Over the years people have asked me why I’m so interested in the history of The Little Brown Jug.  While there are a few reasons, a biggie for me is that the jug itself is the ultimate piece of college football memorabilia.   And college football fans love memorabilia.  How many of you reading this have a shrine of some form another at home or work dedicated to your beloved Wolverines?

Of course ticket stubs have been a popular piece of of memorabilia for a long time (I have a shoebox somewhere with a bunch of gems).   111 years ago I don’t think people felt as compelled to hang onto stuff like ticket stubs but either way, one thing that always surprised me was that I’d never seen a stub to the 1903 Michigan-Minnesota 6-6 tie—the game that spawned the jug tradition.   It was such a huge game especially for the folks in Minneapolis so it’s bugged me for a while that to my knowledge a stub had never surfaced (and I’ve mentioned it on these pages before):

Righteous Stub
So we know approximately 20,000 witnessed the famous clash and we do know that the gross receipts for the game were precisely $30,933.50 (with the Wolverines netting a $13K cut).  Assuming the ducats, based on others from that year, were probably about two bucks, it’s fair to assume Doc Cooke’s athletic department produced somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 tickets.

This leads to one missing piece of Jug Lore—I’ve never seen a ticket stub to the 1903 Minnesota-Michigan game.

I polled a couple of the most famous U-M memorabilia collectors.  Jack Briegel, who owns a ticket to every game played in Michigan Stadium and many more emailed me confirming that he’s doesn’t have one and in fact, he’s “never seen a ticket from that game.”

Ken Magee, who runs Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia and owns an extensive vintage U-M collection, hasn’t seen one either.

I reached out to the U-M Bentley Library (they do have a collection of tickets) but I don’t think they have one.  Paul Rovnak of University of Minnesota media relations wrote to me and said they don’t have a ticket from the game either.

My guess?  Someone out there has a ticket stub to this game.   Reveal yourself(!)..and become a piece of Little Brown Jug lore.

Fast forward to last week when I got a text with the news and a pic.  Yes indeed, local collector Ken Magee located someone selling an old scrapbook that included newspaper clippings from the 1903 game and inside the scrapbook was this:

1903 Minnesota Ticket Stub

While I don’t have a reference point to compare, it looks legit.  Based on a peek at other tickets from 1903, it looks like the font and general style is the same (I assume schools often used the same printing companies).  Check out stubs from U-M games against Wisconsin (played in Ann Arbor, via Jack Briegel) and against Chicago (played in Chicago – via the Bentley Library):

wisc chicago

I say case closed.  Nice find!

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22. December 2013 · Comments Off on Holy Moly! The Rosy Grail (1902 Rose Bowl Program) · Categories: 2013 · Tags: , ,

There are certain pieces of Michigan football memorabilia that many would consider a holy grail of sorts.   Really anything to do with the 1901 perfectly perfect season fits that bill nicely (I’m still kicking myself for not buying this 1901 season pass), and there’s probably nothing more precious than this beauty.   Earlier this year local collector Ken Magee of Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia snagged an original game program from the 1902 Rose Bowl, yes, the birth of the Granddaddy of the All.  Dig it:

Photo Dec 22, 7 26 07 AMMagee bought it from a longtime collector of historic college football memorabilia and as you’d guess it didn’t come cheap.  After peeling off some of his retirement savings, he shared that he shelled out “around $15,000” for the 40 page program.  Ken told me, “I wasn’t going to let it get by me.”   I’m glad he didn’t.

It’s not one-of-a-kind but pretty close.  He believes there are a handful of originals out there (Ken said he knew of four) including one that went for over $30,000 at auction. 

So what’s next?   Magee agreed to temporarily loan this beauty to #1000SSS and it will be on display when the Schembechler Hall museum reopens next year.   Also, Kenny worked with a few friends and Greg Kinney and Brian Williams down at the U-M Bentley Historical Library to create a high-quality digital reproduction and is offering it to fans (more info below) in a very cool display.   Per Ken, “Libraries preserve, museums exhibit—I always thought it was important for collectors to share with other collectors and aficionados.”   Agreed, and along those lines of sharing, Kenny was kind enough to give yours truly a working copy (and he’s got a cool offer to collectors, see the end of this post).

It’s a bona fide piece of college football history.   Pics:

Photo Dec 21, 12 28 16 PM


Photo Dec 21, 12 29 14 PMIt will make the game seem more interesting to you.”   (And yes, the gridiron was 110 yards).

Photo Dec 22, 8 23 10 AM A run down of the Rose Parade is inside, including the Michigan football team’s slot in the order (Eighth Division), right before the equestrians.   (FYI – This post shows the team in the parade, not from the program of course.)


Photo Dec 22, 8 25 27 AM

Photo Dec 22, 8 24 11 AM



Photo Dec 22, 8 26 45 AMBEER –  “Highly recommended by physicians” and “Builds up the system” [!]   The ads inside this thing are priceless.


Photo Dec 22, 1 37 41 PM

Magee’s offering a limited number of the program reproductions in a frame made of the original redwood bleachers from Michigan Stadium.  The frame opens so you can flip through the program and view a few nice inserts.   Interested?    Call Kenny at (503) 781-3174 or email at kenmagee22 @ aol.com or go see him down on Liberty at Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia.


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13. September 2013 · Comments Off on Celebrating Uber Fandom · Categories: 2013 · Tags: , , , ,


Today I bumped into uber fan Bob MacLean, the man who has an active streak of attending Michigan football games (home and away).  Saturday’s Akron game will mark his 504th in row, and the run dates back to the 1971 Ohio State game.   Here’s Bob outside Fraser’s Pub looking fit and not anywhere close to breaking the streak:

Bob MacLean Michigan Football Fan Streak Keep it rolling Bob.

And speaking of uber fans, another that you may know is Ken Magee of Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia.    A portion of his epic Michigan collection is on display at ‘The Museum’ on Main St. in Ann Arbor now through December 1.    The exhibit is titled, ‘The Legacy of Michigan Football: Collection of a Superfan.’  Here are the details:

Through a selection of items from the private sports collection of Ken Magee, you will experience the inspirational tradition and history of Michigan’s key coaches, players and games. This guest exhibit is co-curated by University of Michigan, Museum Studies Program students Megan Boczar and Alicia Juillet. Highlights include game day programs over the years including a rare and original program from the first Rose Bowl ever played in 1902 where Michigan beat Stanford 49-0.

The Museum on Main Street, 500 N. Main St., Ann Arbor MI (at the corner of E. Kingsley and Beakes St).  Open on weekends: Saturday & Sunday, 12 Noon-4PM and by appointment. Call 734-662-9092. Groups are welcome. For more information email wchs-1000@ameritech.net or call 734-662-9092   www.WashtenawHistory.org

A few photos:

Desmond Howard

     Ken Magee and the Pandora Jug

 Program covers

The 1902 Rose Bowl program and the Pandora Jug exhibit is probably worth the visit alone.

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Last football season I got a call from #1000SSS asking me to inspect a few photos of a certain piece of crockery that turned up in Ohio.   Based on the pics it appeared to be an early, somewhat haggard replica of the Little Brown Jug.  The photos were pretty interesting but I needed to get a closer look to make any proclamations about what we were dealing with. 

Fast forward to this spring.  The owners put the piece up for sale and it was purchased by Ken Magee, a local collector and the owner of Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia.  A few weeks ago I got that closer look:

1 - Jug Minn M 1 - Jug

Diane Diller, the ex-wife of the man who has held the jug for over 40 years, says that her husband Steve came into possession of the jug in 1969 when he attended high school in Pandora, Ohio, a small town 15 miles west of Findlay.  In her words:

The late John Michaels, who was the custodian at Pandora Gilboa High School at the time, was cleaning the auditorium.  Mr. Michaels found the jug behind the auditorium curtain.  Steve Diller, who was a junior, happened to be in the area at the time and was asked if he wanted to take the jug home.  He did, and has had it ever since.  Over the years, Steve has asked around Pandora to see if anyone knew its origin.  No one had any idea where it came from or how it found its way to Pandora High School.

So what is this thing?  Is it an uber fan of the jug rivalry who, like those in the Jug Brotherhood, wanted a replica jug of his own?   Here’s Magee at his downtown store flashing his pipes and his new prize:

1 - Ken with Jug My hunch is that this was indeed created by a fan—a serious fan–at some point in the early 1940s.  A few data points:

  • The last year and score on the jug is 1941, right near the end of the Minnesota dynasty from 1934 to 1942.  That period was certainly a Golden (Gopher) Age for Minnesota fans.  While we tend to view the love of the jug rivalry through maize and blue goggles, I wonder if this was actually created by a Gopher backer.
  • You’ll notice this jug has two score columns, one on either side of the jug, which was the formation right up until around 1941 (I believe it was in ‘42 when it was repainted with the current configuration of 4 columns).  Here’s a shot that I believe dates to 1941:

1941 Jug - One Column

  • They knew what they were doing…save for one major issue.  A key reason I believe this was solely a replica created by a fan (and not something that could have been used a copy by the teams or one of the jugs in play during the missing jug incident in the early 1930s): The Ms on the jug are on the wrong “sides” of the jug.  I’ve never seen a photo, replica or otherwise, where the handle was positioned this way.  On Pandora jug (left below) you can see the crock handle directly above the Minnesota M.  On the real jug (right) and on any other copy I’ve seen, the handle sits between the sides with the Ms:

Sides of the Little Brown Jug

  • One more little clue.  The bottom of the jug has these markings:  250 K.C.F.   No idea what that means.

1 - Jug bottom

All that said, for its apparent age (dating likely to the early 1940s) this is an incredibly cool and unique piece of Gopher-Wolverine memorabilia.  

If you know anything about this jug, by all means, shoot me a note!   Want to see the jug for yourself?  Visit Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia downtown.

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