John Messmer might have been the most versatile athlete to ever compete at the University of Wisconsin. Messmer won three major letters in track, football and baseball. He also captained the swim team, played some water polo and was a prime candidate for the crew team.
Messmer started his athletic career at Milwaukee East High School, where he broke the national prep discus record in 1905. Messmer earned All Western Conference honors at UW in football and track. He qualified for the 1908 Olympic track team, but withdrew because of a brother's illness. He had the best discus throw in the country at the time.
Messmer also was scouted by pro baseball teams and accompanied the Badger baseball team to Japan in 1909. After graduation, Messmer worked as a surveyor in the Madison area.