September 30, 1899 First September Game in Michigan Football History

1899 Michigan Football Team |
The 1899 Michigan Football team was the first Michigan team to play a game in the month of September. They defeated Hillsdale College on September 30, 1899. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Today’s post looks back at September 30, 1899 when Michigan played their first September game in Michigan Football History. Coach Gustave Ferbert and Captain Allen Steckle led the Wolverines to an 11-0 win over some “visitors” from Hillsdale. 

Wolverine Team #20 used the eighty-fourth win in Michigan Football History as a springboard to a great start to the 1899 season. Michigan won six straight games. (Note-they tied the Alumni 0-0 in Homecoming game #2) The modest winning streak came to a painful end when the Pennsylvania Quakers defeated the visiting Wolverines by a score of 10-11.

Gustave Ferbert Michigan Football 1899 |

Coach Gustave Ferbert was the first Michigan Football coach to lead a team to victory in the month of September in 1899. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

Michigan recovered nicely and won two more games against Case (28-6) and Kalamazoo (24-9). The season ended on a “low-note” with a 5-17 loss to Wisconsin in a showcase game at Chicago.

Ferbert’s 1899 team finished the season with a record of 8 wins and 2 losses. The Wolverines earned a third-place tie with a record of 1 win and 1 loss.

As it turned out, this was Ferbert’s third, and last team at Michigan. He got the urge to go “gold digging” in Alaska and that’s what he did! Apparently, he did strike gold and never looked back on his decision to leave coaching.

So, the last season of the Nineteenth Century had some interesting Michigan Football History “firsts.” Check them out!

·         September 30, 1899 was the first September game ever played in Michigan Football History.

·         This first “September game” was also the first game ever played against Hillsdale College. The two teams played again in 1900 and the series ended with Michigan holding a record of 2 wins and 0 losses.

·         Michigan also played “first” games against Kalamazoo, Virginia and Pennsylvania in 1899.

Even though the Wolverines do not play on September 30, 2017, they have a solid history on this date. As of today, Michigan has played a total of thirteen games since that first September 30th game in 1899. The Wolverines own a record of 10 wins and 3 losses on this day. That’s a winning percentage of almost seventy-seven percent (.769). So, yes, September 30th has been a very good day in Michigan Football History.

As usual, every season in Michigan Football History has many interesting items of information. The 1899 season was no different. Team #20 added more to the incredible history that makes Michigan the winningest program in college football history. 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: You can also follow him on Social Media.
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