Baer is considered one of the greatest linemen in Michigan football history. An All-America his senior season (1927), he played three different positions on the line: left guard, left tackle, and right guard. Benny Friedman, Michigan's great quarterback, said, "Ray was the best college lineman I ever saw...the fastest man on the squad, he was smart, he was quick, he was very aggressive, and he had great desire. He was wonderful on both offense and defense."
Birth and Death Dates:
b. May 7, 1905 - d. January 19, 1968
When he arrived on the University of Michigan campus, Baer was a Kentucky high school legend; he was All-State and All-Southern in football, All-State in basketball, and state high jump champion. In 1921, he led Manual High School to the Kentucky basketball championship and was the high scorer (14 points) in the championship game, a 32-17 victory over Union Academy. Ray's stellar reputation preceded him, but he lived up to the high expectations.
In 1925, Baer was named Grantland Rice All-America honorable mention and Michigan won the Big Ten title with a record of 7-1, outscoring opponents by an outstanding margin of 227-3! Michigan coach Fielding Yost called the team his best ever and referred to Baer as the team's best lineman. In 1926, Michigan tied for the Big Ten championship and Baer was Grantland Rice and AP All-America honorable mention, and AP All-Western Conference second team.
In 1927, the year that Michigan Stadium was constructed, the Wolverines finished 6-2 and in third place in the Big Ten. The first game at teh new stadium was played on October 1 with the Wolverines posting a 33-0 win against Ohio Wesleyan. The stadium was officially dedicated on October 22 as Michigan blanked Ohio State, 21-0, in front of a then-record 84,000 people. That season, Ray became only the second person from Louisville to ever be named All-America when he earned AP All-America second team honors. He was also named Grantland Rice All-America honorable mention, and AP All-Western Conference first team. In 1928, he played in the 1928 East-West Shrine Game. Football historian Dr. L.H. Baker placed him on the All-Time Michigan Team.
After graduating from Michigan in 1929, Baer returned to Louisville and coached an independent basketball team. That year, he also became the line coach at the University of Louisville. In 1932, he became the head football coach at Manual High School, his alma mater, and held the position for 12 years. In 1946, Ray moved to St. Xavier, a Catholic high school in Louisville, and became playfully known as "Father O'Baer." Illness forced Ray to step down in 1951, and he was compelled to remain in a wheelchair until he died in 1968.
Baer is a member of the Louisville (Kentucky) Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
Baer played guard at the University of Michigan from 1925-1927.
5'11", 190 pounds
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encyclopedia of JEWS in sports by Bernard Postal, Jesse Silver, and Roy Silver (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1965)