Today is a good day to remember the Happy Birthday Anniversary of a Wolverine Football pioneer named Tom Drumheller. According to the Wikipedia link below, Thomas Jesse “Tom” Drumheller was born on this day in 1873. Yes, he was a “Pigskin Pioneer” in old Ann Arbor town. Before we take a closer look at Drumheller’s Michigan Football career, we have some trivial business to attend to first.
Who was the first athletic director in Michigan history?
Charles A. Baird was the first “Superintendent of Athletics” in the history of the University of Michigan. Baird, along with Coach Fielding H. Yost, put Michigan football in the national spotlight at the turn of the century and kept it there for almost a decade.
Charles Baird enrolled at the University of Michigan’s Law Department in 1890. During his years on campus he found time to serve as a “Manager” of the Michigan football team from 1893 to 1895. During his “manager” years, Michigan won 24, lost 5 and tied 1. He supported the coaches and players and it helped produce some excellent results on the field.
Baird left Michigan for a few years after graduation, but was asked to return in 1898. When Baird returned to Ann Arbor in 1898, the Athletic Fund was three-thousand dollars in the hole. He was given full control over the finances and administration of all athletic programs at Michigan.
During his twelve-year tenure, Baird hired the best people he could find and gave them the support they needed to field competitive teams in every sport. He also did everything he could to increase revenues and showcase the excellent teams that Michigan was producing on the football field, the track, and other venues as well. Charles Baird was part business man and part showman. He was also a shrewd negotiator who scheduled some very favorable games and events for Michigan’s teams. The results were nothing short of spectacular!
When Baird left in 1909, ample funds were available to support a growing athletic program and the infrastructure was in place to support Michigan’s coaches and athletes. Simply put, Charles Baird put Michigan’s Athletic Department on a path to spectacular success and it continues to travel the road that he envisioned to this day!
Who was the first African American football coach in Michigan Football History?
Tom Drumheller came to Ann Arbor in 1895 to attend Michigan’s Law School and play football for the Wolverines. The 1895 Michigan Football Roster listed Drumheller as a 5 feet 6 inch quarterback who weighed one-hundred and forty-five pounds. Apparently, Tom Drumheller was a substitute on the 1895 team and he did not earn a varsity letter.
Drumheller returned in 1896 and was one of three men to start at least one game at quarterback. The Wolverines ended the season with an excellent record of 9 wins and 1 loss. In their first year of conference play, they posted a record of 2 wins and 1 loss against their Western Conference opponents. Drumheller earned his first, and only, varsity letter in 1896. He graduated from his law school program in 1897 and returned to Washington.
Tom Drumheller had a very long and successful life. Sadly, he died on January 28, 1954 at the age of eighty-one. Thanks to men like Tom Drumheller for the success that they had in the early years of Michigan Football. Little did they know that their efforts would help create the winningest program in college football. May Tom Drumheller continue to Rest In Peace. Go Blue!