December 4, 2016: Happy Birthday Anniversary Mason Rumney!

Michigan Football Team 1907 |
Mason Rumney is shown here with the 1907 Michigan Football letter winners. He is the last man on the right in the first row. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Today is a good day to celebrate the birth anniversary of a “pigskin pioneer” named Mason Rumney. Mason Pittman Rumney was born on this date way, way back in 1883. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Rumney came to Ann Arbor in 1903 to play football for the famous Fielding H. Yost. Yost’s teams were tearing up everyone in those days and Mason Rumney wanted to be part of it!

Mason Rumney is listed on the 1903 Michigan football roster as a freshman. He played on the freshman team and learned how to play “Michigan football.” The 1904 season was much the same. Things got a little better for young Rumney in 1905. He earned a little bit of playing time and made one start at right halfback. He did not earn a letter that year, but he gained some hope.

The determined Rumney came back for more in 1906 and earned another start at right halfback. He must have played quite a few minutes/games because he lettered on the 1906 team. Michigan posted a record of 4 wins, 1 loss and 0 ties, but finished with a perfect record of 1-0-0 in the Western Conference. Believe it or not, that record was good enough to earn the outright conference championship! This would be the first and only time that Michigan won the conference title with only one victory.

Mason Rumney |

Mason Rumney lettered on the 1906 and 1907 Michigan Football teams. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Mason Rumney was listed on his fifth consecutive Michigan football roster in 1907. They didn’t have “red-shirts” in those days so I guess his freshman year (1903) didn’t count. Anyway, Mason Rumney had his best season as a Wolverine in 1907. He started three games at left end and one more at right halfback. Yost’s footballer’s posted a record of 5 wins 1 loss and 0 ties in their first season out of the Western Conference. This was Michigan’s first season out of the Western Conference after joining as charter members in 1896.

There is no doubt that Mason Rumney had an interesting football career at Michigan. He played for the legendary Fielding Yost and earned two varsity letters. He was a member of some of the most dominant teams in Michigan football history (1903-1905). Mason Rumney was also part of the transition years that saw the Wolverines win a conference title in 1906 and then leave their sister schools in a huff over eligibility rules and a host of other issues. Michigan was out of the conference from 1907 to 1916. 

So, on the one-hundredth-thirty-fourth anniversary of his birth, let us remember Mason Pittman Rumney. He was one of those “pigskin pioneers” who made important contributions in the early years of Michigan football. I have been unable to locate information on his death, but I am certain that Mason Rumney has left this earth. 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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