Via the Bacon Blog, John U.’s segment for the NHL Network wrapping a little flavor around Michigan Stadium:
You can also clips Bacs breaking down the Winter Classic here FWIW.
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Leading off—we celebrate Michigan Football:
Spider-Chip, Spider-Chip, does whatever a Spider-Chip does. Do they make tearaway bicep bands?
More after the jump including Derrick Green, a greasy pigskin, Fitz and more: More »
This historic commemorative print features a capacity Michigan Stadium crowd with a distinctive Block M background. Ringing the stadium are dramatic depictions of Harmon, Carter, Chappuis, Oosterbaan, Kramer and Howard.
McCready shared some background on how this came to be:
This print was issued by the athletic department in 1997 and was featured in every home game program that year. For the past decade or so I have been donating prints every year to children who are patients at the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and to the University of Michigan athletic department. The renovation of Michigan Stadium sparked a renewed interest in the prints and I have decided to make them available again at a special price with a portion of the proceeds going to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
Price? A special offer from McCready:
* $50 for the large, Limited Edition Print
* $25 for a signed, smaller print.
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I got an email this morning from reader David D. who tipped me that it appeared as though the permanent lights were going up already. Brandon indicated earlier that the project would start after the Wisconsin game to have them ready for The Big Chill.
Per Dave Ablauf of U-M Media relations, they have indeed started the project and don’t blink, they’ll be in and done by Saturday: “The permanent lights are in the process of being installed and will be in prior to this weekend’s game with Wisconsin.”
I think most fans are ok with the concept of permanent lights but I’m sure there’ll be some reaction on the aesthetics once they are in place.
A big thanks to Ira Weintraub down at WTKA 1050AM for passing these along, who in turn got them from longtime WTKA caller ‘High Octane Mike’.
Harold Sherman lived in the area and wandered over to the original Michigan Stadium construction site and snapped these shots. They were passed along to his son Pete, who was kind enough to show them to the likes of H.O. Mike and Ira.
I’m thinking they date to the late spring timeframe, 1927, a few perhaps later on. Why? Well, it appears as though we’ve got some cement work going on here and Yost solicited bids for the concrete work in March 1927 and started pouring shortly thereafter.
GBW: One of the greatest tales of Michigan Stadium involves a crane or steam shovel being buried beneath the stadium, lost in all that water and sand during the build. But you didn’t find any evidence of this in your research?
Soderstrom: [laughs] I was unable to confirm that and I’ve heard that story since I arrive in Ann Arbor way back in 1968. I could not find anything in the current literature, either in the Ann Arbor News or the Michigan Daily or anything. I can’t imagine that wouldn’t have been recorded by somebody if in fact they had lost a whole steam shovel.
The [excavator] lost everything else. I also asked his granddaughter and she said she never heard that story from her grandfather.
Check out this exchange from The Game 730AM WVFN, Lansing’s sports radio station.
Spartan hockey coach Rick Comley joined the ‘Staudt on Sports’ show on January 4 and longtime Lansing sportscaster Tim Staudt asked the MSU coach about outdoor hockey:
Tim Staudt: “Do you think Michigan State will ever play another outdoor game?”
Rick Comley: “Well you know we had agreed to play Michigan next year on December 11th in an outdoor game and there’s been no talk since then so I’m assuming that’s not going to happen. So you know I bet at some point we do, but where it will be, who knows?"
Staudt: “So you’re saying to me that you haven’t heard one way or another whether the December 11th game in Michigan Stadium is on or off yet.”
Comley: “No. They announced that we were playing without asking us, number one. And then number two, we told them we would play after the fact and we’ve heard nothing since. I’m assuming then, that they’re not doing it.”
Staudt: [the Dean is chuckling] “Well if you don’t know, then I’m guessing the game may not be on yet. If he [Comley] doesn’t know, who’s supposed to know?”
Thanks to show producer Brock Palmbos, here’s the audio if you need it:
I contacted Jamie Weir who handles media relations for Spartan Hockey and asked her if she considered this outdoor game scheduled for next season. Weir’s response: “It’s my understanding that there have been discussions about a game and I know that Coach Berenson has talked about it and I know they are trying to get something done, but our schedule is not finalized for next year. There’s been nothing formal announced from either school. Generally when we do these things there’s a joint announcement that comes out from both of the schools and that has not happened yet.”
She added, “In terms of where that game is at, I think you are better off asking Michigan, because it’s their facility.” Weir mentioned that scheduling events such as this are often managed higher up on the athletic department chain, but as far as she was concerned there was nothing officially determined yet.
I emailed Bruce Madej if the game was considered officially scheduled from U-M’s standpoint. Madej emailed back, “We have not made an ‘official’ announcement.”
So what does this mean?
Not a whole lot beyond adding some spice to the hockey season. This is merely Coach Comley on local radio in the midst of a fine Spartan hockey season taking a little shot at Michigan for how they are handling the scheduling of this big game next season. As if, a) MSU wouldn’t agree to play the game, and/or b) Comley would disrespect Coach Berenson by not agreeing to do it.
[Ed. Hat tip to reader BiggieMunn for passing this along.]
Former women’s track head coach Red Simmons is a fixture on the athletic campus, whether it’s attending football, hockey, or basketball games, or working out each morning at Crisler Arena. Oh, did I mention Simmons turns 100 in three weeks?
I recently sat down with the Michigan legend to talk about his amazing life for a piece for GoBlueWolverine Magazine for next month. Definitely check that out, but in the meantime I wanted to share this nugget.
Simmons was a track star at Redford High School and was offered a slot on the U-M track team. He told me that part of his desire to come to Ann Arbor stemmed from a trip he and his pals took when he was 17 years old:
Simmons: “My heart was set on coming to Michigan. In 1927 when the football stadium was opened, two other guys from Redford and I hitchhiked up here to see the game. At that time I thought, ‘Boy I’d love to go to this school.’”
It didn’t occur to me until after the interview that Simmons is very likely the last living person to attend the first game at Michigan Stadium.
I’d love to know if anyone knows of another person still with us that attended the 1927 opener or dedication game that season. And while Simmons has had his share of honors from the University, wouldn’t it be cool if he was recognized during the dedication of the renovation next fall?
Yost showing off Michigan Stadium in 1927
Simmons never ran for U-M track as the stock market crash of 1929 forced a change of plans. He eventually ended up running (and starring) at Michigan Normal (later Eastern Michigan) in Ypsilanti. Simmons explains:
Simmons: “You didn’t have scholarships back then, but out of high school in 1928 the U-M track coach, [Stephen] Farrell, offered me a job which included room and board at a fraternity house. Books, tuition and all that–you had to pay. We didn’t have any money at all. I said I’d have to work a while to make some money for books [before coming to Michigan]. He told me, ‘Anyone who can hurdle as good as you can, you can work a year. But I want you to come to Michigan.’”
“So I worked that year and then came the big stock market crash of 1929. I was just ready to start and boom! Farrell wrote my folks, he didn’t call, and told my folks, ‘I’m sorry but Kenneth won’t have a job at the fraternity.’ But at the same time, Lloyd Olds, the coach at Michigan Normal which is now Eastern Michigan, came to the house. He urged me to come to Michigan Normal and told us the tuition is only $18.50 a semester and they had a man who could loan me the money.”
More quotes from Simmons from our interview:
Most mornings you can find former Michigan women’s track coach Ken ‘Red’ Simmons at Crisler Arena, lifting weights, walking steps and occasionally taking laps around the concourse. His fitness routine today is a far cry from a Mike Barwis workout session, but Coach Simmons has a pretty good excuse– he turns 100 years old on January 5th.
Simmons was a high school track champion at Redford High in Detroit and intended on joining the Michigan track team before the stock market crash of 1929 ended those plans. He eventually wound up running track at Michigan Normal (later Eastern Michigan) in Ypsilanti where he had a successful collegiate career which included a trip to the 1932 Olympic trials.
After school, Simmons joined the Detroit Police Department where he served as an officer and was on the police track team for twenty-five years. During his tenure on the force he became good friends with Olympic legend Jesse Owens and implemented the then-revolutionary practice of including weight training as part of the squad workout regimen. In 1959, just two days after his retirement from the Police Department, Simmons knocked on Fritz Crisler’s door in Ann Arbor to inquire about a coaching position at Michigan. Crisler knew of Simmons exploits on the track and his use of weight-training and hired him in to join Don Canham’s track team in Ann Arbor.
In 1960 Simmons formed the Ann Arbor Women’s Track Club, dubbed “The Michigammes,” who with Simmons’ leadership dominated AAU meets around the country. With the passage of Title IX, Canham tapped Simmons to lead the U-M women’s track team, which he did from 1978-1981.
Since then Simmons has received numerous honors from the University, including the unique distinction of being both an honorary ‘M’ Man and ‘M’ Woman. To this day he and wife Lois can be spotted at Michigan football, basketball and hockey games.
I joined Simmons at Crisler one afternoon to discuss his amazing life:
On his plans to go to Michigan: My heart was set on coming to Michigan. In 1927 when the football stadium was opened, two other guys from Redford and I hitchhiked up here to see the game. At that time I thought, ‘Boy I’d love to go to this school.’ And I thought I was going.
On his offer from Michigan: You didn’t have scholarships back then, but out of high school in 1928 the U-M track coach, [Stephen] Farrell, offered me a job which included room and board at a fraternity house. Books, tuition and all that–you had to pay. We didn’t have any money at all. I said I’d have to work a while to make some money for books [before coming to Michigan]. He told me, ‘Anyone who can hurdle as good as you can, you can work a year. But I want you to come to Michigan.’
So I worked that year and then came the big stock market crash of 1929. I was just ready to start and boom! Farrell wrote my folks, he didn’t call, and told my folks, ‘I’m sorry but Kenneth won’t have a job at the fraternity.’ But at the same time, Lloyd Olds, the coach at Michigan Normal which is now Eastern Michigan, came to the house. He urged me to come to Michigan Normal and told us the tuition is only $18.50 a semester and they had a man who could loan me the money. But I still didn’t have any money for board, room, books or anything.
I hitchhiked from [his parents’ home] on Grand River and Seven Mile Road to Ypsilanti every day, carried my lunch, and hitchhiked home at night. That first year I never bought a book, I just went to class.
On meeting Fielding Yost: I met him, I think it was 1927. He was at a high school meet at some point. It was so long ago. My impression was that he was a very sociable man. He’d walk around and talk to you. There was no feeling that he thought he was special. He was just a regular guy.”
On his early days at the Detroit Police department: In 1934 the police department decided to have a Field Day and hire some athletes, and someone said, ‘Get that redhead that was in the Olympic trials.’ I had a lot of mentions in the papers at the time. I was hired by the police department, and I figured I would just stay until the Depression was over. That was a bad time, a very bad time.
They were playing us $12, $10, $8 and $6 for the first four places at those events. And I was making $60-$70 a meet! I was still a regular patrolman but from May 15 to August 15 we went out to the University of Detroit to train. Thousands of people used to watch those Field Days and I ran six or seven events.
On the toughest part of his job as a police officer: I was in a job that was a little nerve-racking. Few people know this but I got knife wounds while in the police department. The only thing I can credit my survival to is that I was faster than anybody. I was quick. [Simmons gestures to a scar on his head]. I had a guy with his hands up, and I had my gun on him. I didn’t know he had a switchblade in his hand. I put the gun away and he brought the knife blade down. I ducked back but the knife hit me on the head and sliced me right here [near the hair line above his forehead].
I didn’t want to stay [at the Department]. Around 13 years later Cass Tech called me and wanted me to start teaching and coaching. I was ready to slam my gun down on the desk and quit! I found out I’d have to do 30 more years [to qualify for pension], they wouldn’t give me credit for my time at the police department.
On his friendship with Jesse Owens: I became friends with Jesse Owns in 1935. In 1930 I set the track record at Yost Field House in the low hurdles, and in 1935 he came along and broke it. From then on we were good friends. I raced him about 20 times but ever beat him. We traveled around the state putting on exhibitions but they didn’t want to see me, they wanted to see him!
On his reaction to Owens success in the 1936 Berlin Olympics: When I saw that in the paper I thought, ‘Oh boy!’ I was certain that nobody could beat him.
Why Fritz Crisler hired him: I wanted to coach, and be involved in sports. Back in the late 30s, no athlete was allowed to touch weights—it was considered bad. I contacted the York barbell club in Pennslyvania and I began to study weight training. But Crisler used to help out at track meets and he knew me. And he knew I was using weights and excelling against much younger people – I was just as good as they were.
Crisler knew that I had been training with weights at the police department. And it was just starting in 1960; men had really not started to lift yet. Crisler said, ‘We’re going to have weight training here for our athletes.’ So he hired me as an assistant to Don Canham on the track team but I was also instructing football players in weight training starting in 1960.
On his impressions of Crisler: “He was very serious. I don’t ever recall him smiling or laughing or anything.
On Canham’s support for ‘The Michigammes’: Don Canham let me use the facilities for the Michigammes and the girls came from all across the state because there was nothing like in the area. Canham said, ‘Just don’t interfere with the men’s track team. You can use the facility when they are not on it.’ And understand this was 16 years before Title IX. It was a different time. Heck, women weren’t even supposed to sweat!
On getting hired at the varsity women’s track coach: Just after Title IX was passed, [then AD] Canham came in a said, “You’re the new women’s track coach. I said, ‘Don, if I take this job, traveling around the country with these 17 to 18-year old girls, my wife’s going to travel with me. I’m not taking that chance!’ Canham said, ‘OK. She’ll be Mrs. Coach but she’s not getting paid!’
On the goal of his daily workouts at Crisler Arena: I’m most concerned with the legs because that’s the thing that gives out. Anybody my age can’t do that [Ed. Simmons demonstrates quickly standing from a seated position several times. As simple as this seems it’s remarkable to watch a 99-year old man do it.] They just can’t do that. Six times around the Crisler concourse is a mile. And I’ll walk and jog that a couple times each week. Just enough to get full lungs.
On what he enjoys most about his workouts: I don’t have a teammate or a classmate left. And that’s what’s great about this place. You are always making new friends. And they’re not even always men, they’re girls too. Our closest friends now are people, like Red Berenson, are in their mid-60s and 70s. That, to us, is young!
On men’s hockey Coach Red Berenson’s recent birthday: Well, he’s just 70 or so, what the hell is that? [laughs] I always say, ‘Oh, to be 80 again!’