26. November 2007 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Lost Luggage in 1914 · Categories: Archive 2007, eBay Watch, Fans, History, Non Conference, Penn State, Refs & Rules

With Coach Beilein and the hoop team visiting Harvard Saturday, it provides a good opportunity for next post in the ‘eBay Watch’ series. It starts with a football scorecard that sold in October on eBay that dates back to the Wolverines’ trip to Harvard back on October 31, 1914:

The Auction
There’s been so many great items auctioned lately and this one is really nice. A pre-WWI score card from the Wolverines trip to play Harvard. The piece consists of 4 pages: the cover, an layout of the starting line-ups, a scorecard and roster, and finally a list of key college football rule changes for 1914. Pretty cool. It fetched a sweet $366.50 on eBay. Check it out:

Rule Changes
One cool thing about scorecard is the back cover lists ‘Important Changes in 1914 Football Rules.’ You could tell the college football rulesmakers were concerned solidifying some of the rules around the game’s latest innovation: the forward pass. Two of the key rules listed in the scorecard related to the quarterback position. It didn’t take folks long to realize that a QB shouldn’t be able to dump the ball to avoid a sack:

3. A penalty to 10 yards is inflicted on the team attempting a forward pass, and, finding the making of the pass impossible, intentionally incompleting the pass by grounding the ball.

While taking away the ability to ground the ball, they knew back then that they’d need to protect those precious quarterbacks:

4. There shall be no roughing of the player who has just made a forward pass.

Street Clothed Warriors
The trip to Cambridge was a big one from the Wolverines. The last time Michigan went on the road to battle Harvard was 1895 when the William McCauley-led Blue were dropped 4-0. It was still rare for “Western” teams to visit the major Eastern schools and I recovered a few New York Times pieces covering the game.

The season started strong with Michigan cruising through its first five games (outscoring opponents 180-10) but the M Men had just suffered a 20-6 at Syracuse the week prior.

A lot is made today of Michigan’s difficulty on the road, especially given the Wolverines issues with their trips out West. A three hour plane ride to the West coast is nothing compared to the toll I imagine that an 800 mile train trip took on players, coaches and fans. It looks like some of the same hassles experienced during air travel, like luggage handling, we’re even a factor when trains were the only source of cross-country travel:

The Michigan football warriors who will play Harvard at Cambridge on Saturday arrived early today. They looked rugged, and all are said to be in trim to play…The players ran through signals this afternoon in their street clothes, as their trunks were delayed on the railroad.

Thankfully M’s gear eventually arrived. When the two teams met on the field the Crimson merely needed second quarter touchdown to send the Wolverines home with a 7-0 loss. The Times described the game as “hammer and bang mixed with some good and some extremely poor kicking.” A couple tidbits extracted from the Times:
– Michigan outgained Harvard 206 to 141.
– The Blue and had two solid scoring chances that went unfulfilled. Harvard stopped M right on the goal line in the first half.
– Yost’s men attempted a single forward pass.
– That pass was intercepted…
– …by Harvard’s quarterback! (They played both ways).

Stadium Renovation?
Sound familiar? Michigan Stadium wasn’t a reality for another decade. The athletic department decided to take on some renovations to Ferry Field. Like today, the expansion had a few different designs and required approval of the Regents to proceed.

The first significant expansion of Ferry Field came in 1914 when the old wooden bleachers along the south sideline, that had once stood on Regents Field, were replaced with concrete bleachers. Comprised of 55 rows and seating 13,000, the new bleachers were of a unique design that was supposed to ensure that everyone of average height would have at least four inches clearance above any person sitting in front of him…The new bleachers raised Ferry Field seating to 21,000, though up to 25,000 were squeezed in for a few games. – Bentley Museum

The designers had bigger plans. No, no luxury boxes but definitely a vision of a “Big” house:

The “contemplated design,” was prepared for the Board in Control by engineer Hal Weeks (eng. 1903-06, member of the 1907 football team) It called for the transformation, over a seven year period, of Ferry Field into a horseshoe style, concrete stadium with a seating capacity of at least 45,000. The south bleachers were the only part of the grand design to be completed. Cost factors, the interruption of World War I and Fielding Yost’s vision for an even larger stadium led to a piecemeal expansion of Ferry Field instead. – Bentley Museum

First Drum Major
To enhance the game day experience in the new and improved Ferry Field, Michigan added a new innovation: the Drum Major. Yes, 1914 marked the year when M added one of the greatest gameday traditions to its band. From the very detailed write up in the Wikipedia:

In the fall of 1914, the band’s reputation was enhanced by a new addition to its “tradition” — a drum major. While the band occasionally had drum majors in the past, the position was not a continuing one and did not have much importance. All that changed with the advent of a sixteen year old saxophone player from Portland, Oregon named George Olsen. Fischer learned of Olsen’s background as a graduate of a high school military school and leader of drum and bugle bands. Quickly, Olsen was named Drum Major of the University of Michigan Band.

Once again another fascinating year in Michigan football history. Merely scratching the archival surface yields so many great stories and subplots.