Buddy Leake, part of perhaps the greatest backfield in OU history and founder of Oklahoma's chapter of the National Football Foundation, died Tuesday night. He was 80.
Leake, a longtime Oklahoma City insurance agent, served as the first president of the NFF's Oklahoma chapter, from 1984 to 2001. But he was best known as a high-producing halfback on some of Bud Wilkinson's greatest teams.
“Buddy was a heck of a ballplayer,” said Leake's OU teammate, J.D. Roberts. “He really was a heck of an athlete.”
Leake played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League and baseball in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization.
Leake came to OU from Memphis, Tenn., arriving in 1951, a season in which freshmen were eligible. In Harold Keith's book, “47 Straight,” fellow freshman Gene Calame was quoted as saying, “On the first day of practice, we all watched him (Leake) kick, run and throw. I concluded I'd never play a down for Oklahoma.”
Calame eventually became the OU quarterback, with Leake in the backfield also.
Leake scored three touchdowns against Kansas as a freshmen.
Then as a sophomore, Leake was the right halfback along side quarterback Eddie Crowder, fullback Buck McPhail and left halfback Billy Vessels, who won the Heisman Trophy that season.
Leake, OU's kicker most of his career, scored 243 points as a Sooner, setting a school record that stood until Steve Owens broke it in 1969.
A funeral mass is scheduled for noon Saturday at Christ the King Catholic Church in Oklahoma City.