Today’s post celebrates the memory of Ernest M. Sprague who went to rest in peace on this day in 1938. Mr. Sprague was seventy-two when he died. Ernest Marshall “Ernie” Sprague was born on October 20, 1865 in Farmington, Michigan. Yes, the story of this Wolverine “Pigskin Pioneer” goes way back to the Civil War!
Ernest M. Sprague left the family farm in 1886 to study engineering at The University of Michigan. Sprague must have had some time on his hands, or maybe he was the kind of guy who needed a “physical” break from his studies. Anyway, he signed up to play the new game of “football” for a Michigan captain named Horace G. Prettyman. Mr. Prettyman was in the final year of his three-year tenure as Michigan’s football captain. The two most important things to know about Prettyman were that he loved Michigan football and he loved winning.
Sprague is listed as a “rusher” on the 1886 Michigan Football Roster which means that he was probably a pretty tough guy. The entire 1886 season was played during a two-week span in October. Captain Prettyman set up a two-game season against the same team. In this case, Albion College agreed to play “home-and-home” games with the Wolverines.
The first game of the 1886 season was played in Albion and Michigan won by a score of 50-0. The Wolverines played the role of “gracious” hosts and eased up on their guests in game number two in Ann Arbor. Final score: Michigan 24 Albion 0. This would be the first time that a Michigan football “season” was played against the same team. It was also the first time that the entire season took place in the month of October (October 16 and 30).
Who was the first Michigan Man born in Ohio to win the Heisman Trophy?
Desmond Kevin Howard, better known as “Hello Heisman” was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1970. He became the second Michigan man to win the Heisman Trophy in 1991. Of course, Tom Harmon, from Gary, Indiana was the first.
Who was the first All-American player to be the Head Coach at Michigan?