March, 20 2023
Joe Aguirre participated in one of college football’s grandest upsets when the St. Mary’s Galloping Gaels defeated eleventh-ranked and unbeaten Texas Tech in the 1939 Cotton Bowl. College football was just one of four gridiron venues Aguirre excelled in.
Aguirre played both ways at St. Mary’s, lining up as an offensive end and in the defensive backfield. The highly regarded Aguirre was also the Gaels’ placekicker and a team captain his senior year. He was recognized as the All-American Performer of the Week after scoring a touchdown, recovering a fumble, and playing stellar defense in an 18-7 victory over Loyola on October 20.
Aguirre’s exploits at St. Mary’s garnered the attention of NFL scouts. Washington drafted Aguirre in the eleventh-round and he played four seasons in the nation’s capital. In addition to becoming the first player of Hispanic heritage to be drafted, he became the first to earn All-Pro honors. The AP named him first-team All-Pro in 1944. Aguirre caught 34 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns that season.
Aguirre jumped to the rival All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946. He signed with the Los Angles Dons and played until the league folded in 1949. His play continued at a high level as he was named first team All-AAFC in 1946. Following the AAFC’s demise, Aguirre played in Canada for several years, earning the Dave Dryburgh Trophy as the top Western scorer in 1950 and 1954. He was also named to the Canadian Football League All-Stars in 1950 and 1952.
Being an All-Star in three separate football leagues is quite the feat and Joe Aguirre is remembered as both a pioneer and premier performer.