- Singers wanted: Lititz Community Chorus re-forming
- Landis Valley gunsmith builds long rifle for museum’s auction
- The bugs are back!
- MC seniors capture first place at Science Olympiad
- Woodridge Swim Club to host beer fest May 6
- Fast times at Warwick Driving Park
- Pretzel Fest returns May 6
- Easter Egg Hunt List
- King Lear: the method to the madness
- Irish dance showcase at Warwick High School
Whatever Happened to Ignacio Heintzelman?
September 12, 1985
The following story was told by Ike Kauffman in his weekly column, ‘Mid The Turmoil:
As the first full weekend of high school, college and professional football games is completed, the hoary tales about the legendary figures in the game – Pudge Heffelfinger, Jay Berwanger, Bronco Nagurski – will be dusted off and retold for the thousandth time. I would be remiss by not at this time relating the astounding feats of one Ignacio Heintzelman, the will-o’-the wisp who glided across the sheep-drop laden fields of Frog Hollow in the mid thirties.
Now, in those days Frog Hollow was the acknowledged turf of the roughest, fastest, savviest pre-teen and early teen football players in town. If you made it there, and lived, you were almost a shoo-in for the high school team. The Bachmans, Roths, Shelleys, Zugs, Garners, Davidsons all cut their teeth on opponents’ shinbones on the friendly, fertile, foggy field of Yerger’s pastures. When I, a callow lad of 10, was called up from the farm team on Cedar Street, I was at once ecstatic and apprehensive. For I had a rather good looking set of teeth and not yet ready to part with any of them. As it turned out, my fears were groundless, and I suffered nothing but innumerable bloody noses, cut lips and an occasional loose tooth that quickly firmed back into position. Many were not so lucky.
In this hostile environment one day a few weeks before school was scheduled to start, strode Ignacio Heintzelman. He came walking in from the north, down the Water Street hill, with the easy gait of the born athlete. He wore bib overalls over a smudged khaki shirt (which he stole from his dad, who had stolen it from a CCC boy at Mount Gretna), and a pair of Keds with no socks. He was 13 years old, with a mop of curly red hair and 17-year-old arms. He leaned on the fence and watched us for about 15 minutes, then hollered over, “Hey, can I play with you guys awhile?”
Let me explain that no one, but no one, walked in unproven at Frog Hollow to “play with you guys.” But there was something about this guy’s demeanor that was impressive, and besides, our side had just lost a player to a misplaced gopher hole in the meadow. After much haggling, Ignacio, growing impatient, said “Throw me the ball.” After more haggling, someone threw him the ball, which he caught with one hand and pointed to old Billy, the curled-horn ram grazing 30 yards across on the other side of the San Domingo. “See that ram?” he shouted, and at the same time uncorked a bullet that caught Billy right between the eyes. The impact staggered Billy and did nothing for his disposition, which wasn’t too good to start with. Without a word, Nazi (we learned to call Ignacio Nazi for short) blurred across the meadow, leaped the San Domingo, and scooped the ball up right in front of Billy’s astounded, hard nose. Before Billy could snort twice and paw once, Nazi leaped across the ‘Mingo and ran over to us. “Which side do I play on?” he asked. The kid didn’t lack confidence.
Fortunately that day he was on our side. We questioned his attire, noting that bib overalls made perfect handles to pull him down. He shrugged and said “They gotta grab ‘em first.” That day no one did. Johnny Buckwalter, the oldest and fastest Frog Hollow-ite on the field that day, or any day, busted one around end, and before he ran ten steps Nazi caught him from behind as if Johnny were running with two pulled hamstrings. When Nazi carried the ball for us, it was a cloud of dust and a haughty “Heigho,” and he was standing across the goal line at the east end of the meadow, waiting for stragglers.
For diversion, we let him throw the ball, and when he unlimbered that magnificent arm the receivers caught the ball in self-defense, lest they be air conditioned right through the middle. This with a lop-sided pumpkin ball. God knows what he would have done with a Wilson Official.
This scene was repeated many times over the next few weeks, and Nazi just kept getting better and faster. Clyde Arbegast, the high school coach, heard about this overalled flash and was ready to start building his offense around this eighth-grader, which he would have been, but Nazi never showed up for school in Lititz that year. As mysteriously as he showed up, he disappeared up the Water Street hill the last night before school started and was never seen again in these parts.
There’s been much speculation over the years as to what happened to Nazi. I kind of leaned toward his heading west and changing his name. After all, there was a Les Horvath at Ohio State that won the Heisman in ‘44 who vaguely resembled him.
Of such stuff are legends made.
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