The Brewster side of my family tree has come through again with another famous relative, this time a professional athlete. Some time ago I wrote about James Henry Brewster, my great-great-granduncle, who was a well known Kansas contractor and stone mason. James Henry’s other claim to fame was that he happened to be in the First National Bank in Coffeyville, Kansas, when the Dalton Gang had their last shoot-out.
A recent issue of the Jay County Journal brought another noteworthy Brewster relative to my attention. The Jay County Journal is the monthly publication of the Jay County Historical Society, of which I am a member.
Darrel “Pete” Brewster, my first cousin twice removed, played professional football for several seasons. Pete Brewster and I both descend from Daniel Brewster. Daniel was Pete’s grandfather and was my great-great-grandfather. Pete descends from Daniel and his second wife, Mary Loverda Bebout, while I descend from Daniel and his first wife, Sarah Fetters.
Darrel Brewster was born in 1930 on a farm near Berne, Indiana, and grew up and attended school in nearby Portland. His height helped him become a good basketball player all through high school but he did not play football until his senior year.
After high school he attended Purdue University where he played both football and basketball. In 1952 he led the Purdue Boilermakers football team to a Big Ten co-championship, was selected as the team’s MVP and was named to the National College Football All-Star Team. He was a five-time letterman at Purdue and is a member of Purdue’s Athletic Hall of Fame in both basketball and football.
After his college graduation Pete was a 2nd round, 21st overall NFL draft choice by the Chicago Cardinals in 1952. But Pete was immediately traded to the Cleveland Browns where he played offense and defense during his first season. During the 1953 season he played first-string offensive left end and was the Brown’s second leading receiver. He was a key member of the Browns’ 1954 and 1955 World Championship teams and was selected for the All Pro and Pro Bowls in 1955 and 1956 at the tight end position.
Pete Brewster retired following the 1958 season, after seven seasons (1952-58) with the Browns. But he soon left retirement and played for the Pittsburgh Steelers for two years (1959-60). He then became a coach, first for the Minnesota Vikings and then a receivers coach for the Kansas City Chiefs (1964-1974).
During his time as a coach for the Chiefs Pete made two trips to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs were defeated by the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I, but the Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV. Pete earned a Super Bowl ring for Super Bowl IV.
During his active football years Pete was 6’4” tall and weighed 210 pounds. He played for the NFL for 9 years. His career totals include playing in 104 games, with 210 receptions, 3758 yards, 17.9 average receiving yards/reception and 21 receiving touchdowns. His longest reception was 57 yards in 1954. He scored 19 touchdowns for Cleveland, 2 touchdowns for Pittsburgh and fumbled 7 times.
His best receiving year was 1954, when he had 42 receptions, 676 receiving yards, with an average of 16.1 yards, plus 4 touchdowns. In 1955 he scored 6 touchdowns for the Browns.
Paul Brown was Pete’s coach when he played for Cleveland and Buddy Parker was his coach while at Pittsburgh. Pete Brewster wore number 83 in 1952, 88 in 1953-58 (Browns) and 88 in 1959-60 (Steelers).
Pete is enshrined in the Indiana Football Hall of Fame. In addition, this past summer the Portland High School football field was renamed Brewster Field in Pete’s honor. Pete and his family live near Peculiar, Missouri.
Thanks to the Jay County Historical Society for the nice article about former football star and coach, Darrel “Pete” Brewster. The 9 October 2012 edition of Cleveland.com also has an article about Pete, “Cleveland Browns’ 100 best all-time players: No. 68, Darrel ‘Pete’ Brewster”, which includes a video that shows Pete catching several passes.