Today is a great day to honor the memory of a Wolverine legend named Albert Benbrook who went to rest in peace on this day in 1943. Al Benbrook was fifty-five years old at the time of his death. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Albert “Benny” Benbrook was born on August 24, 1887 in Texas. His family moved from Texas to Chicago, Illinois when Al was a young boy. He attended Chicago’s Morgan Park Academy where he became an outstanding football player.
Albert Benbrook decided to continue his education and his football at The University of Michigan. He came to Ann Arbor in 1907 and played on the freshman football team. I am sure that he caught Fielding Yost’s eye even as a reserve player.
The 1908 season was the second straight season that Michigan played as an “independent.” Although they had a lot of Midwestern teams on the schedule, Pennsylvania and Syracuse, from the East, promised to be very difficult games. The good news was that Al Benbrook impressed Coach Yost enough to start every game that season. However, Fielding Yost wasn’t exactly sure where he wanted Benbrook to play since he started him in 3 games at right tackle and 5 games at left guard.
Michigan posted a record of 5 wins, 0 losses, and 1 tie in the first six games. However, they lost the last two games of the season to Pennsylvania (0-29) and Syracuse 4-28). Unfortunately, the loss to Penn was the worst margin of defeat in Coach Yost’s stellar career at Michigan. It was ugly!
Fielding probably learned a few things during the 1908 season. One of them was that Albert Benbrook was going to be his left guard! Benbrook started every game that season at his “home” position and earned All-American honors for his efforts. Al Benbrook helped the Wolverines improve their record to 6 wins and 1 loss. More importantly, they won a measure of “revenge” by defeating the Quakers in Pennsylvania ( 12-6). The Wolverines also defeated Minnesota in the final game of the season (15-6) and took possession of the “jug” that they had left in Minnesota in 1903. It was a good year for Coach Yost and his Wolverines.
All-American left guard, Albert Benbrook returned in the fall of 1910 with another title. He was the team captain for the 1910 season. I am sure that Benbrook embraced his responsibilities because he played even better in his final season. Al Benbrook started all six games at left guard and earned All-American honors for the second consecutive season. In fact, he was the first Michigan lineman to accomplish this amazing feat! Benbrook’s dedication and inspired play helped the Wolverines to a perfect record in 1910. Michigan ended the season with a final record of 3-0-3.
Albert Benbrook was an outstanding leader and a winner at Michigan. He helped Michigan post a record of 14 wins, 3 losses and 4 ties from 1908 to 1910. Benny is also connected to some interesting Wolverine “football” firsts. Here are the ones I could find:
- Albert Benbrook played in the first ever games against Kentucky and Syracuse in 1908. Michigan beat Kentucky (62-), but lost to Syracuse (4-28)
- Benbrook played in the first ever game against Marquette (a 6-5 win) in 1909.
- Albert Benbrook played in the first ever “Little Brown Jug” game against Minnesota in 1909. (Michigan won 15-6.)
- Benbrook played on the first team in Michigan Football history to record three ties in one season in 1910.
- Albert Benbrook was the first Michigan lineman to earn back-to-back All-American honors in 1909 and 1910.
Al Benbrook enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1917 and served as an officer in World War I. After the war, he enjoyed a successful career in business until he passed away in 1943. Albert Benbrook was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971. Yes, he was a great football player in his time and one of the best Wolverine lineman to ever wear Maize and Blue. Please take a moment today to appreciate the stellar contributions of Al Benbrook to Michigan Football History. May he continue to rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!