12. December 2014 · Comments Off on A Retroverted Block M (1920s?) · Categories: 2013 · Tags: , , , ,

[Given Block M-gate, a repost.  And P.S., Lay off Hunter Lochmann!  The guy is great and readers of this site, I hope, understand the point he was trying to make.  And yes, feel free to bang on me for addressing this issue in this blurb– but I’m busy, darn it!]

At glance, the design on this pendant that I bought on eBay back in 2013 doesn’t seem too out of ordinary.  On its face you’ve got a thick maize Block M, flanked by blue enamel sitting above the U-M seal:1837 Modern Block MBut upon closer inspection the date on the deal is 1837, not 1817, and therefore the pendant pre-dates 1929.   The surprise here, to me, is that is a fairly modern looking maize block ‘M’ style for such a vintage piece.  Back then, while there were certainly a great deal of variation, the block Ms in circulation were much thinner than today’s style:

Old Ms

Now to be fair, you probably can tell that’s not the modern block M—the cleft in the middle drops to the bottom unlike the official design which cuts off half way, but…it’s pretty close.  You’d also be hard pressed to find Michigan merch today set on stainless steel outside of the occasional collectible spoon.

Either way whomever created this beauty had a vision for a wider and badder block M and went with it.  The only sensible conclusion is that this was created by the Michigan time travelling hipster:

Time Travelling Hipster

The pendant sold for 12 bucks.

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01. January 2014 · Comments Off on Baird Calls Cal & Stanford Yellow – Rose Bowl 1.0 History · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , , , , ,

Originally posted in August 2013, in honor of the 100th Rose Bowl game a report.

Just a few days after posting about the auction of a 1902 Usher’s ribbon and suggesting how rare it was to see authentic Point-A-Minute era memorabilia on eBay…this showed up on eBay:

1901 schedule

Indeed, an athletic department schedule of most notably the 1901 football season, of course Fielding Yost’s first in Ann Arbor, along with track and baseball schedules.  Impressive.

The final two games noted on the schedule are interesting.  Of course like all schedules this was printed before the season, and this one assumes Michigan will have a couple games in California: one on Christmas Day in Los Angeles against Stanford, then another game against Stanford or Cal up state in San Francisco on New Year’s Day.    This turned out to be incorrect on a few fronts as Michigan capped the 1901-02 season by crushing Stanford 49-0 in Los Angeles (Pasadena to be specific) on New Year’s Day and finishing the season 11-0, outscoring opponents 550-0.   No other game was played on the long road trip.  (Note that had the season played out as on the schedule, the Yostmen would have played their final three games on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day respectively—completing holy trinity of sorts for Michigan fans.)

It certainly makes sense that U-M might try to play more than a single game on this brutal road trip.  It took days to make it across the country—you might as well make the most of it.

Casual fans who know Michigan played in the 1902 Rose Bowl probably assume that we somehow earned a trip to Pasadena in 1901 by virtue of U-M’s unprecedented romp through the 10 “regular season” opponents.  Not true obviously.  The game in California was in the works well before the season but as the eBay item illustrates, the specifics didn’t crystalize until later on.

Whether it was posturing by U-M or a reality, the Wolverines’ west coast trek seemed to be in doubt as late as December 1901.   In the December 5th issue of the Detroit Free Press, athletic director Charles Baird provided a statement claiming that he’d completed negotiations with Stanford and California & agreed even sorted out the financial terms (yep, even in 1901) but that these local teams were suddenly backing out.  Thinking the sudden case of cold feet had something to do with Yost’s 10-0, 501-0 record, Baird called them chicken:


Baird went on to state that door was left open to still make a trip and play someone else including Nevada, Oregon or “some eastern team.”

Two days later the Free Press reported that Stanford was back in the fold, and that the game was set.  The folks in Pasadena at the Tournament of Roses association already agreed to pick up the travel tab for 16 men and the rest was history.  The Granddaddy of them was ready to roll and Michigan was planning to head out west on December 20 to prep for the beating they would put on the overmatched Indians:

Stanford appeared every bit as capable as the papers reported, turning back the powerful Michigan offense, time and again, early in the contest. In fact, the game’s first score did not come until 23 minutes into the first half. After a series of short gains moved the ball to the Stanford 30, halfback Willie Heston broke loose on a naked bootleg and picked up 21 yards on the first “big” play in Rose Bowl history. Three plays later, fullback Neil Snow bulled through the tiring Stanford line from the six. Bruce Shorts added the PAT to give Michigan a 6-0 lead.

Soon after Sweeley booted a 20-yard field goal, Michigan’s Chris Redden returned a weak Stanford punt 25 yards for a td, giving the Wolverines a 17-0 half-time lead.

Under the sheer power of the Michigan eleven, Stanford’s valiant defense began to crumble in the second half. The Wolverines proved relentless, scoring on nearly every possession.

With eight minutes remaining in the game, Stanford captain Ralph Fisher approached the Wolverine bench and offered to concede; Michigan consented.

The 49-0 victory capped one of the most unbelievable seasons in college football history, Michigan had outscored its opponents, 550-0, winning 11 straight games. Willie Heston, too, made believers out of his West Coast critics. He gained 170 yards in 18 carries as the Wolverines recorded 527 yards on the ground.

Related:   Holy Moly! The Rosy Grail (1902 Rose Bowl Program)

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Via eBay, love this one.  Check out of few frames from a comic book featuring Michigan’s Heisman winner Tom Harmon and a few of the preseason college stars heading into the 1941 season.   A true beauty.

I cropped it down to highlight the sections featuring “Tommy” Harmon, which was basically all of it:

Tom Harmon Michigan Comic Strip
In this opening frame, Harmon’s depicted with the torn jersey which is a nod no doubt to his final game at Ohio State where his jersey was ripped up during and after the game.  More on that later.   It also looks like they kinda slapped a winged helmet on his above, which is appreciated.


Tom Harmon Yale 1938
Harmon was indeed good right when he came to Michigan in 1937, but back then of course freshman couldn’t suit up with the varsity.  In the ‘38 season he was named all-conference and indeed shined in the Yale game, coming in and tossing the game winner.   Speaking of Yale, did you know Harmon actually “applied” to go to Yale after Harry Kipke was fired in 1937?  In his only letter to the school he wrote that his credentials for admission to the Ivy League college were:“Four years of football, four years of basketball, two years of track.”  LOL.


Tom Harmon Iowa 1939
Speaking of the Iowa game, it was certainly one of Harmon’s finest performances perhaps most notably, he dominated the 1939-Heisman winner, Iowa’s Nile Kinnick.


Tom Harmon vs. Red Grange
A couple things here.  First, re: his 90 yard interception return.  After Brandon Herron’s 94-yard TD return in 2011 against Western Michigan I discussed whether Herron actually bested Harmon for the all-time standard.   Differing accounts had Harmon’s interception between 90 and 95 yards.  So here’s another one claiming 90 FWIW.In the second frame above the classic sports writers (sans stubby unlit cigar) mention Red Grange, which was certainly on the mind of folks when Harmon was doing his thing, especially after Old 98 broke Grange’s scoring record in 1940.


Tom Harmon - Lifeguard
How’s Tricks, Tom?”   Hahhaa.    Regarding Harmon being a lifeguard.  True, but he didn’t do that in Ann Arbor—it was back in his hometown.  Per Sports Illustrated: “He spent the summer before his senior year as a lifeguard at the municipal beach back in Gary (“and punting up and down the sand for at least an hour a day” as TIME noted) and was in shape to rule the Big Ten again.”

I’ve read he also sold gum and worked at the campus radio station to make a few extra bucks.


98 - 6 Ohio
His magnum opus against Ohio State in 1940 is a classic—enough to earn a standing ovation from (and get mobbed by) the Buckeye fans after the game.   The drawing in the second frame was certainly inspired by this famous photo below of Harmon after the game in Columbus:torn 2
And regarding that final quote…
None of Us
…that all changes in 2013 as someone will indeed wear the 98 once again.

All in all a classic.

My only nitpick?   No mention of the ridiculous performance in the 1940 Cal game on his birthday, especially given the fan who tried to drag him down!  Dang, they could have dedicated a couple frames to that alone and I would have loved it.    More »

15. December 2012 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: The Magicians Budget (1947) · Categories: 2012 · Tags: , , , , , ,

While the business of college football (and in particular at Michigan) seems to be on topic more than ever these days, the financial bottom line of the U-M football program and its projects have been measured closely over the years.   We know that Michigan’s share of the gate revenue from 1903 Little Brown Jug game was $13,000.   To finance the construction of Michigan Stadium in the mid-1920s, Yost sold bonds that gave the owners special seating privileges in the new digs.  

The cost associated with bowl trips has been watched closely as well.  According to 1964 team captain Jim Conley, then-athletic director Fritz Crisler tried to seize some funds donated to the team that was designated to give the players a football charm celebrating their championship year.  Why did Crisler want to such a thing?  The team racked up some serious phone bills on their trip to Pasadena and the old man wanted to recoup the cost.

Up on eBay right now, a letter including the estimated budget for the trip then-Coach Crisler and his Mad Magicians would take to Pasadena to pummel USC in the Rose Bowl.   First, the letter describing the logistics of the day and the nearly two day trek to the west coast involving stops in Chicago, Colorado, New Mexico:


And here’s the budget for the contingent including 44 players, breaking out to about $750 per player:

Bowl Expenses

Perhaps the “Special Equipment” was the cloaking device or just your run-of-the-mill No Look Confusion Maker.   Whatever it was it worked as U-M pummeled USC so bad it prompted the Associated Press to cast an unprecedented post-bowl vote to name the Wolverines national champions.  I love how TIME Magazine described the beating Crisler’s men put down on the Trojans:

Southern Cal’s beefy bruisers, the West Coast champs, were not clubbed to death. They were just hoodwinked and whipsawed by Michigan’s slickers. Jack Weisenburger, Crisler’s sturdy spinning fullback, started most of Michigan’s backfield ballet and ball-handling hocuspocus, and chewed through the center of Southern Cal’s bewildered line for three Michigan touchdowns.

Southern Cal never really had a chance.  Here’s how it looked:

I’m sure they enjoyed the train ride home.

Speaking of finances…the seller is asking $65 for the righteous letter.

1948 Rose Bowl and the title debate
Affectionately, Fritz Crisler
From now on, You’ll be Fritz


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Glenn “Bo” Schembechler wasn’t the only major change to hit Ann Arbor in 1969.   New athletic director Don Canham decided introduce artificial turf inside the Big House.   Here’s a great photo of Dan Dierdorf and Bo inspecting a sample of the righteous carpet up on eBay now:

bo and dierdorf

Apparently Dierdorf was skeptical of the safety of natural grass, having suffered a knee injury in 1968 (from the notes on the wire photo):


I’m not sure what they hoped to accomplish with their little empty shoe test, but oh well.  

It’s pretty clear that Canham was not only dead set on the innovation, he was pretty proud of it.  The new coach would seemingly be the obvious choice to don the cover the of the game program, but Bo was present.  In fact, no person is present on the front of the program for Bo’s first game at the helm—here’s a look at the Vanderbilt game program (also on eBay now), showing off Canham’s carpet:

1969 vanderbilt program

The bid on the Bo/Dierdorf photo is currently at $27.28.   The Vandy program is going for $59.99.

02. August 2011 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: That’s No BK Kids Meal Cup (1972) · Categories: 2011 · Tags: , , , ,


Scanning through the recent eBay auctions, this caught my eye.   It’s a 1972 Burger King cup featuring then-San Francisco 49ers linebacker Frank Nunley.   Nunley patrolled the middle for Bump Elliott’s Wolverines from 1964-1966, earning all-Conference his senior season.

I was able to connect with Nunley who explained why his face ended up on BK cup. “Len Rhode, 49er offensive tackle, owned a few Burger Kings around here.  Still does,” Nunley wrote me.  “He featured a different 49er each week. I think that is where this came from.”

It was during his stint in SF that Nunley earned his nickname, “Fudge Hammer”.   According to Matt Maiocco’s book, San Francisco 49ers, Nunley owes the nickname to his NFL teammate Stan Hindman.   Apparently Nunley didn’t possess an intimidating physique but could drill opposing players with the best of them, as in, “he looked like fudge but hit like a hammer.”  

Naturally I needed to get a few memories on Nunley from 1964 team captain Jim Conley, who once again did not disappoint.  Enjoy:

Frank Nunley was a freshman when I was a senior.  I remember his first significant contribution to our 1964 team occurred when Dr. Barry Dehlin got a knee injury.   He came running into the defensive huddle and asked, "What do I do?".  I told him that Bill Yearby and I were going to knock the offensive line men on their asses and he would fill the hole and make the tackle.  And for the rest of his college career and his 10 years with the Forty Niners that was exactly what he did. 

frank_nunley_Michigan Every year, there was a new group of talented LBs that wanted his job.  But Frank kept on filling the hole and making the tackle.  For nine years, he had to line up over Tom Mack of the LA Rams.  To hear them talk, it always ended up as a draw.  I suspect, however, that Tom may have had the upper hand since he is in the Hall of Fame.  Frank insists that Tom got his credentials in all the other games. 

As a player Frank always kept it simple–he just hit someone.  He was not the strongest or the fastest LB, but he had the heart of a lion.  He always made the tackle but no one ever go hurt from his forearm shiver.   Frank played in the era of less pay and needed to have a career outside of football.  He worked in the off season and founded Nunley and Associates and was a very successful manufacturing rep at the birth of Silicon Valley. 

He is a great Michigan man and family man and remains very close to his wife Lynn since she manages the money.  Frank and I still visit on a regular basis when we can and enjoy talking Michigan.  

Today Nunley sells electronic assembly for Sanmina, a contract manufacturer, and he’s been a rep there for the past 12 years. 

You can buy the Nunley cup for $18.99 on eBay right now.

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Next up on eBay Watch, here’s a Michigan football glass from 1969 commemorating the “centennial year of football”:

1969 Michigan glassThe back recognizes Bo’s 1969 team highlighted by the great 24-12 victory of Ohio State.   At first glance it looks like a major screw-up as the centennial of Michigan football would be in 1979, a decade later (when they would really screw things up.)

Upon further review, it might be a bit of early Don Canham marketing coupled with a nod to the 100th anniversary of college football, as Princeton and Rutgers first squared off on November 6, 1869.

The sellers wants <gulp> $64.99

Other stuff:

  • See you after We Beat Ohio.  People get a kick out of Coach Hoke calling the Buckeyes “Ohio”.  I started doing that in casual conversation a couple years ago because I like it, and that’s what I do with things I like.  And I like this: up on eBay there’s a pass for entry into Michigan’s locker room after the 1963 game with Woody Hayes’s “Ohio”: Ohio locker room pass As an aside, the ‘63 game with the Buckeyes was actually moved out a week due to the assassination of President Kennedy.  I touched on that in this post back in 2009.

  • Buy Blue Bonds!  About a year after I asked if anyone out there had one of the $500 bonds issued by athletic department to fund the Michigan Stadium construction in the 1920s, there’s this on eBay.  No, it’s not one of the bonds but rather the application to purchase one or two.  At $249, I’d want it signed by Yost himself.  (I’d say it’s worth $15).  It’s interesting nonetheless, check it out: stadium_bonds
28. August 2010 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Hand Him the Hustler Award (1990+) · Categories: Archive 2009 · Tags: , , , , , , ,

While Wolverine fans tend to toss any great individual performance that occurred during a loss in the circular file, there are a few that stand out.  One of those is tailback Jon Vaughn’s 201-yard rushing performance in Gary Moeller’s coaching debut, a thrilling 28-24 loss in South Bend in 1990. 

Thanks to eBay, we now also know that Vaughn had a little more than game film and the occasional ache/pain to remember that great effort.  Evidently Vaughn was the game’s ‘Offensive Hustler’:


Yes, apparently Coach Mo not only dealt out helmet stickers, he also handed out Little League second place trophies for individual efforts.  Per the auction description:

Very rare one of a kind John [sic] Vaughn offensive hustler award for the game on sep 15 1990 vs the notre dame fighting irish. The trophy stand approx 14 inches high. The trophy does have some wear in areas. Please note that this trophy does not specifically mention his name. However i just recently purchased a memoribilia [sic] grouping from John [sic] Vaughn.

Vaughn earned more prestigious honors at the end of the season, particular co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.   Against Moeller’s advice, Vaughn bolted to the NFL after the season and had a short career in the bigs. 

Other Hustlers eBay
Here’s a couple other guys who deserved the distinction of Michigan’s offensive hustler, call it a Hustler lifetime achievement award.  

Let’s start with the great Bob Chappuis, here featured in this incredible photo currently up for bid.  He’s leaping over Michigan State’s Lynn Chandnois (or Jaws for James Bond) and both men signed the shot, very cool:


There’s always a bunch of cool stuff featuring all-time Hustler Tom Harmon, but this one was pretty nice.  It’s some sort of card featuring a photo of Harmon on the front with 98’s career stats on the back:


I don’t know if you can read that, but one thing stuck out–Harmon attempted 94 passes in 1940 and had 11 picked off.  Yikes.  That of course didn’t stop Harmon from taking home the ultimate college football Hustler award

Finally, this photo deserves a good home.  It’s 1920s revolutionary Wolverine footballer Benny Friedman on the sidelines from 1939:


This was more than a decade since his days in Ann Arbor, and at the time he coached at City College of New York (some folks wanted him to return to Ann Arbor to replace Harry Kipke).  As noted in the wire photo caption, he also strapped on the helmet for a local pro team named, naturally, the Wolverines.   From Murray Greenberg’s Passing Game: Benny Friedman and the Transformation of Football:


[Update 12/16: Thanks to reader Brian who translated this click here to view.]

A unique, well-traveled piece of Michigan athletics memorabilia showed up on eBay this week. It’s described to be a ticket stub from a game between Michigan baseball and a university team from Tokyo, played in Japan in 1932.

Michigan vs Japan baseball 1932

If anyone can translate the Japanese on there, please send it along. (And save the Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto emails). [Update 12/16: Thanks to reader Brian who had this translated, click here to view.]

At first glance I laughed thinking there was no way a college team traveled to Japan during in the throes of the Great Depression to play baseball. And the auction description didn’t help sell it for me:

1932 Michigan University [sic] vs Meiji University tour ticket stub from game 1 played at Jingu Stadium in Tokyo.

But of course a click here and a Google search there and Hiroshi’s your uncle. It looks legit and this is pretty amazing stuff. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the men’s baseball team traveling Japan today would warrant a little bit of news, right?

From an excellent summary published in Michigan Today in 1998, it all started with Japan teams doing a college tour in the US years earlier, with many of the stops in Ann Arbor from 1911 to 1925. Then in 1929, Michigan coach Ray Fisher got an invite from the Meiji University inviting the maize and blue to visit Japan as “ambassadors of good will”. Fielding Yost and the board of athletics approved the trip and so they headed west, then more west, until they reach the Far East in 1929:

After playing several games on the West Coast and one in Hawaii, the Wolverines arrived in Japan for a 30-day visit. Lodged at the Imperial Hotel, the 14 team members and Coach Fisher and his family were received lavishly by Meiji University. Against a variety of Japan’s best college teams the Maize and Blue won 11 of 13 games, with losses to Meiji and Waseda. In a Michigan Alumnus article describing the trip, Straub opined that “Japanese pitchers are not as effective as our college pitchers in America. But their catchers are of a much higher standard.” He added that the umpires “were usually very efficient and absolutely impartial.”

The stub in the eBay auction claims the ticket to be from the 1932 trip, which per the Michigan Today piece did occur three years later. Michigan again excelled, taking eleven of the fifteen games played.

Other than the memories of their long trip, the Japan presented the Michigan players with two interesting gifts: a suit of armor in 1929 and a saddle in 1932. Here are photos from the Bentley library including Yost with the saddle:

Michigan vs Japan baseball 1932

As an aside, the well done Michigan Today piece researched Yost’s papers and found that he originally planned “to display the saddle in his den [Ed: think man cave], alongside the armor”. Obviously Mrs. Yost didn’t share the same fondness as she “donated” the armor to the University a few years after her husband’s passing. Typical!

Here’s the full auction. Bidding starts at $9.99 and ends December 21, 2008.

Click Here

17. September 2008 · Comments Off on eBay Watch: Affectionately, Fritz Crisler (1968) · Categories: Archive 2008, eBay Watch, History, Michigan Memorabilia · Tags: , , ,

Next up in eBay Watch is a late 60s(?) era unique item-it’s a program from some sort of reception or dinner for Fritz Crisler. This one is pretty cool as Crisler signed it for a gentleman named George writing, “To George, a grand person, Best Wishes all ways, Affectionately Fritz Crisler”.
Here’s the auction, with the current bid at $36.

I say it probably dates to the late 60s as a photo of Crisler arena adorns the program and the facility wasn’t completed in 1967. Here’s more on Crisler arena from mgoblue.com:

Three years in the making at a cost of $7.2 million, Crisler Arena stands as a tribute to Herbert O. “Fritz” Crisler and his outstanding contributions to Michigan Athletics. Crisler, a Wolverine football coach for 10 years, served 27 years as the Michigan athletic director before retiring in 1968. Crisler Arena opened Dec. 2, 1967, with its formal dedication on Feb. 27, 1968.

Dan Dworsky, a linebacker on Crisler’s undefeated 1947 and 1948 football teams, was the architect. The building stands at 107 feet with telescopic seating encircling the arena floor and bringing the total seating capacity to 13,751.

The program details the record of each of Crisler’s 10 seasons and identifies the Toastmaster as Tom Harmon along with Bump Elliott. Check it out:

Pretty cool. For a few reasons I suspect this is some type of retirement party for Crisler. He retired as director of athletics in 1968 and this would have to date right around that period. With the arena being completed in late 1967 (and on the program) and with the event featuring Bump Elliott, it probably was ’68. Not that Elliott couldn’t have been at the event in a later year, but certainly Bo would have been mentioned on the program especially if this was held after 1969.

But it’s not that long ago, if anyone knows the specific event let me know. The auction ends September 18.

From Now on, You’ll be Fritz