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May 1, 2018 Happy Birthday Anniversary Irving K. Pond

Posted on May 1, 2018 by Barry Gallagher

Today, is a great day to celebrate a Happy Birthday Anniversary of a Wolverine named Irving K. Pond. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Irving Kane Pond was born on this day in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1857. Mr. Pond played on the first Michigan Football team way, way back in 1879. Yes, he qualifies as a Michigan “Pigskin Pioneer” in my book. Irving K. Pond was one of the original thirteen lettermen who played on Team #1. He died on September 29, 1939 at the age of eighty-two.

Racine College in Racine, Wisconsin had issued a challenge to Michigan’s Football Association in October of 1878, but Michigan didn’t really have an organized team at that point. Some “football” games were being played on campus, but they were more “intramural” in nature. Up to that time, all football games had taken place on the Ann Arbor campus as “class vs class” matches. The proposed contest between Racine and Michigan would be in Chicago.

Part I. Wolverine of the Day – Irving K. Pond

Irving K. Pond, along with team captain David DeTar, was one of the early volunteers who wanted to play the new sport of football at Michigan. Pond was studying to become a civil engineer, but he thought he could spare the time for a few practices and some games in 1879. Apparently, Pond and the other members of Michigan’s Football Association voted to accept Racine’s challenge on the condition that the game be played in the spring of 1879. This would allow the association sufficient time to organize and train the team.

In May 1979, Captain David DeTar took his team to Chicago for Michigan’s first intercollegiate football game. The Chicago Daily Tribune called it the “first rugby-football game… west of the Alleghenies.”  Michigan’s “first footballers” left Chicago with their first victory in their first intercollegiate game. Irving K. Pond was credited with scoring the first touchdown in Michigan Football History. Final score: Wolverines 1 and Purple Stockings 0. Scoring was a lot different in those days, but Michigan was victorious and Pond became an instant legend in the annals of Michigan Football.

The Wolverines also played a second game, but that one was in November of 1979. The game was played in Detroit against Toronto. The game ended in a tie (0-0) and that was the end of Michigan’s first foray into the new game of college “football.”

Irving K. Pond Michigan Football 1879 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Irving K. Pond scored the first touchdown in the first football game in Michigan history. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Here is a summary of the “firsts” that connect Irving Pond and Michigan football:

  • Irving Pond played in the first game in Michigan Football history in 1879.
  • Pond scored the first touchdown in the history of Michigan football on May 30, 1879.
  • Irving K. Pond, along with his teammates, played in the first football/rugby game west of the Allegheny Mountains.
  • Pond was one of the first thirteen men to earn a football letter at Michigan.
  • Irving Pond became the first former Michigan Football player to build a campus structure with the completion of the Michigan Union in 1919.

So, today is a good day to honor the memory of a Michigan Man and appreciate his contributions to the great history of Michigan Football. Irving K. Pond was there for the start of Michigan’s long, and successful, football history. Apparently, Pond only played in the May game because he graduated in 1879. He was pictured with the thirteen lettermen on that inaugural team. Irving Pond was a true “pigskin pioneer” who helped get the “ball” rolling in Ann Arbor. Now, one-hundred and thirty-eight years later, it is still going STRONG! May Irving K. Pond always rest in peace. Go Blue!

To read more about Irving Pond and the 1879 football season check out the links below.




Part II. Trivia Question of the Day April 30, 2018

In what year did Michigan play the first, and only, eleven games home season?

Part II. Trivia Answer of the Day April 30, 2018

Michigan’s first Athletic Director Charles Baird did something that has never been repeated in Michigan’s 138-year history. He managed to set up an eleven-game schedule in 1905. His young coach, Fielding Yost, did his part and won all eleven games in Ann Arbor that season.

Actually, Coach Yost and his Wolverines were on an undefeated streak that eventually reached fifty-six games (55-0-1). The only blemish on the record was a 6-6 tie against Minnesota, but Michigan lost a water jug that day (October 31, 1903). Michigan’s amazing streak came to an end in Chicago on November 30, 1905. The Wolverines lost to the Maroon by a score of 0-2.

Part III. Trivia Question of the Day May 1, 2018

Who was the first Michigan coach to win six Big Ten games in one season?

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