31. August 2015 · Comments Off on The Game: Illustrated · Categories: 2015 · Tags: , , , , ,


Ann Arbor-based uber Michigan memorabilia collector Ken Magee has been busy on a couple fronts.  First, as follow-up to their successful book The Little Brown Jug that covered the history of the Michigan-Minnesota rivalry, Kenny has partnered with Jon Stevens again to produce The Game: The Michigan-Ohio State Football Rivalry (Images of Sports).  Like the LBJ book The Game run downs season by season in the rivalry using classic photos, clippings and memorabilia as a backdrop.  Stevens put a nice little FAQ together here.


It’s worth a spot on the bookshelf next to the personal Wolverine shrine in your den, office, bedroom or basement (yes, I know you have one).   While I didn’t contribute nearly as much as I did in the Jug book in The Game, Ken and Jon did use a photo of mine from Harbaugh’s opening press conference…but sadly not this one:

In other news Ken’s Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia shop is closing its doors.   After several years as a mainstay on Liberty, Magee’s decided to close the current location at the end of September.  He may still have a presence somewhere, but we’ll call that TBD for now.   The good news for you is he’s dropped prices on a lot of the incredible stuff in his shop.  If you like M memorabilia it’s practically a museum in and of itself.   Mention MVictors and Ken will give you a bear hug and a discount.   Ask really nice and he’ll drop a magic trick on you.


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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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Congrats to Ken Magee and Jon Stevens for pulling together their outstanding book The Little Brown Jug: The Michigan-Minnesota Rivalry to be released on September 1.  I helped them out with a few things – some of the history of course and with a few photos – and from the early specs I’ve seen the book is a fantastic way to consume the history of this great rivalry.  The photos alone – over 200 inside – are off the charts.  Props to Kenny and Jon for scouring the earth to dig up many of the beauties inside.

My buddy Oscar Munson made the cover:


Here’s the official release:

The battle for the Little Brown Jug continues:
New book commemorates Michigan-Minnesota football rivalry

Though the University of Michigan and the University of Minnesota may be in different divisions after this year’s game, the 110-year legacy of the Little Brown Jug lives on. In the latest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s Images of Sports series, authors Ken Magee and Jon Stevens take readers on a visual journey of this iconic rivalry’s history in The Little Brown Jug: The Michigan-Minnesota Football Rivalry.

“We hope that the readers will gain a better appreciation for these two great universities and how much of football parallels history,” Magee said, “be it the early century, roaring 20s … or many other historic moments in our past. The legacy the battle for the Little Brown Jug leaves in its wake many great men, not only on the gridiron, but in society.”

The book contains more than 200 images that have been donated from the private collections of local sports enthusiasts, photographers, and libraries. Many of the myths and stories that surround the famous trophy are examined and corrected, and various other tales are revealed for the first time. Glenn E. “Shemy” Schembechler III, son of the legendary Coach Bo Schembechler, wrote the foreword for the book.

“I hope that this book can highlight an underestimated football rivalry and tradition between two historic college football programs,” Stevens stated. The book will release in time for one of the last games the two schools will play consistently on September 27, 2014.

A portion of the profits from book sales are being donated to the Ken Magee Foundation for Cops, which benefits police officers permanently injured in the line of duty, and their families, to attend Michigan Football games, all expenses paid.

Available at area bookstores, independent retailers, and online retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at (888)-313-2665 or online.

To follow the latest on the book, follow ‘LittleBrownJug’ on Twitter here.


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The new Schembechler Hall museum is quite a sight – definitely check it out next time you have the means.   According to #1000SSS “the Towsley Family Museum inside Schembechler Hall will be open to the public on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays throughout the year. The museum will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on those days and is free to the public.”

The best stuff (to me) is the memorabilia, the vast majority of it is on loan from the personal collection of Ken Magee, the owner of Ann Arbor Sports Memorabilia.   A couple items of note.  Ticket to the 1898 Chicago game that inspired Louis Elbel to compose ‘The Victors’:

1898 Michigan Chicago - Ticket Stub - Louis Elbel the Victors They also have a press “ribbon” to The Victors game in the display case.

This made my jaw drop – a custom-engraved badge presented to the U-M team from the epic 1909 Penn game (held in Philadelphia), when the crew of the U.S.S. Michigan came to the game and helped rally Michigan to an epic victory:

1909 U.S.S. Michigan - Penn - Michigan game

Elsewhere – one downside is that despite being a (very) spacious facility, they decided (at least for now) to not include the Little Brown Jug— not even the replica that has been on display in the museum for years. 

That said, consider #1000SSS forgiven for including this note inside the display dedicated to the LBJ rivalry:

ActuallyThat’s probably not very interesting or significant to most fans, but I was thrilled when I saw it.   The myth of Yost asking for the jug’s return really came to light as a part of the Little Brown Jug Lore series on these pages, and specifically in Chapter 8: The (True) Origins of The Little Brown Jug Rivalry

P.S. I would have tied the ‘myth’ term in the sentence with Fielding Yost but I will leave well enough alone :)

P.P.S. Speaking of 1909, one ball on the Righteous Tower of Victory Pigkins (#RTVP) is of course from the Syracuse game that year.  The score on that particular righteous pigskin?  44-0.  /wink.


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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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I don’t feature ticket stubs very often on eBay Watch but this one is special.   On its face, this musty, chewed up stub from the 1943 Michigan-Michigan State game doesn’t look very valuable, does it? 

1943 Michigan State

I’m guessing the seller had no idea and is wondering why as of Saturday afternoon it had 17 bids, the tops at $330.   It was a very nice season by Fritz Crisler’s crew, going 8-1, sharing the conference title and finally beating freaking Minnesota whom they hadn’t beaten since 1932.

Readers of this site might recall that this is a very rare find, so rare, in fact is that it was the final stub that local Jack Briegel needed to complete his collection of every game played at the Big House (dating back to ‘27).    Thanks to a gift of this stub in 2011 from fellow collector Ken Magee, Jack got that final piece of the puzzle.

It’s rare for a few reasons as I explained in an earlier post:

The ticket to that September 25 game actually lists Michigan State as the opponent.   But the Spartans did not field a team that season as it was common for teams to shut down their football squads that year due to obligations to the war effort.  Folks seemed to have better things to do that fall day as just over 14,000 bothered to show up, and apparently it wasn’t memorable enough for many fans to bother to hang onto their stubs.

Toast to Yost.   Speaking of stubs, reader Brian pointed out this ticket stub published in the Ann Arbor library archives.   It’s a ticket to the celebration for Fielding Yost in 1940, the event from which I’ve posted a few audio clips recently. 


I wonder if Jack or Ken have this one?

The entry associated with the above image states “..the event was held in the compact Waterman Gymnasium. It might have been held at the relatively new Yost Field House which created some controversy among faculty members when Yost named the building after himself.”   

Umm, except the Field House was built by and named after Yost in the 1920s, sooo…

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