Clifford M. Sparks was born in Jackson, Michigan on this date in 1896. He came to Ann Arbor in 1915 to play quarterback for Fielding H. Yost. After playing on the freshman team in 1915 Sparks was good enough to earn seven starts on the 1916 team that won the first seven games of the season before losing the last two to eastern powers (Cornell and Penn). This was the last year that Michigan played a completely “independent” football schedule.
Michigan was back in the Big Ten Conference in 1917, but only played one game against Northwestern because of scheduling difficulties. Cliff Sparks started two games at quarterback and one game at halfback before wartime service interrupted his education/playing career at Michigan. He returned to Ann Arbor to finish what he started in the fall of 1919.
Cliff Sparks started six games at quarterback in 1919 and one more at halfback. The only thing that stands out about this season is that the Wolverines finished with a record of 3-4-0. This would be the only losing season in the twenty-five-year tenure of the legendary Yost. The only other thing that I noted about Cliff Sparks is that he wore three different numbers for the Maize and Blue. He wore #4 during the 1916 season, #13 during the 1917 season and finished his career with #5 on his back.
Today marks the one hundred and twentieth anniversary of the birth of Michigan Man Cliff Sparks. Let us honor his memory today and appreciate his contributions to the winningest program in college football history. Rest in peace Wolverine!
Check out the Wikipedia article below to read more about the life of Cliff Sparks. He is one of a very few Wolverines to earn All-American recognition (1916) that is not documented in the annals of Wolverine football history because it was not from one of the noted authorities in college football.