Emil A. "Buzzy" Budnitz Jr., a three-time All-American Blue Jays attackman during the early 1950s who was known as the "Buzz Bomb of Hopkins lacrosse," died Tuesday of bone cancer at his home in the Lake Falls Village neighborhood of Baltimore County.
He was 79.
"Buzzy was the best player at City, the best player at Hopkins, and the best player at Mount Washington, when it was the best team in the country," said former Hopkins teammate Bill Tanton, who later was the longtime sports editor of The Evening Sun.
"Everyone experienced his greatness. He was simply a great player," said Mr. Tanton.
"Buzzy was a tremendous feeder and an accurate shooter. Buzzy was a great Hopkins man and alumnus. What more can you say? He was extraordinary, and that's why he's in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame," he said.
The son of a lawyer and a homemaker, Mr. Budnitz was born in Baltimore and raised at 29th and North Calvert streets.
His father, Emil A. Budnitz Sr., excelled at lacrosse at the Naval Academy and later was captain and coach at the Mount Washington Club.
"So Buzzy grew up in an attack atmosphere conducive to booming punts and hard-hit line drives," said a 1953 profile in the old Sunday Sun Magazine.
A 1949 graduate of City College, where he had played junior varsity lacrosse, Mr. Budnitz blossomed into a stellar player during his years at Hopkins.
His freshman year, he scored 19 goals in four games, and his sophomore year, he broke into the starting lineup. In his first game against Loyola, he scored four goals and had three assists.
What made Mr. Budnitz so valuable on the field was his ability to shoot from either side and from high to low.
He took All-American attackman honors from 1950 to 1952, and also won the Turnbull Trophy as the nation's top attackman in 1952.
"When the whistle blew, he knew what to do," said Robert H. "Bob" Scott, retired athletic director at Hopkins and former lacrosse coach, who played with Mr. Budnitz in 1951 and 1952.
"He had a great career, no doubt about that. He was one of Hopkins' all-time great attack players. He had a vision on the field, was agile, put balls in the shooter's stick, and was a prolific scorer," said Mr. Scott.
"When you looked at him, he no more looked like he could play the sport than Mother Teresa. He was quiet, knock-kneed and very small for an athlete, but on the field, he could make things happen," said Dick Watts, a former teammate, who retired from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he had coached lacrosse for years.
"Buzzy made things happen because he could make quick, intelligent decisions. He was successful on the field and it all came together because of his intelligence," said Mr. Watts, who is now athletic consultant to Stevenson University. "He was a real individual out there."
While at Homewood, Mr. Budnitz also played soccer, where he was an All-American his senior year.
Mr. Budnitz' playing days continued after he earned his bachelor's degree in 1953 from Hopkins and served in the Army until 1955, when he was discharged with the rank of lieutenant.
Mr. Budnitz played for the Mount Washington Club from 1956 until 1965, and was twice honored as the nation's top United States Lacrosse Association player.
A 1964 article in Newsweek said that Mr. Budnitz, "a 32-year-old insurance salesman who plays for Mount Washington, is rated the best in the country by his coach, Ben Goertemiller."
"The bandy-legged Budnitz has a bald spot he didn't have at Johns Hopkins, but otherwise he dodges, feeds (passes for scores), rides (harries the defense), and comports himself much as he did when a collegian."
Mr. Budnitz explained to the magazine, "As you get a little older, perhaps you don't run as much, but you learn where to be at the right time. You'd call it more of a thinking game, I guess."
While he retired from playing lacrosse in the 1960s, he coached the sport at Gilman School, Loyola High School and Hopkins, where he was a part-time assistant coach under Mr. Scott from 1966 to 1974.
He also was commissioner of the United States Club Lacrosse Association, and was inducted into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1989. In 2005, he was inducted into the Baltimore City College Hall of Fame.
He was the guiding force and chairman of the 1982 World Lacrosse Games, a quadrennial Olympic-like event that brought teams from England, Canada, Australia and the U.S. For the first time, the event was held in this country at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field.
"The games are the crowning achievement of a lifetime of involvement in lacrosse," he told The Baltimore Sun at the time.
Professionally, Mr. Budnitz worked in the insurance industry for nearly 60 years, beginning his career in 1953 with Provident Mutual.
He later became a chartered licensed underwriter and broker and was also a chartered financial consultant. He established Lake Falls Financial in 1984 at Cross Keys, with John W. Pierson Jr. They later moved the firm to a new building at Falls Road and Lake Avenue in North Baltimore.
Mr. Budnitz, who had not retired at his death, was the author of "The Magic of Whole Life Contract," "The Dynamics of Life Insurance Selling" and "The Magic Split-Dollar Plan."
The Morning Sun
He had been president of the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association, president of the Baltimore Chapter of Chartered Life Underwriters and regional vice president of the American Society of Chartered Life Underwriters.
Mr. Budnitz, who wintered at a second home in Boynton Beach, Fla., was a member of the Maryland Club, Baltimore Country Club, and the Quail Ridge Country Club in Boynton Beach.
He was a member of Hunt Valley Church, a Presbyterian congregation.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.
Surviving are a son, Jeffrey A. Budnitz of Lake Falls; two daughters, Leigh Pagan of Corte Madera, Calif., and Kim Budnitz of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; five grandchildren; and his longtime companion, Catherine Fogarty of Columbia. Three marriages ended in divorce.
An earlier version of this obituary misstated the last name of Robert H. "Bob" Scott. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.