Today’s post honors the passing of John S. “Big Joe” Curtis who went to rest in peace on this day in 1972. He was eighty-eight years old when he died. John S. “Big Joe” Curtis was born on November 14, 1882. He was the first freshman to ever start at tackle for a Fielding Yost team. According to the Bentley Historical Library football archives, Joe Curtis started thirty-nine games over the course of four seasons at Michigan.
John S. Curtis weighed in at about 230 pounds which made him one of the largest men to ever play football at Michigan in the early years. It is also why they called him “Big Joe.” However, he was athletic and could really get up and down the field. He was a force to be reckoned with on offense, defense and special teams. Yost saw his “huge” potential and utilized it to the full extent from 1903 to 1906.
“Big Joe” Curtis was a star player on the early Fielding Yost’s teams that ruled college football from 1903 to 1906. Michigan posted an overall record of 37 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie during the “Curtis” years. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Michigan’s only losses during this time were in games that Curtis didn’t finish (Chicago-1905) or didn’t play in due to injury (Penn-1906).
John S. “Big Joe” Curtis was certainly an impressive football player. In addition to many team and individual accomplishments, he also is connected to many interesting football “firsts” at Michigan.
· John Curtis was the first freshman to start at tackle for a Fielding Yost team in 1903.
· “Big Joe” was the first man to start twelve games in the same season at left tackle in 1903. He broke that “record” when he started thirteen games in 1905.
· John S. Curtis starred in the first, and only game, that Michigan has ever won by a margin of 130 points. (West Virginia in 1904 – 130-0). As a tackle, he also scored 6 touchdowns in that game.
· Curtis is also the first, and only Michigan tackle to score eleven touchdowns in one season (1904).
· Joe Curtis was one of the first Wolverines to play in front of a crowd of 27,000 people when Michigan played Chicago on November 30, 1905. Curtis was kicked out of the game for a late hit on a Chicago punter and Michigan lost by a score of 2-0 to the Maroons. It was the first loss in the Yost Era at Michigan.
· “Big Joe” Curtis played in the first game (October 6 vs Case) and the first season of new Ferry Field in 1906.
· John S. Curtis was the first three-time All-Western Conference lineman in the history of Michigan Football (1904, 1905 and 1906).
So, John S. “Big Joe” Curtis was truly one of the great players in the early years of Michigan football. He helped Michigan win a ton of games as well as two national championships and three conference titles. Curtis was a Michigan captain and a three-time All-Western conference player and a second team All-American in 1905 and 1906. Very few Michigan Men have a player resume as impressive as “Big Joe” Curtis!
Today is a great day to remember his accomplishments and celebrate the memory of John S. “Big Joe” Curtis. He gave his all for Michigan. May “Big Joe” Curtis always rest in peace. Go Blue!