The 1951 Rose Bowl victory capped off a nice season for coach Bennie Oosterbaan’s crew.  The 1950 squad featured team MVP Don Dufek and All-American R. Allen Wahl and won the conference title with a 6-3-1 overall record, dropping games to Michigan State, #1 ranked Army [played at Yankee Stadium), and to Illinois.  Despite a tough start the team rallied to win their final three games and added the great victory in Pasadena.

You probably can’t say this for any Michigan Rose Bowl champion, but the win over Cal in Pasadena was not the definitive victory for this team. That distinction will always be reserved for the game over a month earlier on November 25, 1950 in Columbus—a game that will forever be known as The Snow Bowl.

The week leading up to the game was somewhat normal for a November in the Midwest. On Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), Columbus experienced 38 degree temperatures and rain. By 8am Friday morning the thermometer sunk to 5 degrees and it snowed off and on for most of the day. The forecast for Saturday was a chilly 15 degrees and possible snow, but Friday evening to early Saturday morning things took a wicked turn:

A shirtless, unruly hairy beast with bad teeth seen outside Ohio stadium?  shocker

During the night, a storm moving up the Carolina coast pumped Atlantic moisture like a fire hose westward to meet the southward blast of frigid air. The clash of these two air masses reached full fury over Ohio and western Pennsylvania, paralyzing the region with heavy snow, gale-force winds and near-zero temperatures. Pittsburgh lay under a 16-inch snowfall with another foot forecast, forcing cancellation of the Pitt-Penn State game. Southeastern Ohio measured 14 plus inches. Transportation across the state ground to a halt.

As game time drew near the field was buried and around 50,000 brave fans huddled beneath the Ohio Stadium stands and waited to take their seats. A meeting was held between the schools to decide whether to play the game that included Ohio coach Wes Felser, Ohio athletic director Dick Larkin, Michigan AD Fritz Crisler and Oosterbaan. There had yet to be a Big Ten conference game canceled for any reason and this game held greater significance. If the game wasn’t played, Ohio State would earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. But Larkin knew (and certainly Oosterbaan and especially Crisler reminded him) that Michigan could potentially earn a trip to the Rose Bowl with a win. Ultimately Larkin gave the green light and remarked, “We’ll just have to do the best we can.”

When the game started, the teams did the only thing they could. Run a play or two and then punt rather than risk a turnover.

Michigan entered the game third in the conference standings behind the Buckeyes and Illinois. During the game word made it to the Michigan sideline that Northwestern upset the Illini meaning a Wolverine victory would send Oosterbaan and company to Pasadena.

The decisive moment came with time running out in the first half as Fesler made a tactical move that probably cost him his job, as described by Sports Illustrated:

On third and 6 at the Ohio State 13, Buckeyes coach Wes Fesler instructed [Heisman Trophy winner Vic] Janowicz to punt with Ohio State holding a 3-2 lead. Only 47 seconds remained in the half and it is likely that Ohio State could have run out the clock. But Michigan’s Tony Momsen — whose older brother Bob played for the Buckeyes — blocked the kick and then fell on it in the end zone, closing the scoring in a 9-3 Michigan win.

Thanks to WolverineHistorian, a few clips from the game:



The statistics from the game are remarkable:

  • Ohio State had 41 yards of total offense, Michigan 27.
  • The Buckeyes actually attempted 18 passes, completing just three for 25 yards.
  • Michigan had no first downs; Ohio State three.
  • The teams punted a combined 45 times for a total of 1,408 yards.
  • The team fumbled 10 times but lost only one each.

There’s probably hundreds of other stories about the game from those who witnessed it. HBO’s The Rivalry spent a good portion of the documentary on the game providing some phenomenal footage. The BBC website pulled together an impressive recap and added this anecdote which will definitely get a chuckle out of any Michigan Marching Band fan:

..the Ohio State Marching Band, which considered itself the best in the country (and still does), was offended by an article in Life magazine which claimed Michigan had the best. Ohio State was determined to prove itself and arranged an elaborate performance for half time. However, the brass instruments were chilled and the mouthpieces frozen. It seemed it would be unable to play.

The band planned to silently perform its maneuvers, which included standing together in a shape resembling a Buckeye leaf, while previously recorded music played over the loudspeakers. However, the determined band members got hold of some antifreeze for their mouthpieces and did the performance.

I’ll bookend end this eBay Watch with another item from the period. It’s a 1951 Michiganensian yearbook, featuring a few photos from both games, here’s a few pics from the Snow Bowl as displayed in the yearbook:

[Originally posted November 16, 2008]

Follow MVictors on Twitter 

* From the Ohio State library 1950 OSU vs. Michigan, The Snow Bowl
* An excellent recap from The BBC Website
* Game footage from
* Weather Events: Blizzard Bowl
* on the 10 greatest games in the U-M/OSU Rivalry

[Ed. Bumped up – I wrote this on MVictors just after I heard Bo passed away 10 years ago on November 17, 2006]
NOVEMBER 17 – What an empty feeling here at noon on the Friday before the biggest game that may ever be played against Ohio State and Michigan. I just heard on WTKA 1050 am that we lost the man that single handedly restored Michigan Football to its rightful place.

I had the pleasure to be in school for Bo’s final season. He is and was the heart and soul of Michigan football, and his legacy will reign in Ann Arbor forever.

I actually heard Bo live on WTKA this morning giving his thoughts on the game…he sounded a little rough. I remember thinking ‘Wow, Bo is getting old’. I understand he was in his car on the way to the taping. He collapsed at the TV station minutes later.

For whatever reason, coincidence I assume, perhaps it was stressful on him, he collapsed again during the taping of his TV show. This is pretty shocking, and the timing of this is really crazy, and this turned this into a really sad days for college football.

For those of you outside the football program. Yes, Bo Schembechler was still an active part of the team and the program. Look no further than this week’s Sports Illustrated:

The Football named Schembechler Hall, where 77-year-old Bo keeps an office and occasionally pokes his head into metting rooms.

So where does this leave the game? Well, the game will be played. Michigan will play their asses off. Carr won’t give a rah-rah ‘Do it for Bo’ speech, he might remind them about the legacy that Bo leaves, and have them remember why they chose to be part of this program, and perhaps Carr will ask them to remember the time each of them had with Coach Bo. The players will understand and they will play like champions, win or lose.

A favorite memory of mine? When Bo was part of the Tigers organization and everyone was bitter at Bo and blamed him for firing legendary radio man Ernie Harwell (which Bo denied to his death that this was his doing). One of my roommates defended Bo and instead turned the attention on Harwell, of whom he called “An Old Coot”. Rogie, this was an instant classic.

Another great memory and he’ll leave this forever: When he first started at Michigan, players were quitting the team in droves, complaining about the workouts Bo put them through, Schembechler made a promise. He hung a sign in the locker room that read Those Who Stay Will be Champions.” After one game this year I saw an ex-player with a hat that simply read “We Stayed”. I love it.

Here’s an encounter I had with the legend not too long ago, inspiring this post:
Seeing Bo Schembechler

When I started my research on the Little Brown Jug earlier this year, I created a list of questions/facts I wanted to validate or at least understand a little better.   One of the items concerned this bit of jug history that’s been part of Jug lore for quite a while, here republished [in 2009] on Michigan official football site during the time:


This little detail is oftrepeated in recaps of Jug history (even in Angelique’s new book), but I wondered if anyone ever bothered to find out what actually went down over this stretch.  Having written on this era (see various eBay Watch pieces on the early 1930s or in Hail to the Victors 2008), I knew the Gophers and Wolverines fielded powerful squads and these contests were fiercely fought.  Did the teams just accept that the victor would not get to carry the jug off the field after these games?  How could the jug be gone for four years?

What I discovered was a wild tale and properly pieced together what actually happened.  Here’s a timeline:


  • Mid-September 1931. The drama actually started in 1931, not 1930 as the official history goes.  The jug vanished from the Administration building (now where you’ll find the athletic Ticket Office) in the mid-September in 1931.
  • October 29, 1931. The New York Times reports that the jug is recovered.
  • October 30, 1931.  The Times backs off the story from the previous day, reporting that the jug found was a “poor imitation.”
  • November 19, 1931.  The week of the Minnesota game, 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 freshly painted jug onto the pavement and it is scooped up by gas station attendant K.D. Smith.  Here’s Smith looking a bit puzzled in this photo republished in the 1932 Michiganensian:

jug1Photo: 1932 Michiganensian (U-M Yearbook)

  • November 20-21, 1931 The next day, U-M athletic department officials announce that the gas station jug is authentic, but many skeptics are afoot including Ann Arbor Daily News writer Mill Marsh who after inspecting the crock labels it “a clever imitation.”  On the field, Michigan defeats the Gophers 6-0 and retains the jug.


  • November 18, 1932. Michigan team goes to Minneapolis to renew the rivalry.  Talk rages around town about the jug the Wolverines tote from Ann Arbor.  The legendary Fielding Yost makes the trip to the Twin Cities.  When grilled about the authenticity of the jug, Yost tells reporters, “Why sure, it’s the real jug,” adding, “Take a look at it. Does it look like a phoney?”    To the skeptics, he explained, “It looks differently than it used to because it’s been painted, but it’s the same jug just the same.”  Phil Pack echoed Yost’s assurances insisting, “So far as I am concerned that is the little brown jug.”
  • Some weren’t buying it. As one Associated Press writer put it, “Pack bought a substitute and had it painted to look like the original, but that fooled no one.”
  • The man who found the jug in 1903, Oscar Munson, was unimpressed with Michigan’s assurances.  “They’ve been passing a phoney off on us since 1927,” he snarled.   Munson also thought he knew the one responsible for the crock’s disappearance: Yost himself.  “He wanted the jug for himself and he took it.  It was never lost.”
  • November 19, 1932.  In Michigan’s final game of the season, the Wolverines prevail 3-0.  Michigan, Yost and Harry Kipke return to Ann Arbor with the jug.  Later Michigan is declared national champion thanks to the mathematical formula used to settle the matter those days: the Dickinson System.


  • August 21, 1933. A different jug appears in Ann Arbor, this time “in a clump of bushes near the medical building” on East University.  Yost confirms this is the real jug (effectively admitting he tried to pass off the gas station jug as the real deal) and asked that, “the person who had the jug the two years it was missing,” to contact him and explain what happened.

jug3 New  York Times, August 22, 1932

  • November 15, 1933. In the days leading up to the 1933 game, Minnesota’s Oscar Munson, the custodian who originally found ‘The Michigan Jug’ in 1903, remains skeptical about the newly found jug and even suggests that Yost planted it in the bushes on East U.
  • Yost essentially admitted he deceived the people of Minneapolis the year prior by accepting its authenticity and telling reporters, “I hope that some day the person who had the jug the two years it was missing will write me a letter and tell me the story of what was done with it while it was gone.  I’d like to have its complete story.”  Despite Yost’s plea, it doesn’t appear anyone stepped up to explain why it was taken or better yet, why they decided to dump it in those bushes.
  • The chief skeptic, Munson, stepped in once again to question the whole story and can you blame him?  Surely Yost’s assurances that the jug toted to Minneapolis the season prior now gnawed at Oscar. “They’ve been shoving a spurious water container on us for years,” he told reporters.  Munson suggested that if the real jug was found near shrubbery, “they were Mr. Yost’s bushes.”
  • Phil Pack, who maybe should have kept quiet at this point, couldn’t resist firing back at Munson. “Our friend Oscar hasn’t even seen the jug since 1929, when Minnesota turned it back.”  Pack added, “The jug is now in the vault, and it won’t come out of hiding until and if Minnesota beats Michigan.  Mr. Munson, now a venerable gentleman, may not live to see it back in Minneapolis, and he will have to show a pass signed by President Roosevelt to get within ten feet of it until then.”
  • November 18, 1933.  The game ends in a 0-0 tie.  Michigan retains the jug and is once again named national champion after the season.


  • November 3, 1934. The Gophers finally get it done, crushing Gerald Ford and the horrific 1934 Wolverines 34-0 in Minneapolis.  The jug is returned to Munson who later confirms he’s satisfied that the jug (which he understandably hides away!) is the real deal.

The Real Story: By pulling together these pieces, it appears as though today’s official Michigan athletic department line on the disappearance is a jumbled version of the truth, mixing a few of the events.  Instead of being missing from 1930 to 1934, it looks like the trophy was gone between September 1931 and August 1933.  And it wasn’t recovered “behind a clump of bushes by a gas station attendant” as this is blending two incidents.  An imitation jug was dropped off at a gas station in 1931 and yes, handled by an attendant.  A different jug, by all accounts the real deal, was found in bushes on campus in 1933.

As an aside, the culprit for a portion of the confusion over the story might fall on the Minnesota media department.  The 1943 Gopher game program included this caption under a republished photo of K.D. Smith at the gas station, and perhaps that’s where this historical nugget had its origins:


While this clarifies/corrects one piece of jug history, many other remained including a key question: Was the jug that was found in 1933 indeed the “real deal”, that is, the jug that was left in Minnesota in 1903 and first played for 100 years ago in 1909?  More on that here.

Regular readers of this site know one of my favorite decades of Michigan football is the 1930s, having covered different seasons and events in eBay Watch and in the Little Brown Jug Lore series from those years.

If I had to pick one year as my favorite during the stretch it’s definitely 1934 which is ironic, as it’s arguably the worst season in Michigan football history.   I argued this point here and here, but in a nutshell consider that Harry Kipke’s team, coming off back-to-back national championships, finished 1-7, was shut out in five of the eight games, and scored a mere 21 points.  Fugly.

Despite the futility on the gridiron, the season is packed of historical treasures of major significance both on and off the field.  The next edition of eBay Watch features the auction of a program from the Ohio State-Michigan held on November 17, 1934, exactly 75 years ago today in Columbus:


The program features several photos of players, including a collage of the Michigan team including team MVP Gerald Ford:


The top of the photo features Willis Ward, the African American end who was at the center of a fierce controversy that played out before the Georgia Tech game a few weeks earlier that season.  For those not familiar, The Jackets made it known well before the game that they wouldn’t take the field in Ann Arbor if Ward played, spawning intense protests on campus in Ann Arbor. 

Eventually Michigan caved, sitting Ward after a deal was struck with Tech that required the Jackets to sit a player as well.  (It’s not lost on me that the 1934 OSU program features two white dudes shaking hands.)  The 9-2 game was the Wolverines’ lone win of the miserable season but came with a historical price.   These incidents resonated with would-be President Ford, a friend of Ward’s, who wrote a 1999 New York Times Op-Ed piece defending Michigan’s affirmative action policies:

“Do we really want to risk turning back the clock to an ear when the Willis Wards were isolated and penalized for the color of their skin, their economic standing or national ancestry?”

President George W. Bush also mentioned the Ward incident in Ford’s eulogy

The 1934 Program also features a photo of one of the most famous athletes in the world, a burgeoning freshman track star at Ohio State named Jesse Owens:owens

Owens of course knows a little something about race and discrimination.  He’ll forever be remembered for kicking Hitler squarely in the bucknuts at the Berlin Olympics a couple years later.  While certainly on a smaller stage, Owens did some serious damage in Ann Arbor on Ferry Field in 1935 and the Bentley Library details his exploits:

Ferry Field has been the site of many great individual performances in Big Ten track championships, none more remarkable than Jesse Owens’ efforts in 1935. Within a period of two hours, the Ohio State sophomore set world records in the 220 yard dash – :20.2, the broad jump – 26 ft. 8 1/4 in., the 220 yard low hurdles – :22.6 and tied the world record in the 100 yard dash – :09.4 seconds. A plaque at the southeast corner of Ferry Field commemorates Owens’ incomparable performance.

That’s rubbing it in, man.

The year 1934 also marked the start of a Buckeye tradition that lingers today like a foul odor: the issuing of gold pants charms to players.   Their timing was impeccable.  The Sweatervest’s website explains the deal:

Schmidt founded the "Pants Club", which still exists today as reward for a win over the Wolverines. Since 1934, each player and coach receives a miniature pair of gold pants for each victory over Michigan. The charms contain the recipient’s initials as well as the year and score of "The Game".

Not only can you pick up a copy of this historic program, you can even own your own pair of Buckeye gold pants, which some OSU alum decided to hock on eBay right now:

osu gold pants

This prize commemorate OSU’s 2007 and the seller even gives the initials of the original owner (D.H.) which are placed on each pair.   That’d narrow things down to ‘07 senior De’Angelo Haslam, freshman Dan Herron or yikes, assistant coach Darrell Hazell.   Didn’t mean that much, obviously.

The auction of the 1934 OSU-Michigan program ends November 19 and the auction of the gold pants closes November 20th.

* Follow eBayWatch on Twitter  A new tool.  I’ll blast about quick links to notable auctions.
* Harry Kipke and the Fall of 1934
* The Willis Ward Protests

Prior to the Purdue game I sat in for a segment on WOMC’s Tailgate Show.  Just before I went on the air, host Lucy Ann Lance summoned over Peg Canham, widow of legendary Michigan athletic director Don Canham.

Mrs. Canham was wearing a stunning necklace and it caught my eye.  Lance knew a bit about it and mentioned that it was a gift from the former AD, made from an old Wolverine football championship ring.

I wanted to know a little more, so I connected with Mrs. Canham afterwards and she was kind enough to send along a photo:


I knew there was something very familiar about her necklace, and it didn’t take long to figure out why.  I’ve featured a few Michigan championship rings on eBay Watch over the years including this one from 1977:

Along with the photo, Mrs. Canham was kind enough to share a few memories about the ring. “He surprised me with the necklace for Christmas shortly after we were married in 1995,” she told me.  “As I’m sure you can figure Don had a jewelry box full of rings but this one was always my favorite because it is the Michigan Stadium, and he knew it.”

She also noted that in the famous photo of Don Canham at his desk (the same one you can find inside Yost Ice Arena on the west wall), the legendary AD is wearing that band, back when it was merely a ring:

doncanham2Don Canham wearing the would-be necklace (courtesy of Peg Canham)

Outside of Ann Arbor, Don Canham is probably best known for revolutionizing the concept of marketing college football and athletics in general.  According to Peg, some of those who worked with directly with him might remember him as “a gruff, tough and ‘all business’ type of person.”

Not true says Peg.

“In actuality he was a very kind, caring person.  He loved children and always went out of his way for them.  This necklace was just one of many sweet things he did for me.”

As we know, while sadly many of these mementos end up in boxes, attics or <gulp> even eBay, this one isn’t going anywhere.  “Now that Don is gone I treasure this keepsake more than ever,” Canham shared.  “I miss that guy every day!”

Currently Mrs. Canham is working on setting up an elite honors program in Sports Management in Don’s name within the U-M School of Kinesiology.    The intent, according to Canham, is “to make it the premier program in the nation taking only the top 10-15 students for this two year program.”   Details are still in the works and she’s already working on contacting potential donors and other U-M affiliated organizations.

What a great idea.  Oh, and when can I apply?

* Michigan football needed a turnaround. Enter Don Canham.  Daily interview from 2004
* From the Inside  Book by Don Canham  
* Canham items on eBay


I’ve received a few questions about the Little Brown Jug since I started this series, and the most common involves an upcoming dilemma.  There are 91 scores painted on the jug dating back to 1903, including 66 Michigan wins, 22 for the Gophers, three ties (1903, 1933, and 1950) with just two slots remaining in the current configuration:


The teams resume their rivalry in 2011 in Ann Arbor and the return to Minneapolis and the new TCF Stadium in 2012.  Beyond that a decision will need to be made if they intend to continue writing the scores of the games on the jug.

Oscar’s Prize
The teams didn’t actually play for the jug in 1903—Michigan left the pottery behind after they left Minneapolis and the Gophers claimed it as prize before the teams agreed to play for it prior to the 1909 game.  The tradition of painting on the jug started right off the bat thanks to Minnesota “custodian” Oscar Munson and athletic director L.J. “Doc” Cooke.  Here’s a look at their handiwork:

66 oscar

On the left, the jug suspended in 1905 from the ceiling of Doc Cooke’s office offers a view of the score of the game with some special emphasis (MINNESOTA 6, Michigan 6).

To the right, the other side with a from the 1910 Michiganensian of the ‘Michigan Jug’ with “Captured” by Oscar with the date of the game and up top, a warning: ‘Not to be taken from the Gymnasium’. (Maybe if they would have left that warning in tact in the 1930s, we wouldn’t have had this problem).

So the tradition of painting this beauty started early and obviously evolved from the 6-6 score taking up a quarter of the jug, to today’s 91 scores (within 90 slots – the teams played twice in 1926, two wins for the good guys FWIW) arranged in four columns that nestle in pairs in between the painted M logos for each squad.  The current score grid consists of 92 available slots, slight unbalanced with 48 scores on the Blue side along with 44 on the Maroon (including the two remaining slots):


One curiosity—beneath the columns of scores starting with 1903 and 1941, there is a row that spans that segment of the jug that was left blank.  I have no explanation beyond that it appears as though that section is a little beat up and perhaps they decided to avoid it with the paintbrush:


What to Do
So, assuming they don’t use that mysterious row, that’ll give them two more games until they have to make a decision.  The possibilities with commentary:

1. Stop putting scores on the jug. No way.  I will fight you.

2. Just remove some of the old scores.  That’d kill me and again, I will fight you.  You can’t take off the old scores.  While the first game didn’t take place until 1909, you have got to leave the 1903 tie score on their for the sake of this tradition.

3. Make the Jug bigger. There’s only one reasonable way to do this, and tossing this beauty back on the potters wheel and into the kiln isn’t it.

Per Ryan Forrey, the master potter at The Henry Ford/Greenfield Village, “You can’t re-fire the Jug.  The pot would go through extreme thermal-shock which could lead to the breaking of the Jug.”  Not good.

Forrey offered a possibility.  “The only thing can be done in my opinion is to make an additional ceramic base and epoxy the two parts together. The paint job would bring the piece together. Of course the additional section can be made to look seamless or it can be done like the Stanley Cup where the additions are obvious.”

This might look something like this:

Original photo Danny Moloshok/Getty Images

Interesting idea and heck, at some point you are going to run out of room no matter what you do unless it is expanded.  I just have trouble with changing the size of the jug – I’d almost rather lose some scores than violate the original shape of the jug.

4. Repaint the existing Score columns.  You could always do this and this will have to be done at some point anyway.  Part of the charm of the scores is that they are handpainted, and I think you could hold that tradition but make the just make the scores tiny.  Roughly speaking, if you could shrink the whole scheme by 50% you could theoretically cram another 92 scores on this beauty taking you to 2104 – awesome.   Further, if you shrink the size of the year and score, you could possibly fit another column or two between the logos adding potentially another 92 scores.

I remember that my electric football players were handpainted so I’m guessing they can squeeze many, many more scores on there.  This option would maintain the current design of the jug.

5.  Add new columns. I asked legendary equipment manager Jon Falk about this issue of running out of scores on the jug earlier this year.  He had no clear answer so I assume nothing’s been decided.   Falk did gesture toward the open space above one of the logos and suggested that additional scores could be inserted there.  He’s right of course; there’s plenty of room.

There are a few ways you can go with it – you could have a single column or you could go two more columns and run them down above and even below each of the M logos.  Here’s what it might look like:


This method buys you a lot of time as well.  If you follow the representation above, you just added 22 scores on either side for 44 total.  This would cover the rivalry until 2057 if the teams play every season after they resume in 2011.   If you got aggressive you could probably squeeze eight additional scores in there without touching the logos, taking you to 2065.

6. Retire the existing Jug. [Added 10/13 based on the comments from the readers].  The question of who would get to keep the old jug would be raised, and if it’s a zero sum game you have to give the nod to Michigan.  Perhaps the Michigan replica, likely a very old piece anyway, could be repainted and put into service for the next 92 games.   But I really don’t like this idea.

The rivalry isn’t about playing for “a jug”–it’s about playing for THIS jug, the one left behind in 1903.  Maybe the tradition of playing all these years makes that secondary but don’t you think it’s cool that they (allegedly) play for the same crock that Tommy Roberts bought for Yost back in 1903?   Man, I sure do.

My take
I actually went into this post thinking option #4 was the only way to go.  But I’d be open to option #5 after pondering my crude representation.  Eventually you’ll have to go down route 4 but adding the new space for scores (above) will push off that move for a couple generations.  I can live with it.

11. October 2009 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Kramer Soars on the Hardwood (1957) · Categories: Archive 2009, History, Hoops

Hoops season rapidly approaches so next up on eBay Watch we’ve got a beautiful wire photo from 1957 featuring multi-sport letterman Ron Kramer trying to block a shot against Purdue:


It’s a wonderful shot and offers a view of basketball inside Yost Field House in the 1950s, with digital scoring?.  Michigan defeated the Boilers 66-54 on this February day thanks in large part to captain Kramer’s 17 points.   And those hops are not just the result of the camera angle: Kramer was a high jumper on the track team and was known to trot over from the football practice field and smoke fools at the high jump in meets.  He finished that basketball season as Michigan’s all time leading scorer.

Kramer is best known for his exploits on the gridiron of course, but I’ve heard that he had an unbelievable gift as a cager.   His exploits on and off the field/court/track are chronicled in the book, That’s Just Kramer!  

Speaking of old Yost, coincidentally there’s another wire photo for auction, this one featuring halfback Tom Kuzma along with a great view of the old structure in the background from 1942:


Kuzma followed Michigan legend Tom Harmon to Michigan from Gary, Indiana, and it looks like he had a fine career cut short by World War II.   The kick for the press above wasn’t just for fun, Kuzma was a formidable punter, some say the best since Harry Kipke performed the duty for Yost in the 1920s.

The auction of the Kramer photo ends October 18 with a starting bid of $9.99.  The bidding on the Kuzma shot ends the same day.

1952 Michigan Game Uniform (1952)
The 1954 Bust (1954)
Coaching Legends in Atlantic City (1957)
How about this schedule? (1957)

14. April 2009 · Comments Off on Rick Leach Remembers Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych (audio) · Categories: Archive 2009, Baseball, History, WTKA 1050AM


Former Michigan quarterback Rich Leach, on hand for the Alumni flag football game (or as Leach calls it, the Old Farts game)  Saturday, called in to WTKA to remember his former teammate, Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych who died yesterday.

It’s vintage Leach.  First, he talks about his relationship and experiences with Fidrych, including the struggles down in the minors.  Don’t miss the story about the trip to Columbus where the opposing pitcher put Leach in the dirt, a little message to old #7.

He finishes up with a few thoughts on the Spring game, including what having the players back meant to Rich Rodriguez.

Update 3/10: A little more hockey helmet history on WTKA tonight.  John U. Bacon brought this up on the Red Berenson show and the old coach brought up more details on those days, twenty years ago, when the hockey team donned the winged helmets.

I didn’t know that the helmet designs are actually taped (Red explains why).

Red also said the players liked the new helmets at least “for the most part, there’s always a couple”.  Yes, we know at least one student athlete who thought the design was 100% pure cornball (see below).

Original post from 2/21/09:

This week we’ll start with an unlikely candidate for an eBay Watch post: a hockey program from the February 11, 1989 game against Notre Dame.   Bidding starts at $4.95 and here’s a look:

Shortly after this game, in late February of 1989, Red Berenson gave the green light for the team to apply the famed winged pattern to the hockey helmets.  This month marks the 20th anniversary of the hockey version of the football design (which coincidentally had its 70th anniversary this season).

The exact day in that February?  I’m not exactly sure.   John U. Bacon devoted a chapter to the switch in Blue Ice, and the Bentley Library republished it for you here.  Here’s captain Alex Roberts recollection of that “late February” day:

“Right before the league playoffs, we’re coming up the stairs to the locker room” he recounts, “and we start smelling fresh paint. The smell’s everywhere. “We get up to the top of the stairs and see the training room tables in the hallway, with a bunch of helmets on ’em painted dark blue with the yellow wings, just like the football team’s—and we literally thought it was a joke. The helmets were to out of the normal protocol. We’re like, ‘Where are our real helmets, the white ones? What the hell are these? We were laughing our asses off. Then Red comes in and says, ‘You guys are wearing these.’

According to Bacon, the idea to apply the famous winged look to the white hockey helmets came from local Ann Arbor attorney Paul Gallagher, who passed along his epiphany to Red Berenson.   Continuing:

But the design got the attention it was supposed to get. When the Wolverines came out for warm ups against Bowling Green to open their best of three playoff series, the Falcons actually stopped what they were doing to gawk at the Michigan team’s new look. “We just said, ‘Hey man, this is us,”‘ Roberts recalls, chuckling. “We’ve gotta do what we’re told. ‘All I can say is, we felt pretty corny.”

The write-up includes this photo, taken March 3, 1989, perhaps the debut of the new look?

Bowling Green – March 1989 [U-M Bentley Library]

You’ll notice the empty seats in the background.  Yost attendance averaged 2,000 seats under capacity so it looks like the only thing cornier than those helmets was actually attending the games.   But Red was still building the program during the 1988-89 campaign and finished fourth in the CCHA with a 22-15-4 record.   It’d be a couple years before the Wolverines really got things cooking.  In 1991 they started their current run of 18 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament including titles in ’96 and ’98.   And the helmets are here to stay.

The auction of the 1989 Notre Dame program ends February 22nd.

03. February 2009 · Comments Off on One Cold Night up in the Soo · Categories: Archive 2009, Coach Berenson, History, Hockey · Tags: , , ,

With Lake Superior State in town this weekend I thought I’d share some audio from my interview last fall with former Michigan hockey player and coach Dave Shand.

This was published in the third segment of the interview, which was conducted over drinks at the great Mac’s Acadian restaurant in downtown Saline. I just made a comment about how Rich Rod hates to lose and this prompts Shand to go into a story about the night they lost 10-0 to Lake Superior State up in Sault Ste Marie. We pick up the audio as Shand is describing the scene just after the game:

ACHTUNG!! The language is spicy, but that’s real man:

Go Blue!