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March 27, 2020 Rest in Peace Horace Prettyman!

Posted on March 26, 2020 by Barry Gallagher

Today we celebrate the death of Michigan Football legend, Horace Prettyman, who went to rest in peace on this day in 1945. Horace Greely Prettyman was born in Ohio on November 8, 1857. In my opinion, he is the “most interesting man” in Michigan Football history! The first thing about Prettyman is his name. He had one of the most memorable names in the history of Michigan Football, but there is more, a lot more, to his story.

(Note-Horace Prettyman is shown above with the 1890 Michigan Football Team. It was his eighth, and last, Michigan team. He is in the back row - second man from the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Horace Prettyman

Michigan’s First Buckeye Football Player in 1882

Horace Prettyman came from Bryan, Ohio to play for the Wolverines in 1882. Horace played, and he played, and then he played some more. After playing “outside” games in 1879, 1880 and 1881, Michigan did not play against any other teams during the 1882 “season.” However, Prettyman was listed on the team roster for that season and he is credited with a varsity letter.

Horace Prettyman played forward on the 1883 football team. He also served as the team manager. He assisted Team Captain William Olcott and was especially helpful with the logistics of an arduous four game eastern road trip at the end of the season. Michigan finished the “eastern” trip with a record of 1 win and 3 losses and finished 2-3-0 overall.

Horace G. Prettyman is the only man to Captain three Michigan Football teams (1884, 1885 and 1886). Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Michigan’s First Three-Time Captain

After serving as captain for the 1882 and 1883 teams, William Olcott stepped down as captain and Horace Prettyman stepped up - did he ever! Prettyman would captain the 1884 and 1885 Michigan football teams to join Olcott as a two-time captain. Then, he became the first, and only, three-time Michigan captain in 1886. Horace Prettyman led the Wolverines to a record of 7 wins 0 losses and 0 ties over his three-year tenure as Michigan’s football captain.

Michigan’s First, and Only, Eight Time Football Letterman

Prettyman took the 1887 season off, but came back to play center and tackle on the 1888, 1889 and 1890 football teams. Remember, the rules were still changing from season to season and from school to school. So, it was possible for someone like Prettyman to play many, many seasons.

Overall, Michigan football teams won 18, lost 7 and tied 0 when Horace Prettyman’s name was on the roster. Although he lacked a “tough” name (Prettyman just doesn’t sound too tough, does it?”), Prettyman played in the trenches (rusher, forward, center and tackle). He liked to mix it up and get physical. The Wikipeida article linked below notes that he was thrown out of a couple of games for fighting.

Horace Prettyman’s Notable Michigan Football “Firsts”

Horace G. Prettyman was connected to many Michigan football “firsts” during his time in Ann Arbor. Here are some of the best:

  • Horace Prettyman was he first Buckeye (from Bryan, Ohio) to play on a Michigan football team.
  • He scored the first touchdown at Michigan’s first “home field” at the Fairgrounds in 1883.
  • First and only three-time Michigan football captain (1884, 1885 and 1886).
  • Prettyman is the first, and only, captain to lead Michigan to three straight undefeated seasons (1884, 1885 and 1886)
  • First, and only, man in Michigan football history to earn eight varsity letters in 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1888, 1889 and 1890.

If you want to read even more about the “interesting” Horace Prettyman go to the link below to learn more about this fascinating man.

Today is a good day to remember a true Wolverine Pigskin Pioneer. Horace Prettyman was a very, very big part of the early history of Michigan Football. So, the seventy-fifth anniversary of his death is a great day to celebrate Horace Greely Prettyman’s memory and appreciate his contributions to Michigan Football history. May the “most interesting” man in Michigan Football History always rest in peace! Go Blue!




Part II. March 27, 2020 National Day calendar Update 


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