August 6, 2017 Rest in Peace Herb Graver!

1903 Michigan Football Team |
Herb Graver is shown above with the 1903 National and Western Conference Champion Michigan Wolverines. He is in the middle row – second man from the left. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Today is a great day to honor the memory of a Wolverine named Herb Graver who went to rest in peace on this day in 1954. Graver was seventy-three years old at the time of his death. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Herbert Spencer Graver, Sr. was born on August 29, 1880 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He grew up in Chicago and came to Ann Arbor to continue his education and play football for the Michigan Wolverines.

Herb Graver arrived in Ann Arbor in 1900. He was a reserve on the Michigan Football team that was coached by Langdon “Bif” Lea. Michigan’s varsity football team posted a record of 7-2-1. Coach Lea left Ann Arbor at the end of the season.  Athletic Director Charles Baird went looking for his third coach in three years.  As luck would have it, a well-traveled young coach named Fielding Yost practically fell into Baird’s lap. The rest, as they say, is history!

Herb Graver played on Fielding Yost’s first team in 1901. Graver started one game and played well enough, and often enough, to earn a letter that first season. Michigan had a great season in year one of the Fielding Yost Era. Yost’s Wolverines won every game on their schedule and finished the season with perfect records of (11-0-0 overall) and (4-0-0 conference). Even more amazing was the fact that they outscored their opponents by a margin of 550-0! Those numbers are almost unbelievable, but that’s what happened!

Herb Graver Michigan Football 1903 |

Herb Graver was one of the most versatile players ever to play for Fielding H. Yost. Mr. Graver, and his teammates, posted a record of 33-0-1 from 1901 to 1903. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Graver became one of Fielding Yost’s most versatile players during his final two seasons at Michigan. Herb started at least one game at the following positions in 1902 and 1903: halfback (9), fullback (1), end (3) and quarterback (1). Herb Graver was a team player who did whatever Coach Yost asked him to do for Michigan. His excellent all-around play helped Michigan continue their dominance that began in 1901.

Herb Graver lettered on three of the greatest teams in Michigan Football History! When he left Ann Arbor, the Wolverines had compiled a record of 33 wins, 0 losses and 1 tie. Even more important, Michigan won three consecutive National Championships and three Western Conference titles during this time. Graver was definitely part of some great football history. He is also associated with many Wolverine Football ‘Firsts.” Here are some of the best for Herb Graver:

  • Herb Graver played on Fielding Yost’s first Michigan team in 1901.
  • Graver played on the first Michigan Football team to win 11 games in 1901.
  • Herb Graver played on the first Michigan Football team to win a National Championship in 1901.
  • Graver played in the first Rose Bowl game in college football history in January 1902.
  • Herb Graver played on the first Michigan Football team to post 5 conference wins in 1902.
  • Graver was also part of the first Michigan Football team to play games against Drake, Ferris State, and Ohio Northern in 1903.

So, today is a very good day to reflect on the greatest of Michigan Football in the early 1900s. Herb Graver was definitely a part of something special “back in the day.” Please take a moment to appreciate his contributions to the great history of Michigan football. May he always rest in peace! Go Blue!


Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher is a self-proclaimed Michigan Football Archeologist. He spends a considerable amount of his time digging into the 138-year history of Wolverine Football. He is on a mission to share his findings with Maize and Blue football fans everywhere. He is the author of one book about Michigan Football titled "21-194-13 Michigan Football's Greatest Era". His second book titled, "The Legend of Bo Schembechler-How an Unknown Buckeye Became the Winningest Coach in Michigan Football History" was released on September 12, 2017. You can learn something about Michigan Football everyday by going to his website at: You can also follow him on Social Media.
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