I am currently researching and writing a biography of Wilbur Theodore Gray. The working title is Loyal Son: Bill Gray, the first Calumet High School alumnus to star at Notre Dame. I anticipate that the book will be released in 2021, but life sometimes gets in the way of best laid plans. The back cover will read something like this:
You all know Harry Curtis, Billy Burke, and Bobby Lynch,
All noted men who’ve worn the blue and gold;
“Speed” Kelly, “Rusty” Lathrop, and Capt. Farrell—it’s a cinch,
That they play the game as did the men of old.
George Regan, Harry Newning, Carmody, and “Dolly” Gray,
Are other men that old N.D. can claim,
Why half the fans of this great land would have no sport at all,
If it wasn’t for the boys from Notre Dame.
— F.M. Gassensmith, Notre Dame Scholastic, June 14, 1913
Bill “Dolly” Gray (1891-1962) was the first athlete from Calumet Township, Michigan, to star for the University of Notre Dame. As a direct result of Gray’s success and influence there would soon be more. George Gipp and Hunk Anderson—both ND legends—were recruited by their friend, Dolly Gray. Others followed on their heels, sustaining the connection between Calumet High School and Our Lady of the Lake. This path to glory was originated by a Cornish copper miner; a professional baseball player who forever remained a loyal son to his family, his community, and to old Notre Dame.
Bill Gray received monograms for varsity baseball from 1912 through 1914 and these seasons are covered extensively herein. He organized ND’s first hockey team and resided in Corby Hall near his friend and classmate Knute Rockne. Gray took the field with at least eight members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame during his college and pro career, where his teammates included Shoeless Joe Jackson. He was forced to make his pro baseball debut under the duress of having been kidnapped and threatened with incarceration if he refused to play. Family members describe him as “a real character.” This is his story, including an account of what it was like to attend Notre Dame at the extraordinary time just prior to World War I.
John S. Haeussler is an amateur historian and bestselling Copper Country author.
A portion of the proceeds from the sales of Loyal Son: Bill Gray, the first Calumet High School alumnus to star at Notre Dame will be directed to Calumet High School Athletics.