June 26, 2017 Happy Birthday Anniversary Alvin Wistert!

Michigan Football Team 1949 | bigbluefootballhistory.com
Team Captain Alvin Wistert (#11) is pictured above with the 1949 Big Ten Champion Michigan Wolverine Football team. He is seated in the first row and is the man holding the football. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Today’s post celebrates the 101st Happy Birthday Anniversary of a Michigan legend named Alvin Wistert.  Alvin Lawrence “Moose” Wistert was born on this day in Chicago, Illinois in 1916. He was the third Wistert to play at Michigan and he lived up to the family name by playing at a very high level for the Wolverines in the late 1940s.

The Wistert’s are the first and only family in Michigan Football History to send three All-American sons to play for Michigan. All three brothers also wore jersey #11 for the Wolverines and they all played tackle!

The Wistert family came to America from Lithunia. The father, Kazimer served in the Spanish American War and later worked in the Chicago Police Department where he was killed in the line of duty. Mrs. Wistert raised her family on the north side of Chicago.

The first Wistert to play at Michigan was Francis Michael “Whitey” Wistert. He enrolled at Michigan in 1930 to play football for Coach Harry Kipke. He set the set standard for the rest of the family. Whitey earned All-American honors in 1933.

The second son to play for the Wolverines was Albert Alexander “Ox” Wistert who came to Ann Arbor in 1938. “Ox” Wistert made his own way at Michigan, but it sure looked a lot like the path that Whitey followed a few years earlier. Albert Wistert, like his older brother, earned All-Conference and All-American honors for his stellar play during the 1942 season.

So, the stage was set for Alvin Wistert. However, the “Moose” he was more inclined to physical work than mental activities like going to class and college. He struck his own path and didn’t get the urge to enroll in college until he had worked for a few years and served his country in the United States Marines during World War II.

When Alvin was finally ready for college, he chose to enroll at Boston University in 1946. However, “destiny” must have called and he transferred to Michigan in time for the 1947 football season. Although it was not unusual for “older” war veterans to play in the late 1940’s, Alvin was no spring chicken in 1947. He was thirty-one years old when he showed up for Fritz Crisler’s first practice!

Alvin Wistert vs MSU in 1949 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Although he didn’t start playing for Michigan until he was 31-years old – Alvin Wistert was a dominant player on both sides of the ball. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Alvin was probably a little rusty in that first year, but he started two games. Alvin earned his first letter and was named as the Meyer Morton Award winner for the 1947 season. The “Moose” was recognized as the most improved player on the national championship team and big things were expected from #11 in the future. (Big surprise!)

Alvin Wistert did not disappoint anyone at Michigan or in his family! He earned two starts on the 1948 back-to-back championship Wolverine team and earned his second letter. Even though he didn’t start a lot of games, he played in all of them. The “Moose” played well enough to earn All-Conference and All-American honors – wow! The third Wistert to wear #11 and the third brother to earn All-American honors and All-Conference honors!

However, Moose Wistert was not done at Michigan. He came back in 1949 to do something that his two brothers did not do in Ann Arbor. He was elected captain of the 1949 Michigan football team. Alvin did a super job of leading by example and his stellar play earned him first team conference honors All-American plaudits for the second consecutive season.

Can you imagine the “pressure” that Alvin “Moose” Wistert must have felt as the third son to follow his two All-American brothers at Michigan? I am certain that no one said much about it, but the expectations were pretty clear. “You will wear jersey #11 just like your two older brothers, you will play tackle. Of course, it would be really nice if you could be an All-American performer too.” Man, talk about big shoes to fill. Alvin had to fill two big pairs of All-American shoes and he did it – amazing!

Alvin Wistert All-American 1949 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Alvin Wistert left Michigan as a Captain and a two-time All-Big Ten and All-American player. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

They were the first brothers to wear the same number at Michigan. They were the first trio of brothers to earn All-Conference and All-American honors. They are the first, and only, trio of brothers to all be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Alvin is the first, and only, over-thirty All-American. He was thirty-two years when named in 1948 and thirty-three when he repeated in 1949.

Of course, Alvin Wistert would not be the subject of today’s blog if he wasn’t associated with some Michigan football “firsts.” Here are the ones I found for the “Moose.”

  • Alvin WIstert is the first, and only, man to earn All-American honors at the age of thirty-three!
  • Wistert was the third Wistert brother to play tackle at Michigan, wear jersey #11 and earn All-American honors at Michigan. The Wistert family is the only family in college and Michigan Football history to achieve this amazing feat!
  • Alvin Wistert played in the first game ever televised game in Michigan Football history on September 27, 1947. The Wolverines defeated the Spartans by a score of 55-0!
  • Wistert played in the first game in Michigan football history against Southern California in the Rose Bowl in 1948. Michigan won the game 49-0 and earned a share of the national championship.
  • Alvin Wistert played on Bennie Oosterbaan’s first team in 1948.
  • Wistert also played in the first game in Michigan football history against Oregon in 1948. Michigan won the game by a score of 14-0.
  • Alvin Wistert is the first, and only, Michigan football captain to lead the Wolverines at 33-years of age.

So, today is a perfect day to remember an outstanding Wolverine who is part of what I call the “first family of Michigan Football. The Wisterts stand alone in the history of college football in their achievements in college football history. Alvin Wistert lived a long and full life. He passed away on March 5, 2016 at the age of ninety-five. Thanks to men like Alvin Wistert, and his talented brothers, Michigan football is the winningest program in college football history. May Alvin “Moose” Wistert  always rest in peace. Go Blue!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_Wistert

http://bentley.umich.edu/athdept/football/fbteam/1949fbt.htm

 

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.
0 Comment

Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published.