Via my Google keyword spybot sentinels…from the Escanaba Daily News (naturally!), check out this piece on 92 year-old alum August Altese (inset left).  Augie played on the freshman team in 1940 augie and suited up once more for the Victors Classic prior the Spring Game a few weeks ago.  

A few choice cuts from the story:

On taking the field: ‘“I didn’t have my hearing aids in and they just pushed me out there,” Altese said. “I was so pleased to see that everyone was clapping. They assigned me the last five minutes and I just kind of ran this way and that. They didn’t throw anything to me, but when I was warming up they threw me three passes. I missed the first two, caught the third one and fell, and I still feel it.”’

On Billy Taylor: ‘”He was a great runner for Michigan, but he boozed it up and got into drugs after graduation,” Altese said. “Now he’s running an establishment that helps people. He’s a great guy.”’

and check this out, on Tom Harmon’s sponsored-sled(!!):  ‘“As a freshman at Michigan in 1940, Altese didn’t get much playing time, and though he was on the same team as legendary Michigan quarterback Tom Harmon, he said he never met him. [Ed. The author didn’t know or point out that freshman played on a separate team.]   “Tom Harmon drove around in a coupe. He was being paid by Wrigley’s Chewing Gum,” said Altese of Harmon’s celebrity, obviously playing at a time before current NCAA regulations prevented that sort of thing.’

On Yost and his righteous leather chair: ‘“Altese also met Fielding Yost, the legendary Michigan coach who was in his later years at the time was a frequent conversationalist.  “I talked to Fielding Yost several times at Michigan Union. He was in his 70s or 80s and loved to have people come and talk to him. He had those leather chairs and he’d be there.”’

Love it.  Read the entire piece here

And re: Harmon’s nice sled, purchased no doubt with a little assistance from his powerful friends at Wrigley.  At best a gray area in the rules if Wrigley “hired” Harmon to promote their gum, and 98 bought the coupe with the money.  We know that Kipke (who recruited Harmon) was sacked by U-M due to a scandal involving a illegally paying players via fake jobs.  Promoting gum sounds like a bona fide fake job—perhaps the phoniest in the pantheon of fake gigs.  The conference didn’t allow athletic scholarships back then, and it’s clear by Harmon’s actions following Kipke’s dismissal that he needed something else (see $$$) to stay at Michigan.  LIFE magazine discussed Harmon’s off-the-field pursuits to make dough in this 1940 piece, including “distributing gum samples”…

Harmon holds a scholarship, works hard to maintain his good B average. He helps pay his way through college by distributing gum samples, selling shoes and books, running copy for a printer. In his spare time Harmon collects swing records, goes around with pretty Margot Thoms (left). He runs a sports show over a local radio station on Saturday mornings. Although he gets no pay for this show, he hopes to become a sports announcer after he graduates next June.

There were rumors abound that Harmon was nudged from Horace Mann HS (Gary, IN) towards Ann Arbor via influential Chicago alums..certainly none of those fellas in the Windy City club knew anyone downtown at Wrigley. :)   Ahh, something to chew on.


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29. January 2014 · Comments Off on Wire Photo Wednesday : Smooth Swing, Smooth Ride · Categories: 2014 · Tags: , , , , , , ,


The second edition of #WPW.  If you’ve got any cool wire photos in your personal collection and would like to see them in a future post send them along.   Johnny Fisher U-M Golf NCAA Champion 
Johnny Smooth…
– A sweet shot of Michigan golf legend John Fischer’s swing, NCAA individual title champion in 1932 and he later won the 1936 U.S. Amateur (which golf fans know is a big fricking deal – and even more so back then).



Woody Hayes restrained by Ken Fritz 
Serenity NOW COACH! – In the aftermath of Woody slugging Clemson’s Charlie Bauman, here’s a look at Buckeye Ken Fritz trying to calm the old boy down.


 Bo Schembechler leads team out of the Tunnel 
Take the Field – An awesome shot of Bo leading out the troops, presumably before a spring practice/media day event. 


Bennie Oosterbaan from 1927 in an Essex Speedabout  
Smooth Bennie – When you are the greatest athlete U-M has ever seen they put you outside the Ferry Field football gates in a fresh sled and take your photo.   Even in 1927.


* Wire Photo Wednesday – Edition 1 – Bo cuts the cake, the Ferry Field Clubhouse and the all-Whites


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Today on 1050AM WTKA “Touchdown” Billy Taylor was studio to promote the Perseverance Bo Schembechler - Miami, OH documentary.

I mentioned in my review earlier this week that one of the outstanding stories in the movie was about the recruiting trip BT and Thom Darden made to Oxford to visit Miami, OH and then coach Bo Schembechler (inset photo via the U-M Bentley Historical Library):

* Thom Darden talking about how the recruiting trip he and Taylor made to see Bo Schembechler while he was still head man at Miami, OH.  (Bo didn’t exactly wine and dine them).

This morning TDBT provided some more hilarious details on that trip to see Bo, and the aftermath, and it’s priceless:


For the full interview this morning check out the WTKA podcasts.

PERSEVERANCE – The Story of Dr. Billy Taylor premieres Friday 11/16 in Ann Arbor


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12. November 2012 · Comments Off on First Look: Perseverance – The Story of Dr. Billy Taylor · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , , ,

This weekend I got a sneak peek at the latest Michigan football-related documentary, Perseverance – The Story of Dr. Billy Taylor.   You can see it yourself later this week as the film premieres in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater this Friday November 16th in two showings: 7:30PM and 9:55PM.  Touchdown BT himself will be there and I suggest you grab a seat.

perseverance One thing I didn’t expect going in: I loved the pace of the film.  While the BT backstory follows the typical documentary formula of blending photos, news clippings and video footage with music, it moves very quickly and seamlessly, more in line with the up tempo style of the 30 for 30 series than say a PBS Ken Burns feature.

Given the subject matter and the potential for a few gems in the form of classic stories, old pics and vintage footage to emerge, naturally going in I assumed I would like the film.

To my delight there were gems aplenty packed but it brought much more—they did a wonderful job of weaving this story together.   Like a memorable documentary should, Perseverance delivers a series of special moments that grab you such as:

* Taylor discussing his strategy for sleeping inside abandoned houses, upstairs vs. downstairs, where he lived in Detroit over a two year stretch.
* BT’s son (who was excellent throughout the documentary) talking about what it was like to see his estranged dad suddenly appear at his baseball game.  And the accompanying photo is wild– you’ve got a beaming BT next to his son who is in full baseball uniform, mouth agape and is still clearly stunned by the whole thing.
* The closing scene at the 2011 Ohio State game when Taylor, with his son, is engaging with the U-M fans and is honored at Michigan Stadium.

The only critique is that I would like to see more in a couple areas, but I add this disclaimer: After I saw the FSD documentary on John U. Bacon’s epic book Blue Ice, I half jokingly told Bacs I wanted to see the 12 hour, six episode, mini-series version.  It’s understood that that’s not exactly marketable today but oh well </shakes fist at Hollywood brass>.

There are a couple aspects of BT’s life that I left the film wanting to understand a little better.   For instance you really don’t get a portrait of the mother of Taylor’s kids or her role or impact on their lives.   I’d like to know a little more, from Taylor, on what went into the decision to leave his family behind and head off to Las Vegas to pursue his graduate degree.  I also might have added a few more testimonials of addicts who have been helped by Get Back Up.   All this said, they packed a massive amount of material in the 52-ish minutes and it flies by.

As mentioned there are several gems especially for Michigan fans.   I’ll just touch on a few because you really need to go see it:

* BT describing the visit Woody Hayes made to his high school classroom, and the one word Hayes uttered in the Taylor’s home that effectively ended any hope that Billy would end up a Buckeye.
* Thom Darden talking about how the recruiting trip he and Taylor made to see Bo Schembechler while he was still head man at Miami, OH.  (Bo didn’t exactly wine and dine them).  [Ed.  Hilarious – BT talked about this recruiting trip on WTKA 11/14, check it out here.]
* The footage of the hippie-riddled Ann Arbor from the 1960s was priceless.  There were several classic photos but the shot of the Mellow Men donning berets outside their house is pure gold.
* Yes, there’s a mention of BT’s tricked out Pumas!  Atta boy Sap.

There are many more but don’t take my word.  You can be a part of it as the first official screening of a new piece of Michigan Football history is unveiled on Friday.   Perseverance – The Story of Dr. Billy Taylor premieres at the Michigan Theater November 16th in two showings: 7:30PM and 9:55PM.

For those who miss this screening, Perseverance definitely belongs in your collection alongside the great films chronicling Michigan lore.


Related:  Story from

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