Weisenburger from 1944 Muskegon Heights H.S. yearbook
August 2, 1926 |
Muskegon County, Michigan
|Position(s)||Halfback, Fullback, Quarterback|
John Edward "Jack" Weisenburger (born August 2, 1926) is a former American football and baseball player. He played college football for the University of Michigan from 1944 to 1947 and was the starting fullback for the undefeated 1947 Michigan Wolverines football team that became known as the "Mad Magicians" and has been rated as the greatest football team in Michigan history. He later played professional baseball for five years from 1948 to 1952.
Weisenburger was born in Muskegon County, Michigan in August 1926. His father, Merle Weisenburger, was an Ohio native who worked as a laborer in a pattern shop. His mother, Ada Weisenburger, was a Michigan native. At the time of the 1930 United States Census, Weisenburger lived in Norton Shores, Michigan with his parents and two brothers, Robert (born c. 1923) and Kenneth (born c. 1929). He attended Muskegon Heights High School where he played varsity football (three years), basketball (two years), baseball (four years), and track (one year). He was an all-conference basketball player and was selected as the class president in his sophomore, junior and senior years. The 1944 Muskegon Heights High School yearbook said of him, "Ferocious in football, and a good fellow always."
University of Michigan
Weisenburger played college football as a halfback, fullback and quarterback at the University of Michigan from 1944 to 1947. He started five games at fullback for the 1944 Michigan Wolverines football team, and played five games at fullback and one at halfback for the 1945 team. In 1946, he started the season as a fullback, but suffered a broken jaw in an early game against Army. Weisenburger ended up starting three games at quarterback and one each at fullback and halfback for the 1946 team. As a senior, Weisenbuger was the starting fullback for the 1947 Michigan Wolverines football team that finished the season with a 10–0 record and outscored opponents 394 to 53. The 1947 team became known as the "Mad Magicians" and is considered by some to be the greatest Michigan team of all time. One sports writer referred to the 1947 backfield (Weisenbuger, Bob Chappuis and Bump Elliott) as "a backfield full of pervasive shadows that flit about like wraiths." The 1947 Michigan team is also notable for head coach Fritz Crisler's innovation of modern platoon football; Weisenburger was one of two Michigan players in 1947 (the other was Bump Elliott) who played both offense and defense. He finished his football career by scoring three touchdowns in the 1948 Rose Bowl against the USC Trojans. He scored the game's first touchdown ten minutes into the game and added two more later in the game. He later recalled, "What astonished me was the ease with which our line opened holes for us. It was one of those days when everything clicked." Michigan won the game 49 to 0.
Weisenburger also played as an infielder for the Michigan Wolverines baseball team from 1945 to 1948. Weisenburger's contributions to the baseball team were described as follows:
"One of Michigan's outstanding all-around athletes, Jack Weisenburger, the spinning fullback of the Rose Bowl eleven, was equally at home on the Wolverine diamond. In his four year baseball career at Michigan, Weisenburger alternated between shortstop and the outfield. He led the Maize and Blue batting parade last season and will captain the squad during the 1948 campaign."
Weisenburger was drafted by the Washington Redskins of the National Football League and the New York Yankees of the All-America Football Conference, but he opted instead to play professional baseball. He played professional baseball from 1948 to 1952 for the Pawtucket Slaters (1948), Milwaukee Brewers (1949–1951), Denver Bears (1949), Evansville Braves (1951) and Tulsa Oilers (1952). During his career, he played mostly as a third baseman, but also as an outfielder, second baseman and shortstop. He had his best season in 1950, when he played in 121 games for the Brewers and compiled a .404 slugging average with 20 doubles, 13 home runs, and 43 RBIs.
After retiring from baseball, Weisenburger had a successful career in the insurance business at Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. From 1948 to 1960, Weisenburger was also a registered official for high school athletics. During that time, he officiated at almost 150 high school football games and almost 600 basketball games.
Weisenburger was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.
Weisenburger was inducted into the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in 1992.
- Census entry for Merle Weisenburger and family. Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Norton Shores, Muskegon, Michigan; Roll: 1015; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 43; Image: 634.0.
- 1944 Muskegon Heights High School yearbook, p. 63.
- "1944 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
- "1945 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
- "Michigan Fullback Out With a Fractured Jaw". The New York Times. October 18, 1946.
- "Michigan Loses Ace Back For Tilt With Northwestern". The Milwaukee Sentinel. October 18, 1946.
- "1946 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
- "1947 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
- Jones, Todd (2007). "Michigan". In MacCambridge, Michael. ESPN Big Ten College Football Encyclopedia. ESPN Enterprises. ISBN 1-933060-49-2.
- Cnockaert, p. 59.
- "The Specialist". Time. 1947-11-03.
- Harry Grayson (March 11, 1949). "Star College Gridders Hope to Prove Baseball Mixes With It". Warsaw Daily Times.
- Jim Cnockaert. Michigan Wolverines: Colorful Tales of Maize and Blue. p. 72.
- 1948 Michiganensian, p. 136.
- 1948 Michiganensian, p. 250.
- 1948 Michiganensian, p. 211.
- "Class of 1991". Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame.
- "John Weisenburger". baseball-reference.com.
- Sam Levy (April 11, 1949). "Jack Weisenburger Optioned to Brewers: Braves Send Former Michigan Athlete to Milwaukee on 24 Hour Recall Basis". The Milwaukee Journal.
- "News from the Classes". The Michigan Alumnus, vol. 67. 1960. p. 256.