Hang on Maize and Blue football fans because we are going way, way back to a very special time in Wolverine football history today!
Today is the one-hundred and fortieth birthday anniversary (Born in 1876!) for Clifford A. Barabee from Negaunee, Michigan. He is one of those “Pigskin Pioneers” who helped make Michigan football what it is today.
Bentley Historical Library Michigan football rosters listed Mr. Barabee on the 1897 and 1898 teams. He was not a very big man, but he must have been pretty elusive and very tough. He was listed as five feet six and one-half inches on the 1898 roster and weighed in at one-hundred and sixty-four pounds. So, he was solid!
Barabee played halfback in 1897 and started one game on a team that finished with a record of 6 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie which was good enough for third place in the Western Conference that year. He played a much bigger role on the 1898 team which may have been a big reason that Michigan went 10-0-0 that year and won their first Western Conference championship. Oh yes, their stunning come-from-behind win at Chicago (21-11) inspired a pretty good fight song too!
During the 1898 season, Cliff Barabee started at all four positions in the Michigan backfield. (Quarterback-1, Fullback-1, Left halfback-3, Right Halfback-2). I don’t know if he was the only man to ever accomplish that feat, but it looks like he was the first.
Another first about that 1898 team was the fact that the center, William Cunningham, became the first Michigan Man to earn All-American honors.
Despite the fact that he only had a two-season “career” at Michigan, Cliff Barabee made an important contribution that earned him two varsity letters and the satisfaction of being a “championship” caliber football player. Well done Cliff Barabee! Let’s celebrate his memory today and reflect on his special place in Michigan football history! Go Blue!