Spotted this on eBay and had to pass it along: it’s what appears to be an official’s ribbon to the epic Michigan-Chicago game of 1898, the game that inspired U-M student Louis Elbel to compose The Victors:

1898 Officials Ribbon Bidding is justifiably up over $400 right now – get some.

While we’re on the topic of the famous 12-11 victory, a resurrected postscript:  Michigan was undoubtedly the Champions of the West in 1898, but looking back do our beloved Wolverines have a claim to the national championship that season?  It’s seems silly discussing this so many decades years later but there is recent precedent for such action.  

In 2004 Southern Cal looked back at its history and claimed the 1939 national championship.   And in August of 2012, our Little Brown Jug-toting buddies Minnesota announced that it claimed a share of the 1904 national championship.   While Harvard and Princeton each take credit for the 1898 crown based on different measurements – Does Michigan, who went undefeated and outscored opponents 205 to 26, have an argument to join them? 

Ok, it’s silly.  But fun to talk about, man.


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MaraWatch - Wolverines Collection!  Go Blue

Good Wednesday to you, friends.  WPW leads off with a classic shot of the B1G football coaches meeting prior to the 1931 season:

 Kipke and coaches 1931 360785202817   Kipke description
This photo, from the Big Ten meetings prior to the 1931 season, is probably worth its $44 auction price.   On the floor you’ve got M headman Harry Kipke with Purdue coach (and former player under Rockne) Noble Kizer demonstrating life in the trenches.    Minnesota’s Fritz Crisler, who would replace Kipke later that decade, watches from the back.   Amongst the men seated is Illinois legend Bob Zuppke sitting next to the one & only Amos Alonzo Stagg.  Great shot.  Dress code in ‘31?  White shirt, tie, Brylcreem in the hair (except for Stagg).


Benny Friedman 1926 201047600870

I don’t know when wire photos started to be distributed to newspapers, but this has to be a fairly early one (from 1926) featuring the great Michigan quarterback and NFL HOF’er Benny Friedman.   Seller claims it is an original and wants a mere $30.  If it’s truly the original it’s worth over $100 easy IMO.


Iowa Depression 360685717404

The Depression was a bitch.  It was tough to get folks to the Big House in 1933, despite the team entering the season as defending national champion and back-to-back-to-back B1G champs.  Above is a shot from the Iowa game in Ann Arbor on November 11, 1933 and the Wolverines were 6-0 – despite all this but a mere 22,000 fans waddled into the Big House on this day.  (Memo to the sardines crammed in end zone—umm, spread out!!).

Michigan would go on to claim the 1933 national title after tying Minnesota the following week and blanking Northwestern in the finale.



Previous editions:


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From the front page of September 24, 1940 edition of the Michigan Daily, announcing the demise of the once-great University of Chicago football program:

RIPSo why did one of the original members of the Big Ten, who brought us the heralded Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg (and Fritz Crisler, for that matter), ditch football?  This issue of Sports Illustrated from 1954 put it nicely:

The University of Chicago abandoned intercollegiate football in 1939 because the game hampered the university’s efforts to become the kind of institution it aspired to be. The university believed that it should devote itself to education, research and scholarship. Intercollegiate football has little to-do with any of these things and an institution that is to do well in them will have to concentrate upon them and rid itself of irrelevancies, no matter how attractive or profitable. Football has no place in the kind of institution Chicago aspires to be.

It has been argued that Chicago is different. Perhaps it is and maybe it is just that difference that enabled the university to separate football from education.

That’s sweet and all, but methinks the 85-0 beating at the hands of Tom Harmon’s Wolverines in 1939 had a hand in it as well.  Here’s one of my favorite all-time photos featuring Tom Harmon cooling off on the sidelines during that very game:

1939 Tom Harmon vs Chicago

Following the game there was bit of a media frenzy about the future of college football in the Windy City, stemming from a few remarks from the President.  Here’s a tasty headline from the (St. Petersburg) Evening Independent:

Chicago Football a JokeThat same week the Milwaukee Journal quoted one demoralized UC loser student discussing the state of their pigskin program:

“It doesn’t matter much, does it?  The players are having a lot of fun, so why worry?  If a man must look at football, he can always go to see the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.  They’re even better than the best of the college teams.”

At the turn of the century Stagg’s Maroons were Michigan’s fiercest rival and it the squad that handed Yost his first Wolverine defeat in 1905.  And speaking of Stagg & Yost – the heavy drama between the two is being chronicled by writer John Kryk (Natural Enemies) for a new book that will certainly be required reading! 


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23. November 2012 · Comments Off on TWIMFbH: Beat Chicago (1898) · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , , , ,

1898 Chicago-Michigan Ticket StubStub via and Ken Magee of Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia

This week we go back to Thanksgiving Day, 1898 as Michigan head coach Gustave Ferbert and his undefeated Wolverines traveled to Chicago to face Amos Alonzo Stagg and his powerful University of Chicago Maroons. While rarely discussed these days, the game is without a doubt one of the most notable match-ups in Wolverine lore.

While today’s our undisputed rival is clearly The Buckeyes, back in 1898, the coach and the team that really got maize and blue blood boiling was Stagg and his Chicago teams.   Have a listen:

You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.   Listen to it live tomorrow on the KeyBank Countdown to kick-off on WTKA 1050AM.

I always like to check out the old letters that pop up on eBay for stuff just like this.  Back in 1962 then-athletic director Fritz Crisler submitted a story to Reader’s Digest on his college coach and mentor, Chicago legend Amos Alonzo Stagg.  [As an aside, there’s a copy of the story at the Bentley Library in Crisler’s archives and I plan to check it out.]

Fritz clearly had deep admiration for his former coach.  Heck, Sports Illustrated, in its wonderful 1964 piece on Crisler  ‘The Man Who Changed Football’ even suggested the ‘1’ in the Michigan Stadium attendance might actually be reserved for Stagg!:

It was his secret. But anyone is entitled to guess, and one guess might be that somewhere in that vast stadium there is this one seat, and perhaps it is never sold. Perhaps it is reserved, now and forever, for someone who taught Fritz Crisler a way of coaching football and a way of life. For the Old Man, Amos Alonzo Stagg.

So coupling Crisler’s demeanor, his air-tight professionalism and his admiration for his mentor I’m guessing Fritz put a lot of thought into the words he chose for this story for Reader’s Digest.  So what could go wrong?

Fritz Not Happy

Well thanks to Mr. Myron Green of Worcester, Mass, we know that Crisler was none-too-happy with what happened after he submitted his story to the popular magazine.   Green wrote Crisler apparently commending him on the piece, but in his reply (above) Fritz revealed that Reader’s Digest messed with this draft (and even rewrote some of it) without his sign off.    Ugh.

I’m guessing the folks at RD got more than an earful from the ol’ Fritz.

The seller is asking a cool $399.00 (yeesh) or best offer for the original letter. 

I can’t wait for John Kryk’s book on Stagg and Yost, still in the works.  If you haven’t, order your copy of Hail to the Victors 2012.  Kryk’s piece on Yost, which includes pieces from the upcoming book, is worth the price of the mag.

For this week in Michigan football History we take a trip to the finale of the 1896 season in a game played indoors…yes, INDOORS at the Chicago Coliseum complex.  They even turned on the lights when a storm outdoors made it dark inside the facility.

As always, you can listen to it out before the KeyBank Countdown to Kick-off on WTKA 1050AM tomorrow, or click play now:

You can hear all of the  This Week… clips here.



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