Fun With Team Photos: David DeTarr/Edmund Barmore, 1879

The tremendous boredom of the summer months has reached its apex, and I am left to come up with content when there is little to nothing going on in the Michigan sports scene. Luckily, U-M has an amazing database of historical content. The Bentley Historical Library is an incredible resource on Wolverine history, and also a bona-fide time-waster. I love looking through the old team photos … it’s basically like checking out your parents’ high school yearbooks, except with more famous people and without the stigma of looking through your parents’ high school yearbooks. Anyways, I’ve decided to click to a random year and find the most awesome/silly/ridiculous-looking player for that year, and then dig up what I can find on said player’s career at Michigan.

Today’s edition of Fun With Team Photos takes a look at Michigan’s first ever varsity football team, fielded in 1879. This one is worthy enough to have the whole team photo printed:


Splendid. Much like the 1889 squad, there are several tremendous mustaches to be found, with the finest lip-sweater arguably belonging to the captain of the team, one David N. DeTarr (although a very solid argument could be made for Albert S. Pettit, standing on the far right in the top row, though his lack of a hat is rather disappointing):

DeTarr's magnificent mouth brow is clearly the source for his tremendous skill on the field.

DeTarr's magnificent mouth brow is clearly the source for his tremendous skill on the field.

DeTarr captained the team when football was rather unrecognizable. Check out this archived news story from the first ever Michigan football game, a 1-0 victory over Racine, described as “what we may call the finest game of Rugby football ever played this side of the Alleghenies.” There were still rugby-style scrums, the game consisted of two “innings” lasting 45 minutes, and touchdowns needed to be converted with a kick (again, we’re not far from rugby here). Also, they played with this, which immediately explains the lack of a forward pass:

I believe Dr. James Naismith wants his ball back, fellas.

I believe Dr. James Naismith wants his ball back, fellas.

DeTarr holds the honor of being the first Michigan player to ever score a point, described exceptionally in The Chronicle‘s recap:

Soon DeTar put it down in a scrummage and it was kicked by the Racine team and caught by Chase, closed behind DeTar. Only two minutes more and the second inning would be bee over. Yet the gods gave the University time to make a goal, which they did in most splendid style. A place kick by Capt. DeTar. Here the game closed with a score of one touchdown of the University team.

If you can’t tell by now, that entire article is well worth reading. One U-M footballer who played, but is not mentioned in the recap, is Edmund Barmore, one of the team’s halfbacks. Any ideas why?

Between the cross-eyes and the wispy 'stache, Barmore falls short.

Between the cross-eyes and the wispy 'stache, Barmore falls short.

That’s just an unfortunate combination of roving eyes and an inadequate soup saver. However, it appears Barmore made great strides in the growth of his third brow by 1880, when he played quarterback (not the modern sort of quarterback, with the passing and whatnot) in Michigan’s 13-6 victory over Toronto, avenging a 0-0 tie in the previous year:

Much better, although I miss the striped caps.

Much better, although I miss the striped caps.

No recap is available (at least that I can find) for the 1880 Toronto game, so it’s hard to tell exactly how much the improved lip fur helped Barmore’s performance. However, I would be remiss to not include this interview with the American Mustache Institute‘s Dr. Aaron Perlut, who is the greatest thing to ever happen to ESPN’s First Take (as well as the dot-com’s chat):

I salute you, Mr. Perlut. America would not be the same without you, nor your hilarious terms for mustache. That’s all for today’s Fun With Team Photos. As always, hit the tag for the rest of the series, which will certainly continue until the offseason stops being horrendously boring.

  1. Ace Anbender said:

    Just a note: I have no idea whether “DeTarr” is spelled with one or two ‘r’s. It’s spelled both ways on the Bentley page, although “DeTarr” showed up more than “DeTar”. I have a sinking feeling it’s spelled with only one ‘r’, since that’s how it’s spelled in The Chronicle.

  2. miky p said:

    I thought Barmore was left out because of his socially unacceptable proclivities, as evidenced by his cradling of the legs of his teammates in the photo (in stark contrast to the manly and defiant other two members sitting on the bottom row), who look simultaneously disturbed and ashamed.

    • Ace Anbender said:

      I failed to even notice that. You, miky p, have sharp vision and an equally sharp wit.

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