Machinsky, a Buffington, PA native, was a big part of the glory years of Uniontown High School football. He was a key member of the Red Raiders undefeated team in his senior year 1951 when he earned first team All-State honors.
“They had the “Gardner Points” system in those days,” Machinsky recalled. “It is funny, the previous year in 1950 we were way ahead of everybody in points, but if you lost a game you were out of the playoffs and we lost to Latrobe the last game of the season. The next year we beat everybody, but didn’t have enough points. We really had a good team that year, in fact better than 1950, but we didn’t have enough points. We all went down to Monessen to see them play and if Monessen had won we would have gotten in, but
Machinsky was known for his football talent, but he loved baseball.
“It still is my favorite sport,” he offered. “I loved baseball.”
Uniontown football turned into a powerhouse in the early 1950’s and Machinsky says it was because of one man - head coach Bill Power.
“Coach Power came in and he was amazing,” Machinsky explained. “We went to football camp - well nobody went to camp. For some of us kids that didn’t have very much that never got to go to any kind of a camp, that was a treat. He worked us hard, but we felt we were having fun. We practiced twice a day in pads and then went out at night. We went to a boy’s camp near Washington, PA the first year and it was bad. But the next two years we went to West Liberty College and it was nice. When we came back from camp we were in shape and ready to play.”
As he looks back at those teams he has fond memories of his teammates.
“The whole team was just outstanding. WE had Ronnie Manning, Jim Henderson, Eddie Santore, Bill Hunt - all of them were good. I think we had eight or nine guys that went to college my senior year and either got full scholarships or partial scholarships - that’s unbelievable,” said Machinsky.
Machinsky was highly recruited by the likes of Notre Dame, Penn State, Pitt and West Virginia, but decided to go to Ohio State.
“The summer before I was a sophomore I was playing baseball for one of the patch baseball teams - I was playing for Buffington,” Machinsky stated. “The first day of practice our coach said does anybody need a job - well all the guys either worked in the mines or the steel mills, Regis Burns and I put up our hands. John Galbreath was remodeling all the coal towns. He was adding a room on and putting a bathroom in and septic tanks because we had outside toilets. I was told to go see a guy who would put me to work. Galbreath had agreed to hire two ballplayers from each patch because he loved baseball and he owned the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I cleared $48.50 a week - I’ll never forget it. After football season I get a call from the guys in Galbreath’s office in Uniontown - I go in and all three of the guys had gone to Ohio State and I eventually had dinner with Mr Galbreath and that’s where it started. I worked for them again the next summer and when I was at Ohio State if I went home on weekends I would go in the office and clean the office and they would pay me, which took care of my expenses for the Weekend. I committed to Notre Dame and Ohio State said you come up one more time. I went up there and I came back and said I’m going to Ohio State.”
He went to Columbus and played freshman football in 1952 and was on the varsity in 1953, 1954 and 1955. He was an All-Big Ten selection at tackle in 1954 on the Buckeyes undefeated National Championship team and team co-captain in 1955. He played for the legendary Woody Hayes.
“Our best team was in 1954. We were undefeated and beat Southern California in the Rose Bowl,” Machinsky recalled. “We won the Big Ten again the next year, my senior year, Machinsky explained. “Coach Hayes was just incredible - on the field he was a tyrant, but if you were giving your all and you were doing your best - it may not have been the greatest, but if he knew you were busting your tail he never said a word to you. If you were dogging it - then look out. He was first class and the thing I liked about him was, that was just in the beginning of the black players coming in. He was very open and if you were good it didn’t make any difference what color you were or what your nationality was - you played and he treated everybody the same. He was a hell of a guy.”
Machinsky’s top playing weight was 210 pounds and he marvels at today’s players.
“It’s amazing, I was over at Ohio State last year, Coach Tressel is great about bringing the ex-players together,” Machinsky stated. “We watched practice and after practice the players were coming in and I’m looking at these guys - 310 and 305 pounds and they look like they are slim and they are in great shape.”
Machinsky played in the East-West Shrine game and the Hula Bowl after he graduated from OSU.
He was drafted by the Washington Redskins in the fourth round.
“I was small and they called me up and said we’re coming to see you and we want you,” Machinsky said. “The Canadian team Toronto was recruiting me because they went for a little smaller lineman up there because you had to play both ways. I asked the Redskins what they were going to pay and they said $6,000 and I said I got a contract here for $2,000 bonus and $9,500 salary with Toronto.”
He played one year with the CFL Toronto Argonauts and then had to go into the Air Force for two years.
“That was enough I was ready to go to work,” he said.
Machinsky, 75, went to work for a construction company and was burned badly on the left side by a gasoline explosion on the job.
When he recovered he went into the Janitor’s service supply business in Columbus and was in the insurance business and started a company that did real well and after that he owned a Beer Distributorship and then had a half interest in a trash company and then sold out. He retired in 1997 and lives six months in Columbus and six months in Florida with his wife of 53 years Judy. They have two children, a daughter Wendy and son Michael.
He remained active with Ohio State and is a past president of the Varsity Alumni Organization and a member of the Ohio State Presidents Club.
“I play a little golf and spend quality time,” Machinsky said. “I like to cook - so I cook a lot.”
He doesn’t have any relatives in Fayette County anymore, but still comes back to the area.
“I was back for Bill Power’s memorial service,” Machinsky reported. “My daughter is coming up from Florida with her family and they are coming up and I’m going to take them back to Uniontown and Buffington and show the grandkids where I came from.”