Today is another great day to celebrate the Happy Birthday Anniversary of a Michigan Wolverine named Bob Westfall. Robert Barton “Bullet Bob” Westfall was born on this day in Hamtramck, Michigan in 1919. He died on October 23, 1980 at the age of sixty-one in Adrian, Michigan. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Bob Westfall had a rough childhood since his father abandoned the family when he was two years old. However, his mother, along with his older siblings, helped Bob grow into a remarkable athlete at Ann Arbor High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Bob Westfall came to play football for Michigan and Fritz Crisler in 1938. He spent his freshman year learning Crisler’s “Single Wing Offense” and he learned his lessons well. He started seven games at fullback in 1939 and played well enough to earn his first varsity letter at the end of the season. Michigan posted a record of 6-2-0 in 1939s.
Starting in 1940, Fritz Crisler just penciled the hard-charging and hard-blocking Westfall into the starting lineup for every game so that he could focus on other matters. Bob Westfall was not flashy, but he was very good at knocking people down and running over, around and through would-be tacklers when it was his turn to carry the ball.
He started 16 straight games during his final two season for the Wolverines. Michigan posted a record of 13-2-1 in 1940 and 1941. During his time on the varsity, Westfall helped the Wolverines post a record of 9-4-1 in conference play for a winning rate of just over sixty-seven percent (.678).
Bob Westfall became famous in Michigan Football lore when he set some rushing records, became a Michigan captain (1941), team MVP, and earned some post-season recognition from the press. Bob Westfall was the first Michigan fullback to gain over 800-rushing yards in one season in 1940. He was also the first fullback to rush for over 1,800 yards in a career from 1939 to 1941. Finally, Westfall earned All-Conference and All-American honors for his outstanding play in 1941. He was also named as the Most Valuable Player on the Michigan Football team in 1941.
In addition to being a “famous” fullback, Bob Westfall is also connected to a number of Michigan Football “firsts.” Here are the best ones that I could find:
Bob Westfall was one of the first college football players to fly cross-country for Michigan’s first football game ever against California in September 1940. Michigan won by a score of 41-0 on Tom Harmon’s twenty-first birthday!
- Westfall played in the first game ever against Pittsburgh in 1941. Michigan won that one by a score of 40-0.
- Bob Westfall played in the first games ever against Great Lakes Naval Training Center (Won 9-0) and Iowa Pre-Flight (Lost 14-26) in 1942.
- Westfall was the first Michigan fullback to start sixteen consecutive games from 1940 to 1941 and the first man to start 23 games at fullback for Michigan from 1939-1941.
- Bob Westfall was the first Michigan fullback to gain over 800 rushing yards in one season in 1940 when he totaled 808-yards. He was also the first fullback to gain over 1,800 yards when he finished his career with a total of 1,864 yards in 1940.
Please enjoy your Friday Wolverine fans and take time to remember a true Wolverine legend. Bullet Bob Westfall lived a long and fruitful life. Let’s celebrate his life again on the ninety-eighth anniversary of his birth. May Bob Westfall always rest in eternal peace. Go Blue!