01. July 2013 · Comments Off on Calisthenics with Coach Kipke (1933) · Categories: 2013 · Tags: , , , ,

Thanks to Black and Blue creator Buddy Moorehouse for sending this over.  There’s no audible sound but this clip is worth checking out nonetheless.  It’s from 1933 featuring Coach Harry Kipke, several of the players and includes some game footage and a lot of shots of the team warming up and going through drills.  Buddy found this on a recent visit to Grand Rapids to check out the Growing Up Grand exhibit at the Gerald R. Ford Museum:

I love the vintage game footage of the kick-off 45 seconds in.  The opponent throws up a double wedge but the Michigan men maintain their lanes and squash the return.  The full clip is 9 minutes and is property of the U-M Bentley Historical Library.

Also on display at the exhibit is the RIGHTEOUS pigskin from the 1934 Georgia Tech game:

1934-Game-Ball-Michigan-Georgia-Tech_thumb[1] Buddy also passed along that in honor of Gerald Ford’s 100th birthday on July 14, 2013, every PBS affiliate in the state will be airing Black and Blue.  Nice!

Follow MVictors on Twitter

28. December 2012 · Comments Off on Willis Ward at 100 · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , ,

Born on this day a century ago, Willis Ward.  The former Michigan track and football star was honored this season at Michigan Stadium:

Willis Ward Michigan Stadium His involvement in the controversy around the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech game is of course chronicled in the documentary Black and Blue.  October 20, 2012 was declared “Willis Ward Day” in the State of Michigan.

Have a toast tonight to Willis Ward!

Living Legacy: Interview with U-M Senior Melanie Ward
Willis Ward Blitz
TWIWMFbH – Live! Willis Ward, Gerald Ford and 1932
The Willis Ward Protests (1934)
Faster Than Jesse Owens (1935)


Follow MVictors on Twitter

20. October 2012 · Comments Off on TWIWMFbH: Live! Willis Ward, Gerald Ford and 1934 · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , ,


It was a special *live* edition of This Week in Michigan Football History as Black and Blue director Brian Kruger joined me, Sam and Ira in the WTKA Bud Light Victors Lounge to discuss…what else?  1934 and the Georgia Tech/Willis Ward game.    A big thanks to Ira for getting the audio clip:

victors lounge

You can catch all of the This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.


19. October 2012 · Comments Off on Willis Ward Blitz · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , , ,

Funny, for tomorrow’s game we were supposed to honor perhaps the most famous (non-POTUS) Michigan athlete of all-time—Tom Harmon.   That didn’t work out. 


Instead, we will be recognizing honoring one of the most controversial moments in Michigan football history—Willis Ward and the 1934 Georgia Tech game– something that occurred just a few years before Old 98 stepped on campus.

1934 My mini Ward shrine I’ve had for a few years:  student ticket booklet, order form for tickets to the Tech game and of course the stub.

The Ward story is blowing up here and there and there’s more to come.   There’s no pre-recorded episode of This Week in Michigan Football History as I will be live in the coveted WTKA Bud Light (M)Victors Lounge on Saturday around 1:30PM EDT discussing 1934, Ward, Ford, Kipke and much more with Sam, Ira and Brian Kruger from Stunt3 Multimedia—producers of the wonderful documentary Black and Blue.   For those out of town, I highly recommend tuning in via iHeart Radio or via the iHeart Radio app.

* Don’t miss the piece by Stephen Nesbitt of The Daily on the Ward affair.  Includes a small line from me and loads of Bacon, which is never a bad thing.  From ‘The Forgotten Man: Remembering Michigan trailblazer Willis Ward’, check out this nugget:

It was April 13, 1934: Michigan vs. California.

Bing Crosby was betting against Willis Ward.

Rumbling up the West Coast by train from Los Angeles to Berkeley, Calif., two of Ward’s teammates — Dave Hunn and Bill Kositchek — met Crosby and struck up a conversation. Before walking away, there was a bet on the table.

For $10, who would win the 100-yard dash later that day between Ward and California’s George Anderson? Crosby took Anderson, the Michigan tracksters took Ward.

Anderson edged Ward by a hair at the finish line, and Hunn and Kositchek paid up their half of the bargain by taking out an ad in the corner of the Daily later that week congratulating the crooner.

* USA Today is on it:

The story of Willis Ward and Gerald Ford and Oct. 20, 1934 will be told at the Big House on Saturday. Few know it, but everyone should.

* Finally this photo via Brian Kruger.  Ward’s gravesite got tidied up recently and Kruger added an accessory:

willis ward

01. October 2012 · Comments Off on Willis Ward Getting His Day · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , , , ,

Readers know I’ve been pushing for a while to have Willis Ward honored by U-M. 

willis ward While that hasn’t happened just yet, this isn’t half bad either–last week the State of Michigan Senate unanimously passed a resolution to declare October 20, 2012 as “Willis Ward Day” throughout Michigan.  

The Detroit News is getting behind the idea as well.  Check out the editorial from September 29:

A petition for history’s sake

On Oct. 20, 1934, U-M football star Willis Ward was held out of a home game against Georgia Tech because the Southern school refused to suit up against a black player. The incident is widely regarded as the darkest day in the proud, 133-year history of Michigan football. As much as Michigan alums and the Ann Arbor community tried, they were unable to get then-athletic director Fielding Yost to stand for right and defend his player. Exactly 78 years later, on Oct. 20, Michigan faces the Michigan State Spartans in a home game. Filmmakers Buddy Moorehouse and Brian Kruger, creators of "Black & Blue," a documentary on Ward (and teammate and future U.S. President Gerald Ford, who almost quit after Ward’s mistreatment) have started a petition on change.org to get U-M to honor Ward on the 20th, with the whole world watching. Signing the petition will help. Officially honoring Ward and acknowledging the incident would be better. Getting Georgia Tech back on the schedule would bring the story full-circle.

And check this out: part of the momentum to honor Ward was created by an 8 year-old girl named Genna Urbain, a third-grader at Hilton Elementary School in Brighton, MI.  [Ed. When I in third grade my contribution to society involved catching turtles and frogs and then letting them go.]  Via LivingstonPost.com:

Earlier this year, Genna and her mother, Alicia, watched the Emmy-nominated documentary, “Black and Blue: The Story of Gerald Ford, Willis Ward and the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech Football Game,” produced by Stunt3 Multimedia of Detroit. Genna was fascinated and outraged by Willis Ward’s story, and was especially upset when the film pointed out that Ward has never been honored or recognized by U-M.

Genna took it upon herself to personally lobby both the University of Michigan Board of Regents and members of the Michigan Legislature, urging them to honor Ward.

Here’s the full press release on Willis Ward Day via Stunt3 Multimedia:

State Senate Votes to Name Oct. 20, 2012, as Willis Ward Day in the State of Michigan, Honoring U-M Football Player Who Was Benched Because of His Race in 1934

LANSING, Michigan (September 27, 2012) – The Michigan Senate voted unanimously today to proclaim Oct. 20, 2012, as Willis Ward Day in the state of Michigan, honoring the black University of Michigan student-athlete who was benched because of his race when U-M played Georgia Tech in football on Oct. 20, 1934.

The resolution was sponsored by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, and it all came about thanks to the lobbying efforts of an 8-year-old from Brighton named Genna Urbain.

Earlier this year, Genna and her mother watched the Emmy-nominated documentary, “Black and Blue: The Story of Gerald Ford, Willis Ward and the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech Football Game,” produced by Stunt3 Multimedia of Detroit. Genna was fascinated and outraged by Willis Ward’s story, and was especially upset when the film pointed out that Ward has never been honored or recognized by U-M.

Genna took it upon herself to personally lobby both the University of Michigan Board of Regents and members of the Michigan Legislature, urging them to honor Ward. Sen. Schuitmaker took her up on the request, sponsoring the resolution that was adopted today. Genna was invited onto the Senate floor when the resolution was approved.

In her remarks on the Senate floor today, Schuitmaker noted that Michigan has another home game this year on the 78th anniversary of the Georgia Tech game.

“Oct. 20 is significant this year as the date that Michigan and Michigan State will play their game in Ann Arbor,” Schuitmaker said. “I urge my colleagues to see this incredible film, called ‘Black and Blue.’ ”

The producers of “Black and Blue” have mounted a campaign to have Ward honored at the Michigan-MSU game on Oct. 20, but U-M athletic department officials have not yet indicated a willingness to do so.

Ward was an incredible African-American student-athlete from Detroit Northwestern High School who starred in both football and track at U-M (he actually beat Ohio State’s great Jesse Owens twice in track matches). When Georgia Tech came to Ann Arbor for a football game on Oct. 20, 1934, the visiting Yellow Jackets said they would refuse to play the game if a black man were allowed to play. Michigan eventually agreed to bench Ward, their lone black player, barring him not only from the game, but also from the stadium. It remains the only time in U-M history that a player was benched because of his race.

The decision caused a national uproar in 1934, and infuriated many of Ward’s teammates, including his best friend on the team – a tall lineman from Grand Rapids named Gerald Ford. Ward and Ford remained lifelong friends, and the incident had a profound impact on Ford’s politics, shaping his opinion on such things as civil rights and affirmative action as he moved from Congress to the White House.

Ward went on to lead an amazing life, blazing trails at every turn. Upon graduation from U-M, he went to work for the Ford Motor Co. as the head of its ad hoc Civil Rights Division, serving as a liaison between black and white workers and reporting to Henry Ford himself. He later served in the U.S. Army during World War II and attended law school, becoming the first black chairman of the Michigan Public Service Commission and the first black probate court judge in Wayne County. He died on Dec. 31, 1983, at the age of 71. This year is the 100th anniversary of his birth.

“This is a well-deserved and long-overdue honor for Willis Ward, and we thank Sen. Schuitmaker for taking on this cause,” said Brian Kruger, who produced “Black and Blue” along with Buddy Moorehouse. “It’s a fitting tribute to a man who displayed such character, grace and dignity throughout his life. It’s heartwarming to know that Oct. 20 will be celebrated throughout Michigan as Willis Ward Day. It would be a shame, though, if Oct. 20 wasn’t also celebrated and observed that day at Michigan Stadium. Willis Ward was banned from Michigan Stadium on Oct. 20, so he should be welcomed back to Michigan Stadium on Oct. 20.”

A trailer of “Black and Blue” is available here:


The online petition to have Willis Ward honored at the Oct. 20 Michigan-MSU game is available here:


22. April 2012 · Comments Off on Director Brian Kruger discusses Black and Blue · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , ,


[Ed.  This interview first appeared in GoBlueWolverine magazine.]

Brian Kruger and his partner Buddy Moorehouse of Detroit-based Stunt3 Multimedia are currently on a nationwide tour, screening their wonderful new documentary, Black and Blue. It’s the amazing but little known story of Michigan’s 1934 football game against Georgia Tech, and the circumstances that led to the benching of Willis Ward, an African American football and track star at U-M. The backdrop of the tale involves Ward’s friend and future president Gerald Ford, and it follows how the incident shaped their lives after college.

Brian, the director the film, was kind enough to sit down with me to discuss this project and much more.

MVictors: When did you and Moorehouse first hear about this story, and at what point did you know it was a project worth taking on?

Kruger: We first heard about it when President Bush eulogized Gerald Ford [when Bush discussed the relationship between Ford and Ward]. I called Buddy after seeing that, and Buddy was once the sports editor for The Michigan Daily. I said, ‘Buddy, have you ever heard about that?’, and he said, ‘Not really.’ So the first thing we did was spend time looking around to see if anybody had done a movie on it. At that time we were thinking about creating a film company and I was looking to change careers. We looked around and found it was mentioned in a couple of books but nobody had done anything further with it. We became more and more astounded that very few people knew about this story. So that’s why we said, ‘We need to do this.’

We were going to make it the first part of a ten part series called, ‘The Victors’. The idea was to tell lesser known stories about Michigan football, and this was going to be the second one. The first was going to be the Ron Kramer story but then he passed away and we started on the Willis Ward story.

MVictors: How has the documentary evolved from the initial cut?

Kruger: This is our fifth film, and usually when we make a film we do something called the screener. It’s not a rough cut, but it’s what we want to show people to see what the reaction is. That film was an hour and eleven minutes and the reaction was overwhelming, people thought it was fantastic. We were excited about that. Many people told us that we should get the film on PBS. We looked into that and were told that if we want to get it on PBS we need to get the film down to 56 minutes and 44 seconds. So we made that cut, and that’s the cut that’s been showing around the country. There’s actually a third cut that’s going to be made this summer called the director’s cut, and it’s because so much information has come to our attention since the release. And the other big thing is that we’d like to get it in consideration for an Academy Award.

MVictors: I understand someone contacted you claiming to actually have the game football from the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech game?

Kruger: What happened was, we were looking for the game ball. I think we asked you at one point if anyone had the ball, and we figured if anyone knew if that ball was around it would be you [laughs]. That was last year. Anyway, a few weeks ago a woman called me. She said her father was John Regeczi, who played on the teams with Gerald Ford and Willis Ward, those three years. She was very excited about that and she was telling me some stories. After about ten minutes I figured the conversation would wind down, and she said, ‘Oh and by the way, we have the game ball.’ [laughs] I was like, ‘What?’. I asked her to email me photos right away. It’s the real thing – it has the score Michigan 9, Georgia Tech 2 and has 1934 on it, and there appear to some signatures on it. It will be interesting to see if Ward’s signature is on it either way. I’m looking forward to looking at it closely.

MVictors: So where’s the ball today?

Kruger: That’s a good question, too. I was assuming the ball was in Ann Arbor at somewhere like Barton Hills or something. I told her I wanted to check it out and she invited me to come see it. So I asked where she lived and she said, ‘Southern California’. [laughs] She said it’s been in the family for 77 years.

MVictors: I saw the screening at the Alumni Association building in February. One thing that stuck out was the gasp when it was mentioned that Ward once beat Jesse Owens in a race. Do you plan to go further into Owens and his relationship with Ward in upcoming releases?

Kruger: We actually do, and that’s what’s spurring what I call a complementary piece that we’ve tentatively titled A Race in Time. It’s the untold story of Willis Ward. It was going to be the untold story of Ward and Owens, but there’s a lot more with the Ward story. As far as their head-to-head races, they were a big deal. On March 2, 1935 Ward and Owens raced against each other, Ward wins twice, Owens wins once, and Ward set the world record in the 60 yard dash at 6.2 seconds. On March 9th, one week later at the Big Ten Championship, they raced again and Owens won both times, and Owens reset the World record at 6.1 seconds. They met again on March 24 at the Butler relays in Indianapolis and they raced again in the 60 yard dash and Owens won it. That all went down 77 years ago this March.

MVictors: So speaking of memorializing former athletes, I understand you recently addressed the U-M Board of Regents to discuss honoring Ward in some way?

Kruger: Yes, we passed out a copy of the film to the Regents and we told them we’re not sure what we can do or what the process is, but we really do need to have a permanent marker, something on campus that recognizes what this man did. We got applause and everything else. Afterwards, we had a far more off-the-cuff discussion, and I told them that we’ve been screening it around the country and that it’s been really well received and we need to do something for Willis Ward. I also told them that I think a copy of this film should be given to every incoming student. We got a really good reaction from a couple of the regents afterwards and in fact Regent White, who was not there, chimed in over the teleconference and told the rest of the group that she’d seen the film and thought it was wonderful, and that something should be done for Ward. At that point a motion was made to do something for Ward and it was seconded. We’re just not sure what it is at this point.

MVictors: While it’s not in any way theme of the film, you’ve got George Bush (who eulogizes Ward at the start of the film) and of course of Gerald Ford, and Ward himself who were all Republicans. In this election year, have any viewers or potential donors had an issue with the film because they feel there’s a political bent to the story?

Kruger: Not quite like that. I did get one potential donor who said that if that if I would remove the references of George Bush from the film that they would then consider becoming financially involved. That’s the first time I ever thought of this film being political. Gerald Ford is kind of frowned upon by conservatives. He was the first Republican to sign onto the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act and all that can be traced back to his relationship with Ward. But I can’t take George Bush out of the film. It was not only how I found out about the story, it was how the rest of the country really learned of the story as well–when the sitting president eulogizes a fallen president.

MVictors: How critical were the archives at the Bentley Library in creating this piece?

Kruger: Absolutely invaluable. When doing a documentary, using images like letters and photos from companies like Corbis and Getty can make story a like this cost prohibitive. I mean to the point where it could be another 77 years before it could be told, because documentaries don’t make a lot of money. This story doesn’t get told unless somebody like the Bentley Library rubber stamps the approval on all of the rights management of all those photos. Ironically a lot of that material comes from the Fielding H. Yost collection that was donated to the Bentley in 1970.

MVictors: Yost is effectively the villain in the story, with albeit a bit of redemption at the end–do you think the film will change how Michigan fans feel about Yost?

Kruger: I don’t know. But this is the way I look at it. I’m not at all prepared to demonize the man that revolutionized college football and the man who left the legacy that did. All of us have faults. Yost clearly had his faults too. Unfortunately his are being dug up by a couple guys long after he’s dead to tell this story about Willis Ward. I’m not apologetic about that at all, but I’m also not in any mood to say that this guy needs to be tucked away and never talked about again, and knock the stone off of Yost Field House and call it Ward Field House, which I heard someone say that other day. That’s insane. It’s Fielding H. Yost, the man is iconic. I’d say look at the whole legacy, don’t just look at 1934.


** Pick up your copy of the Black and Blue today – with free shipping
Follow MVictors on Twitter

For U-M fans in the area, I’ll be attending this screening of Black and Blue at the Alumni Association building on Thursday evening.  If you attend definitely stop by and say hi.  I understand there will also be a little Q&A portion as well.  Not sure about the cocktail situation.

Details via the official site:

imageBlack and Blue: The Story of Gerald Ford, Willis Ward, and the 1934 Michigan-Georgia Tech Football Game

Thursday, February 16, at 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
Alumni Association, 200 Fletcher St.

In Celebration of African American History Month and the U-M 26th Annual Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Symposium, the Alumni Association is hosting a special free screening, followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Brian Kruger and U-M alumnus Buddy Moorehouse, ’82. This Quick Study lecture is sponsored by the Alumni Association’s Lifelong Learning program.

When Georgia Tech came to Michigan in 1934, the Wolverines were forced to bench their best play, Willis Ward, because he was an African-American. The incident infuriated Ward’s best friend on the team, a future president by the name of Jerry Ford, who threatened to quit the team in response. The friendship that began in the Big House lasted all the way to the White House. This is the story of two schools, two friends, and a game that changed everything.

Click here to read an exclusive interview with Brian Kruger, “Black and Blue” producer.

Click here to view a trailer for the film.

Visit Stunt3.com to learn more about “Black and Blue” and other films by the company.

The screening is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact 734.764.0384 or ayannam@umich.edu.

For University of Michigan Alumni, Learning Never Ends.

Don’t forget you can pick up a copy of Black and Blue with FREE SHIPPING (!) by clicking here.

10. December 2011 · Comments Off on Brian Kruger talks ‘Black and Blue’ (WTKA audio) · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , ,

My ticket stub made it into a movie!

Brian Kruger of Stunt3 Multimedia joined Ira and Sam Friday morning to talk about Black and Blue.   Worth a listen:

I love the idea that they are producing educational materials around the story for schools for Black History month.   Want to support this project?   Get in touch with Brian over at Stunt3.

Deal!  Exclusively for readers of this site, you can order the Black and Blue DVD today with shipping waived, follow this link.