[Ed. Mandatory reading for Jug Week. This post discusses whether the original jug that Michigan bought (likely on October 30, 1903) and Oscar Munson found (on November 1 or 2, 1903, is the same jug that will be on the field this Saturday night.  If you haven’t read it I think you’ll like it.]

One of the critical questions I asked when I started research was this: Is the jug that Michigan equipment manager Jon Falk has tucked away the same crock that was purchased by U-M student manager Tommy Roberts in Minneapolis back in 1903 and returned to Fielding Yost in 1909?

I knew a key to resolving this was determining what exactly occurred during the period the jug was missing in the 1930s, which I covered in Part I of this series.  The net of that research is that the folks who would best know (people like Yost, Minnesota’s Oscar Munson) believed that the jug that was found in some bushes on East University Ave in 1933 was indeed the real deal.

This is a helpful data point but hardly answers the question of whether the jug survived all these years.

Did it Break?
If the jug were replaced along the way, it would either have been the result of a theft (like that in the 1930s) or if it were broken and replaced.   Falk told me of one frightening incident when it almost went the way of Humpty Dumpty. It seems after one Michigan victory in the mid-80s the jug was resting on a table in the equipment room.   His daughter Katie, about four years old at the time, decided to climb up for a better view. “She jumped up on the table and it teeter-tottered,” Falk recalled with a smile. “We ran over and caught it before it fell off the table, and we still tease her about that.”   That was the closest call on Falk’s watch.

The only potential major incident of damage involves an something I raised this in Part V of the series, when the Minnesota Daily in 1929 included this blurb, suggesting something happened when the jug traveled to Minnesota in 1924:

As I mentioned in that post, I tried to dig into this a little further but I wasn’t able to validate this alleged damage in any of the papers in 1924.  Game accounts from the 1924 game do not mention any sign of a broken or dinged jug and in fact, some written game summaries note that the jug was on display on the sideline during the ‘24 game, apparently in good health.

IF the jug needed to be fixed, Red Wing would likely be the place to do it or <gulp> replace it.  But beyond finding no other evidence that this occurred, the story above claims the jug (with unspecified damage) was repaired and put back into service.  Talking to folks that would know, depending the extent of the damage it’s possible to repair a jug, seal it and repaint it with little evidence (you wouldn’t have “glazed” it which implies a refiring which would have likely 86’d the jug).   I found no visual evidence of damage on the existing crock.

In 1960 Oscar Munson, the Minnesota custodian who found the Michigan jug in 1903, told a reporter that Yost had indeed replaced the jug a some point along the way.  The timing is unclear, but Munson claimed, “Yost came and got it after they won, but it got broke at Michigan and Yost bought another for $35 in Red Wing.”

In a 1979 special edition of Michigan Replay, Bo’s second wife Millie Schembechler discussed the memorabilia exhibit she helped assemble for the 100-year anniversary celebration of the football program.  When discussing the jug, she said that today’s jug was not the original–that the 1903 crock was broken at some point.

Expert Witnesses
Given the drama that went on in the 1930s and possibly in the 1920s, it is tough to what to believe. To solve the question of authenticity I moved beyond the news clippings and started snooping around.

I sought out the men that have protected the jug over the years: the equipment managers. Michigan’s Jon Falk has cared for the trophy for most of the past thirty-six years thanks to the Wolverines’ dominance on the field over this stretch. Falk was hired by Bo Schembechler in 1974 and probably knows more about the jug than anyone.  Along with sharing a few great stories, Falk told me that his understanding is that the jug he’s got tucked away is indeed the original.

Bob Hurst began his tenure with the Michigan athletic department after returning from WWII. He worked directly with legendary equipment manager Henry ‘Hank’ Hatch, who performed the duty from 1919 to 1964. Hurst, who lives in Florida today, told me over the phone that he was always told this was the genuine jug.

On the other sideline, I spoke with longtime Gopher equipment manager Dick Mattson who served the school from 1963 to 2008. While Minnesota has only held the prize three times since 1968, he didn’t hesitate when I asked him about the authenticity. “It’s the original jug,” Mattson insisted.   And we know that back in 1935 Oscar Munson (the man who found the jug in 1903) following the disappearance in the 1930s told reporters, “It’s the original jug, all right, and I’m the only one who knows.”

But other folks well-versed in the Michigan traditions expressed doubt. Bruce Madej, the longtime Wolverine sports media relations director told me, “We’re just not sure.”

Greg Kinney, curator of the athletic archives housed at Michigan’s terrific Bentley Library, has seen various photos and stories on the jug over the years, but wasn’t certain when I approach him with the question.   Former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr, who enjoyed retelling the origins of the jug rivalry before the Minnesota game each season, told me he always believed today’s trophy wasn’t the original jug.

Visual Comparisons
Given the range of opinions from the experts I decided I needed to dig a bit deeper. Thankfully a request to inspect today’s jug was granted and I visited Jon Falk on campus in the spring of 2009.  Falk shared some great stories of jug lore and I took a bunch of photos of the jug.

Using a graphics editor, I was able to compare my new photos with the white ‘Oscar’ jug (dating to the start of the rivalry) by applying a degree of transparency and overlaying the images. The match was nearly precise:


The ‘Oscar’ jug seemed slightly shorter (less than an inch) although the spout, handle and shoulder seemed to be dead on. I realized that photo comparisons are helpful but I’ve learned that perspectives can change drastically depending on the angle of the camera and of course with any distortion in the images (especially a photo over 100 years old).

Closer inspection of my photos showed that the worn-down handle and chips in the paint on revealed a pale tone similar to that of the Oscar jug:

Little Brown Jug Closeup

The visual signs, at least to a novice, seemed to lean toward authenticity. If today’s jug were replaced at some point one would wonder the lengths someone would have to go through to swap the original jug with such a close visual match, seemingly made of the same material.

While the photo comparisons were compelling I needed an expert’s perspective.

A Master Potter’s Perspective
The Ann Arbor area is blessed with many artisans and after asking around I was given the name of Ryan Forrey, the Master Potter at The Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village.

Forrey holds a Bachelors of Fine Art from the New York State College of Ceramics and has worked at The Henry Ford since 1996. He has traveled the world studying his craft in other cultures and his pottery can be seen in collections from United States to China.

While inspecting several photos of the jug from over the years, Forrey paid particular attention to the handle, a distinctive element of handmade jugs. The handles are formed by pulling a piece of clay between the potter’s fingers before attaching it to the shoulder, and the shape and style of the handles between the photos seemed to match in Forrey’s opinion.

While the photos were helpful, alone they weren’t enough for Forrey to offer a firm opinion on the matter.  Among other things, he wanted to confirm that the color on the sides of the jug wasn’t a glaze, which would suggest the jug was specifically made for the teams (and not painted over).  He needed to see and hold the jug.

The Return Visit
Several weeks later Forrey and I were greeted by Jon Falk inside Schembechler Hall. The jug was waiting for us a top a table in the equipment room, released from its protective trunk.


Forrey quickly pointed out several critical features.  First, the color on the trophy was indeed paint.  Next, beneath the Minnesota logo ‘M’, he spotted a flaw or notch that seems to be evident on the ‘Oscar’ jug. It’s difficult to confirm through a 100+ year-old photograph, but the shape and location of the imperfection seem to match dead on.


Finally, Forrey pointed out a glaring feature of today’s jug, something that I didn’t notice on my first trip. The outline of an alternatively-styled Minnesota ‘M’ logo can be seen beneath the layers of paint:


Forrey had seen enough. From comparison of the photos, to the distinct match of the shape of the handle, to the notch that appeared to be on early photo of the crock, he was convinced that the jug we viewed was indeed the original.

The Old Gopher ‘M’
Days after our visit I became more and more intrigued about the pointy Minnesota ‘M’ Forrey spotted beneath the paint. After digging through articles and photos from the 1920s, I found two instances of an alternately styled logo. The program to the 1923 game held in Ann Arbor thankfully depicts a drawing on the cover featuring the Gopher side of the jug. Later I uncovered a photo from 1927 of Minnesota captain Herb Joesting cradling the crock, with the Gopher side facing the camera.  Each image presents a pointy M that matches the style evident beneath the current coat of paint:

While I was fairly satisfied by Forrey’s conclusion, the art on the 1923 game program and the Joesting photo (matched up against the current embossed paint evidence) suggests that the jug likely dates the jug at least to the early 1920s.

Recapping the evidence:

  • The Minnesota Daily note claiming it was repaired in Red Wing 1924.
  • Oscar Munson’s claim in 1960 that the jug was swapped out for a replacement Red Wing jug at some point.
  • Accounts from three living equipment managers, in particular Bob Hurst who served with Henry Hatch, who in turn served the university starting in 1919. Each told me they believe the jug is the original.
  • Newspaper articles noting that Oscar Munson and Fielding Yost both validated that the jug that reappeared in 1933 was the authentic article.
  • The nearly precise image overlay of today’s jug against the photo of the ‘Oscar jug’.
  • The opinion of Ryan Forrey, Master Potter of the Henry Ford Museum, who told me, “I’d be shocked if this isn’t the original jug.”
  • The flaw at the bottom of the Minnesota side that appears on the original jug.
  • Finally, the outline of the older style Minnesota ‘M’ logo beneath the current paint that likely dates the jug at least the early 1920s.

After weighing the evidence I’m comfortable concluding that the trophy tucked away in Ann Arbor today dates at least to the mid-1920s.    Is it the same Little Brown Jug that was left behind in 1903 and handed back to Fielding Yost over a century ago in 1909?   In my opinion, the evidence points to a strong possibility that today’s jug is indeed the real deal – but I’m not completely convinced.

Read the rest of the Little Brown Jug Lore Series

Iowa vs. Michigan 1900
Of the Michigan football fans that give a damn about the history of the program, these are typically broken into two groups: those that cherish the program as they know it during their lifetime or thereabouts, often starting with the Bo era in 1969.  And then there’s those who go deep, usually back to Yost’s first season in Ann Arbor in 1901.  You’ll notice there are only a few pre-Yost posts on these pages.

Looking at Iowa, one thing that’s kind of curious is that despite their long history of playing Michigan (starting in 1900) and their involvement in our league (they joined the Western Conference in that same year), we’re really not stacked with a bevy of major moments in history that would yield a rivalry with the Hawkeyes, although there are certainly important ties between our programs.

Take Forest Evashevski, the coach that delivered Iowa’s only recognized national championship in 1958 (a postseason vote by the writers after the 8-1-1 Hawkeyes delivered a dominating performance in their bowl), who played for Fritz Crisler’s Wolverines.  Evashevski is remembered by many as the man who helped lead Tom Harmon to the Heisman Trophy in 1940 as a “devastating blocker” per his college football Hall of Fame profile.

Today our rivalry with Iowa ranks somewhere buried beneath Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Penn State and even Wisconsin in that strata that probably includes teams like Illinois and maybe lately, Northwestern.

Reaching back to the game that started it all in 1900 I found some interesting stuff.   This was of course the season before Yost stepped foot on campus and just as with the ‘68 team that Bump Elliott delivered to Bo, the cupboard wasn’t exactly bare.   In fact ‘00 captain Neil Snow was an All-American on Yost’s 1901 team that outscored opponents 555-0.

The 1900 campaign started off with six straight wins heading into the first meeting with the team from Iowa.  The game was played at Bennett Park, the early home of the Detroit Tigers at the famed corner of Michigan and Trumbull, the future home of Tiger Stadium.

Iowa won the game 28-5 and I’m just going to let you partake in a little turn-of-the-twentieth century beauty put down in print by a writer at the Detroit Free Press:

The visitors were a most gentlemanly set of young giants, though anything but gentle when in action. They showed magnificent education and training from the tips of their long scalp locks to the soles of their perniciously active feet. Their brains worked like greased lightning set to clock-work. They were shrewder than a strategy board and could mobilize in less time than is employed in an owl’s wink. When they charged it was like a bunch of wing-footed elephants, and when they tackled one of the enemy it was like the embrace of a grizzly. They could kick harder than a gray mule with years of experience, and with the accuracy of a globe-sight rifle.

Get a bunch of rooms, old time Freep dude.

And when the Iowa team returned to Iowa City, well, they found good times along with a small bit of crime and some damage:

The things that happened…that night are written in the books. When our train reached Iowa City…, every person in town was there. A farmer was just driving in with a load of shelled corn. The boys confiscated it and filled their pockets and hats with it. [Ed. Corn was a hot commodity in Iowa?]

We were thrown up on a Tally Ho that was pulled by students with a rope a block long. There was a bonfire on the field. The boys pulled President MacLean and faculty out of their buggies and carried them in a dance around the fire. The president’s hair was singed.

The fire’s heat was so intense that plate glass windows cracked and for a time, it looked as if the flames were threatening an entire block of the business district.

Then they ran to the field and painted the opponent’s locker room pink.

I always think about this interview during MSU week, especially this morning when I heard Mark Messner join Michael Spath on WTKA.  Originally posted in 2009, here’s Messner talking about his great battles with MSU’s superfreak lineman Tony Mandarich, along with a bit about Bo’s drug policy and how the team self-regulated bad behavior.  Dig it:

MVictors: Is there a particular game that you look back on with great memories?

Messner: The Michigan State game my senior year is one that sticks out, because there was so much hype about Mandarich. There was talk about ‘the game within the game’, with Lombardi and Outland trophy candidates going at it and all that. He was such a physical specimen and I vowed that I would not let myself get embarrassed by someone who could overwhelm me physically. I could not let that person get me because if I did, the media coverage would be all over it.

He did get me once and that’s when I realized that there was something strange going on with this man, because no man should ever do that.  It was my junior year.  We were watching film getting ready for Michigan State and I was like, “Look at this thing! He’s destroying people.” In that game I got out of position and he got underneath me. He picked me up off my feet and ran with me for fifteen yards with my feet just dangling. He threw me like a rag doll into the Michigan State bench.

No matter what, there was no way I was going to let that happen again. And I never did. In my senior year I would not let that guy catch me. Bo used to say he’d never seen somebody out-run, out-think, out-maneuver someone when they shouldn’t have.  It was purely motivated out of not getting embarrassed [laughs].

MVictors: Did you ever get a chance to know Mandarich personally?

Messner: Yeah. On different All-American teams, like the Playboy team, the AP, UPI, Bob Hope Show, you’d come down for a few days for taping and publicity stuff and they would room us together [laughs]. They’re thinking, “Oh, Michigan people!” I’m like, “This is our frickin’ rival, what are you doing putting me in the same room with this guy!”

He was a very personable and a nice person. He wasn’t like some of these guys, and I don’t bad mouth people, but Broderick Thomas was just arrogant guy and not respectful of other people. Tony wasn’t like that at all and we had a mutual respect for each other on the field.

MVictors: Obviously Mandarich’s name evokes thoughts of steroids.  How did Bo handle drugs within the team?

Messner: It’s one of the things that makes me respect and love the guy the way I do. Well before the NCAA was doing the drug tests, Bo was doing random tests to anybody so that you wouldn’t be out on campus smoking. He was more concerned about recreational drugs on campus (than steroids). We’d come to practice and if your name was on a list you’d have to pee in a cup. That was before it was mandated. We’d still have to do it for bowl games but for the regular season, no one was doing that. Bo was that way all season long.

I remember one day I took the socks from practice because I need some socks [laughs].  The next day I was getting dressed  for practice and I had no socks. I practiced without socks. [Equipment manager] Jon Falk told me, “Listen son, that’s an NCAA violation. I can not let you have them. I can’t replace them. If you bring me an old pair of socks I’ll give you a new pair but you’re not leaving this building with our t-shirts, shorts or socks.”

I had to bring the damn socks back so I could have socks for practice. That’s how strict they were. I’m proud of that.

MVictors: We’re starting to see students arrive on campus that might not remember Bo, certainly not during his coaching days. Is there something unique you remember about Bo?

Messner: Bo had a very protective media persona. He was standoffish and harsh toward the media, and that’s what a lot of people saw, but inside he was one of the most caring and long-term developers of men that I’ve ever met.

I was privileged to be one of his captains. After practice you’re sitting in his office and he asks you about the team chemistry, about problem kids, about which kids need help getting their degrees.  As the captain you are rattling off the guys that are struggling, or aren’t feeling confident or not sure if they are going to stay with the squad and so on.  Bo wanted special emphasis on these players because he really cared about guys.

MVictors: As leaders on the team, did you have to self-police the other players?

Messner: We didn’t police for steroids because it was pretty obvious, from the physical changes to the personality changes. But we would self police guys breaking rules on campus.

I remember when Brad Cochran was our captain one of the kickers was out the night before when we were going to be at Campus Inn. We had a strict internal policy against it. Brad got a phone call and let him know that one of the players was up at Rick’s. He stormed right up there, grabbed him and told him, “Sorry bud, you’re not playing tomorrow.”

Full Messner Interview here

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My fondness for the Little Brown Jug rivalry probably isn’t hard to explain to those who read this site.  I run a regular feature called eBay Watch highlighting Michigan football memorabilia so digging into the story of the jug, the ultimate piece of Michigan (and perhaps college football) memorabilia was a natural fit for me.

But the work I began earlier this year was kickstarted almost by accident.  As part of the research for my piece on the 1909 season for Brian Cook’s excellent Hail to the Victors 2009, I stubbed my toe on an interesting account of jug history. While looking for game recaps for the ‘09 season, I thumbed through the 1910 Michiganensian—the U-M yearbook for the 1909-10 school year.  In it I found a page devoted to the Little Brown Jug containing the classic old photo of what I call the ‘Oscar jug’:

white1910 Michiganensian page 229

It’s a wonderful pic that I’ve seen before of the jug as it was decorated shortly after Minnesota obtained it in 1903 and returned to the Wolverine team that school year.  Yes, the original jug was actually white, not brown (and not little!) reflecting its stoneware look and feel.  But more interesting to me was the article that accompanied the photo on the same page. More »

image[Ed October 20, 2014.  In honor of the 80th anniversary of the Michigan-Georgia Tech game played on October 20, 1934, a repost on the campus protests leading up to this low point in Michigan football lore.  Original posted April 2009.]

The early 1930s are a fascinating stretch in Michigan football history and I’ve written much on the highs and lows of that period in eBay Watch and elsewhere.  A relative recently asked me which story from Michigan history was the most interesting to me, and the first thing that came to mind was the Willis Ward incident of 1934.  I’ve hit on it in Hail to the Victors 2008, in a few posts here, in a guest post on mgoblog, and even on WTKA radio with John U. Bacon.

This week an eBay auction got me thinking about the incident once again.  A seller is offering a pic of Ward (above) which is described to be an original wire photo.  The bidding started at $9.75.

Here’s a quick debrief on the controversy leading up to the game with Georgia Tech, as summarized in my mgo-guest post from earlier this year:

During the miserable 1934 season, controversy erupted prior to the scheduled game against Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jacket officials made it clear they would not take the field against a black player.  Protests ensued on campus and within the team (it’s rumored that [Gerald] Ford threatened to quit).  I’ve read that future famous playwright Arthur Miller, who was on the Daily staff at the time, tried to intervene.   Eventually the game was played without Ward and resulted in a 9-2 Michigan win.  [For more, here’s a Daily article from 1999, and Ward’s Wikipedia page.]

One correction:  I don’t think Miller was on the Daily staff in 1934 (he’s not listed on the directory in the ‘34 paper) although he did write for the Daily during his stay at Michigan and apparently did try to intervene with the Georgia Tech players.   Ward’s Wikipedia entry cites a story from a Miller biography explaining the future playwright’s role in the drama:

In his biography of Miller, Enoch Brater noted that Miller had friends from Arkansas who knew one of the Georgia Tech players. Brater described Miller’s involvement this way: “Remmel [Miller’s friend from Arkansas] took Miller with them to meet with members of the team, to protest but also to appeal to the athletes’ sense of fair play. ‘Miller was right in the middle of this’, Remmel recalls. Not only did the visiting team rebuff ‘the Yankee’ Miller ‘in salty language’, but they told him they would actually kill Ward if he set one foot on the Michigan gridiron. ‘The Georgia Tech team was wild.’ Miller was furious. He ‘went immediately to the office of the Michigan Daily and wrote an article about it, but it was not published.’

It’s a fascinating story and as I mentioned as an mgo-guest, it deserves a full documentary or movie.  One of the reasons I don’t think it’s been talked about very much is that the events didn’t exactly put Georgia Tech or Michigan in a favorable light, as Ward didn’t play in the game.**

The Protests
Despite mentioning the story in a few places, I really haven’t taken a deep dive.  I recently stopped by the Bentley Library and looked through some of the pages of The Daily in the days around the October 20, 1934 game against the Yellow Jackets.

As a student paper should do, their words focused on the situation on campus and it’s a pretty interesting tale.   Upon learning of the demand by Tech that Ward not play in the game, a group of students formed the ‘Ward United Front Committee’ and collected 1,500 signatures supporting their cause.  The petition read:

“We, the undersigned, declare ourselves unalterably opposed to the racial discrimination evidenced in the proposed exclusion of Willis Ward from the Georgia Tech game.  We support the slogan: Either Ward plays or the game must be cancelled.”

The United Front even reached out to quarterback Benny Friedman, who was coaching at the City College of New York at the time, hoping the legend would tender a statement in support of the cause.

The group scheduled a meeting for the Friday night (10/19) before the game, a time typically reserved for pep rallies.  The Daily wrote the meeting was called with “the purpose of  crystallizing sentiment on the Ward affair.”

The meeting, held inside the packed Natural Science Auditorium, was ugly. Daily writer Bernard Weismann described the scene:

Smoldering feelings on the question of Willis Ward’s participation in the Georgia Tech game burst into flame last night at what was probably the wildest and strangest Friday night rally in Michigan’s history.

Speakers on both sides of the debate tried to weigh in on the controversy only to be heckled by the other side.  The chairman of the event, Abner Morton, took the stage but was overwhelmed by “boos, clapping and ‘wisecracks’”.

Next up was a professor named Harold J. McFarlan who was forced to dodge “coins that were tossed at the speaker” along with the catcalls, and eventually he just walk off stage.   Morton then returned and challenged his hecklers to bring up a representative to speak their piece, which prompted “taunts of ‘yellow’” from the other side of the crowd.

Finally someone from the opposition group stepped up and argued that it wasn’t right to require Ward to play especially if he could be injured by the Tech players, and further, that the coaches had earned the right to say whether Ward should be exposed to potential harm.  The shouts and taunts from the crowd continued.

Breaking the hysteria was a gent named Sher Quraishi (fact: he’s the founder of that co-op house on State Street that stands today) who decided to tear everyone a collective new one:

[Quraishi] was the first to obtain a semblance of attention from the entire audience.  He branded the audience a “bunch of fools,” unable to learn from the mistakes of others.  “You with the advantage of a university education can’t even allow a meeting to be held until you are bawled out.”

Snap!  Things settled down after that and many left the meeting before it concluded.  Those who stayed agreed to formally protest the scheduling of the Jackets by the the university’s Board in Control of Athletics.

The Deal
The day of the game The Daily printed quotes from the key administrators in the athletic department.  Legendary coach and acting athletic director Fielding Yost told reporters, “I haven’t anything to do with it,” when asked whether Ward would play.   Chairman of the Board of Athletics Ralph Aigler echoed the sidestep as well, saying, “In the 22 years I have been a member of the athletic board, I have never had anything to say about who played; I am not going to begin now.”

Ward himself was reached and referred the questions to coach Harry Kipke saying, “I haven’t anything to say about it, you had better call the coach.”   An attempt to get a comment from coach Kipke at his home and at Barton Hills Country Club (where the team stayed before the game) failed.

A deal was struck before the game, and we know that Georgia Tech coach Bill Alexander agreed to hold out his regular starting end Emmett ‘Hoot’ Gibson.  There are a few accounts describing an all-night debate between Alexander and Yost (although Yost is incorrectly referred to as Michigan’s coach in many versions), and I’ve also heard that Gibson never forgave his coach for agreeing to such a deal.

There are various accounts in his Wikipedia entry as to where Ward resided during the actual game.  The Daily is pretty specific: he watched the game from the press box, sheltered from the “downpour which started with the opening kickoff and continued intermittently all afternoon.”   The Chicago Tribune also placed Ward and Franklin Lett ( another African American who is on the extended 1934 team roster but not in the team photo)  in the press box, specifically within the “broadcasting booths.”

Parting Shots
Several beautifully composed letters were printed in the Daily in the days after the game, generally venting their disgust over the entire incident: from the behavior on the students, to the actions of the athletic department for scheduling this game, to the Michigan Daily for its coverage and editorials.

Here’s an excerpt of one student’s view of the Friday meeting, describing some of the behavior as “Hitleristic” (keep in mind this was 1934):


One note, submitted by five students, was particularly poignant.  It blasted The Daily for its coverage of the controversy.  Two small excerpts, here’s the first:


And in further ripping the Daily, a few excellent questions for the athletic department:


Despite the sharp criticism of The Daily leveled by the missive above, the paper definitely did a fine job covering the temperature on campus that week.   Should they have dug deeper into some of the questions raised in the letters?  Probably, but I’m not clear on the type of access or control that they possessed at the time.  I don’t know if Arthur Miller’s draft piece still exists, but it would be fascinating to see what he wrote after facing the Tech players.  Was it squashed by the Daily brass?

In its editorial wrapping up the incident (and this was mentioned in the 1999 Daily piece on Ward as well as in his Wikipedia page), the Daily wrote:

“It was the peculiar characteristic of the Ward-Georgia Tech matter that everyone who touched it did so only to lose in respect and esteem.”

The auction of the Ward photo ends April 30th.

**Update:  This point (that we don’t hear about the stories where ‘good’ didn’t triumph) expressed better by The Joe Cribbs Car Wash:

For the past few years, one of the most tried-and-true feature story tactics from the likes of ESPN has been the “team from the earlier part of the century heroically stands up against discrimination.” I mean, who doesn’t love one of those stories? Easy journalistic money.

Of course, you don’t ever hear about about the stories where teams had the chance to take a similar stand and didn’t..

Yost’s Warning to you Drunks (1933)
1933 and the Dickinson Formula
1933 MSC Ticket Application
Harry Kipke and the Fall of 1934
Smoke ‘em if you Got ‘em (1935-ish)

20. August 2013 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Michigan’s Grand Old Man Laid to Rest (1946) · Categories: Archive 2009 · Tags: , , , ,

Michigan Football Tickets

On this day in 1946 Michigan lost its Grand Old Man—Fielding H. Yost.   This was an eBay Watch topic back in 2009 thanks to the auction of a press wire photo from Yost’s funeral procession, held on from August 22, 1946 in Ann Arbor.  The photo depicts the casket and his pallbearers:

For as many times as you’ve speculated that Yost was rolling over in his grave, now you’ve got an idea of what he’s rolling in.  Curiously the gent who composed the photo caption spelled Bennie Oosterbaan’s first name correctly (with the “ie”, often butchered as Benny) but laid an egg hammering when it came to his last name (“Oosterbaum”).  Bah.

The caption of the wire photo reads “GRAND OLD MAN OF MICHIGAN FOOTBALL LAID TO REST”.

I can’t summarize Yost’s impact on Michigan athletics in a single post and won’t really try to.  While he was not a man without flaws, he leveraged his incredible success on the football field along with his business acumen to lead U-M to build an athletic campus (for men, for women, and in spirit, for the people of the State of Michigan) that was years ahead of its time, with iconic structures like Yost Field House, the U-M Golf Course, and of course Michigan Stadium still standing and very much operating today.

The day Yost passed must have been a sad day for everyone in Ann Arbor and for the college football world in general.  Except maybe in South Bend.  It was probably a similar feeling as we had a few years back when we lost Bo or to Buckeye fans when Woody passed on.

BTW, and speaking of Woody’s demise…creepily this is not the first time a coffin has appeared on eBay Watch, as in 2008 I featured the auction of Bob Ufer’s makeshift coffin for his Woody Hayes doll:



Originally posted  March 21, 2009

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Ed. Thanks to the U-M History Calendar we know that today, June 5, marks the anniversary first meeting of the Regents in Ann Arbor back in 1837.   Until 1929 it was that year that adorned the U-M seal.  But..over the years many argued that founding date should be pushed back to 1817–when the university was first organized in Detroit.  Good time for a repost talking about dates and seals:

Originally posted March 30, 2009
Another chance to resume the MVictors virtual Antiques Roadshow.  Reader Dave sent over this note recently:

Hi, I picked up this plaque at a garage sale. I know that 1837 is the year the University moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor.  Any help is greatly appreciated thanks a million.


Dave is correct, the school moved from Detroit to Ann Arbor in 1837, but it wasn’t until a hot debate amongst alums got the official founding date switched to 1817.  The Bentley Library has produced a nice online exhibit on the history of U-M seals which includes this detail on “the switch”.

In 1928, the Regents tried to stomp out the issue, sticking to the 1837 date:

In the 1920’s a controversy developed between two groups of alumni over the birth of the institution. As the Washtenaw Tribune of November 6, 1928, put it, the Regents “settled the controversy regarding the birth of the institution. . . The University will continue to operate under the present seal, showing that it was founded in 1837, the opinion of rabid alumni to the contrary.”

But then a document was produced revealing enough evidence for the school to declare the 1817 date ‘bonafide’:

But in May of 1929 the regents reversed themselves. The deciding event was a communication from university librarian William Warner Bishop calling attention to an enclosed photostatic copy of a document recording the “Laws and Ordinances of the University of Michigania.” We have come full circle, for what had come to Bishop’s attention was the description of the 1817 seal in [then school president] John Monteith’s handwriting.

And the rabid alums partied like Jay Gatsby.

So, back to Dave’s garage sale find.   It appears the “Lamp of Knowledge” seal he purchased was first designed back in 1895 and was used until the founding date was moved back to 1817 in 1929.  So this piece must date back to somewhere within that range.

So how did this end up at a garage sale?  Well, the most likely scenario is that when the change was made back in 1829, the University was probably riddled with these 1837 seals in various places: the Union, the libraries, offices, etc.   A crew of those rabid alumni probably tore through the campus gleefully ripping down the out-of-date emblems.

Once the date changes, the old seals became one of those things that is effectively useless but kind of hard to toss in the trash.  Like all my ticket stubs from bad games.  I’m guessing a few folks at the university took the old seals home and stashed them in the attic—and are now appearing in 2009 suburban garage sales.

I think I’m supposed to put a value on this item, but I’m at a loss.  Maybe $25-$50?  (add $.25 if the quarter is included).

Here’s a history of the various seal design changes from over the years:


From the Bentley’s online exhibit on Seals

Related: Spawn of MZone’s “Wallpaper Wednesday featuring Michigan’s seal, along with some history from February.

[Ed. Originally posted July 2010- reposting today on Old 98’s birthday]

September 28, 1940 is a great day in Michigan football history.   On his 21st birthday, to-be Heisman winner Tom Harmon helped the Wolverines roll up Cal on the road at Berkeley 41-0.   The season opener also yielded one hilarious moment, when Bear fan Harold Brennan got fed up with Old 98’s exploits and tried to take matters into his own hands.  Fans of this site are very familiar with this tete a tete. eBay Watch brings this incident back on the front page, as a seller is offering up wire photo reproductions of three of the stills from the famous incident that originally appeared in LIFE magazine, click the photo to see each auction: 4



I’d probably hold off on bidding on these and instead enjoy a couple of the tributes to the incident out there on YouTube.  First, the special edition YouTube of the battle including photos and quotes from the LIFE magazine feature on the incident:

Or, enjoy this clip of the run pulled together by WolverineHistorian.   Watching the buffoonery going on by the Cal defenders as they hopelessly try to wrap up 98 while taking horrible angles, I kind of understand what drove Brennan on the field:

More Harmon stuff: * Harmon and Old Number..Six? * Tommy’s the BMOC * Tom Harmon says ‘Vote Heston’ * Old 98’s Son Faces Michigan, MSU * Harmon Goes for the Gusto


[Ed 4/27/2011:  Originally posted November 19, 2009 – bumping up this interview with Ira and Mandich because you should hear it.]

Excellent interview this morning on WTKA 1050AM, as Michigan legend and current Miami, FL radio personality Jim Mandich dialed up Ira Weintraub to discuss Ohio State, 1969, the current team, Bo, Chad Henne and Jake Long on his Dolphins and much more.

Gotta love that he’s flying up to the big game on Steve Ross’s luxuriously private jet.

Definitely worth a listen:


You can hear all of the WTKA podcasts here, anytime.

12. October 2010 · Comments Off on We’re Getting Pink Saturday · Categories: Archive 2009 · Tags: , , , , , ,

No doubt you’ve seen NFL teams donning various forms of pink gear over the past couple weeks in support of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

I confirmed with U-M Media Relations that Michigan will be joining them on Saturday, as coaches will be wearing sideline polos and hats laced with pink along with the breast cancer ribbon logo.  (Hat tip to Craig Barker for alerting me to some sightings of pink M gear in town a few weeks back.)

As I understand it, the shirts will be white with a pink ‘M’ logo.   As far as the hat, my contact at the PR firm representing adidas sent this over and I believe this is it or close.  Based on what I heard media relations, the ‘M’ logo on the hats might be pink for the game:


Limited quantities of the pink gear will be available a M-Den stores and at the game.   More details to come.   For those attending Roger Waters’ performance of ‘The Wall’ at the Palace on October 24th, grab this gear so you can represent your Wolverines and blend in nicely with the crowd.

I’m sure the Hawkeyes will appreciate Rich Rod and crew embracing the cause.  For decades they’ve been pushing for teams visiting Kinnick Stadium to get into the pink: