Search Results for: fritz crisler
17. September 2008 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Affectionately, Fritz Crisler (1968) · Categories: Archive 2008, eBay Watch, History, Michigan Memorabilia · Tags: , , ,

Next up in eBay Watch is a late 60s(?) era unique item-it’s a program from some sort of reception or dinner for Fritz Crisler. This one is pretty cool as Crisler signed it for a gentleman named George writing, “To George, a grand person, Best Wishes all ways, Affectionately Fritz Crisler”.
Here’s the auction, with the current bid at $36.

I say it probably dates to the late 60s as a photo of Crisler arena adorns the program and the facility wasn’t completed in 1967. Here’s more on Crisler arena from

Three years in the making at a cost of $7.2 million, Crisler Arena stands as a tribute to Herbert O. “Fritz” Crisler and his outstanding contributions to Michigan Athletics. Crisler, a Wolverine football coach for 10 years, served 27 years as the Michigan athletic director before retiring in 1968. Crisler Arena opened Dec. 2, 1967, with its formal dedication on Feb. 27, 1968.

Dan Dworsky, a linebacker on Crisler’s undefeated 1947 and 1948 football teams, was the architect. The building stands at 107 feet with telescopic seating encircling the arena floor and bringing the total seating capacity to 13,751.

The program details the record of each of Crisler’s 10 seasons and identifies the Toastmaster as Tom Harmon along with Bump Elliott. Check it out:

Pretty cool. For a few reasons I suspect this is some type of retirement party for Crisler. He retired as director of athletics in 1968 and this would have to date right around that period. With the arena being completed in late 1967 (and on the program) and with the event featuring Bump Elliott, it probably was ’68. Not that Elliott couldn’t have been at the event in a later year, but certainly Bo would have been mentioned on the program especially if this was held after 1969.

But it’s not that long ago, if anyone knows the specific event let me know. The auction ends September 18.

From Now on, You’ll be Fritz

Great observation by MVictors guest columnist Lew. He suspected some funny business in comparing the signatures on the two letters I wrote on in the last eBay Watch. Lew’s comment:

Great stuff, as usual, MVictors. I’m no handwriting expert, but what’s up with the “Fritz” signature on the Biggie Munn letter?

Lew’s instincts are correct in that there’s something goofy, but after a little digging I think he’s actually got it backwards. In looking back on some older posts, it looks to me as if the Biggie Munn letter of recommendation signature was delivered by Crisler himself, it’s the signature on the letter congratulating Ohio State that ol’ Fritz left to his secretary! Here’s the evidence:

The signature from the 1954 Football Bust has got to be authentic and while I’m also not a handwriting expert, it certainly shares many characteristics with the Munn letter of rec, and it’s nowhere in the neighborhood of the OSU letter. Also, how and/or why would someone falsify Crisler’s signature at a football bust? Case closed. You’ve got to chuckle a bit that Crisler didn’t bother to sign OSU letter, although I’m sure it wasn’t meant as a slight to his colleague in Columbus.

07. November 2016 · Comments Off on Another Fritz Fixer-Upper (1938) | This Week In Michigan Football History · Categories: 2016



For Saturday’s This Week in Michigan Football History we headed back 78 years to 1938, the year Fritz Crisler made his coaching debut in Ann Arbor.  Fritz was brought in to do a fixer-upper, as the Harry Kipke-era left the program in a shambles:

As always, this segment appears on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX’s epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  During home games you can hear it live inside the Go Labatt Blue Light Victors Lounge starting 4 hours prior to kickoff.  Go Blue!

You can listen to all of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.

Follow MVictors on Twitter

script after the jump:

More »

MaraWatch - Wolverines Collection!  Go Blue

Good Wednesday to you, friends.  WPW leads off with a classic shot of the B1G football coaches meeting prior to the 1931 season:

 Kipke and coaches 1931 360785202817   Kipke description
This photo, from the Big Ten meetings prior to the 1931 season, is probably worth its $44 auction price.   On the floor you’ve got M headman Harry Kipke with Purdue coach (and former player under Rockne) Noble Kizer demonstrating life in the trenches.    Minnesota’s Fritz Crisler, who would replace Kipke later that decade, watches from the back.   Amongst the men seated is Illinois legend Bob Zuppke sitting next to the one & only Amos Alonzo Stagg.  Great shot.  Dress code in ‘31?  White shirt, tie, Brylcreem in the hair (except for Stagg).


Benny Friedman 1926 201047600870

I don’t know when wire photos started to be distributed to newspapers, but this has to be a fairly early one (from 1926) featuring the great Michigan quarterback and NFL HOF’er Benny Friedman.   Seller claims it is an original and wants a mere $30.  If it’s truly the original it’s worth over $100 easy IMO.


Iowa Depression 360685717404

The Depression was a bitch.  It was tough to get folks to the Big House in 1933, despite the team entering the season as defending national champion and back-to-back-to-back B1G champs.  Above is a shot from the Iowa game in Ann Arbor on November 11, 1933 and the Wolverines were 6-0 – despite all this but a mere 22,000 fans waddled into the Big House on this day.  (Memo to the sardines crammed in end zone—umm, spread out!!).

Michigan would go on to claim the 1933 national title after tying Minnesota the following week and blanking Northwestern in the finale.



Previous editions:


Follow MVictors on Twitter

I always like to check out the old letters that pop up on eBay for stuff just like this.  Back in 1962 then-athletic director Fritz Crisler submitted a story to Reader’s Digest on his college coach and mentor, Chicago legend Amos Alonzo Stagg.  [As an aside, there’s a copy of the story at the Bentley Library in Crisler’s archives and I plan to check it out.]

Fritz clearly had deep admiration for his former coach.  Heck, Sports Illustrated, in its wonderful 1964 piece on Crisler  ‘The Man Who Changed Football’ even suggested the ‘1’ in the Michigan Stadium attendance might actually be reserved for Stagg!:

It was his secret. But anyone is entitled to guess, and one guess might be that somewhere in that vast stadium there is this one seat, and perhaps it is never sold. Perhaps it is reserved, now and forever, for someone who taught Fritz Crisler a way of coaching football and a way of life. For the Old Man, Amos Alonzo Stagg.

So coupling Crisler’s demeanor, his air-tight professionalism and his admiration for his mentor I’m guessing Fritz put a lot of thought into the words he chose for this story for Reader’s Digest.  So what could go wrong?

Fritz Not Happy

Well thanks to Mr. Myron Green of Worcester, Mass, we know that Crisler was none-too-happy with what happened after he submitted his story to the popular magazine.   Green wrote Crisler apparently commending him on the piece, but in his reply (above) Fritz revealed that Reader’s Digest messed with this draft (and even rewrote some of it) without his sign off.    Ugh.

I’m guessing the folks at RD got more than an earful from the ol’ Fritz.

The seller is asking a cool $399.00 (yeesh) or best offer for the original letter. 

I can’t wait for John Kryk’s book on Stagg and Yost, still in the works.  If you haven’t, order your copy of Hail to the Victors 2012.  Kryk’s piece on Yost, which includes pieces from the upcoming book, is worth the price of the mag.

04. November 2011 · Comments Off on TWIMFbH: Crisler Gets it Back on Track with Winged Helmets and Super Sophs (1938) · Categories: 2011


Last week we talked about when Fritz Crisler and his Princeton Tigers faced Harry Kipke and his eventual 1932 national championship squad.

Flash forward to this week in Michigan football history in 1938, and the two men are involved once again.  Kipke is now the disgraced coach who couldn’t score a point against the Buckeye in four seasons and was at the helm when illegal practices and fake jobs for players were abound.  Michigan inserted the straight-laced, no-nonsense Fritz Crisler to fix it all.

Ironically, it was the boring, business-like Crisler who introduced to Ann Arbor arguably the most recognizable element of any football uniform anywhere—the winged helmet.

Here’s this edition of TWIMFbH, as Crisler, his super sophs and those winged helmets faced Penn in the sixth game of the 1938 season.  As always, you can listen to it out before the KeyBank Countdown to Kick-off on WTKA 1050AM tomorrow, or click play now:

You can hear all of the  This Week… clips here.


1932 –“I thought Crisler was a Violin Player”
1934 – Harry Kipke and the Fall of 1934
1937 – Fritz’s Secret Practice
1938 – Harmon and Old Number..Six?
1938 – Debut of Crisler’s Winged Helmet
1944 – Michigan’s Debut as a Nocturnal Eleven
1945 – Army Program from Yankee Stadium
1947 – 1948 Rose Bowl and the title debate
1948 – Crisler Describes the Spinner

Follow MVictors on Twitter

28. October 2011 · Comments Off on TWIMFbH–Kipke, Crisler and The Dickinson System (1932!) · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , ,

imageFor the latest edition of TWIMFbH we step down to 1932 and check out when Harry Kipke’s undefeated crew, led by All-American quarterback Harry Newman faced a very familiar name—Fritz Crisler and his Princeton Tigers.

We touch on that game played this Saturday back in 1932, but spend more time on the method to determine the national champion back then, namely, The Dickinson System.

As always, you can listen to it out before the KeyBank Countdown to Kick-off on WTKA 1050AM tomorrow, or click play now:

You can hear all of the  This Week… clips here.


Follow MVictors on Twitter

More on the Dickinson System here:

See Dick Compute: How an Econ Prof determined the National Champion

Check out this 1948 book titled, ‘A Handy Illustrated Guide to Football’, currently up for bid($24) on eBay:

A Handy Illustrated Guide to Football

It caught my eye because it includes a passage and diagram from legendary Michigan coach and athletic director Fritz Crisler, describing the famed single wing fullback spinner.   It was formations and plays like this that earned Crisler’s backfield the nickname ‘The Mad Magicians’.

Thanks to eBay seller ‘Tink’ who sent over a clip of the Crisler submission:


And the busy diagram:


In its prime, Crisler’s bewildering offense was a sight to see.  The pinnacle was perhaps the 1948 Rose Bowl where the Magicians crushed USC 49-0.  TIME Magazine described the devastation:

Southern Cal’s beefy bruisers, the West Coast champs, were not clubbed to death. They were just hoodwinked and whipsawed by Michigan’s slickers. Jack Weisenburger, Crisler’s sturdy spinning fullback, started most of Michigan’s backfield ballet and ball-handling hocuspocus, and chewed through the center of Southern Cal’s bewildered line for three Michigan touchdowns.

Better yet, check out footage from the game:

The seller is asking $24.00 for ‘A Handy Illustrated Guide to Football’.

Speaking of Crisler, there have been some very cool photos of the old coach available including several from the before, during and after the ‘48 Rose Bowl.  Here’s a pretty cool shot from the lockerroom after the game with Fritz and Pete Elliott having a laugh:


The seller’s asking $15 for the shot.

1948 Rose Bowl and the title debate
Affectionately, Fritz Crisler
From now on, You’ll be Fritz

Most Michigan fans know that Fritz Crisler made his way to Ann Arbor from Princeton after he turned around the Tigers’ football program.  This edition of eBay Watch looks at a special pass issued by Crisler himself, allowing the holder to visit the “secret” football practice from 1937.   It’s signed by the coach himself and is quite a beauty:


It is issued to a Mr. and Mrs. R.B. Jones and reads:

"Admit only (Mr. and Mrs. R.B. Jones) to secret football practice at University Field.  The bearer agrees to remain in the west stands, to comply with all requests of coaches, managers and special guards on duty, and to treat as confidential anything that occurs on the practice field."     Fritz Crisler  Head Football Coach

This has got to be a one-of-a-kind item and we know that Crisler didn’t issue too many more of these at Princeton.  1937 was Fritz’s last in New Jersey, agreeing to replace Harry Kipke in Ann Arbor in 1938 and taking the famed winged helmet design with him.

The seller is asking $50 for an opening bid for the auction which ends September 17.

UPDATE 9/17:  Screw it, I bought it for $50.  I really don’t collect much of this kind of thing unless there’s something (relatively) cheap and unique. 


Related eBay Watch posts on Crisler
“I thought Crisler was a Violin Player” (1932)
Debut of Crisler’s Winged Helmet (1938)
Chasing Blanchard & Davis (1945)
Coaching Legends in Atlantic City (1957)
From now on, You’ll be Fritz (1964)
Affectionately, Fritz Crisler (1968)


Follow MVictors on Twitter

13. February 2009 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: I Thought Crisler was a Violin Player (1932) · Categories: Archive 2009

This week’s eBay Watch takes a look at an illustration from a 1932 newspaper featuring future Michigan head coach Fritz Crisler:

Crisler is depicted giving an overhaul to “last year’s model” of a Princeton Tiger, trying to repaint the frightened kitty in the likeness of a ferocious feline.    The disheveled subject was a fitting representation of the 1931 Princeton squad who finished 1-7.   Fritz was brought in to fix the mess and he quickly did just that.   Over the next six seasons he went 35-9-5, claiming national titles in 1933 and ’35.   The run ended when Fielding Yost lured him away from New Jersey to replace Harry Kipke in Ann Arbor.

Early visit to Ann Arbor
In the upcoming season, probably weeks after this cartoon was published, Crisler actually visited the town where he’d cement his legacy.   On October 29, 1932, Kipke, Harry Newman and crew defeated the Tigers 14-7 in front of 26,000 homecoming fans.   Perhaps Crisler liked the digs.   The Victors would go on to take the national championship that season and the next.

For those reading closely you noticed that Princeton also claims the national title in 1933.  The most widely accepted method of determining the champ was the Dickinson Formula [more on this here].  Michigan earned the most points in ’33 and was awarded the Knute Rockne Trophy.  Despite being undefeated the Tigers received scant love from the Formula, finishing seventh in the calculation after facing what was perceived to be a softer schedule.

The Violinist
Above painting of the tough tiger in the cartoon, you many have noticed the character admitting, “I thought Crisler was a violin player“.    Well, so did Fritz’s mentor, the great Amos Alonzo Stagg of Chicago.  In this February 1964 Sports Illustrated article, we learn how Stagg gave young Herbert Orin a named that would stick:

Coach [Amos Alonzo] Stagg fastened the nickname of ‘Fritz’ on him after he had fumbled three times in a row.   Stagg made the sarcastic point that there was a violinist, a great artist, who spelled his name Kreisler.   He said he was naming Crisler Fritz because he bore absolutely no resemblance to Fritz Kreisler, the artist.

The auction ends Friday, and currently has no bidders.