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

Next up on eBay Watch, someone’s listing what they claim is the winged helmet and facemask belonging to former Michigan hockey goalie Billy Sauer:

Michigan hockey helmet

The seller says this mask was worn in the 2007 NCAA playoffs and Frozen Four, per the description:

Game worn Billy Sauer University of Michigan helmet worn during the 2007 season including the NCAA Playoffs and Frozen Four.  Itech mask with gorgeous Michigan paint job by Gilders(see all attached pictures).  Helmet shows good usage with puck/stick marks on the top of the helmet and as well as on the chin area.

Tough to argue on the authenticity here, and the seller points out a chip on the chin that appears to be on a photo of Sauer:

billy sauer's facemask

According to a quick Googlestalk, Sauer is currently playing with the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers.  Looks like he’s struggled a bit early on but he did get his first professional win last week on Wednesday.  Great to hear.

The seller didn’t explain how he came to own the mask or why it was put on the block.  It doesn’t appear to be tied to a University charity or fundraiser.

The auction closed tonight, and no one bit on the $1,599.00 asking price, which seems way steep.

Other cool stuff:

illinois homecoming pin 1927

ohio state gold pants

A pin from the 1927 Illinois game at Champaign.  Starting at $29.

Another pair of the gold pants Ohio State players get for beating Michigan.  This one from 1981– no player initials.


According to my deep cover, bunkered moles at the athletic department, this sweet item has been relisted on the auction to support the Pat Maloy Scholarship.  A frame and signed ‘M’ flag containing the signatures of an amazing array of Michigan football greats.  From the auction description:

You will never find a greater piece of Michigan football memorabilia anywhere. This is a two foot tall by three foot wide Michigan flag autographed by 46 of the greatest players to ever don the Maize & Blue in Michigan Stadium. The flag is professionally matted and framed with UV protectant plexiglass. The flag is autographed by all of the following former Michigan stars:
Charles Woodson. Jake Long, Ron Kramer, Anthony Carter, Jim Harbaugh,  Anthony “A-Train” Thomas, Larry Foote, Victor Hobson, Elvis Grbac, Will Johnson, Morgan Trent, Tim Jamison, Aaron Shea, Rick Leach, Don Dufek Sr., Don Dufek Jr., Ali Haji Shiekh, Bill Dufek, Harlan Huckleby, Stan Edwards, Steve Morrison, Adam Kraus, Derek Walker, Chris Floyd, Clint Copenhaver, Ron Simpkins, Glen Steele, Mark Messner, Jamie Morris, Bob Chappuis, Greg McMurtry, John Wangler, Marcus Ray. Billy Taylor, Reggie McKenzie, Buster Stanley, Jim Brandstatter, Scott Dreisbach, Mark Campbell, Rondell Biggs, Carl Diggs, James Hall, Doug Skene, Ron Bellamy, Andre Weathers and Eric Mayes. Bid high and often and good luck.

Item is hanging in Moe Sport Shops on until the end of the auction if you wish to see it in person.

Bid on it here!

* A nice complement, how about your very own Michigan Football lockers, pulled out of Schembechler Hall to make way for the renovation?

A quick edition of eBay Watch features an auction of a mildly stained ticket from the Michigan-Ohio State game held in Ann Arbor on October 22, 1927. It has a little more significance than just an old piece of memorabilia from college football’s greatest rivalry. This game marked the official dedication of Michigan Stadium. Here’s the stub:

1927 Michigan Ohio State

Bennie Oosterbann captained the crew that roared to a 21-0 victory to officially break in the giant stadium, which of course is currently going through some major changes. We’re fortunate to have few excellent sources of information on this game.

First, the Bentley Library has an outstanding summary of the dedication. Just a taste:

General admission tickets sold for three dollars. The 11,114 student ticket purchaser had to pay a fifty cent surcharge on the normal $2.50 price for this and the other “big games” of the year. The box seats in the lower rows went for four and five dollars. More than 17,000 tickets were sold at Ohio State.

Nearly one thousand Boy Scouts, from all over Michigan, plus a few from Toledo, Cleveland and Columbus, were on hand to usher the ticket holders to their seats. A crowd of nearly 85, 000 was on hand as the dedication ceremonies got under way at 2:00.

Next, the Bentley site republished the Detroit Free Press article on the big day, click here to read the whole thing. An excerpt:

This day, however, the new castle of athletics was formally anointed. While one cheering block pelted the other with yells and massed bands played Michigan hymns, the stadium was properly and thoroughly dedicated.

It was properly dedicated because there were no speeches for one thing. No gentleman mustered sufficient brashness to think he could successfully pit his voice against the roar of the thousands Perhaps it was brashness that was lacking at that, it may have been the understanding that whatever might have been said with mighty word or tidy emphasis would be so much wasted breath.

Finally, the great WolverineHistorian pulled together this beauty of a video of Dedication Day and posted it on YouTube for all to enjoy:

Here’s the full auction for the 1927 ticket stub, there’s been quite a few bids already.


If you caught the pregame for the New England vs. Buffalo game on CBS today you may have noticed a shiny blue ring on color man Dan Dierdorf’s finger. Here it is:

Dan Dierdorf's ring

My first thought wondered if this was a 1969 Michigan Big Ten championship ring for the former All-American offensive tackle. After a few Google searches I couldn’t find an example of a ’69 ring. Certainly if the ring had a stone it’d be blue, but that doesn’t exactly narrow it down.

The other obvious choice would be a Pro Football Hall of Fame ring which very possible, here are a couple examples:

Dan Dierdorf's ring

I’m guessing it is either his HOF ring as a player as the 2008 recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award. And no, I really don’t care that much what a dude is wearing on his finger but give me a break man, the Lions are about to go 0-16 and there isn’t a lot of M pre-bowl hype to discuss.

22. December 2008 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Have a Highball with Bennie Oosterbaan · Categories: Archive 2008, Baseball, eBay Watch, History, Hoops, Michigan Memorabilia

This edition of eBay Watch again features glassware, this time two cocktail glasses that appear to be a gift from former Michigan player and coach, Bennie Oosterbaan:

Bennie Oosterbaan's Highball glasses

The frosted highball glasses measure 7″ tall, featuring a sketched face of Oosterbaan with the etching Greetings from Bennie. The auction description doesn’t reveal many details about these beauties, or why they were created. I’m assuming they were presented either at a year end football bust when Oosterbaan was head coach between 1948 and 1958, or as gift at a bust or as a gift to boosters when he held the role of director of alumni relations from 1958 to 1972.

The pair sold for $26.

Oosterbaan’s career as an athlete in Ann Arbor is second to none, excelling not only in football as part of the Benny-to-Bennie combination in the mid-1920s, but also in hoops and in baseball. He was an All-American in basketball twice and in baseball won the conference batting title in 1927 with a .429 average.

The Highball
A highball glass is designed to hold cocktails of course, but an actual highball drink has varying definitions. Highball can simply refer to a family of mixed drinks that contain booze and a mixer. To me, a highball was what my dad mixes up around the holidays and that’s bourbon and ginger ale on ice.

If you enjoy the occasional drink and want to know some of the history and culture behind the most famous cocktails (kind of like eBay Watch for booze), I highly recommend Eric Felten’s weekly column How’s Your Drink? in the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition. He also published a book of the same name that looks pretty cool [check it out here].

This week’s column was excellent again, starting by introducing you to the new drink at Harry Caray’s in Chicago called the Impeach Effen Blago Cocktail, inspired by the crooked Illinois governor. Felten winds through the history of a once famous drink called the Cohasset Punch which was all the rave in the early to mid 1900s. Check out the review of the drink in the Chicago Tribune in 1936:

After three or four of them, “a pleasant mellowness steals over you, your imagination glows, you discover humor you never possessed. When you finally get up to go, “lo, your legs are merely attached to you body for appearance’s sake.”


* Oosterbaan obituary from New York Times
* eBay Watch: The Wolverine Pack and 1926
* 1954 Football Bust
* Coaching Legends in Atlantic City (1957)

Click Here

[Update 12/16: Thanks to reader Brian who translated this click here to view.]

A unique, well-traveled piece of Michigan athletics memorabilia showed up on eBay this week. It’s described to be a ticket stub from a game between Michigan baseball and a university team from Tokyo, played in Japan in 1932.

Michigan vs Japan baseball 1932

If anyone can translate the Japanese on there, please send it along. (And save the Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto emails). [Update 12/16: Thanks to reader Brian who had this translated, click here to view.]

At first glance I laughed thinking there was no way a college team traveled to Japan during in the throes of the Great Depression to play baseball. And the auction description didn’t help sell it for me:

1932 Michigan University [sic] vs Meiji University tour ticket stub from game 1 played at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo.

But of course a click here and a Google search there and Hiroshi’s your uncle. It looks legit and this is pretty amazing stuff. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the men’s baseball team traveling Japan today would warrant a little bit of news, right?

From an excellent summary published in Michigan Today in 1998, it all started with Japan teams doing a college tour in the US years earlier, with many of the stops in Ann Arbor from 1911 to 1925. Then in 1929, Michigan coach Ray Fisher got an invite from the Meiji University inviting the maize and blue to visit Japan as “ambassadors of good will”. Fielding Yost and the board of athletics approved the trip and so they headed west, then more west, until they reach the Far East in 1929:

After playing several games on the West Coast and one in Hawaii, the Wolverines arrived in Japan for a 30-day visit. Lodged at the Imperial Hotel, the 14 team members and Coach Fisher and his family were received lavishly by Meiji University. Against a variety of Japan’s best college teams the Maize and Blue won 11 of 13 games, with losses to Meiji and Waseda. In a Michigan Alumnus article describing the trip, Straub opined that “Japanese pitchers are not as effective as our college pitchers in America. But their catchers are of a much higher standard.” He added that the umpires “were usually very efficient and absolutely impartial.”

The stub in the eBay auction claims the ticket to be from the 1932 trip, which per the Michigan Today piece did occur three years later. Michigan again excelled, taking eleven of the fifteen games played.

Other than the memories of their long trip, the Japan presented the Michigan players with two interesting gifts: a suit of armor in 1929 and a saddle in 1932. Here are photos from the Bentley library including Yost with the saddle:

Michigan vs Japan baseball 1932

As an aside, the well done Michigan Today piece researched Yost’s papers and found that he originally planned “to display the saddle in his den [Ed: think man cave], alongside the armor”. Obviously Mrs. Yost didn’t share the same fondness as she “donated” the armor to the University a few years after her husband’s passing. Typical!

Here’s the full auction. Bidding starts at $9.99 and ends December 21, 2008.

Click Here

13. December 2008 · Comments Off on For Good Measure: 1997 Nebraska Cornhusker Ring · Categories: Archive 2008, eBay Watch, History, Michigan Memorabilia

Days after I noted that the 1997 Michigan national championship ring was offered on eBay for $3,600 but yielded no takers, lookie here.

A seller has countered with a 1997 Nebraska “national championship” ring asking for $2,500 or best offer. I think that settles the debate over this once and for all. (Well, not really, but I think this is about as relevant as pointing out the hypothetical Vegas line on a hypothetical game between Michigan and Nebraska).

Anyway, here’s what the Cornhusker version looks like, note the likeness of Coach Tom Osborne on the side:

1997 Nebraska National Championship ring

The seller claims this version is authentic and was originally owned by one of the coaches. Here’s the full auction.

Click Here

12. December 2008 · Comments Off on J. Fred Lawton & ‘Varsity’ (1911) · Categories: Archive 2008, Books, History, M Marching Band, Michigan Memorabilia, Ohio State

Probably based on the posts on this site around history and memorabilia, I receive the occasional email from folks asking about where to find an old item, or more frequently, asking to put a value on something. So I’m like the those mildly effeminate twins on Antiques Roadshow who price out furniture, except there’s one of me, I’m better looking, and sports memorabilia is for nerds cool. Reader Meg sent this note to me recently:

I have a signed copy of Roses That Bloomed in the Snow, a book of poetry by J. Fred Lawton. Is it worth anything?

Good question. I’ll get to the value in a minute but first, a little about Lawton. From a page on the history of the Michigan Marching Band:

During the fall of 1911, two Michigan students — J. Fred Lawton and Earl Vincent Moore — decided that the University needed a new song. (Since Michigan was no longer a member of the Western Fooball Conference, the words “…champions of the West…” as sung in the Victors seemed inappropriate.) Together, they wrote the fight song, Varsity, which was an immediate hit at the weekly Friday night pep rally in University Hall at which Moore played his new song on the Frieze Memorial Organ. Fischer was in attendance that night and, upon hearing Varsity, recognized its appeal. He agreed to play the march the next day at the Michigan-Case football game.

Yes, people still ask why we sing “champions of the West” but to me, it’s a throwback, it’s cool and I enjoy explaining why. Don’t get me wrong, I like Varsity too, but it lacks the ‘fight’ in fight song. The Bentley Library has this photo of Lawton and Moore singing a few bars for the cameras:

For his efforts Lawton received an honorary varsity letter ‘M’, one of only a couple dozen to receive the honor for the period 1913-1952 (others included Yost, Crisler, Keen, Fisher, Elbel, Matthaei – you get the idea, this is a big deal).

The book Meg owns, Roses That Bloomed in the Snow, was published by the Michigan M Club in 1959 & is a compilation of poems from Lawton featuring the title piece, which was inspired by the 1950 Snow Bowl in Columbus. After a little digging I found it:

I don’t think you need to consult insurers over this one, but it’s certainly a nice piece and would have value to Michigan historians. You can buy a copy of Roses online for $12 so I’m guessing a signed version would fetch anywhere from $20-$40.

Was the Victors Ripped Off?
1904 and the Mountaineer Romp
The Snow Bowl (1950)
The Blue get Bombed in the Bronx [great band performance summary in the NYT]