24. April 2011 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Can you Spot the Ringer? (1899) · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , , ,

Listed on eBay as a 1936 wire pic featuring the great Point-A-Minute back Willie Heston, it’s actually a 1899 team photo of the team from San Jose State:


Someone went through a little process of elimination to identify Heston:


It’s the first time I’ve seen Heston photographed in his pre-Wolverine days.  Arguably the finest back in Michigan history, it’s true that he didn’t start his collegiate days as a Wolverine. He played two seasons in San Jose before following Yost to Ann Arbor.


Yost discovered Heston on his short coaching stint in California 1899, where apparently he coached anyone with a pigskin in the gym.  As I understand it, Yost not only coached the collegians at Stanford but also helped out on Heston’s San Jose squad, at local Lowell High school and taught the Stanford freshman team as well.

Heston wasn’t the only fellow that seemed to have caught Yost’s eye out on the west coast.  He also convinced San Jose prep star George Gregory to come to Ann Arbor and the some claimed Yost offered Gregory cash, as much as $1500, to come to Michigan.  His old boss, Stanford President David Jordan, was the primary accuser and it apparently played out for nearly a decade. 

Check out this entertaining news clipping from many years later, January 3, 1908 in fact, in which Yost:
* denied the old claims
* says he holds a telegram from Gregory denying the bribe as well
* said he’d put up $1000 to a Detroit charity for anyone who could produce proof of the offer
* shot back at Jordan, claiming his accusations “poisoned the minds of many students of athletic ability”.

Perhaps there’s some truth to the accusations but…perhaps old President Jordan was bitter that a) Yost left him* for Michigan and, b) Heston & Gregory returned to California and put a colossal 49-0 BEAT DOWN on Stanford in Pasadena in the first bowl game just months after Yost left town.  Hmm.

(Don’t mess with “the Smiling One”!)

The San Jose team photo has no bid right now and starts out at $9.99.

* Note: per reader Karl, a Stanford rule change required a Stanford grad to coach the team.

How about Willie Heston?
Heston posts on MVictors

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