Today’s post is an opportunity to remember Frank Allen on his Happy Birthday Anniversary. Frank Gates Allen was born on this date in 1858 in Illinois. Frank Allen grew up in Aurora, Illinois. – just a mile from where I live. So, that makes him another one of my favorite Michigan Wolverine “Pigskin Pioneers.”
(Note-Frank Gates Allen with the 1880 Michigan Football team. He is seated in the middle row – third from the left. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Frank Allen arrived at The University of Michigan in 1878. Yes, just in time to play on the first football team in Michigan athletic history. Allen’s name shows up on the first two Michigan Football rosters in 1879 and 1880. He is listed as a “forward” and was a letter winner for both teams even though he is not pictured with the 1879 team.
Apparently, Frank did not play in the first game in Michigan Football history against Racine College in May 1879. However, he was listed a starter against Toronto in November. Frank Gates Allen came back to play on the 1880 team which only played one game. Once again, it was against Toronto and Michigan won the game by a score of 13-6. So, Mr. Allen played three games in his Wolverine “career. ” Michigan won 2, lost 0 and tied 1 during the “Allen Years” years in Ann Arbor
Here is a summary of the “firsts” that connect Mr. Frank G. Allen and Michigan football:
· He was the first man from Illinois ever to play football at Michigan (November 1879).
· Frank was the first Michigan Wolverine football player to be born on Valentine’s Day (1858)!
· Allen was one of the first six men to play two seasons of football at Michigan in 1879 and 1880.
· He played in the first Michigan football game in a foreign country (Canada) in November 1880.
· Allen played in the first tie (0-0) in Michigan football history against Toronto in November 1879.
So, today is a good day to honor the memory of a Michigan Man and appreciate his contributions to Michigan football. Frank Gates Allen was a proud member of Team #1. He was a true “pigskin pioneer.” Allen helped get Michigan football established in Ann Arbor and now, one-hundred and thirty-nine years later, it is still going STRONG!
Mr. Allen went on to a successful business career that you can read about in the Wikipedia article below. Frank Gates Allen died on August 30, 1940 at the age of eighty-two. So, on the one-hundred sixty-first anniversary of his birth, let us remember the contributions of Frank Allen to Michigan Football. May he always rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!
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