Hunter Hall of Fame

Wally Gilbert

Born Dec. 19, 1900 in Oscoda, Mich.
Died Sept. 7, 1958 in Duluth, Minn.

Wally Gilbert is considered by many to have been Duluth’s greatest all-around athlete. He played football, baseball and basketball professionally, but was best known as a standout halfback and punter for the National Football League's Duluth Eskimos.

One of Gilbert’s greatest feats is not recorded in the record books. He drop-kicked a football 61 yards for an unofficial record.

Once, when the Eskimos were playing at Rock Island, Ill., Gilbert punted from the back of the Duluth goal out of bounds on the Rock Island 2-yard line.

In all, he played about 10 years of pro football.

Gilbert played football and basketball at Duluth Denfeld, from which he graduated in 1920. He was a star on the first Denfeld football team to win a city championship, and he scored the only touchdown in the first Denfeld/Central football game, which Denfeld won, 6-0.

He went on to Valparaiso University in Indiana where he starred with the gridders when they had such clubs as Yale and Harvard on their schedule. Gilbert helped his club to a victory over Harvard one year.

He started his baseball career in the North Dakota League with Bismarck, went to the Western League to play with St. Joseph and also played in the American Association in Minneapolis. He also played with Atlanta in the Southern League.

In the mid-1950s he was chosen to the all-time Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team as a third baseman. He played most of his major league career with the Dodgers, but also played with Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

Gilbert played with both Wausau and Winnipeg in the Northern League and managed the Wausau club to the pennant in 1941.

Gilbert also was a crack basketball player. He toured with the Two Harbors All-Stars from coast to coast — Maine to California. He also played with the Duluth Tank Corp., the Denver (Colo.) Tigers and the Buffalo (N.Y.) All-Americans.

Gilbert was a star curler with the Dick Wade rink, known in the 1920s as the “kid rink.” This rink, with Dewey Scanlon and Arne Anderson, topped the bonspiel and won a number of championships.

When Gilbert was inducted into the Duluth Sports Hall of Fame he was called “Duluth’s All-Time Greatest Athlete.” He is credited with starting the Denfeld tradition of alums coming back to the school/community and giving advice/clinics to Western Duluth students.

Hall of Fame Members

 

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