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September 15, 2020 Happy Birthday Anniversary Louis Gilbert

Posted on September 14, 2020 by Barry Gallagher

Today’s blog celebrates the Happy Birthday Anniversary (#114) of Louis Gilbert. Mr. Louis Matthew Gilbert was born on this date in Long Beach, California in 1906. He grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan and came to play football for Fielding H. Yost in 1924.

Part I. Wolverine of the Day: Louis Gilbert

A Slow Start in Ann Arbor

After a year on the freshman team, he quickly established himself as a versatile player who could run, pass, punt and kick the ball! According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Fielding Yost thought he was the best punter he had ever seen!

A Starter in 1925 and 1926 on Back-to-Back Big Ten Champion Teams

Louis Gilbert wore the number 16 on his back and earned seven starts at halfback on Yost’s 1925 team. (Note-it would be a five years before players wore numbers on the front and back of the jersey.)  This Wolverines ended the season with a record of 7-1-0. They earned the Big Ten championship that year with a record of 5-1-0. 

Louis Gilbert lettered at Michigan from 1925 to 1927. He set a number of important records at Michigan Stadium in 1927. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Gilbert made five starts as a junior in 1926. Once again, the Wolverines had an outstanding season. They matched the record of 1925 and tied with Purdue for the Big Ten’s top spot. It would be Yost’s tenth and last conference championship. That was an interesting year in Michigan Football because it turned out to be the last season for Coach Fielding H. Yost. It was also the last season that Michigan played their games at historic Ferry Field. I have been unable to determine how many touchdowns that Gilbert scored in 1926, but I am sure that he was one of the last men to score on this hallowed football field. 

He Saved His Best For Last in 1927

Gilbert’s senior year was a time of great transition in Ann Arbor. Elton E. “Tad” Wieman replaced Yost on the sidelines which was a huge task all by itself. However, the bigger task was to field a team that would fill Michigan Stadium which opened for play on October 1, 1927. Gilbert and the rest of his Wolverine teammates played their hearts out in 1927. 

Louis Gilbert, and his Wolverines teammates, played in front of many record breaking crowds in 1927. Gilbert did his best to bring them to their feet when he was on the field. His stellar play in this transition season earned him first team All-Big Ten recognition at the end of the 1927 season and second team All-American honors. He played solid all season, but had two “Heisman Worthy” games that are worth noting. (Of course there was no Heisman Trophy in 1927, but I’m just saying….)   

A Michigan Stadium Superstar

The first game in the history of Michigan Stadium was played on October 1, 1927 against Ohio Weslayan. The final score was 33-0. Interestingly, Louis Gilbert had a hand in every point scored in that game. He threw a pass to Laverne “Kip” Taylor who scored the first touchdown in Michigan Stadium history! But, Gilbert wasn’t done. He ran for two touchdowns, kicked three point-after-touchdowns, and threw two more touchdowns for a total of three on this historic day. 

Louis Gilbert helped the Wolverines open  Michigan Stadium in a BIG way when it opened in 1927. Here he runs for a big gain against Ohio Weslayan in Michigan’s 33-0 victory on October 1, 1927. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Things kept going in a good direction for Louis Gilbert in the official dedication game against Ohio State on October 22, 1927. Gilbert scored the only touchdowns (three) in this historic game and also kicked three extra points that day. Final score: Louis Gilbert and the Wolverines 21, Ohio State 0! Too bad Michigan didn’t play more games against Ohio teams in 1927. 

Louis Gilbert’s Michigan Football “Firsts”

Gilbert is the owner of many important Michigan Football “firsts.”  

·         Louis Gilbert played on the first team that Tad Wieman coached at Michigan in 1927.

·         Gilbert played on the first Michigan team to play in Michigan Stadium starting on October 1, 1927.

·         Louis Gilbert threw the first touchdown pass in Michigan Stadium history to LaVerne “Kip” Taylor. This was how the first six points were scored on that historic day.

·         Gilbert also kicked the first point-after-touchdown kick in Michigan Stadium history.

·         Louis Gilbert was also the first man to run for a touchdown in Michigan Stadium history and the first man to do it twice in one game on October 1, 1927.

·         Gilbert finished his amazing day with three touchdown passes which was also a Michigan Stadium first.

·         Finally, Louis Gilbert became the first man to run for three touchdowns in one game at Michigan Stadium when he scored three times in the “official” dedication game against Ohio State on October 22, 1927.

Louis Gilbert played in the shadow of All-Americans Bennie Friedman and Bennie Oosterbaan in 1925 and 1926. However, he came into his own in 1927 and left Ann Arbor with his head held high. Sadly, Louis left his family, friends and Wolverine Nation on May 9, 1987. Gilbert was eighty years old at the time of his death. Today is a good day to remember the accomplishments of Louis Matthew Gilbert. He is certainly an important  part of the history of Michigan Football and the history of Michigan Stadium! May Louis Gilbert continue to rest in eternal peace! 

 A more detailed article about the life and times of Louis Gilbert can be found at the link below:


Part II. September 15, 2020 National Day Calendar Update:

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