Today is a great day to celebrate the 90th birthday anniversary for a Michigan Man named Charles H. Ortmann. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Charles H. “Chuck” Ortmann was born on this day in 1929 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ortmann grew up in Milwaukee and became an excellent athlete at Riverside High School. Chuck was recruited by Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin. However, his high school coach said he couldn’t do better than Michigan. So, Chuck Ortmann went to Ann Arbor in 1947 to continue his education and his football.
(Note – Charles H. Ortmann (#49) starred in the famous “Snow Bowl vs OSU in 1950. He set a Michigan record by punting 24 times for over 700 yards. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Like everyone else in the 1940s, Charles H. Ortmann played on the Michigan freshman football team. His job was to learn Fritz Crisler’s Single Wing Offense and other important things about Michigan Football. Apparently, he learned his lessons well.
Chuck Ortmann started seven games and became a solid contributor on Michigan’s national championship team in 1948. He played left halfback on offense and also returned punts and kickoffs. Chuck led the team in passing with 856 yards and 9 touchdowns. He also led the team in total offense with 1,073 yards. Michigan had perfect records of 9-0-0 overall and 6-0-0 in the Big Ten which also earned them the conference championship. It was a very good year for Chuck Ortmann and the Michigan Wolverines.
Ortmann continued his solid play in 1949. He started seven more games that season and continued to play well on offense, defense and special teams. The highlight of the 1949 season was probably his career-long touchdown pass to Harry Allis (51-yards) that helped defeat Illinois (13-0). Chuck led the team again in passing yards (627-yards) and total offense (956-yards) in 1949. The Wolverines finished another excellent year in 1949 with a final record of 6 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. They also tied for a share of the Big Ten Championship with a record of 4-1-1.
As a senior in 1950, Charles H. Ortmann was on the field a lot. He started nine more games and continued to be an “iron man” who played on offense, defense and special teams. The versatile Ortmann accomplished a feat that only he can claim during the 1950 season. Chuck led the team in passing (736-yards), total offense (847-yards), punting, punt returns, and kickoff returns. Of course, he also played in the “Snow Bowl” against the Buckeyes in the final game of the 1950 season and had a record-setting performance. He became the first, and only, Michigan Man to punt the ball 24-times in a game and also set a single game record for punting yardage with 723-yards.
Michigan ended the 1950 season with a final record of 6-3-1. More importantly, they finished with a record of 4-1-1 in the conference and won the Big Ten Title and a chance to play in the 1951 Rose Bowl. Michigan defeated California in that memorable game by a score of 14-6. Oh, by the way, Charles H. Ortmann earned first team All-Big Ten honors in 1950.
As you just learned, Charles H. Ortmann had a wonderful career at Michigan. Not many Michigan Men enjoyed playing on three conference champions and one national championship team. Chuck Ortmann went on to play professional football and enjoyed a successful business career. Sadly, Chuck Ortman passed away on March 7, 2018 at the age of eighty-eight. May Charles H. Ortmann Rest In Peace. Go Blue!
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