Many of you know the story—For those who don’t read on. For those who do, skip to the bottom for a little Jug update.
PANIC(!) erupted in mid-September 1931. The coveted Little Brown Jug, the symbol of the Michigan-Minnesota rivalry, vanished from the U-M Administration building. A frantic search ensued sending media relations man Phil Pack (think of a vintage Bruce Madej) all over town chasing leads. Based on a tip Pack even searched a few cider mills..but those visits proved fruitless. /wink
Then, on November 19, 1931, the very same week of the Minnesota game that season, a car pulled up to the Tuomy Hills gas station (now the Bearclaw Coffee at the corner of Washtenaw and Stadium) with four men wearing “dark goggles.” One of the disguised passengers rolled out a jug onto the pavement & it was scooped up by gas station attendant K.D. Smith. While initial reports were skeptical of the authenticity of the crock, which was said to have been “freshly painted”, Fielding H. Yost himself inspected it and said it was indeed the real McCoy. A local sports writer said Yost was full of it, calling it “a clever imitation.”
Michigan retained the jug in 1931 but then headed back to Minneapolis in 1932. Yost went along on the trip (Harry Kipke coached the squad) and was bombarded by the press with questions on authenticity of the trophy. Old “Hurry Up” told them, “Why sure, it’s the real jug. Take a look at it. Does it look like a phony?” [memo: Yes, it more than kind of looked like a phony apparently.] Thankfully the Wolverines retained the jug in 1932 and Kipke, Yost and crew traveled home with the prized piece of stoneware. And since we’re all friends here, I’ll add that U-M went onto to an undefeated season and took the 1932 national championship.
Then in 1933…on this day eighty years ago…another jug appeared on campus. A little media outfit named the New York Times reported thusly:
Now Yost confirms that this is the authentic jug (effectively admitting he tried to pass off the “gas station jug” as the real deal). The Grand Old Man claimed ignorance on what happened or who was involved with the thievery and the return, but openly asked for the person responsible for keep the jug the last 2 years contact him.
The full timeline events from the 1931 disappearance is here. And all of your Little Brown Jug Lore is here.
Note 1: Commemorative?: Attention Jug fans and Jug Brotherhood. My spies tell me that the outfit that undoubtedly spun and kilned the original Brown Jug, Red Wing Pottery, are considering issuing a commemorative jug in honor of this special season which is the 110th anniversary of the 1903 6-6 tie (that launched the LBJ rivalry) and/or the 100th meeting between our two schools. Nothing firm..but I’m efforting the details. Stay tuned.
Note 2: Fourth and Long: Unconfirmed…but there might be a little shoutout to the Jug and a Jugologist in John U.’s soon-to-be released book, Fourth and Long. Get it now!
Note 3: Follow MVictors on Twitter
** H/T goes to Craig Barker of The Hoover Street Rag for dropping this tasty morsel into the very rich with tradition Michigan Football History Calendar, effectively validating why we creating the calendar in the first place.