June 30, 2017 Happy Birthday Anniversary Henry Killilea!

Michgian Football Team 1884 | bigbluefootballhistory.com
Henry Killilea is shown above with the 1884 Michigan Wolverine Football team. He is standing in the last row and is the last man on the right. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library

Today is a good day to remember another impressive Michigan Wolverine named Henry Killilea. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Henry James Killilea was born on this day in Poygan, Wisconsin in 1863. He came to Ann Arbor to advance his education and earn a law degree from The University of Michigan.

Henry Killilea’s name first showed up on a Michigan Football Roster in 1883. The Bentley Historical Library lists him as a “Forward” on the 1883 team that finished with a final record of 2 wins and 3 losses.  He is pictured with the letter winners of that season, but he is not credited with one in the Michigan Athletic Department records.

Henry Killilea Michigan Football 1884 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Henry Killilea played for Michigan in 1883 and 1884. He graduated with a law degree in 1885 and went on to a successful career.

Killilea came back in 1884 and played center in his second season. Michigan, under first year captain, Horace Prettyman, finished the season with a perfect record of 2-0-0. Killilea is listed as a letter winner on the 1884 team.

Henry Killilea is connected to a few Michigan football “firsts.” Here are some of the best:

  • Henry Killilea played in the first games in Michigan Football history against Detroit Industrial, Weslayan (from Ohio) and Stevens in 1883.
  • Killilea was a member of the first Michigan game to have a disputed result in 1883. Michigan claims a 17-5 victory in a game at Stevens College in New Jersey. However, claimed a 5-1 win over the Wolverines.
  • Henry Killilea played on Michigan’s first team to win two games in the same season in 1883.
  • Killilea also played in the first games in Michigan Football History against Albion and the University Club of Chicago in 1884.

Today is a good day to remember a true Wolverine Pigskin Pioneer. Henry Killilea went on to graduate from Michigan’s Law School in 1885. He returned to Wisconsin to establish a successful law practice. Killilea went on to become a pioneer in major league baseball. He is credited by some to be the “Father of the American League.” So, the one hundred and forty-fourth anniversary of his birth is a great day to celebrate Henry James Killilea and appreciate his pioneering contributions to Michigan Football. May Henry Killilea 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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