For a moment on this date in 1942, Melvin Abreu earned a lot of buddies.
Abreu, a freshman who went by the name ‘buddy,’ booted an extra point with less than two minutes left to lead Hawaii over the Hawaiian Pines 7-6 in a benefit game for servicemen.
Johnny Naumu scored the tying touchdown from five yards out with just over 120 seconds remaining. Abreu dropped back to kick the extra point and just managed to maneuver a wounded duck over the crossbar for the pivotal point. Abreu made six of eight PAT attempts that season and led the league in scoring.
Blaisdell’s Pines threatened to score in the final 1:15, but UH’s defense stood firm for the victory in front of 9,000 spectators.
Abreu was a captain of the Rainbows and crafted an outstanding collegiate career that led to a successful stint in professional football for the Hawaiian Warriors, even leading the league in scoring.
His professional career was thrown into turmoil in 1947 when he and three others (Ray Scussell of Yale, Floyd Rhea of Oregon and South Carolina’s Jack Keenan) were banned for life and fined $100 for gambling.
Abreu and the others organized a pool of $6,700 paid to the winner of the league and involved more than 20 college programs. Hawaii won the Pacific Coast League that year but when Abreu allegedly went to gamblers to collect his winnings for himself and the 14 other teammates who paid into the pool he was told that the money was gone. Abreu told his coach that he had been double-crossed and the police got involved.
Abreu was reinstated two years later with the league saying he had been ‘punished enough.’ The damage was done, though, as Abreu, 28, was reportedly being recruited by the New York Yankees and San Francisco 49ers when the scandal happened.
Abreu went on to coach at the local Honolulu Athletic Club but resigned “in disgust” along with head coach Chin Do Kim after a 47-0 loss to the University of Hawaii when police began to investigate his club for “fixing” that game.
Abreu hung up his whistle after that and only appeared in a few more football all-star games in favor of becoming a local handball champion and celebrated insurance agent.
Abreu, who was born on Maui and starred at Saint Louis, died in 2015 at the age of 94.