Today’s post celebrates the birthday anniversary of Elmer J. Gedeon. Elmer John Gedeon was born on this date in 1917. He grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and became an excellent athlete at West High School in Cleveland. Gedeon starred in football, baseball and track in high school. He came to Ann Arbor in 1935 to continue his education and be the best athlete he could be for the Wolverines.
(Note – Elmer J. Gedeon (#51) is shown above with the 1938 Michigan Football team. Gedeon is seated in the third row – fourth man from the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Elmer Gedeon did what everybody else did in the mid-1930s. He spent his time on the freshman time and did his best to learn Harry Kipke’s “Michigan football system.” Elmer also played baseball and ran track and learned hit the books, just like he was supposed to do.
Apparently, young Gedeon learned his lessons well in 1935. The good news was that he made Harry Kipke’s varsity team and earned his first letter in 1936. The bad news was that Kipke’s Wolverines finished the season with a record of 1 win and 7 losses. They were even worse in the conference at 0 wins and 5 losses.
Elmer came back in 1937 hoping that he would play more and that Michigan would play better. He started two games at left end and earned his second letter. The Wolverines did post a better record in 1937. The won 4 games and lost 4 games. They also broke even in the conference with a record of 3-3-0. Michigan finished in a tie for fourth place in 1937. Of course, this was not a terrible record for most teams, but it wasn’t good enough for Michigan. Harry Kipke would to return to coach Michigan in 1938.
Fritz Crisler was Michigan’s new football coach in 1938. Now, Elmer J. Gedeon and his teammates, would have to impress the demanding Crisler to earn playing time. Archie remained on the varsity, but did not earn any starts. However, he played enough to earn his third varsity letter. The Wolverines played well under their new coach. Crisler’s footballers posted a record of 6-1-1 for the season. They won 3, lost 1 and tied 1 in the conference and finished in a 2nd place tie.
So, on the one-hundred first anniversary of his birth, let us remember Elmer J. Gedeon. He epitomized the spirit of a true, blue Michigan Man. In addition to earning letters in football and track, Elmer earned All-American honors as a high-hurdler in 1938. Sadly, Elmer Gedeon was killed in action during World War II. He was serving in the U. S. Army Air Corps when his plane was shot down over France on April 20, 1944. He was only 27-years old. May Elmer Gedeon always rest in peace. Go Blue!
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