Reaching way back on this instance of eBay Watch, we start with a remarkable wire photo printed in 1929 of a scene from the 1895 Michigan-Chicago game, held in the Windy City on Thanksgiving Day:

1895 Chicago Michigan football

It appears as though someone did a 1929 version of a photocopy, actually taking a photo of a photo to produce a copy.  I cropped the shot above but in the full version you can see a finger holding down a corner of the old pic alongside a caption:


Why didn’t they just use the original photo for this piece?  No idea.  Perhaps the papers required the images be in a certain size, format and/or medium.

While the back of the photo says it was reproduced in 1929, it appears as though it ran (perhaps reran) in a 1931 piece in the Chicago Tribune which reproduced the old photo for an article on the life of legendary Chicago coach Amos Alonzo Stagg.  Here’s how it looked in the paper:

1931 Chicago Tribune

The caption reads:

This is a view of the Chicago-Michigan game, Thanksgiving day 1895.  You will note that the fans came in tallyhos, buggies and sleighs.  It was played at Staff field, then called Marshall Field, after the donor of the ground.  Michigan won the game 12 to 0.

The Game
Digging deeper, I recovered a recap of the 1895 Michigan victory from the Trib including some beautiful old school, cigar-chomping sportswriting.  According to ‘The Story of The Game’, the first score happened like this:

The Capt. Henninger gritted his teeth, tucked the leather spheroid under his arm, and sailed in to show them how the game was played against Harvard.  He found his opening and went through it, but after he crossed the goal line and was tackled the ball broke away and went rolling off into the snow.   But Richards was on hand.  Quick as a flash he threw himself on the ball, holding it so firmly that the crowd of men falling on him could not dislodge it, and the first touchdown was made.  Score- Michigan 4, Chicago 0.

Later, under the subtitle “Prettiest Play of the Game,” the Trib described this superhuman tackle by a Wolverine:

The ball was given to [Chicago’s half back] Gale, who found an opening large enough to drive a tally-ho coach through.  In a second he was beyond the line and running for the Michigan goal like the wind.  There was only one man available to stop his progress.  That was [Michigan’s Full Back]  Bloominsgton.   And he did it in a way that will not be forgotten by the 10,000 spectators until next season.   The two men were both at top speed and running almost at right angles.  When Bloomingston reached just the right point he put out his arms and made a headlong flying dive.  For several seconds he hung in the air and then struck Gale just below the hips.  It is needless to say that Gale went down as if struck with the heavy part of a trip hammer, while the crowd on the bleachers screamed themselves hoarse at the prettiest tackle ever seen on the Marshall Field.

Other notes from the game:

  • Bloomingston scored Michigan second touchdown from 15 yards out, but he exactly score “no one seems to know.”   He ended up getting stopped “on the top of the huge now bank back of the goal line.”
  • The game started at 11:33am, and the teams played two thirty-five minute halves.
  • As noted above, touchdowns were worth 4, kicked extra points 2.
  • Early in the game Michigan came close to a first down, requiring the referee “to measure with a handkerchief.”
  • Chicago’s Quarter Back “Ewing” was listed in the box score as injured: “collar bone broken.”

Michigan’s 1895 squad was one of the finest of the pre-Yost (and even pre-The Victors) period, finishing 8-1, outscoring opponents 266-14, dropping just a 4-0 game to eastern powerhouse Harvard.

Elsewhere on eBay:

  • Revenge Served Cold (with Stuffing): Speaking of Chicago and Thanksgiving, the teams met again on that Thursday in 1905.  Stagg delivered to Fielding Yost his first loss since the Michigan legend stepped foot in Ann Arbor in 1901, a 2-0 defeat.  This week a seller is offering a program to the game, currently bid up to $405 but it’ll surely go higher:

1905 Chicago Michigan Program

  • Credential of the Century: Has there ever been a bigger regular season game (not involving Michigan) for our rivals?   The 1966 Notre Dame-Michigan State game was dubbed ‘The Game of the Century’ and famously ended in a 10-10 tie.  On eBay today is a press pass to the game, bidding currently at $250:

1966 Michigan State Notre Dame Press Pass

1 Comment

  1. Very cool.

    During an internship that didn’t last, I spent some time transcribing turn-of-the-century articles (mostly automatically with OCR but some had to be hand-typed, which ungh!) Sportswriters in those days were verrrrrrry colorful. I guess there were so many papers out there that lively language made a huge difference. Thus, the act of throwing strike 2 on a 2-1 count was treated as the most epic undertaking ever committed by man.