltimore Orioles to sign him as a pitcher to attend nearby Purdue University. Under the tutelage of the Boilermakers' coach Bob DeMoss, Griese developed his fundamental skills as a passer. DeMoss corrected Griese's three-quarter side-armed throw (the same form he used to pitch baseballs) and got the young quarterback throwing straight overhand from behind the ear, giving him a quicker and straighter release. He earned the starting position as a sophomore, and by 1965, his junior year, he was becoming nationally recognized for his passing accuracy and his intelligent play. In that year he led his team to an upset victory over top-ranked University of Notre Dame, 25-21. On the day, Griese completed nineteen of twenty-two passes, with a streak of thirteen in a row.
Named a consensus All-American during his final two years, Griese's tenure at Purdue ended by winning the Rose Bowl, 15-14, over the University of Southern California. During his career as a Boilermaker, Griese completed 348 passes on 609 attempts. He was second in the bid for the 1966 Heisman Trophy, won by Steve Spurrier. Having also lettered in basketball, he graduated in 1967 with a degree in industrial management. On June 10, 1967, he married Judi Lassus, who would become a registered nurse. The couple had three sons.