June 20, 2017 Happy Birthday Anniversary John Maulbetsch!

Michigan Football Team 1916 | bigbluefootballhistory.com
John Maulbetsch is shown above with the 1916 Michigan Wolverine Football team. He is seated in the middle of the second row – holding the football. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Today is a great day to celebrate the happy birthday anniversary of a Michigan legend named John Maulbetsch. John F. “Johnny” Maulbetsch was born on this day in 1890 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, John Maulbetsch graduated from Ann Arbor High School in 1910. He starred on the football team and helped win two consecutive state football championships in 1908 and 1909. At 5 feet 7 inches and 155 pounds, John Maulbetsch was one of the hardest-running halfbacks who ever played college football!

For a variety of reasons, Maulbetsch did not start his college career until he was twenty-one years old. He began his studies and his college football at Adrian College in 1911 where he helped his team post a perfect record of 8 wins and 0 losses. One of those wins was against Michigan’s freshman team (15-0) and Maulbetsch caught the eye of a man named Fielding Yost. The persuasive Yost was able to talk Maulbetsch into returning to his hometown to play for The University of Michigan.

John Maulbetsch transferred to Michigan, but his name did not show up on a Michigan Football Roster until 1913. Like most first year players, Maulbetsch practiced, but did not play on the Wolverine varsity in 1913.

The talented Maulbetsch was ready to contribute to Yost’s football team in 1914. He was the leading scorer and ground-gainer on the 1914 squad. He helped Michigan post a record of 6 wins and 3 losses. Since Michigan was out of the Big Ten during this team, the Wolverines played a lot of Eastern teams. Maulbetsch played one of his greatest games in a loss to Harvard (0-7) which earned a lot of attention from the east coast college football writers. He was named a first team All-American at the end of the season.

John Maulbetsch Michigan Football 1916 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

John Maulbetsch was an All-American halfback in 1914 and a Michigan captain in 1916.

Maulbetsch had a bout of appendicitis in 1915 and the resulting surgery really slowed him down. He lost weight and struggled all season to return to his “All-American” form. Michigan posted a record of 4 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie during John’s second year on the Wolverine varsity. Despite his subpar season, the Michigan team elected John Maulbetsch to be the captain of the 1916 football team.

John Maulbetsch worked hard in the off-season so that he would be ready for another successful year. His hard work paid off for him and the Wolverines. Michigan posted a record of 7 wins and 2 losses. Their only two losses came against Eastern powers (Cornell 20-23) and Penn (7-10).

Maulbetsch had an outstanding football career at Michigan. Here are some interesting firsts that connect John Maulbetsch and Wolverine Football:

  • John Maulbetsch was the first Wolverine to earn All-American honors at two different schools (Adrian in 1911 and Michigan in 1914).
  • Maulbetsch played in the first games against Lawrence College and Marietta in 1915. Michigan won both games.
  • John Maulbetsch played in the first games against Carroll University and Washington University in 1916. Once again, Michigan won both contests.
  • Maulbetsch must have been the first Michigan player with at least six nicknames. Here are the nicknames that are associated with Mr. Maulbetsch: Human Bullett, Mauly, Human Shrapnel, Featherweight Fullback, the Michigan Cannon Ball, and the German Bullett.
  • Maulbetsch was the first UM captain to have a Michigan Football award named in his honor in 1956. The John Maulbetsch Award was started to recognize the freshman football player who best exemplified the traits of desire, character, and future potential as a leader and player at Michigan.

So, on the 128th anniversary of his birth, let us remember another True/Blue Michigan Man. John Maulbetsch played a lot of good football for Michigan. He lettered on three Fielding Yost teams and earned the reputation as one of the hardest running players in Michigan Football history.

John Maulbetsch went on to enjoy a successful college football coaching career before he entered the world of business. Please take a moment today, to honor his memory and celebrate his accomplishments. Thank you, John Maulbetsch for your outstanding contributions to the history of Michigan football. John Maulbetsch died on September 14, 1950 at the age of sixty. 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: bigbluefootballhistory.com. You can also follow him on Social Media.
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