H/T to my man Craig Barker of HSR for the reminder and as always, the epic calendar entries in the Michigan Athletics History Calendar.  On this day in 1940 the ‘Toast to Yost from Coast to Coast’ was held at Waterman Gymnasium.  Fielding H. Yost was honored by a host of dignitaries – (Willie Heston, Tom Harmon and Louis Elbel to name a few) in an event that was broadcast on NBC radio around the country.

The Bentley Library has the original recording of that tribute.  It’s a tad choppy in spots but well worth a listen if you have the means.   The highlight for me is certainly hearing the voice of Yost as he addresses the audience.   Here’s a small clip where the 69-year old Yost recalls stepping off the train in Ann Arbor for the first time:

You get a taste of his famous “Meechigan” at about 14 seconds in, which endures today thanks to Bob Ufer, Chris Fowler and TWIMFbH.

There’s much more in the event, even a speech from then-judge Willie Heston – the star of Yost’s epic Point-A-Minute squads from 1901-1904.

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ferbertheadlineBillings (Montana) Daily Gazette, November 7, 1909

[Ed. In honor of Dutch Ferbert’s birthday on July 22 (1873), a repost.  Originally posted  Jan 28, 2012]

Today obviously the head coach of Michigan football team doesn’t have to look beyond campus to hit it big.    This hasn’t always the case of course, especially in the early days of the program.   While Fielding Yost’s contracts compensated him very competitively for the day, it definitely didn’t make him a wealthy man.  Yost spent a good part of the year pursuing his private business interests out of town.

Ferbert1898Do you know the story of Gustave “Dutch” Ferbert?  He suited up for the Wolverines in the mid-1890s but most notably he was head coach of the famous 1898 squad that delivered Michigan its first conference title.  The championship-sealing victory over Chicago that year inspired Louis Elbel to compose ‘The Victors’.

Ferbert coached one more season but then packed his bags and headed north, hoping to strike it rich in the Klondike.   In 1900 he traveled up to Nome and allegedly told folks he would “return rich or not all all.”

Well, there was some question whether he would make it, especially early on.  Thanks to Brian at the Bentley for forwarding this over, apparently from 1902:


Here’s the opening paragraph:

The many friends of “Dutch”” Ferbert, Michigan’s football coach in 1898, and one of the greatest halfbacks who ever carried the ball, have been fearful for some time that something has happened to him, but because it is “Dutch” Ferbert they remember his sturdy characteristics and are hoping that word will be received from him that he is safe

Well, he eventually resurfaced and yes, he kept his promise—he returned a rich man.

Thanks to the folks at the Billings Gazette for tracking down this November 7, 1909 story titled, “His Touchdown in the Arctic”.   The article describes how he made “a $1,000,000 touchdown”..and briefly recapped his quest:

The former gridiron star first located at Nome, and there the real battle to keep the gold-panning gusbest from the door began.  He tried prospecting in several districts, but with slim success.  He found work part of the time in restaurants, stores and other places.  This lasted for several years, but never a thought did he have of going back.  He started out to cross the goal line and a kick or two in the jugular from an adverse fate he considered part of the game.

Then came the strike at Deering City, and Ferbert was one of the first to hit the trail with a pack.  At the start it proved a “Roaring Camp” all right, but luck was a little shy, and then came the turn and riches in abundance.  He located some of the best claims in the region, panned out more gold than he had ever dreamed and became a bonanza king overnight.

While I’m not sure Dutch held onto his dough through the years, it’s still a great piece of U-M coaching lore.

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26. November 2014 · Comments Off on Throwing Down on Thanksgiving · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , ,

Thanksgiving Day Football

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Did you know that Michigan football used play on Thanksgiving day?  Indeed—your beloved Wolverines met Amos Alonzo Stagg’s Chicago met on this holiday on several instances back in the 1890s including a couple historically significant battles:

1896— The undefeated Michigan squad met up with Stagg’s Maroons in the Windy City in a unique venue (see ticket stub above, via Jack Briegel’s collection).  As far as I can tell it was the first  football game played indoors, yes, inside the Chicago Coliseum.   Chicago squeaked by 7-6 in the first year of B1G conference play.  Get this–they even invoked “electric lights” when it became dark inside the facility late in the game.  Want more?  Check out my This Week in Michigan Football History piece from last year.

1898—What else can you say?   Once again undefeated heading into the finale, Michigan’s 12-11 victory in 1898 was played on Thanksgiving 114 years ago this Saturday.  U-M student Louis Elbel was so inspired by the Wolverines’ win, which capped a perfect season, he composed ‘The Victors’ in the aftermath.

Postscript:  Michigan was undoubtedly the Champions of the West in 1898, but looking back does Michigan have a right to claim the title of national champion?  It’s seems silly discussing this 114 years later but there is recent precedent for such action.   In 2004 Southern Cal looked back at its history and claimed the 1939 national championship.   And in August this year, our Little Brown Jug rival Minnesota announced that it claimed a share of the 1904 national championship.   While Harvard and Princeton each take credit for the 1898 crown based on different measurements – Does Michigan, who went undefeated and outscored opponents 205 to 26, have an argument to join them?  Ok, it’s silly.  But fun to talk about.

Beat Ohio!

[Originally posted November 2012]

Today marks the 110th anniversary of Willie Heston’s final game at Michigan.  Heston was Michigan’s first superstar, a two-time All-American, who scored (somewhere around) 72 touchdowns.  From 1901 to 1904, Heston’s teams went 43-0-1 and are credited with four national titles.


I’ll have more on Heston later this year.

Hearing Willie
Back in 2012 I posted a short audio clip of Fielding Yost from the 1940 nationwide radio tribute the man titled, ‘A Toast to Yost from Coast to Coast’.   Check it out if you missed it.   In that post I promised to share a few more clips, and thanks to the Bentley Historical Library for passing these along.

The man who introduced Yost to the crowd in attendance and the radio audience was none other than the great Heston.   Here are two clips of the great Willie and in the first we have a surprise.   Before offering up his tribute to his old coach, Heston acknowledges that current student athlete and national icon Tom Harmon in the audience.  Old 98 shares the mic & even has a little back and forth with Heston that is all in all pretty priceless.

The second clip has Heston delivering his testimonial to Yost.  Enjoy:

As an aside, while I’m sure you’ll be hard pressed to find another audio clip of the Harmon and Heston together but they did appear elsewhere…namely on this campaign pin for Heston [original 2008 post].   This is probably a decent representation of what each man looked like back in 1940:


Seeing Willie
Don’t ask me to point out who’s who (maybe Brian can whip out a UFR), but here’s footage from Willie’s final game played at Regents Field in Ann Arbor, a 22-12 victory over rival (and Yost’s nemesis) Amos Alonzo Stagg and Chicago.  The footage was taken by Thomas Edison’s firm (note the “gridiron” – the lines painted on the field like a grid):


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[Ed. With the talk of boycotting Saturday’s game (or at least the kickoff), a repost.  It’s not the first time there was talk on campus of boycotting a home game, although the circumstances in 1931 were quite different. Originally published in July 2011.]


I rarely feature ticket stubs on eBay Watch but this one is pretty unique.  In 1931 the Western Conference agreed to schedule a full slate of games to benefit a fund for the many Depression-era unemployed worker at the end of the season.   The league also agreed the games would count in the tight conference standings.

A full unused ticket to the game between the Wolverines and Wisconsin on November 28, 1931 went up on on eBay:

Wisconsin Ticket Stub
Check out the backdrop of the stub with the football player tossing a bag of loot (“A Forward Pass”) to the mass of needy onlookers with arms outstretched.

It’s actually not a shock that this ticket appears to be unused given the story of this one.  Charity be damned, barely 9,000 fans (some reports say only 7,000) bothered to show up for the game.  This ticket sold for $1, others went for $2.  Regular season ducats went for between $2-$3 that season.

Why the poor turnout?

Well, it seems that early in the process of determining the match-ups for the charity games, it was decided that Michigan would square off in the Big House against Northwestern.  The teams had shared the conference crown in 1930 and were near the top of the standings again.  Thinking they could raise more money by putting Northwestern in Chicago’s Solider Field, a couple weeks before the date they changed course and pitted the Wildcats against Purdue. Michigan was left with Wisconsin.


Everyone in Ann Arbor – from Fielding Yost to the editors of the Michigan Daily — went berserk.   After the Badgers were assigned, director Yost told reporters, “This whole thing has been such mess that I won’t even venture a conservative guess on how many will turn out.  It won’t be many.”

The Daily suggested a boycott.  Students were quoted saying they “wouldn’t give a nickel” or even “cross the street” to see a weak Wisconsin squad.

Ironically the biggest benefactor of the whole event, which raised $154,000, might have been Michigan.  Northwestern ended up losing to Purdue 7-0, so those who watched Michigan defeat Wisconsin 16-0 actually saw them earn a share of the league title.

The Wisconsin win propelled Michigan into the next two championship seasons when Kipke and crew won back-to-back national titles in 1932 and 1933.

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[Ed. This was originally posted July 31, 2011.  I’m reposting again for Notre Dame week once again, this is one of my all time favorites.]

Yost was such a beauty.


Up on eBay right now is a 1910 panoramic postcard featuring the Wolverine football squad that season.  In the realm of postcards this is a choice collectible—and the seller is asking $600 for it.

While we’ve seen various postcards featuring squads from this era, what caught my eye is the special addition to the gathering–the white bulldog mascot at Yost’s feet (inset left).

I slung the photo over to my pal John Kryk (Natural Enemies) who, after a laugh no doubt, wrote me back suggesting ol’ Yost probably put the pooch in the photo to counter the antics of then Notre Dame coach Shorty Longman and his bulldog mascot “Mike”.

Longman was a player on Yost’s point-a-minute squads but even after he took the coaching reins in South Bend, Shorty kept his permanent home in Ann Arbor.   In 1909 the Irish defeated Michigan 11-3 in Ann Arbor for their first win in the series.   As Kryk wrote in Natural Enemies, apparently after that historic game Shorty outfitted “Mike” with a little jacket that advertised the 11-3 score and was known to parade him around town.  Ugh.

Michigan and Notre Dame were scheduled for a rematch in 1910 but the game was abruptly cancelled due to a contention over the eligibility of two of the Irish players.  [Ed. Kryk broke down the whole thing here in an excellent guest post.]

While we don’t know for sure when (in 1910) this photo was taken, it’s safe to say that one way or another Yost included the conspicuous canine as a response to Longman’s “Mike”.  And speaking of postcards, here Shorty’s best friend featured in a 1909 Notre Dame postcard:


So…either Yost captured Mike for the team photo, or more likely he rustled up a Mike lookalike and had his tailor work up the cute little jacket.  My only regret—we can’t confirm that FHY put a big fat ‘bite me’ on the dog’s jacket.   If I had to guess, it would have read something like, “Michigan – 1909 Champions of the West” as a stick in the eye to Notre Dame’s similar claim.

1909 U-M Bentley Library team photo

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Related: Teaching Them Modern Football (1887)

10. April 2014 · 4 comments · Categories: 2011

[Ed. 4/10/14 –  On the morning of the first round of The Masters, a report that takes a look back at April 2011–when Michigan senior Lion Kim played at Augusta.   Scorecard via via]


A few shots of Michigan senior Lion Kim from today from Wednesday’s practice round at The Masters.  He joined PGA great KJ Choi and he overheard the occasional shout of “Go Blue!” from the patrons.

001 - Cover
From the par 3 12th on Amen Corner

001 - Kim Green

003 - Lion Kim Ann Arbor

001 - Caddy Bag

001 - Lim Par 3
Lion Kim at Amen Corner – click here for the full resolution shot

001 - Lion Trap

001 KJ Choi  
Getting some advice from KJ Choi


001 Lion and Tiger
This is the closest Lion got to Tiger (Woods left in the gray pull-over – Lion to the right in the white visor)

001 Skip
On the 16th it’s tradition to try to skull/skip a shot across the pond.

002 - Family  There was mucho representation of Michigan around the course.  Here, Lion’s mom and brother watch the action.

* has a dedicated Masters page up – check it out
* What’s In My Maize and Blue Bag—Michigan’s Lion Kim
* Interview with Lion Kim (February)

01. January 2014 · Comments Off on Baird Calls Cal & Stanford Yellow – Rose Bowl 1.0 History · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , , , , ,

Originally posted in August 2013, in honor of the 100th Rose Bowl game a report.

Just a few days after posting about the auction of a 1902 Usher’s ribbon and suggesting how rare it was to see authentic Point-A-Minute era memorabilia on eBay…this showed up on eBay:

1901 schedule

Indeed, an athletic department schedule of most notably the 1901 football season, of course Fielding Yost’s first in Ann Arbor, along with track and baseball schedules.  Impressive.

The final two games noted on the schedule are interesting.  Of course like all schedules this was printed before the season, and this one assumes Michigan will have a couple games in California: one on Christmas Day in Los Angeles against Stanford, then another game against Stanford or Cal up state in San Francisco on New Year’s Day.    This turned out to be incorrect on a few fronts as Michigan capped the 1901-02 season by crushing Stanford 49-0 in Los Angeles (Pasadena to be specific) on New Year’s Day and finishing the season 11-0, outscoring opponents 550-0.   No other game was played on the long road trip.  (Note that had the season played out as on the schedule, the Yostmen would have played their final three games on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day respectively—completing holy trinity of sorts for Michigan fans.)

It certainly makes sense that U-M might try to play more than a single game on this brutal road trip.  It took days to make it across the country—you might as well make the most of it.

Casual fans who know Michigan played in the 1902 Rose Bowl probably assume that we somehow earned a trip to Pasadena in 1901 by virtue of U-M’s unprecedented romp through the 10 “regular season” opponents.  Not true obviously.  The game in California was in the works well before the season but as the eBay item illustrates, the specifics didn’t crystalize until later on.

Whether it was posturing by U-M or a reality, the Wolverines’ west coast trek seemed to be in doubt as late as December 1901.   In the December 5th issue of the Detroit Free Press, athletic director Charles Baird provided a statement claiming that he’d completed negotiations with Stanford and California & agreed even sorted out the financial terms (yep, even in 1901) but that these local teams were suddenly backing out.  Thinking the sudden case of cold feet had something to do with Yost’s 10-0, 501-0 record, Baird called them chicken:


Baird went on to state that door was left open to still make a trip and play someone else including Nevada, Oregon or “some eastern team.”

Two days later the Free Press reported that Stanford was back in the fold, and that the game was set.  The folks in Pasadena at the Tournament of Roses association already agreed to pick up the travel tab for 16 men and the rest was history.  The Granddaddy of them was ready to roll and Michigan was planning to head out west on December 20 to prep for the beating they would put on the overmatched Indians:

Stanford appeared every bit as capable as the papers reported, turning back the powerful Michigan offense, time and again, early in the contest. In fact, the game’s first score did not come until 23 minutes into the first half. After a series of short gains moved the ball to the Stanford 30, halfback Willie Heston broke loose on a naked bootleg and picked up 21 yards on the first “big” play in Rose Bowl history. Three plays later, fullback Neil Snow bulled through the tiring Stanford line from the six. Bruce Shorts added the PAT to give Michigan a 6-0 lead.

Soon after Sweeley booted a 20-yard field goal, Michigan’s Chris Redden returned a weak Stanford punt 25 yards for a td, giving the Wolverines a 17-0 half-time lead.

Under the sheer power of the Michigan eleven, Stanford’s valiant defense began to crumble in the second half. The Wolverines proved relentless, scoring on nearly every possession.

With eight minutes remaining in the game, Stanford captain Ralph Fisher approached the Wolverine bench and offered to concede; Michigan consented.

The 49-0 victory capped one of the most unbelievable seasons in college football history, Michigan had outscored its opponents, 550-0, winning 11 straight games. Willie Heston, too, made believers out of his West Coast critics. He gained 170 yards in 18 carries as the Wolverines recorded 527 yards on the ground.

Related:   Holy Moly! The Rosy Grail (1902 Rose Bowl Program)

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One headline in the November 1, 1903 Sunday edition of the Minneapolis Tribune declared, “VICTORY, THOUGH THE SCORE IS TIED.”  Further down toward the fold it blared, “YOST AND MICHIGAN PRACTICALLY BEATEN.”

It was that fierce battle, played Saturday October 31, 1903, that spawned the greatest of the college football rivalry trophies.  At the direction of coach Fielding Yost, Michigan’s student manager Tommy Roberts purchased a five gallon jug that was left behind in the aftermath of this epic clash that served as first, a Gopher souvenir, and later as the trophy that’s been presented to the winner since 1909.

The Tribune described Yost’s Michigan team, winners of 29 straight heading into that game, this way:

Her lineman were giants on the attack, and were adamant on defense.  Her backs were great battering rams, with the speed of the wind, guided by an intelligence in play almost superhuman.

Her team work was near perfection, and the eleven representatives of the maize and blue were like some powerful machine, continuously in motion.

That line is a nod to Yost’s revolutionary tendency to speed up the pace of play, earning him the famous tag ‘Hurry Up’.

Now, we know the game ended in a 6-6 tie when the teams exchanged touchdowns, then worth 5 points each, in the second half.  Michigan took the lead when the great Wolverine back Willie Heston found the end zone first midway through the half.  The Gophers tied the score in the final minutes of the game and added the extra point to secure the tie.  Depending on who you read, the game was either called with “a few seconds” remaining on the clock (Tribune), or two minutes left to go (Detroit Free Press).  Afterwards thousands of Gopher fans stormed the field to celebrate the game-tying tally.

Naturally the Tribune saved a few good lines for the hometown victors tie-ers:

When [All-American tackle Fred] Schacht made his two gains of four yards each, the of the maize and blue went to pieces.  They could not stand it.

Michigan was fighting against eleven madmen, and the madmen won.

Century old Chart
You’ve got to love this—the Tribune even included a diagrammed play chart from the 1903 game on the front page.  Click to supersize it, it’s pretty cool after you figure out the key:


What happened next is of course the stuff of Little Brown Jug Lore.

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Daydrion Taylor

There are certain names in U-M history that when mentioned immediately bring to mind a certain game or, in some cases, a distinct moment in a game.   You probably know that Daydrion Taylor is one of them:

Damn.  A lot has changed in football since 1997 and I doubt announcers would talk about a hit that way today.   While No way the announcers talk about a hit that way today.  listening to

I imagine for many in Happy Valley they remember Bob Stephenson, the guy on the other end of that collision, for that play as well:Bob Stephenson PSU didn’t give out game balls after Judgment Day (via  PA Observer-Reporter)

The PA Observer-Reporter ran a piece on Stephenson back on December 24, 1997 and he discussed the play:

“I remember the catch and turning upfield.  Joe Jurevicius was blocking Woodson and I’m thinking to myself, ‘I have room to run.’  I didn’t see anybody else,” Stephenson said.   That’s all he remembers – until he regained consciousness.

“I knew where I was, but I thought, ‘What’s going on?  Why are all these people around me?’” Stephenson said.

Stephenson said he felt fine.  He was helped to the sidelines, where he stood and joked with this teammates.

“The adrenaline was still flowing,” he said. Twenty minutes later, the euphoria died.

“When they took time into the locker room, I started getting sick and I got a headache.” Stephenson said.

He was diagnosed with a Grad 3 concussion, the worst according to NCAA guidelines.  Its symptoms include loss of consciousness, temporary amnesia and nausea.

“Some of my teammates have told me they thought I was dead.  If not, they thought I’d be paralyzed.”

Last June Marcus Ray talked about the hit on WTKA and provided some very interesting context on not only the ‘97 team, he also discussed that hit and what probably precipitated Taylor’s aggressiveness:

For more check out this clip (via WolverineHistorian) of Taylor talking about the collision a year later, including commentary from Bo who called it the hardest hit he’s ever seen.  

Me too.


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[Ed.  This post was expanded from my June 14, 2012 post & rerun.]