Today I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and remember the birthday anniversary of Michigan All-American Art Walker. Mr. Walker’s full name was actually Arthur D. “Art” Walker. He was born in South Haven, Michigan on this date in 1933. Young Art grew up to be a pretty big guy and became an outstanding athlete in high school.
Art Walker came to Ann Arbor in 1951 on a Elmer Gideon Scholarship. He spent his time on the freshman team and learned how to play tackle for a Bennie Oosterbaan football tealm. He seemed intent on learning, so he did what he had to do to contribute on the 1952 Michigan football team.
Art Walker contributed in a big way as a sophomore at Michigan. He earned nine starts at defensive tackle in 1952 on team that posted a final record of 5 wins and 4 losses. Walker played so well that he earned first team All-Conference honors. After his successful season Art Walker must have felt like a hero until a bad choice in the off-season made him feel more like a zero!
According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Walker and a friend got in trouble for stealing gas from a parked car. Art Walker paid heavily for that one bad choice. He probably apologized to Coach Oosterbaan quite a few times, but he spent most of the 1953 season in Bennie’s doghouse! According to the Bentley Historical Library, Art Walker did not earn one start during the 1953 season. However, he did play enough to earn a letter, but the big question was, “did he earn back the trust of his coaches?”
Art Walker had no “off-season” issues and came back bigger and stronger than he was on his first two years on the Michigan varsity. With “trust” restored, Walker had a very strong senior year. His excellent play on both sides of the ball helped the Wolverines post an overall record of 6 wins and 3 losses. Coach Oosterbaan’s footballers finished at 5-2-0 in the conference which was good enough for a second place tie.
Art Walker’s fine play earned him All-Conference honors for the second time. Better yet, his name showed up on two All-American team lists. So, Art Walker’s career went full circle. He started his playing career on a high note, slipped in his junior year and finished strong as a senior. Walker finished his Michigan career as a three-year letterman, a two-time All-Conference player and an All-American.
Art Walker and his teammates added seventeen more victories to the Wolverine ledger. Michigan’s overall record during the Walker years finished at 17 wins, 10 losses and 0 ties.
After graduating from Michigan, Art Walker went on to a successful career in the Canadian Football League. Unfortunately, he died way too soon. He left his family and friends on May 26, 1973 at the age of thirty-nine. Take a moment to remember Art Walker and appreciate his contributions to the history of Michigan football. May he always s rest in peace. Go Blue!
To read more about Art Walker check out the links below: