Building out the new historical uniform timeline has been a collaborative effort.  Recently Bruce Madej, the legendary U-M SID, took a look and sent over a link from his book, Champions of the West.  Within a section of the book talking about Fritz Crisler and the launch of the winged helmet at Michigan in 1938, it gets into a little uniform history— including this spicy meatball:

The only change in the typical blue uniforms before 1949 came in 1928.  As Michigan planned to play Navy in Baltimore, the Midshipmen refused to wear any other color than their traditional blue.  Therefore, Michigan came out in bright yellow jerseys with blue numerals.  The team was said to look like canaries, and the uniforms were put away after the 6-6 tie.

That is awesome and dang…I’d love to have a look at a photo of those canary-clad lads.

Fast forward to today, and we can see that Navy did indeed have a uniform that resembled the gear the Wolverines wore back in the 1920s.  (But note, FWIW, I think that happened a lot back then).   Anyway – Via eBay, here’s a look at an advertisement that was created for that very November 10, 1928 game, in the form of a pop-up Navy footballer:

Navy vs. Michigan ad 1928 - Baltimore, MD

Here’s a colorized version of Michigan’s gear from 1927 thanks to reader Larry:

Bennie Oosterbaan - Michigan - 1927

Of course 1928 wasn’t the only time Michigan had a challenge with the fairer of our two school colors.  Just a few weeks ago those high and bright maize numerals on Outback Bowl jerseys became invisible, like Wonder Woman’s jet, when viewed in the Florida sun from beyond 55 yards:

Can not see michigan uniforms

My advice if we face another canary disaster: look for dreadlocks (or lack thereof) and go from there.

Related: Uniform timeline (updated)

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2 Comments

  1. That book is great because it covers all Michigan sports not just football. Hopefully in the near future we get an updated version (it only goes to 1997) that is something like the Spartan Sports Encyclopedia by Jack Seibold.

  2. I have that book. I read about the yellow jerseys and tried to find them. The Navy yearbook had a picture or 2. Not a great picture but you could tell they were light.

    I think most of the time in the 1920s there were quite a few games with teams wearing same color. Just every so often I read that one team wore another jersey to not be confused. But they only did that every so often. For Michigan the only team in the Big Ten would have been Illinois to also have blue. I read Illinois wore orange jerseys for a few years before the 20s. Have not seen pictures of them