15. June 2014 · Write a comment · Categories: 2014

Yo!  Tuesday night I’ll be attending/moderating the screening of Black and Blue at the Detroit Center (3663 Woodward Ave, Detroit 48201 map & directions).   The event is sponsored by the U-M Club of Detroit.  I’ll be joining my pal Brian Kruger of Stunt3 and we’ll entertain questions about the film of course, but we’re also willing to delve into booze, horses, women and politics.   More here and here:

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U-M DETROIT CENTER TO HOST FILM SCREENING OF INSPIRING DOCUMENTRY “BLACK AND BLUE”

Learn about an inspiring moment in collegiate football history on Tuesday, June 17 from 6 – 8 p.m., as the University of Michigan Detroit Center hosts a screening and discussion of the film “Black and Blue: The Story of Gerald Ford, Willis Ward and the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech Football Game.” This screening includes free admission, parking and complimentary refreshments.

Emmy nominated producer Brian Kruger and sports historian Greg Dooley will moderate a brief discussion following the film.

Locally produced by Stunt 3 Media and written by Buddy Morehouse and directed by Brian Kruger, “Black and Blue” follows the iconic story of two friends and one game during a time of civil injustice.

During the 20th century in-heed of Jim Crow laws, it was commonplace for college athletic teams in the North to bench their black players when playing a team from the South.

In 1934, the University of Michigan football team extended an invitation to Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) to compete in a game that fall. Georgia Tech accepted Michigan’s invitation under one condition: Michigan’s talented African-American player, Willis Ward, had to be benched. The University of Michigan agreed, which sparked uproar amongst the students, and most of all, Ward’s teammate and friend Gerald Ford.

Disgusted with the decision, Ford intended to quit the team; however, it was Willis Ward who encouraged Ford to play in the game.

About the moderators:

Brian Kruger is a two-time Emmy nominated film producer who directed and produced “Black and Blue.” A graduate of Eastern Michigan University, Kruger spent 20 years in print and multimedia publishing before founding his production and directing company, Stunt3 Multimedia.

Greg Dooley is a University of Michigan graduate and sports historian who appears in “Black and Blue.” He operates the blog MVictors.com, which centers on athletics at the University of Michigan with an emphasis on football.

The University of Michigan’s Detroit Center offers instruction and provides a central base to support and sustain research and partnerships among the University, civic leaders, arts groups, and community organizations. The Center recognizes Detroit for its rich urban arts and cultural context and opportunities for meaningful education and scholarship. The Center also embodies the University’s commitment to the City, and serves as a visible and accessible community center gateway to the University for Detroit’s residents and its institutions.

 

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[Ed. Via the extensive archives possessed by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis, a timely piece as we begin the 2014 World Cup..proving once again that you can tie Michigan football history back to anything.]

Guest post by Steve Sapardanis

In 1978, Bob Ufer had some hilarious stories along with a few “friends” he would often refer to during his radio broadcasts to further emphasize how great Michigan was doing and how the stars were aligning to match U-M’s football hopes and dreams that season.

When Michigan travelled to South Bend to face Note Dame for the first time in 35 years, Ufer was ready.  He had talked about this game for years and couldn’t wait for kickoff.   Irish fans, still feeling the highs of their 1977 national championship, claimed that “God made the Irish #1.”   Ufe had other ideas.

As the seconds winded down in U-M’s epic 28-14 victory in South Bend, Ufer went on about how actor George Burns, who portrayed The Almighty in the movie, “Oh, God!” was seen leaving the ND sideline to walk over to shake Bo’s hand.   Burns really wasn’t there of course, but the metaphor had already been cast – everybody loves a winner, even the gentleman upstairs!

Then there was this.  After the game Ufer proved that Michigan fandom extended all the way to South America by treating listeners to a “call” from his “friend” in Brazil to help celebrate the victory.  Check it out:

I believe Ufer used a recording of legendary sportscaster Angel Fernandez, one of the best-known voices in the history of Mexican radio and television.   Fernandez called baseball games and boxing matches but was best known for his work in soccer, where he began broadcasts with his famous phrase: “For all those who love and cherish soccer…”   The tradition of yelling “GOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!!!” was not only copied by a generation of Mexican broadcasters but was well-known throughout the soccer world and even became a phenomenon in the United States when it hosted the World Cup back in 1994.

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Related:

* Get Bob Ufer CDs, merch and much more from Ufer.org.
* The Cavender Stomp (1978)

 

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05. June 2014 · 1 comment · Categories: 2014

There seems to be a little momentum in the college football throwback department, and I like what is happening here. 

My man Craig at The Hoover Street Rag got a sneak peek at the collection of U-M vintage jerseys created by Tiedman and Formby and this week he shared a few of the designs HSR.  Check the full list of jerseys here; a few of my favorites:

Fierce:

1-oosterbaan - Copy

Fierce:

4-Anthony

Fierce:

7-Berenson

Want one?  Check out the Kickstarter campaign here for more details.

WPW returns after a brief hiatus with a trip back to Ann Arbor in 1965, a few months following Michigan’s 34-7 Rose Bowl beatdown of Oregon State.   The folks at Esquire Magazine visited Ann Arbor and came to the Sigma Chi house looking for a few good men to model summer clothes.  This shot included a few of Bump Elliott’s champions strolling in the Arb:Photo May 06, 8 13 59 PM Photo May 06, 8 14 12 PM

[Left to right above you’ve got Captain Jim Conley (Sr – End) in his prime, joined by Rick Sygar (Jr. – fullback), the lovely Jane Horsfall (class of ‘65), Jane’s boyfriend Bill Laskey (Sr. - End), and student Norm Legacki.]

I recently caught up with Captain Conley recently who explained how it went down:

MVictors:  How did this shoot come about?

Capt. Conley: “It started at the Sigma Chi house. It wasn’t about the athletes because, of course, because they can’t do that, but they could do it about the student athletes. Since our house was totally filled with athletes, it was pretty easy for them to round up the right amount of guys and put this whole spring fashion thing together. The guy that was doing it apparently was a U-M grad.  He came to campus and he went and went to Sigma Chi house and said, ‘Hey guys, you want to get some clothes?’  What they did was they had all these clothes in there, and if did the shoot you got to keep the clothes.”

MVictors: Did it get any attention on campus after the shoot came out?

Capt. Conley: “Heavens, yeah. It was a lot of the fraternity guys were reading that magazine. Most of us had our nose in Playboy, not Esquire because we couldn’t afford anything that was sold in Esquire magazine. Anyway, it was funny. It just so happened that there was a good number of athletes in there and, of course, they wanted a good looking woman and we found Janie Horsfall.  It was fun. But I don’t know why they didn’t use some good looking guys! [laughs]”

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Speaking of Captain Conley, Bump Elliott and the ‘64 Rose Bowl Champions.. They celebrate their 50th anniversary this season and I just finished my piece for mgoblog’s HTTV ‘14 on their wild season.  It’s certainly not the kind of thing you’ll read anywhere else and I think you’ll love it.  More to come on these pages as so stay tuned.

 

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[Ed.  Folks, busy wrapping up my epic salute to Captain Conley and the 1964 squad for HTTV 2014.   If you love f-bombs in history pieces that don’t even include Ron Kramer stories, get your copies here now via the mgo-Kickerstarter campaign!   I’ll be back to regular business soon, including a few outtakes from the ‘64 stuff.   In the meantime, just because, how about another epic a guest post from Dr. Sap???]

1 and 7

A guest post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

Two of the most iconic numbers in Detroit Red Wings hockey history were determined by bunk bed assignments on the team train in the 1940s. Ted Lindsay & Gordie Howe were awarded the #7 and #9 jerseys respectively not because someone in the organization thought they’d be great, but because bunk beds #7 and #9 became available for Lindsay & Howe when they were just beginning their Hall of Fame NHL careers.   Back then, whatever bunk bed you slept in on the train was the number you would wear on the ice.

Legend has it that Old Number 98 was given his iconic number after a little dispute with his high school coach.  Years ago Mark Harmon told Sports Illustrated his understanding of what happened:

As a freshman he was once chewing gum while the coach was talking and the coach got upset. He told him to get off the field but my dad said no. So they lined him up against the varsity and they kicked off to him and he ran three consecutive kickoffs for touchdowns. The coach told him to go to the office and pick out a uniform. So he did and he was the first one there. He picked the newest jersey, newest pair of pads, newest everything. He felt good and as he came back down from the office, the rest of the team was coming up. He went down to the field and the coach told him he had the starting halfback’s uniform on. The coach said, “Go take it off and get something else.” So he went back there and everything was gone except a moth-eaten torn-up jersey in the corner. Number 98. He loved that number and it came up continually in his life. It was the name of his sports-production company.

For Michigan football, two of the more recent iconic numbers have similarly interesting stories on how and why the respective players were given their iconic numbers and who subsequently has and hasn’t worn them since.  The numbers 1 and 7 have ultimately defined two positions for Michigan Football after their respective legends first donned those now iconic numerals.

When I mention #1 and #7 at Michigan don’t you automatically think of wide receiver and quarterback?  Interestingly enough, Anthony Carter and Rick Leach were the first players to wear the #1 and #7 jerseys at their respective positions.  Before AC, Gregg Willner, a placekicker (1975-78), and David Whiteford, a defensive back (1973-1975) wore #1.  Before Leach wore #7, Mark Jacoby wore it from 1972-1974 as a defensive end and wolfman.

I asked legendary equipment manager Jon Falk why Leach, who wore #13 as a Flint Southwestern Colt, was given #7 at Michigan in 1975, he explained to me how the number assignment process worked.  During the summers, Falk & Bo would sit down and review the list of available numbers based on which players were returning each year. That list would then be matched up to the incoming freshman class and numbers were assigned to each new player based on position.

For Leach, #13 was already taken by backup junior QB John Ceddia.  Falk and Bo saw that #7 was open, so they assigned the player who would eventually become the first freshman to start at QB in Michigan Football history, lucky #7.  Anthony Carter’s story was a little more interesting.

After hearing the reports about how dynamic Carter was in high school and once Bo and Bill McCartney saw Carter play in Florida, Schembechler gave Falk this bold prediction: “This kid is going to be the next Johnny Rodgers of College Football! He is going to return some kicks for touchdowns!  We’re gonna give him #1!”

Since AC last wore #1 in the 1983 Rose Bowl, there have been a few others to don the ultimate binary jersey: Greg McMurtry, Derrick Alexander, Tyrone Butterfield , David Terrell and Braylon Edwards – all wide receivers of course.  

After Leach last wore #7 in the 1979 Rose Bowl, several other players at different positions have worn the lucky number. QB’s Dave Hall, Demetrius Brown, Drew Henson, Spencer Brinton, Chad Henne, Devin Gardner (for a couple of years) and now Shane Morris.  Kicker Rick Sutkiewicz, DB Shonte Peoples and RB Chris Floyd were a few other non-QB’s to wear #7.

So I am not the only one who likes the fact that Shane Morris, a lefty QB, is wearing #7 – it just looks right.

But since Edwards left UM, no one has worn the coveted #1 jersey. Braylon has funded an endowment scholarship for the right to wear the #1 jersey, but no one has worn it since Edwards did in his last game – the 2005 Rose Bowl.

All this now leads to a couple questions:

  • Should the #1 jersey be put back into circulation?
  • Should #1 and #7 be worn by only WR’s and QB’s exclusively?

While Leach had a stellar career at U-M (3 Big Ten Championships, three-time 1st Team All-Big Ten QB, All-American QB in 1978 and the re-writing of the UM Passing Record Book), Carter’s dossier was a notch above: (2 Big Ten Championships, three-time 1st Team All-Big Ten WR, three-time All-American WR and the re-writing of the UM Receiving & Kick Return Record Books).

One last question: The argument could be made that Carter was the best to have ever played his position at Michigan. That being said, if he wore #13, would we think #13 was the best number ever for a Michigan wide receiver?

 

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The new Schembechler Hall museum is quite a sight – definitely check it out next time you have the means.   According to #1000SSS “the Towsley Family Museum inside Schembechler Hall will be open to the public on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays throughout the year. The museum will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on those days and is free to the public.”

The best stuff (to me) is the memorabilia, the vast majority of it is on loan from the personal collection of Ken Magee, the owner of Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia.   A couple items of note.  Ticket to the 1898 Chicago game that inspired Louis Elbel to compose ‘The Victors’:

1898 Michigan Chicago - Ticket Stub - Louis Elbel the Victors They also have a press “ribbon” to The Victors game in the display case.

This made my jaw drop – a custom-engraved badge presented to the U-M team from the epic 1909 Penn game (held in Philadelphia), when the crew of the U.S.S. Michigan came to the game and helped rally Michigan to an epic victory:

1909 U.S.S. Michigan - Penn - Michigan game

Elsewhere – one downside is that despite being a (very) spacious facility, they decided (at least for now) to not include the Little Brown Jug— not even the replica that has been on display in the museum for years. 

That said, consider #1000SSS forgiven for including this note inside the display dedicated to the LBJ rivalry:

ActuallyThat’s probably not very interesting or significant to most fans, but I was thrilled when I saw it.   The myth of Yost asking for the jug’s return really came to light as a part of the Little Brown Jug Lore series on these pages, and specifically in Chapter 8: The (True) Origins of The Little Brown Jug Rivalry

P.S. I would have tied the ‘myth’ term in the sentence with Fielding Yost but I will leave well enough alone :)

P.P.S. Speaking of 1909, one ball on the Righteous Tower of Victory Pigkins (#RTVP) is of course from the Syracuse game that year.  The score on that particular righteous pigskin?  44-0.  /wink.

 

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moes tourney

Ed. On the anniversary of Harry Newman’s passing on May 2, 2000 – a repost (originally from March 17, 2013:

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This edition of eBay Watch starts with a couple shots from Michigan’s 1932 battle with Northwestern played in the Big House:

1932 Northwestern - Pug 400433201511

The ballcarrier is #23 Earnest “Pug” Rentner, an All-American back for the Wildcats.    Here’s another shot in a separate eBay auction featuring Michigan’s star Harry Newman apparently snatching a ball out of mid-air:

1932 Newman front 360615511928

The caption attached to the second shot claims this is Newman intercepting a pass from Rentner, but I’ve seen no evidence in the recaps that Newman got a pick in this game.  He did a bunch of other things (fumble recovery, long passes, punt return, a field goal, etc.) but no interception.

While game photos are pretty easy to come by these days (heck, I have 100s from the Outback Bowl), I love these vintage photos.  There might be a film clip or two out there from this game but beyond that I’m guessing these shots are few and far between.

Despite the sparse Big House crowd (it was the Depression, man) this game was one of the most anticipated match-ups along Michigan’s march to the 1932 national title.   The Wildcats had put together quite a squad in the early 1930s and shared the conference crown with Harry Kipke’s Wolverines in 1930 and 1931 but…the teams didn’t face each other those seasons.  Via Hail to the Victors 2012:

Pug and The Purple Gang
The next week was the most anticipated battle of the season. Northwestern and Michigan shared both the past two conference titles and two of the biggest stars in college football: the Wildcat’s 1931 All-American back Earnest “Pug” Rentner and of course U-M’s dangerous Harry Newman. As an aside, Rentner’s moniker was spot on–hide the dog Two Pugs biscuits because my man Ernie was one pooch-faced fellow.

The story of the game was how Newman outshined the more nationally decorated Pug as the Michigan “system” defense stuffed Rentner in the 15-6 Wolverine triumph. According to the Daily, “Harry Newman completely dominated the limelight with his spectacular runback of punts, his accurate passing, and his excellent field-generalship.” That would become a theme in 1932. Suddenly the east coast media took notice of Newman and his Wolverines.

Pug fumbled on the first play of the game, and managed to net just over 30 yards on 34 attempts on the day.   Harry set up  both scores and kicked a field goal to cap Michigan’s scoring.   As noted in HTTV, the snuffing of Pug along with Newman’s performance put Michigan (and Harry) on the national watch list.

Newman carried Michigan on his back the rest of the way, finishing a perfect season and in December was quietly declared the 1932 National Champion thanks to the Dickinson System (via the Michigan Daily):

M Daily Dec 11 1932

Newman was named college player of the year and would have won the Heisman Trophy that season had it been around.   Not too bad for a feller who went just over 5’ 7”:

Lewan and Newman

You can own those 1932 photos – link to the Pug Rentner shot here, and the Harry Newman phantom interception here.

Related:  Two guys on that ‘32 squad were Willis Ward and president Gerald Ford (Ward saw significant action this season, Ford rode pine).  On eBay right now, check out these, umm, presumably unauthorized action figures (with several historical liberties!) of your heroes from Black and Blue.  Click the pics to see the auctions:

Gerald Ford Action Figure Willis Ward Action Figure

Ford carrying the pigskin?  Chip straps, modern shoulder pads, maize helmets?  Oy ! Oy ! Oy !

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 flagstarbanner

Last week we learned that the new radio broadcast team will be former U-M teammates Jim Brandstatter and Dan Dierdorf.  The big news is that Brandy is shifting over a seat to do the play-by-play, with DD handling the color commentary.  I confirmed with Doug Karsch that he will remain is his previous role handling the on-field duties.  I kinda hope Karsch would get the nod to be in the booth (in one role or another) but it’s hard to argue with the Brandy-DD team.  Heck, I didn’t even know Dierdorf was an option.

You might know that Brandy stepped in to handle the radio play-by-play back in 2003 for the Northwestern game, but that’s not actually the first time he performed those duties during a Michigan football game.  It turns out that was way back in 1980…on TV.  Recently Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis shared with me the details of Brandstatter’s first shot calling the game:

In 1980, Larry Adderley and Jim Brandstatter were all set to call the Michigan-Notre Dame football game from South Bend, Indiana for a local cable TV outlet.  Adderley, who had just finished 5 years as the host of Michigan Replay with coach Bo Schembechler, would unfortunately come down with laryngitis just before kickoff.  He made a valiant effort to do the play-by-play, but his voice just couldn’t hold up (see clip #1 below).

Brandstatter, having been a former UM offensive lineman knew the drill: when one man goes down, the next one has to step up. It has been the creed of Michigan Football since Bo arrived in 1969.  While he was planning on doing the color commentary for the cable telecast, Brandy manned up and took over for Adderley in the 2nd half. He recruited UM Hoopster Steve Grote to do the color commentary (see clip #2).  Obviously Brando got a little excited and you can tell he was “watching” the game in some spots instead of describing the action.  In his defense you have to remember that he was doing this game on TV, not radio.  He recovered nicely, and his call of Craig Dunaway’s last minute TD (see clip #3).

Not bad for his first gig as a play-by-play guy, especially when you consider he was prepping to do the game as the color commentary man.

Not too shabby indeed.  Here are the clips:

I heard back in January through my deep network of #1000SSS spies that Brandstatter was indeed going after the play-by-play gig…and it prompted this tweet exchange:

Brady MVictors tweets

We know now that Jim sought out clips from his first time doing radio play-by-play (2003 Northwestern) to help make his case to IMG and our friends on State Street.   Radio legend Art Vuolo, the man with an ultimate set of U-M audio in his archives, confirmed the story on his site last week:

Perhaps the reason I am personally so excited to see this happen is due, in part, to the fact that it was my pleasure to help out via my extensive archive of U of M games. In 2003, when back surgery prevented Frank Beckmann from making the trip to Evanston, IL for the UM-Northwestern game, Jim was pressed into service calling the game, with Steve Courtney doing the color commentary. Brandy called me and asked if I had that game? I said I have just about all of them.

After checking, that game was still on the original video cassette (a Beta tape none the less!) So, I copied it, with Jim on the audio, onto a DVD and watched it at the same time. I thought “wow he’s damn good at actually calling a game!” When he came over to pick up the disc he was truly amazed at the library of Michigan video I’ve accumulated over the past 35+ years.

A copy of that DVD was given to Michigan Athletic Director, Dave Brandon and the rest…is now history. In an e-mail I received from Jim Brandstatter on Thursday he said, “Thank the Lord you still had a copy of that Northwestern game when my copy didn’t work so well…that was big…I had no idea at the time, but it turned out large.”

My pleasure Brando.

Nice work Art.  Nice work Sap.  Looking forward to hearing the new crew.

 

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Via my Google keyword spybot sentinels…from the Escanaba Daily News (naturally!), check out this piece on 92 year-old alum August Altese (inset left).  Augie played on the freshman team in 1940 augie and suited up once more for the Victors Classic prior the Spring Game a few weeks ago.  

A few choice cuts from the story:

On taking the field: ‘“I didn’t have my hearing aids in and they just pushed me out there,” Altese said. “I was so pleased to see that everyone was clapping. They assigned me the last five minutes and I just kind of ran this way and that. They didn’t throw anything to me, but when I was warming up they threw me three passes. I missed the first two, caught the third one and fell, and I still feel it.”’

On Billy Taylor: ‘”He was a great runner for Michigan, but he boozed it up and got into drugs after graduation,” Altese said. “Now he’s running an establishment that helps people. He’s a great guy.”’

and check this out, on Tom Harmon’s sponsored-sled(!!):  ‘“As a freshman at Michigan in 1940, Altese didn’t get much playing time, and though he was on the same team as legendary Michigan quarterback Tom Harmon, he said he never met him. [Ed. The author didn’t know or point out that freshman played on a separate team.]   “Tom Harmon drove around in a coupe. He was being paid by Wrigley’s Chewing Gum,” said Altese of Harmon’s celebrity, obviously playing at a time before current NCAA regulations prevented that sort of thing.’

On Yost and his righteous leather chair: ‘“Altese also met Fielding Yost, the legendary Michigan coach who was in his later years at the time was a frequent conversationalist.  “I talked to Fielding Yost several times at Michigan Union. He was in his 70s or 80s and loved to have people come and talk to him. He had those leather chairs and he’d be there.”’

Love it.  Read the entire piece here

And re: Harmon’s nice sled, purchased no doubt with a little assistance from his powerful friends at Wrigley.  At best a gray area in the rules if Wrigley “hired” Harmon to promote their gum, and 98 bought the coupe with the money.  We know that Kipke (who recruited Harmon) was sacked by U-M due to a scandal involving a illegally paying players via fake jobs.  Promoting gum sounds like a bona fide fake job—perhaps the phoniest in the pantheon of fake gigs.  The conference didn’t allow athletic scholarships back then, and it’s clear by Harmon’s actions following Kipke’s dismissal that he needed something else (see $$$) to stay at Michigan.  LIFE magazine discussed Harmon’s off-the-field pursuits to make dough in this 1940 piece, including “distributing gum samples”…

Harmon holds a scholarship, works hard to maintain his good B average. He helps pay his way through college by distributing gum samples, selling shoes and books, running copy for a printer. In his spare time Harmon collects swing records, goes around with pretty Margot Thoms (left). He runs a sports show over a local radio station on Saturday mornings. Although he gets no pay for this show, he hopes to become a sports announcer after he graduates next June.

There were rumors abound that Harmon was nudged from Horace Mann HS (Gary, IN) towards Ann Arbor via influential Chicago alums..certainly none of those fellas in the Windy City club knew anyone downtown at Wrigley. :)   Ahh, something to chew on.

 

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