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June 9, 2020 Happy Birthday Anniversary Bob Derleth

Posted on June 8, 2020 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s post celebrates the ninety-seventh Happy Birthday anniversary of Bob Derleth. Robert J.”Bob” Derleth was born on this day in 1922 in Marquette, Michigan. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Bob Derleth grew up in Marquette where he became an  excellent athlete. Derleth graduated from  Bishop Baraga High School and enrolled at Michigan in 1942 to study engineering and play football for Fritz Crisler’s Wolverines.

(Note – Bob Derleth (#73) is shown above with the 1946 Michigan Football Team. He is seated in the first row – third man from the right and next to Coach Fritz Crisler. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Bob Derleth

A Letter Winner in 1942

Although he made the varsity, Bob Derleth did not start any games in 1942. However, he did play well enough, and often enough, to earn his first letter. Michigan finished with a record of 7 wins, and 3 losses in 1942. They posted a record of 3-2-0 in the Big Ten and finished in a tie for third place. Bob was busy with his engineering studies, but he still found time to play hockey, and letter, for Michigan during the 1942-43 season.

Bob Derleth Michigan Hockey Captain 1943 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Bob Derleth captained the 1943-44 Michigan Hockey team, but had to leave early for military service. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Bob Derleth was back on the football field in 1943 and started three games at right tackle. He earned his second varsity letter on Fritz Crisler’s first Big Ten Championship team. The Wolverines ended the year with a record of 8-1-0 with the only loss coming at the hands of #1 Notre Dame. Michigan finished in a first-place tie for the Big Ten Championship with a record of 6-0-0. Amazingly, Derleth continued to play hockey after the football season ended. In fact, he captained the 1943-44 team that went 5-3-0.

Time to Serve His Country – 1943 to 1945

Like so many men of his generation, Bob Derleth’s life, and his hockey captaincy, was interrupted by World War II. He entered the United States Navy Aviation Training Program at the University of Iowa in late 1943 and did not return to Ann Arbor until October 1945. Bob was on the Iowa Pre-Flight Football team and played against Michigan in 1944. Michigan won the game by a score of 12-7.

Back in Ann Arbor in 1945

Bob Derleth resumed his Michigan career midway through the 1945 season. He did not start any games, but he did play enough to earn his third varsity letter. The Wolverines had a good season and finished with a record of 7 wins and 3 losses. They ended the Big Ten season in second place with a final record of 5-1-0.

The 1946 Michigan Football team was loaded with post-war talent. Fritz Crisler had excellent players at every position and depth to go along with it! Bob Derleth was good enough to start three games at left tackle and earn his fourth Michigan football letter. The Wolverines had an excellent season and finished with a record of 6-2-1. They were good in the conference, but not good enough. Crisler’s footballers ended the Big Ten campaign with a final record of 5-1-1. It was another second-place finish for the Wolverines.

Bob Derleth Six Letter Michigan Man 1946 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Bob Derleth earned 4 varsity  football letters and 2 varsity hockey letters at Michigan. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

So, Bob Derleth finished what he came to Ann Arbor to do. He played some very good football on some excellent Michigan teams. He also played hockey and earned degrees in chemical and metallurgical engineering. Yes, he was a smart guy!

Derleth’s Michigan Football “Firsts”

Bob Derleth was also part of some interesting Michigan football firsts during his years at Michigan.  Here are the ones I found for Bob Derleth:

  • Bob Derleth played in the first game against Great Lakes on 9/26/1942. Michigan won the game by a score of 9-0.,
  • He played in the first game against Iowa Pre-Flight on 10/10/1942. Michigan lost this game to what amounted to a college all-star steam by a score of 14-26.
  • Derleth played in the first Michigan vs Ohio State game in 1942 where both teams were ranked prior to the game. Michigan was #4 and OSU was #5.
  • Bob Derleth played in the first, and only, game against Camp Grant in 1943.
  • He played in the first game that a Michigan ever played a number one ranked opponent (Notre Dame) in 1943.
  • Derleth played on the Fritz Crisler’s first Big Ten Championship team in 1943.
  • Bob Derleth became the first man in Michigan athletic history to letter in football and captain the hockey team in the same academic year in 1943-44.
  • Bob Derleth became the first (and only?) man in Michigan football history to play against Iowa Pre-Flight in 1942 and play for them against the Wolverines in 1944.

Robert J. “Bob” Derleth was one of those “Greatest Generation” men who did great things throughout his life. He left a great legacy as a Michigan athlete. He earned six varsity letters during his “Michigan” years. His football teams posted a record of 28 wins, 9 losses and 1 tie when he played. The Wolverines also won a Big Ten Championship during his playing years. Sadly, Bob Derleth died on December 16, 2012 at the age of ninety. All I can say is, “Thank You” for men like Bob Derleth. May he always rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!

For more information about the amazing life of Bob Derleth go to the following link. I want to make a special tip of the cap to Greg Dooley at M Victors.com for the information linked below:





Part II. June 9, 2020 National Day Calendar Update


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