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October 30, 2019 – Horace Prettyman – A History Maker in 1886

Posted on October 29, 2019 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s post takes a closer look at the day when Wolverine legend Horace Prettyman ended his three-year tenure as a Michigan Football captain. Horace Greely Prettyman was born 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!

(Note – The 1885 Michigan Football team is shown above with Captain Horace G. Prettyman. Captain Prettyman is standing in the back row – second man from the left. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Horace Prettyman

A Buckeye Arrived in Ann Arbor in 1882

Horace Prettyman came from Bryan, Ohio to play for the Wolverines in 1882. And he 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.

Captain Horace G. Prettyman Michigan Football | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Horace Prettyman is the only man in Michigan Football History to serve as a captain for three consecutive seasons. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

After serving as captain for the 1882 and 1883 teams, William Olcott stepped down as captain and Horace Prettyman stepped in. Captain Horace G. Prettyman led the 1884 and 1885 Michigan football teams to join Olcott as a two-time captain.

Michigan’s First, And Only, Three-Time Captain

Then, Captain Horace G. Prettyman became the first, and only, three-time Michigan captain in 1886. His last game as a Michigan Football Captain took place on October 30, 1886. Once again, Horace Prettyman led the Wolverines to victory over Albion (24-0). Prettyman ended his three-year tenure with a perfect record of 7 wins 0 losses and 0 ties. No captain in Michigan Football History served as long, or as successfully, as Mr. Prettyman.

Even more amazing, Horace 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.

The Prettyman Era

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 G. Prettyman’s Michigan Football “Firsts”

Yes, Captain Horace 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.
  • Horace G. Prettyman was the first, and only, three-time Michigan football captain (1884, 1885 and 1886).
  • Prettyman led the Wolverines to a perfect season in 1886. Both games were against Albion – one at home and one away. This was the first, and only, time that a “season” consisted of two games against the same team.
  • Prettyman is the first, and only, captain to lead Michigan to three straight undefeated seasons (1884-1886)
  • Horace G. Prettyman was the first, and only, man in Michigan Football History to earn eight varsity letters in 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1886, 1888, 1889 and 1890.

Today is absolutely a great day to remember a true Wolverine Pigskin Pioneer. Captain Horace G. Prettyman was a very, very big part of the early history of Michigan Football. Please take a moment to honor Horace Prettyman’s memory and appreciate his contributions to the great history of Michigan Football. May the “most interesting” man in Michigan Football History always rest in peace! Go Blue!




Part II. October 30, 2019 National Day Calendar Update:




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