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February 4, 2019 Happy Birthday Anniversary Bennie Oosterbaan!

Posted on February 3, 2019 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s post is an opportunity to celebrate the Happy Birthday Anniversary of a Michigan Legend named Bennie Oosterbaan. The athletically gifted Oosterbaan was born on this day in Muskegon, Michigan in 1906. Benjamin G. “Bennie” Oosterbaan came to Ann Arbor, Michigan as a lanky, eighteen old freshman in the fall of 1924 and he never left town! He dedicated his entire adult life to The University of Michigan!

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Bennie Oosterbaan

Bennie Oosterbaan first appeared on a Michigan football roster in 1924. Freshman were not eligible to play during this time so Bennie learned the Fielding Yost football system and went to work in the classroom. He was invited to try out for the varsity football team in 1925 and ”the rest is history.”

Half of the Famous Benny to Bennie Combination at Michigan

Benny Friedman and Bennie Oosterbaan 1926 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Two-time All-American quarterback Benny Friedman (left) with future three-time All-American end Bennie Oosterbaan. Quite a combo! Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

The talented Oosterbaan became a favorite target of Benny Friedman in 1925. They were almost unstoppable during the 1925 and 1926 seasons. Michigan won fourteen of sixteen games and ten of eleven in the Big Ten. They won back-to-back championships in the last two years of the Yost Era. Bennie Oosterbaan’s talents did not go unnoticed. He was a two-time All-Big Ten and All-American player during his first two years on the Michigan varsity.

Yost and Friedman Moved On in 1927, but Bennie Stayed and Starred

Michigan’s football program saw some big change in 1927. First, Fielding Yost retired from coaching so he could dedicate more time to his duties as athletic director. Former Wolverine, Tad Wieman, was selected to fill Yost’s very, very BIG shoes. It is always tough to replace a legend, but Wieman gave it his best shot. Not only did Michigan have a new coach in 1927, it also had a new stadium.

One thing that made Wieman’s job a little easier was the return of All-American Bennie Oosterbaan. Bennie was selected as the captain of the 1927 football team. He continued to star on the field and did everything he could to bring Michigan another conference championship. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out that way. Wieman’s footballers ended the 1927 season with a record of 6 wins and 2 losses. The Wolverines finished in third place in the conference with a record of 3-2-0.

Bennie Oosterbaan had another stellar season that earned him a ton of individual awards. He earned Michigan’s MVP award and was selected as all Big-Ten and All-American for the third consecutive season. Bennie also earned the Big Ten Medal of Honor for his exemplary work as a student-athlete.

Coach Bennie Oosterbaan 1951 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Coach Bennie Oosterbaan is carried off the football field by two of his players after defeating California in the 1951 Rose Bowl. Oosterbaan was the first former player to coach in, and win, a Rose Bowl game at Michigan. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

A Multi-Sport Star at Michigan

In addition to starring on the football team, Bennie also excelled in basketball and baseball for Michigan. He was one busy boy when he was a student at Michigan. Bennie Oosterbaan was definitely part of some good football teams at Michigan.

Bennie’s Michigan “Firsts.”

Bennie Oosterbaan experienced a number of “firsts” while playing for the Wolverines:

·         First time Michigan had five All-American players in one season (Bennie Oosterbaan, Benny Friedman, Thomas Edwards, Harry Hawkins and Bob Brown) in 1925.

·         Played on the first team coached by Tad Wieman in 1927.

·         Played in the first season of Michigan Stadium in 1927.

·         First man to throw two touchdown passes in one game in Michigan Stadium (vs OSU) in 1927.

·         Was Tad Wieman’s first All-American in 1927.

·         First Michigan man to earn All-American honors for three consecutive seasons 1925, 1926 and 1927.

·         Another first, the Michigan football player to have his jersey retired in 1927.

·         First, and only man, to lead the Big Ten in scoring/hitting in three sports: football scoring (1925), basketball (1927-28) and baseball hitting (1927). Truly an exceptional athlete!

·         Also, first Michigan athlete to earn All-Conference honors in three different sports (football, basketball, and baseball).

·         As a coach, he is the only Michigan alum to lead a team to a national championship in his first season (Football 1948).

·         First Michigan football coach to earn Coach of the Year honors in his first season from the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) in 1948. Also, with Crisler, the first and only time that two coaches from the same school were named back-to-back coaches of the year by the AFCA (1947 and 1948).

A Legendary Michigan Man – Period!

So, today is a great day to remember the man is often called “the greatest athlete in the history of The University of Michigan.” Bennie Oosterbaan was that good! It could also be said that Bennie was the greatest “Michigan Man” ever since he spent sixty-six years of his life competing for, or coaching, or promoting Michigan. There will never be another Bennie Oosterbaan at Michigan – never! Please take a minute to reflect on the immense contributions of Bennie G. Oosterbaan to his beloved university. Bennie Oosterbaan died on October 25, 1990. May he always rest in peace. Go Blue!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bennie Oosterbaan


Part II. National Calendar Day Note

Hello again. Here we are at February 4, 2019 already. Today has three items on the agenda today. Here they are:

  • Create a vacuum Day
  • Homemade Soup day
  • Thank a Mail Carrier Day

I won’t be creating any vacuums today, but I will vacuum the carpeted floors this morning. My wife is going to make some soup and I am going to put a “Thank You” card in the mailbox for our trusted mail carrier. Should be a good day!



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