Another vintage Michigan football item showed up this week on eBay, this time a post card celebrating Fielding Yost and his fine 1905 squad. The team is assembled in a line with Yost in the middle, standing on a large sign in the shape of a football that reads ‘Western Championship’. Atop the photo is a block letter title, ‘A HARD COMBINATION TO BEAT’.
The copyright of the postcard is 1905, so I’m guessing this was produced before the season as a souvenir to students and fans. The mention of the Western Championship refers to the undefeated 1904 campaign when the great Willie Heston and the Wolverines ran the table 10-0 and outscored opponents 567-22.
More evidence that this was produced prior to the season, someone wrote on the card “We defeated Wisconsin 12 to 0, as ever.” The Wolverines indeed defeated the Badgers by that margin on homecoming that season, on November 18, 1905 specifically. The “as ever” zinger was a 1905 version of smack talk if you’re keeping track; probably about as harsh as it got it those days.
The 1905 crew was a well photographed group. Yost and his teams hadn’t been defeated since he stepped on campus four years prior so it makes sense that folks were eager to get a good look at the machine that was tearing up the football world. Thankfully the Bentley Library has republished a few bonus photos of this team online and they include the shot that was used for the postcard in the eBay auction. Closer inspection reveals that the “Western Championship” oval on the postcard was likely dubbed-in later (1905 version of photoshopping) as Yost is standing on a small stool:
Other photos of the 1905 squad that can be found (and can be blown up into incredible detail) on the Bentley Library site:
In a very cool huddle around Yost – Bentley Library
Line up for good measure – Bentley Library
At the Whitmore Lake Hotel – 1905 – Bentley Library*
*[Ed 10/1/09: Thanks to reader Michael F., who correctly identified the correct whereabouts of the photo above. It is from Walter Graham's photo album at the Bentley Library, a 1905 shot on the front porch of The Whitmore Lake Hotel. The team used to train at Whitmore Lake before the season. Very cool. Here's a link to the photo.]
The author of that smack talk was justified in dropping some postcard pomposity, as to that point the 1905 crew were rolling. Through the shot-out of Wisconsin and onto the next week when they added a 75-0 defeat of Oberlin, Yost’s men were undefeated with 12 wins, outscoring opponents 495-0. The smack would end there unfortunately, as a few days later Michigan traveled to the Windy City and experience something that hadn’t happened in Yost’s five seasons: they lost. Barely. Their old rivals Chicago sent The Victors back on the train to Ann Arbor with a 2-0 defeat, the streak broken.
A Bonus eBay Watch:
A member of the 1967 Ohio State football squad is selling the sacred gold pants they receive if they defeat Michigan. It’s not the first time one of these beauties has come up for auction; it won’t be the last.
Coaches and players receive the award which has its roots during Michigan’s brutal season of 1934 when new OSU coach Francis Schmidt sized up Gerald Ford & the two-time defending national champions and observed, “They put their pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else.”
I’ve seen these fetch around $1,000 in the past, we’ll see how this auction goes, here’s a pic: