George Dygert
Date of birth: (1870-11-25)November 25, 1870
Place of birth: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Date of death: April 4, 1957(1957-04-04) (aged 86)
Place of death: Chicago, Illinois
Career information
Position(s): Fullback, Halfback
College: University of Michigan
 As player:
Career highlights and awards
Honors: Michigan team captain (1892, 1893)

George Burlingame "Dygie" Dygert (November 25, 1870 – April 4, 1957) was an American football player and lawyer. Dygert played college football for the University of Michigan for five years from 1890 to 1894 and was captain of the 1892 and 1893 teams. He played professional football for the Butte, Montana football team in 1896 and 1897 and practiced law in Butte and Chicago from 1896 to 1953.


Early yearsEdit

Dygert was born on November 25, 1870 and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan.[1] He attended Ann Arbor High School where he played two years on the high school's football team, including one year as the team's captain.[1]


Dygert enrolled at the University of Michigan and played five years at the fullback and halfback positions for the Michigan Wolverines football team from 1890 to 1894. As a freshman in 1890, Dygert played on the first racially integrated Michigan football team,[2][3] a team that featured Dygert and George Jewett, both of whom grew up in Ann Arbor, playing in the same backfield.[4] (After Jewett, another African-American did not play football at Michigan until Willis Ward did so in the 1930s.) The 1890 Michigan team photograph shows Dygert and Jewett seated next to each other. (Cropped image at right.)

File:Dygert and Jewett (1890).jpg

In November 1891, after Dygert's second year playing for the Wolverines, the Chicago Daily Tribune wrote:

"Dygert, full-back, has received his football as well as his intellectual education in Ann Arbor. He is short and thickset, having 158 pounds of muscle attached to five feet seven and one-half inches of length. He tackles low and hard and can be found at the bottom of almost every heap."[5]

Dygert was elected as the team captain of the 1892 and 1893 Michigan football teams that compiled records of 7–5 and 7–3, respectively.[6][7] He was also one of the leaders of the 1894 team that compiled a record of 9–1–1, outscoring opponents 244 to 84.[8] Dygert authored an article on the 1894 season for The Michigan Alumnus in which he credited the team's manager Charles A. Baird, head coach William McCauley and trainer Keene Fitzpatrick for the team's success:

"The fall semester opened under the most favorable conditions for as fine an eleven as Michigan has ever had. Manager Charles Baird was particularly fortunate in securing the services of Mr. Macauley, tackle on Princeton's championship eleven of last year, as coach, and Mr. Keene Fitzpatrick, of Detroit's M.A.A., as trainer. The work of both these enthusiasts can be seen in the practice of the team from day to day. At a mass meeting held last month great enthusiasm was shown by the students, and several hundred dollars was raised for the team. Thus, for the first time in the history of Michigan football, the manager was enabled to secure the necessary equipment for a first-class eleven. Lack of money has been the cry hitherto."[9]

Dygert received his bachelor's degree in 1893 and thereafter remained at the university for two more years as a law student.[1] When he received his undergraduate degree in June 1893, the Detroit Free Press wrote:

"Another of the men who have proved themselves to be the strongest in the public affairs of the graduating class is Mr. George B. Dygert. Everybody knows of Mr. Dygert, otherwise known as 'Dygie,' captain of the U. of M. eleven. Mr. Dygert is one of the strongest athletes in his class, and as a football player he stands at the head of the college list. In outdoor life he has been one of the most prominent members of the senior class from the beginning to the end of its course."[1]


File:George Dygert (drawing).jpg

As early as June 1893, Dygert has stated his intention of "migrating to the 'wooly west,' as he terms it."[1] After completing his legal studies at Ann Arbor, Dygert moved to Butte, Montana. In March 1896, The Michigan Alumnus reported that he had been admitted to the bar at Butte, and had begun practice there.[10] His law practice in Butte specialized in mining law.[11]

In addition to his law practice, Dygert also played professional football for a team in Butte that was sponsored by mine owners.[11][12] He played halfback for the Butte team in 1896 and 1897.[13] The Los Angeles Times called the "Buttes" the best football team in the West in 1896, as they defeated the Denver Athletic Club 20–0 and the San Francisco Olympics 18–0.[13][14][15] The Times called Butte's Christmas Day victory in San Francisco "perhaps the best football game ever put up in the West."[14] On Thanksgiving Day in 1897, the Butte football team defeated the highly regarded Oakland Reliance team 6–4 in front of 2,000 spectators in Butte. The Associated Press account of the game credited Dygert with "tearing great holes through the Reliance line."[15] The Butte team defeated the Reliance in a second game played three days later by a score of 4–0, and Dygert scored the game's only points on a touchdown run (scored as four points under the rules of the time). According to the Associated Press account of the game, Dygert took the ball six or eight yards from the Reliance goal and "went through the line" for the touchdown.[16]


In 1917, Dygert moved to Chicago, Illinois where he practiced law for 36 years.[11]

Family and later yearsEdit

Dygert married Alberta Quirk in February 1897. The couple had three children, Edward A. Dygert (born c. 1900), Jane Dygert (born c. 1903) and George B. Dygert (born c. 1906). Dygert retired in 1953 following the death of his wife, to whom he had been married for 56 years.[11] Dygert died of a heart attack in 1957 at his home in Chicago at age 86.[17] He was survived by his two sons and daughter.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "University of Michigan: Palladium, The Exponent of College History; Memories Embalmed Through the Art Preservative; Sketches of Some College Men Shortly to Enter the World Arena". Detroit Free Press. 1893-06-04.
  2. "Negro Track Star To Seek Football Award". The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Mich.). 1932-10-27.
  3. "Ward Second Negro To Win Second 'M'". The Bessemer Herald. 1933-11-17.
  4. "1890 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  5. "The Players from Ann Arbor: A New but Strong Team Which Will Play a Clean Game". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1891-11-14.
  6. "1892 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  7. "1893 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  8. "1894 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library.
  9. George B. Dygert (November 1894). "The Football Situation". The Michigan Alumnus. p. 14.
  10. "Here and There with Michigan Men". The Michigan Alumnus. March 1896. p. 89.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 "G.B. Dygert, '92 Michigan Captain Dies". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1957-04-05.
  12. Gerald R. Gems (1998). "Montana's Professional Football Team". THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 20, No. 5.
  13. 13.0 13.1 "A Rough Game: One Player Injured and Two Ruled Off for Slugging". Los Angeles Times. 1896-11-08. ("Near the beginning of the second half Dygert made a touchdown")
  14. 14.0 14.1 Los Angeles Times. 1896-12-26.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Kicked With Buttes: Oakland's Reliance Goes Down to Defeat Far From Home". Los Angeles Times. 1897-11-26.
  16. "They Had 'Revenge': Reliance Goes Up Against the Buttes Again". Los Angeles Times. 1897-11-29.
  17. "Southtown Gird Athlete Is Heart Attack Victim". Southtown Economist. 1957-04-10.
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