1883 Michigan Football Team | gobluefootballhistory.com Go Blue Michigan Football History

May 12, 2018 – First Wolverine Home Football Game

Posted on May 12, 2018 by Barry Gallagher

Today is another historic day in Michigan Football History because it is the 135th anniversary of the first Wolverine Home Football game. Yes, it is hard to believe that the Maize and Blue footballers played their first home football game in May 1883.

It is also interesting to note that the Wolverines played their first three seasons on the road before taking a season “off” in 1882. Yes, it was only six games, but it took them awhile to play at home, sweet home.

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Captain William J. Olcott

After not fielding a competitive team in 1882, Captain William J. Olcott put together a challenging five game schedule for 1883. The first game of the season was also the first Wolverine home football game.  It was played at the “Washtenaw County Fairgrounds.” According to the Bentley Historical Library, the location was near the corner of Hill Street and South Forest Avenue.

William J. Olcott Michigan FootballHisgtory 1883 | gobluefootballhistory.com

Captain William J. Olcott led Michigan to their first “home” victory on May 12, 1883 – a 40-5 win over the Detroit Independents. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

A team called the Detroit Independents (composed of many former Michigan footballers) provided the competition for this game, but not a lot. The Wolverines defeated the invaders from Detroit by a final score of 40-5. Horace Prettyman, who would “captain” the next three Wolverine teams (1884-1886), scored the first touchdown on a Wolverine “home” field.

That historic first Wolverine home football game basically served as a Spring Practice game. Michigan came back for the second part of their extended season in November 1883. They embarked on a brutal eastern road trip that pushed the Wolverines to the limit.

Olcott’s footballers lost the first three games to Wesleyan (in Hartford, Connecticut), Yale and Harvard. However, they were able to finish the extended road trip with a controversial win (17-5) over Stevens Institute in New Jersey.

So, Captain William J. Olcottt led the Wolverines in the fourth season of Michigan Football The 1883 team ended with a final record of 2 wins and 3 losses. It also recorded some interesting “firsts” and one BIG “worst!” Here are the highlights:

  • First team to play and win a “home” game in Ann Arbor.
  • Also, the first team to score over 40 points in a game.
  • First team to win two games in one season.
  • First team to play a five game season.
  • The first, and only team to lose by a margin of 64 points. Yes, the loss at Yale (0-64) is still the worst defeat in Wolverine Football History.

Michigan played a total of 18 games at the Fairgrounds. The Wolverine must have loved their first home field since they posted an outstanding record of 17-1-0.



Part II. Trivia Question of the Day: May 11, 2018

Five different Michigan Football coaches have won national championships. Can you name them all?

Part II. Trivia Answer of the Day May 11, 2018  Yost-Kipke-Crisler-Oosterbaan and Carr

Fielding was the first Michigan Football coach to win a national championship in his first season at Michigan in 1901. He went on to win five more over the course of his twenty-five-year coaching tenure that ended in 1926. One of his former players, Harry Kipke won two more national titles in 1932 and 1933. Fritz Crisler and Bennie Oosterbaan went back-to-back in 1947 and 1948. Finally, Lloyd Carr led his Wolverines to the top of the college football mountain in 1997.

Part III. Trivia Question of the Day: May 12, 2018

Who is the only freshman quarterback in Michigan Football History to throw 25 touchdowns in one season?


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