Today’s post is an opportunity to celebrate a special Happy Birthday Anniversary for a Michigan Wolverine named Norm Daniels. Mr. Daniels was born on this date in 1907 in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up to become a very talented athlete at Detroit Southeastern High School in Detroit, Michigan. Daniels was a three-sport star in high school and intended to do the same in college. He came to Ann Arbor in 1928 to play football for Coach Tad Wieman and also play basketball and baseball for the Wolverines. Like all good freshman in the 1920s, Norm spent his first year on the freshman team. However, when Daniels was ready to play for Michigan’s varsity, Coach Wieman was gone.
Fielding Yost was a lot of things, but he was not very patient when it came to winning, losing and filling Michigan Stadium. Yost had one losing season in his twenty-five-year tenure. Wieman, a former Yost captain, had one winning season and one losing season in two years. Yost had seen enough! Fielding Yost looked north to East Lansing to find his next coach. Harry Kipke, another former Yost player, just finished his first year at Michigan State. He couldn’t say “No” to his former coach.
Sophomore Norm Daniels would have to impress new Coach Harry Kipke if he wanted to play at Michigan. The youthful Daniels must have caught Kipke’s eye in fall practice because he started two games at right halfback during the 1929 season. Michigan finished with a record of 5 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie. Unfortunately, they went 1-3-1 in the conference with was only good for an eighth-place tie. Norm Daniels earned his first varsity letter in 1929, so, he was probably happy about that!
Norm Daniels switched positions for Coach Kipke in 1930 going from halfback to end. He started two games at right end on a much-improved Wolverine team. Michigan finished the 1930 season with a record of 8 wins, 0 losses and 1 tie. Kipke’s footballers also won the conference title with a perfect record of 5-0-0. Norm Daniels earned his second varsity letter in 1930.
Harry Kipke’s Wolverines were favored to win the conference title in 1931 and that’s exactly what they did! Kipke had plenty of returning stars, and many more good players like Norm Daniels. Michigan posted a record of 8 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie. They tied for the conference title with a record of 5-1-0. Norm Daniels started one game in 1931 and played often enough and well enough to earn his third varsity letter.
Norm Daniels was fortunate to be part of some good football teams at Michigan. He also experienced a number of “Michigan Football Firsts” while playing for the Wolverines:
- Played on the first three Harry Kipke teams (1929, 1930 and 1931)
- Daniels played in the first Michigan football “doubleheader” on 9/28/1929. Michigan defeated Albion (39-0) and then held off Mount Union (16-6).
- Played on Harry Kipke’s first Big Ten Championship Team & the second one too!
- Norm probably played in the first and only game against Denison College in Ohio in 1930.
- In his last game, played in front of the first and only four-digit crowd (9,190) in Michigan Stadium History (1931). Yes, times were tough in those days. The Wolverines beat Wisconsin that day by a score of 16-0. Fielding Yost must have been pulling his white-hair out! Yes, this is still the smallest crowd in the history of Michigan Stadium!
So, today is a great day to remember a versatile athlete named Norm Daniels. He earned a total of nine varsity letters at Michigan (three each in football, basketball, and baseball). Not too many Michigan Men earned nine-letters during their Wolverine athletic career! Michigan posted a record of 21 wins, 4 losses and 3 ties and won two Big Ten Championships with Norm Daniels on the varsity roster. He was a “Michigan Man” in every sense of the word. Let’s remember him on the one-hundredth anniversary of his birth. Norm Daniels died in 2009 at the age of 102! May he always rest in peace. Go Blue.