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May 26, 2017 – Rest in Peace William Duff!

Posted on May 26, 2017 by Barry Gallagher

Today is a good day to remember a Michigan Wolverine named William Duff  who went to rest in peace on this day in 1922 at the age of sixty-five. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, William J. Duff was born on August 17, 1856 in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania. Apparently, his family moved to the Port Huron, Michigan area in 1869. Duff was sent to prep school in Ann Arbor and later enrolled at Michigan to study medicine.

William J. Duff’s name first showed up on a Michigan Football Roster in 1882. However, he did not play a down that year against outside competition because nobody did. Michigan did not schedule any outside games in 1882. His medical studies may have prevented him from playing on the 1883 team since he sat out the season.

Duff came back in 1884 and is listed as a halfback. He earned his first, and only, letter in 1884. Michigan played two games in 1884. The first one was played in Ann Arbor against Albion on November 15, 1884. Michigan won the game by a score of 18-0. Game number two was also played in the Tree City against the Chicago University Club. The Wolverines scored eighteen points for the second consecutive game, but allowed ten. Final score: Michigan 18 & Chicago University Club 10. So, Michigan finished the 1884 season with a perfect record of 2-0-0.

William Duff Michigan Football | bigbluefootballhistory.com

William Duff is another “Pigskin Pioneer” who was on the 1882 and 1884 Michigan Football Teams. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

William Duff is connected to a few Michigan football “firsts.” Here are the ones I could find:

  • William Duff was a member of the first “organized” Michigan football team not to play an “outside” schedule after starting competition in 1879.
  • Duff played in the first games in Michigan Football history against Albion and the University Club of Chicago in 1884.

Today is a good day to remember a true Wolverine Pigskin Pioneer. William Duff went on to graduate from Michigan’s Medical School in 1885. He returned to Port Huron and practice medicine for many years before his death in 1922. So, the ninety-sixth anniversary of his death is a great day to celebrate Dr. William Duff and appreciate his pioneering contributions to Michigan Football. May Dr. William Duff always rest in peace. Go Blue!



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