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March 13, 2019 Rest in Peace Walter Horton

Posted on March 12, 2019 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s post celebrates the memory of Walter Horton who went to rest in peace on this day in 1944 at the age of eighty-six. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Walter Shurts Horton was born on December 3, 1857 in Illinois. He arrived in Ann Arbor in 1890 to study law and play football for the Michigan Wolverines. Walter Horton is another one of those beloved “Pigskin Pioneers” that helped build the winningest program in college football history!

(Note – Walter Horton is shown here with the 1880 Michigan Football team. He is the last man on the right in the back row. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

Walter Horton Michigan Football 1881 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Walter Horton was the Captain of Team #3 in Michigan Football History. His decision to play the best teams in the East was a pivotal choice that would set Michigan on a course to be “the leaders and the best” in 1881. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Walter Horton

Walter Horton Had a BIG  Vision for Michigan Football

Walter S. Horton is listed as a forward from Peoria, Illinois on the 1880 Michigan Football Roster. He was a varsity player who lettered on the 1880 and 1881 Michigan Football teams. He played quarterback and was team captain for team #3 in 1881.

Walter Horton played for two seasons at Michigan. The Wolverines went 1-3-0 while he played, but it was his vision that will forever link him with the Michigan “greats” in my view. He wanted to play against the best teams he could play against so he went East to play schools that had been playing for eight to ten years longer than Michigan.

There is no doubt that Michigan’s first extended “road trip” made the Wolverines better and raised expectations for all those who would follow. Walter Horton’s eastern road trip was hailed as the beginning of intersectional play in college football. It was also a commitment to play against the best competition possible. Yes, it was another historic event in college football that makes Michigan football history so great.

Walter S. Horton’s Michigan Football “Firsts”

Walter Horton is associated with some very important Michigan Football “Firsts. Check them out:

  • Walter S. Horton played in the first, and only, Michigan Football game in a foreign country (Canada) on November 5, 1880.  UM won 13-6 against Toronto.
  • Horton played in the first, and only, one game season in 1880.
  • Walter Horton played in the first game ever played in the month of October on 10/31/1881 at Harvard. Of course, this was also the first game ever played against Harvard. Michigan lost by a score of 0-4.
  • Horton led the Wolverines in the first game ever played against Yale on 11/02/1881. The Wolverines lost that one by a score of 0-11.
  • Walter S. Horton played in the first game against Princeton on 11/04/1881. Unfortunately, Michigan lost that one too – 4-13!
  • Horton led Michigan to the first three game season in 1881 and the shortest season – 5 days – in Wolverine Football History.
  • Walter S. Horton captained the first, and only, winless season (o-3-0) in Michigan Football History in 1881.

Walter Horton graduated from Michigan’s law school in 1882. He went on to practice law for many, many years in Illinois. Today is a perfect day to remember a “Michigan Man” who contributed greatly to the early history of Michigan Football. May Walter S. Horton continue to Rest In Peace. Go Blue!



Part II. March 13, 2019 National Day Calendar Update


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