team one

[Ed.  In honor of the anniversary of Team One Game One – a repost from last year.]

Happy May 30th, the day Michigan football was born.   The month of May you say?  Indeed.

Team 1 took the field on this day 133 ago against Racine in game played at White Stockings Park in Chicago.

Fittingly May 30, 1879 is also marks the birth of, depending on your perspective, Wolverine fans getting SCREWED BY or whining about the officials.   From a recap of the game as published in the Michigan Chronicle the following day:


Despite the blind referee, by all accepted accounts Michigan prevailed 1-0 over Racine.   To this day sources differ however, on who scored the first touchdown and how it was scored.  The feat is commonly attributed to Irving K. Pond and that will probably never change.  In his autobiography Pond describes his heroic dash to the end zone and you’ve gotta love it:

My touchdown was made towards the end of the first half and involved a long distance run to where the ball must be grounded directly behind and between the goal posts … To Avoid being tackled I was forced to mount the bleachers and run eastward along them until I was opposite the goal when I stopped suddenly and — fearing that a touchdown in the bleachers would not count– jumped over the heads of my pursuers to the ground.”

The available news reports from the game don’t mention any bleacher bounding by Pond, and instead talk about a catch (by John Chase) and a kick (by Captain Dave DeTarr) near the end of the game to tally the only point of the game.  I like Pond’s version better.

Viva Team One and happy anniversary.

Team 132

Team 134?
As an aside, if you walk back from 2013 to 1879, the upcoming season marks the 135th in team history…but of course next year’s version of the Wolverines are dubbed Team 134.  I’m sure this has been discussed elsewhere but we’re on team 134 because #1000SSS correctly skipped 1882– as no games were played that season.


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  1. Patrick J. Friedrich

    Athletic seasons at Michigan coincide with the school’s academic calendar. Thus, in the 2015-2016 season, the Wolverines would field their 138th football team since they began playing outside competition in 1879, not the 136th team, as the athletic department contends.

    Michigan’s 1st football team played Racine on 30 May 1879, during the 1878-1879 academic year.

    Michigan’s 2nd football team played Toronto on 1 Nov 1879, during the 1879-1880 academic year. Irving Kane Pond, who scored Michigan’s first-ever touchdown in the game against Racine, was not even on the roster for the Toronto game, because he has graduated with his class in June of 1879.

    Michigan’s 3rd football team played Toronto on 5 Nov 1880, during the 1880-1881 academic year.

    Michigan’s 4th football team played Harvard on 31 Oct 1881, Yale on 2 Nov 1881 and Princeton on 4 Nov 1881, during the 1881-1882 academic year.

    Michigan’s 5th football team played the Detroit Independents on 12 Mar 1883, during the 1882-1883 academic year.

    Michigan’s 6th football team played Wesleyan on 19 Nov 1883, Yale on 21 Nov 1883, Harvard on 22 Nov 1883 and Stevens Institute on 27 Nov 1883, during the 1883-1884 academic year.

    Michigan’s 7th football team played Albion on 15 Nov 1884 and the University Club of Chicago on 22 Nov 1884, during the 1884-1885 academic year.

    Michigan’s 8th football team played the Windsor Club on 7 Nov 1885 and again on 14 Nov 1885 and Peninsular Detroit on 26 Nov 1885, during the 1885-1886 academic year.

  2. Patrick J. Friedrich

    The roots of Michigan football date to the 1869-1870 academic year. An article on page 218 of The Chronicle (April 16, 1870) states “A foot-ball club has been organized by members of ’73, and a cricket club revival is in progress.” I can also find evidence in the University Palladium for football teams in 1872-1873, 1873-1874, 1874-1875, 1876-1877 and 1877-1878. However, there is no evidence that these squads played outside competition.