BEREA, Ohio -- Hall of Fame center Frank Gatski, a powerful blocker who played in 10 straight championship games for the Cleveland Browns, died yesterday. He was 83.
Mr. Gatski died of congestive heart failure at a hospital near his home in Grant Town, W. Va..
''Gunner" Gatski anchored a line that by the end of his career included Hall of Fame tackles Lou Groza and Mike McCormack. He also played alongside former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Chuck Noll, a Browns guard, and snapped the ball to Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham.
The Cleveland teams of the late 1940s and '50s, coached by offensive mastermind Paul Brown, dominated the All-America Football Conference and later the National Football League. Mr. Gatski and the Browns won four AAFC championships and NFL titles in 1950, 1954, and 1955.
Mr. Gatski joined Detroit after the Browns failed to make the 1956 title game -- the only time in his 12 pro seasons that he did not play for a championship. In 1957, with Mr. Gatski at center, Detroit beat Cleveland 59-to-14 to win the league title. Mr. Gatski retired after playing in the Pro Bowl that season.
''He was like a polished stone, very strong in the middle," said wide receiver Dante Lavelli, another Browns Hall of Famer. ''A very strong man and a very good player. He was always able to adjust real well to anything. Just a quiet man and a great teammate.
Mr. Gatski began his career as a linebacker before moving to offense, where for a decade he provided protection for Graham.
Mr. Gatski was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985 with a class that included Joe Namath, Pete Rozelle, O. J. Simpson, and Roger Staubach.
The son of a coal miner killed in a mining accident, Mr. Gatski never missed a game in 20 seasons -- high school, college (Marshall, Auburn University) and the pros (Browns, 1946-56).