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April 8, 2019 Happy Birthday Anniversary Bob Mann!

Posted on April 7, 2019 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s post celebrates the Happy Birthday Anniversary of a Wolverine stalwart named Bob Mann. Robert “Bob” Mann was born on this date in 1924 in New Bern, North Carolina. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Bob was an excellent student and athlete in high school. He went to Hampton Institute to continue his education and his football career.

(Note-Bob Mann (#81) is shown above with the other members of the 1947 Michigan Football Team at a Rose Bowl practice. Mann is standing in the back row – first man on the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Bob Mann

A Talented Transfer Arrived in 1944

After two years (1942 and 1943) at Hampton, he transferred to Michigan in 1944. Bob was listed as a “guard” on the 1940 Michigan Football Roster, but that would change. However, before he got too far into his Michigan football career, Bob Mann was called to serve in the military. He returned in time to play on the 1946 Wolverine Football team. This time he played end and he played the position very well. Bob Mann led Michigan in receiving in 1946 with 14 catches (yes, they didn’t throw the ball a lot then!) and 285-yards of offense. He earned his first varsity letter on a team that finished with a record of 6-1-1. The Wolverines posted a conference record of 5 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie. It was good enough for second place in the Big Ten. It was the sixth time that a Crisler football team finished as the conference runner-up.

Bob Mann Michiagn Football 1946 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Bob Mann was Michigan’s most productive pass receiver in 1946 and 1947. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

The 1946 Michigan football team was loaded with talent and many folks felt that they “underperformed.” Certainly, a record of 6-1-1 is nothing to be ashamed of, but it could have been better. So, that became the focus for the 1947 Michigan Football team – getting better and probably winning that elusive Big Ten Championship.

A National Champion in 1947

As it turned out, Michigan probably exceeded a few expectations in 1947, but maybe not. They had one of the greatest seasons in Michigan football history. Of course, Michigan went undefeated in ten games that year and won the Big Ten Conference championship with a perfect record of 6-0-0. And, in an unprecedented event, were named National Champions by the Associated Press in the first ever vote after the bowl season. So, yes, it was a very, very good year for Michigan. No talk about “underperforming” for this bunch!

Bo Mann proved to be a “star” among “stars” in 1947. Yes, the “Mad Magicians” in the Wolverine backfield became famous, but Mann was pretty good too! He became the first Wolverine to gain over three hundred receiving yards in one season. In fact, he set a new Michigan record with 357-yards for the season.

Speedster Bob Mann was Michigan's deep threat in 1946 and 1947. Here he hauls in a 65-yard touchdown pass against Stanford in 1947. Phot courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Speedster Bob Mann was Michigan’s deep threat in 1946 and 1947. Here, he hauls in a 65-yard touchdown pass against Stanford in 1947. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Bob Mann’s Michigan Football “Firsts”

Bob Mann had a very successful career at Michigan. He was a record-setting receiver who is also associated with some important Michigan Football “firsts.” Here are the best ones I could find for Bob Mann:

  • He was the first Michigan pass receiver to gain over 280-yards (285) in a single season in 1946. Bob Mann played in the first televised game in Michigan Football history on September 27, 1947. The Wolverines demolished Michigan State that day by a score of 55-0.
  • Bob Mann broke his own receiving record in 1947 when he became the first Michigan pass receiver to gain 357-yards in one season.
  • Mann also played in the first game ever against Southern California in the 1948 Rose Bowl. Michigan won by a score of 49-0.
  • Bob Mann was a proud member of the 1947 National champions. His team was the first team in college football history to be declared a national champion after the bowl season had ended. Interestingly, Notre Dame claims the Associated Press regular season National championship from 1947 while the Wolverines claim AP’s special vote that declared Michigan as the best team in college football.

Bob Mann died in Detroit, Michigan on October 21, 2006 at the age of eighty-two. So, on the eighty-fifth anniversary of his birth, let’s celebrate his life and his contributions to the great history of Michigan Football. May Bob Mann always rest in peace. Go Blue!




Part II. April 8, 2019 National Day Calendar Update


1 Comment

  • I am trying to find Robert “Bob” Manns children. I am the current owner of the home he was born in, and his parents raised him in. Dr. William and Clara Mann carried on many of the 1st things as well, and the Mann home in New Bern, NC has been on tour many times. The house is mid century and the Manns were inventive even as early as 1920.

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