(Note – This is the 1904 Michigan Football Team at their Whitmore Lake Training Site. I am not certain that Rosewell Wendell is in this picture, but it is possible since there are more than just the letter winners pictured here. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.) Unfortunately, there are no other images that I could locate for this Wolverine football player.
According to the Michigan Football Rosters of 1903 and 1904, Rosewell M. Wendell was a “reserve” on Fielding Yost’s famous Point-a-Minute teams. Apparently, Wendell never played in a Michigan game, but he was listed as one of thirty “reserve” players on the 1903 team roster. Although the 1903 Wolverine roster listed sixty-four players only twelve men appeared in the team photo that year which was reserved for varsity letter winners only! Yost was not inclined to play a lot of players and he almost always put the best possible team on the field.
Obviously, a lot of players had trouble cracking Yost’s starting line-up and Rosewell Wendell was one of them. Rosewell was not listed on the 1902 roster or the 1905 roster either. He was probably a graduate student who practiced for the Wolverines for two seasons, but that was about it.
It looks like the only thing that was harder than beating a Yost team in 1903 and 1904 was playing on one. The Wolverines posted a record of 21 wins, 0 losses and 1 tie from 1903 to 1904. They extended the Michigan winning streak that began in 1901 to forty-four games (42-0-1). It was an amazing time for Maize and Blue football teams and their fans. The only blemish on those stellar seasons was a 6-6 tie at Minnesota. Oh yes, they also “lost” a water jug. That little jug is now the centerpiece in the Michigan-Minnesota football rivalry and is now called the “Little Brown Jug.”
Of course, I couldn’t be writing about Rosewell M. Wendell today if he wasn’t associated with some Michigan football “firsts.” Here are the best ones that connect Rosewell Wendell and Michigan football.
· Rosewell Wendell was on the Michigan team that played the first ten game home schedule in 1903.
· Wendell was on the Michigan team that played Drake, Ferris State College and Ohio Northern for the first team in Wolverine football history in 1903.
· Rosewell Wendell was on the first Michigan team to play American Medical and West Virginia in 1904.
· Wendell was on the first, and only, Michigan team to score 130 points in a single game in 1904.
So, even though he was not a “famous” Wolverine, Rosewell M. Wendell was a Wolverine nonetheless. He was part of a record-breaking time in Michigan football history. There have been lots of other men who came to Michigan with high hopes of playing football for the Maize and Blue, but you have to give them credit for trying. On the one hundred thirty-third anniversary of Rosewell Wendell’s birthday, let’s remember the effort he put forth on the practice field and honor his small, but important, contribution to the Michigan football tradition. Rosewell Wendell died February 7, 1964 at the age of seventy-eight. May Rosewell Wendell always rest in peace! Go Blue!
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