This Week in Football edition heads way back to discuss college football Hall of Famer John Maulbetsch:
/script …after the jump
This week we start off with a salute to a modern U of M legend, born on this day in 1976 – so happy 41st birthday to Charles Woodson, Michigan’s third Heisman winner and still, the only defensive player to take home the coveted award.
But the glorious history of Meeeecchigan football stretches waaaay back – before Woodson, before Tom Harmon, before there even was a Heisman Trophy.and it was on this day ONE HUNDRED AND ONE years ago that Fielding Yost’s men defeated Case 19-3 in a game played at Ferry Field.
The first touchdown of that game was scored by John Maulbetch – the captain of the 1916 squad. He grew up in Ann Arbor and actually started career at Adrian college. In 1911 Fielding Yost got a look at him when his Adrian team smoked the Wolverine freshman squad. The Grand Old Man saw shades him of the great Willie Heston – Yost’s star back from the Point-A-Minute days – and he convinced Maulbetsch to enroll at Michigan.
He was only 5 7″ and just over 150 pounds – small even for those days – but he ran even smaller – bending his torso down to form a missile of sorts. He would project himself into the line, usually coming out the other side for a big chunk of yards.
Legend had it he could run full speed underneath a household table.
When the Wolverines traveled to face Harvard in 1914, the east coast sports writers got a look at him and a legend was born. Reports of the game varied but like with any fish story — the more it spread the more yards he gained – anywhere from 130 to 350 yards on the day. Despite Michigan’s 7-0 loss, “Mauly” became a national star – earning a string a nicknames – including “The Featherweight Fullback”, the “Michigan Cannon Ball”, the “German Bullet” and ‘The Human Shrapnel”.
Soon people all over the country wanted to know more about the “western” star. Legend had it that each night he ate dinner his mom’s house in Ann Arbor – and his meal of choice included two home-baked pies washed down with coffee.
During the summer of 1915 he worked on a ship that crossed Lake Michigan. According to legend, one day aboard the ship he was challenged to wrestle a coal worker who claimed to be the strongest man in the world. Seconds into the match, Maulbetsch simply ducked when the coal man came toward him, picked up and slammed him to the deck, rendering him as feeble as a baby.
After U-M Mauly went onto to coach college football and baseball, most notably leading Phillips Universary to an undefeated season on the gridiron in 1919.
Later he ran drug store in West Virginia, built B-24 Liberator’s at the Willow Run plant, and owned car dealership in Adrian up until his passing in 1950.
Maulbetsch was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1973 and is permanently enshrined in Meeechigan football’s VAL HALLA.