26. May 2015 · Comments Off on 1940-1969 Michigan Football Uniform Timeline · Categories: 2015 · Tags: , , , ,


Welcome to the MVictors Uniform Timeline where below you will find a descending timeline of changes to the Michigan football team uniforms over the years.

Current Timeline is here (2010-current)  |  2000-2009 – Click here  |  1990-1999 – Click here  | 1980-1989 –Click here  | 1970-1979 – Click here  | 1940-1969 – Click here   |  1867-1939 – Click here

Note:  For all uniform changes prior to 1970, the rules change a bit.  If I have a compelling photo of an actual jersey (or portion of a jersey) over this period, I will include it in the timeline even if it didn’t mark a particular change in design or new feature:

1969 Season | Ann Arbor, MI
Bo Schembechler arrives as head coach and performs a massive overhaul of the uniform:
HELMET:  Maize numbers are removed from the sides of the helmets (they return for the 2011 season and the first game for the 2012 season).
HELMET:  Award stickers are placed on helmets in the form of solid maize football-shaped decals.

1969 BO Decals
Don Moorhead’s 1970 helmet via Helmet Hut:

Don Moorhead Helmet with decalsSHOES/SOCKS: Team adopts new style of shoe and cleat for use on the newly installed artificial turf in Michigan Stadium.   Black trim added on socks.
JERSEY:  Block ‘M’ removed from sleeves on home and road jerseys, replaced with numbers:1969 black trim

1968 Season | Ann Arbor, MI
JERSEY:  Block ‘M’ added to home (blue) jersey sleeves (now on both home and road).
SHOES/SOCKS:  Black block ‘M’ on white socks.  Players are primarily wearing Riddell (black shoes with white & black trim around ankles) and Spot-bilt cleats, but some are adopting the “new” shoe – adidas.
1968 Michigan football


November 10, 1962 | Ann Arbor, MI | vs. Illinois
TRADITION:  The roots of the coveted GO BLUE banner:

In 1962, the Wolverines lost five of their first six games, including four straight Big Ten losses– three of them, shutouts.

The head hockey coach, Al Renfrew, had been a classmate of Elliott’s, and the two had remained good friends. So Renfrew and his wife Marjorie decided to do something to help boost the football team’s morale. Marjorie went to work in her sewing room, stitching a yellow block “M” on a blue sheet, about six feet across.

The players liked it, so Bump Elliott let the boosters hoist the banner the next day – IN the tunnel– for the players to touch on their way out.

It worked. The Wolverines won, 14-10.

The next year, the boosters moved the banner to mid-field, and the year after that, 1964, the Wolverines won the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl.

October 13, 1962 | East Lansing, MI | vs. Michigan State
JERSEY:  Away (white) jerseys feature a wolverine “wolverbear” logo just under the left shoulder.  Note: It’s not clear whether this was a one-game design change or whether these were worn all season.
1962 Patch

logo combined

1960 Season | Ann Arbor, MI
HELMET:  Team MVP Dennis “Denny” Fitzgerald becomes the last Michigan player (and many suggest the last player of any college team) to wear a leather helmet.  Photo via the Bentley Historical Library.Dennis Franklin - Michigan - Leather Helmet


1957 Season | Ann Arbor, MI
HELMET:  Mild change – the center stripe is extended; it now goes to very bottom of the rear of the helmet. (Pics and notes via Helmet Hut).1957 helmet numbers


1956 Season | Ann Arbor, MI
HELMET:  The team added face masks to their helmets for the first time and identified the players with two-inch Green Bay gold numerals on each side of the winged and striped navy blue helmet.  While the appearance of the helmet numbers is commonly associated with Bump Elliott’s arrival in 1959 here’s a shot from the 1957 Michiganensian pg.354 of Ron Kramer during the 1956 season:

kramer head
Here’s the photo of Tom Maentz and Kramer used for the cover of the November 12, 1956 edition of Sports Illustrated.  While helmet numbers are not visible, this was a press photo and not sure exactly when it was taken:
Ron Kramer and Tom Maentz (Sports Illustrated 1956)
JERSEY:  Following the 1956 season, Michigan retires the #87 belonging to Ron Kramer.  (In 2012 Kramer and the #87 officially entered the Michigan Football Legends program and returned to the field.  In 2015, Kramer’s #87 is retired once again after the Legends program is canceled.)

October 15, 1949 | Evanston, IL | vs. Northwestern
JERSEY: Michigan wears white jerseys for the first time while playing Northwestern on the road.  (Source:  Champions of the West).  Photos via the U-M Bentley Historical Library:

1947 Season | Ann Arbor, MI

Via the U-M Bentley Historical Library:  Bob Chappuis (and fiancée Anne Gestie) appeared on the cover of LOOK magazine just before the 1948 Rose Bowl game.  It is one of the earliest known color photos of the Michigan Uniform:

Bob Chappuis LOOK magazine

1946 Season | Ann Arbor, MI
HELMET: According to the U-M Bentley Historical Library, the first Michigan facemask may have appeared this season on the helmet of Gene Derricotte.   More from the Bentley here.

Gene Derricotte


1943 Season | Ann Arbor, MI
While there’s no known uniform change during this year, a memorabilia auction revealed an original 1943 jersey that belonged to Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch.  Front:
1943 front
1943 back

November 23, 1940 | Columbus, OH | vs. Ohio State

JERSEY:  Following his final game at Michigan, Tom Harmon’s #98 jersey is retired at the direction of longtime equipment manager Henry Hatch.  Harmon later wins the 1940 Heisman Trophy.

Note:  The #98 jersey appeared again in 2013 (on QB Devin Gardner – see above) as Tom Harmon entered the Michigan Football Legends program.  In 2015 the Legends Program was cancelled, and the 98 returned to retirement.

1940 Season | Ann Arbor, MI
PANTS:  According to the Michigan Daily, U-M introduced “Yellow, Lightweight Pants” this season.  Via the 10/1/1940 M Daily:

Those drab colored pants of last year have been abandoned in the light of this style wave.  And what a ‘light.’  They’re a brilliant yellow now…and knitted at that.  This material is supposed to eliminate binding and, of all things, assures a form fit

Photo from the October 6, 1940 Michigan Daily:
1940 Harmon Michigan Pants
SHOES/SOCKS:  From a photo of Tom Harmon dated 1940, note the black hi-top cleats and block ‘M’ on socks:
1940 Old 98

For more:

2000-2009 – Click here
1990-1999 – Click here
1980-1989 – Click here
1970-1979 – Click here
1940-1969 – Click here (back to the top)
1867-1939 – Click here

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WPW keeps rolling with a great shot that sheds some light on uniform history:
1962 Patch

First up, this isn’t a wire photo but something a little cleaner: it’s a 35MM negative from the 1962 game in East Lansing that is incredibly crisp.  In the U-M lily whites you’ve got a wincing Tom Prichard (21) backed up by a flying Ron Kocan (88).  The Spartans snuck by 28-0.

More importantly, this slide appears to have solved a little uniform riddle that has bugged me and the illustrious Dr. Sap for a while.  We had seen some photos from this era of players wearing what seemed to be a circular patch on their jerseys…but couldn’t confirm what it was.   Sap dug an old shot with the mystery patch that we mulled over a year or 2 back (also obviously from the ‘62 State game as well, featuring Prichard, could be the same play):pre fumble

The first shot clearly confirms what is chilling on the left shoulder…the wolverbear ! </insert Happy Valley roar sound, slightly higher pitch>logo combined

Viva the sailor wolverbear!  Here’s more on the U-M logo history via my man Craig at HSR.  Here’s the auction for the 35MM slide.  Here’s another shot from the 1962 game via my friends at The Only Colors.

Oh, and the Uniform Timeline is now updated…scroll down to 1962.


Bo Cracks Wise
I love these wire photos that feature a few shots from the same scene, here we’ve got a couple looks at General Bo directing the troops in California before the 1969 Rose Bowl before something cracks him up.  Love it.  Auction.  [Ed. And yes, per the keen spotting of Mike and Dr. Sap (see comments) that’s a young Jim Brandstatter over Bo’s shoulder in frame 3!]


Two Tone pants

Speaking of the Uniform Timeline, I still feel like there are those out there who don’t buy that Michigan donned two-toned pants back in the mid-1970s.  Here’s a shot that’s up on eBay right now, probably 1978 (that’s ‘78 captains Jerry Meter (46) Russell Davis with Bo) that shows the two-tone maize pants.  You can also scan the team photos from 197619771978.



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