The Association Between Football, Telegraphy, and Broadcasting at the University of Michigan
Provided by the University of Michigan Amateur Radio Club; W8UM
In 1903, radio, television, or methods to amplify a telephone conversation did not exist and
communication across distances depending primarily upon the use of telegraphy.
On October 31, 1903, the University of Michigan Football Team traveled to Minnesota to
play the Gophers. Both teams were undefeated and competing for the “Champion of the West”
Trophy. Fielding Yost, concerned that the Gophers would “provide” contaminated water, had his
equipment manager, Tommy Roberts, purchase a 5-gallon jug and fill the jug with water.
The game ended in a 6-6 tie with Minnesota scoring during the final seconds. Yost, in a hurry
to catch the train to Chicago accidently left the jug behind on the playing field. Later, when Yost
inquired about the jug, Minnesota is claimed to have said “if you want it, you’ll have to come up and
win it”. Six years later Michigan returned, beating the Gophers 15 to 6, and took back its jug.
Floyd “Jack” Mattice, an University of Michigan Law student, recognized the importance of
this game. Jack, who had experience as a telegraph operator, traveled to Minnesota to telegraph
the play-by-play, of the game, to the telegraph operators on campus. Taking turns, these telegraph
operators would decode the Jack’s messages and then announced the events of the game to the
5000 students seated in University Hall. This event marked the first time that Michigan students
could hear a football game “live” as opposed to reading the events of the game the following day in
the Michigan Daily.
This October 31, 1903 football game marked the beginnings of “sports broadcasting” (Jack
Mattice as the first football broadcaster) and competition for the “Little Brown Jug”, the oldest
trophy in college football. Floyd “Jack” Mattice would have a successful career as an attorney
working for the United States Justice Department while latter defending Japan in the 1945 Tokyo
The development of “wireless telegraphy” by Professors Augustus Trowbridge and Henry S.
Carhart, at the University of Michigan, has origins dating back to 1898.
Written by John Palmisano, KB8OIS
The RME-69 Mystery
Pictured below is the RME-69, a radio located at W8UM.
While researching the history of telegraphy and amateur radio at the University of Michigan, some interesting items have been discovered. The discovery, which I [John Palmisano, KB8OIS] am presenting now, involves the recently restored RME-69 Receiver by members; Ul Balis (N4IYL), Ovide Pomerleau (K8EV) and Steve Sostrom (KB5AW).
When the RME chassis was removed, initials were visible on several sections of the radio. These initials are; “cb”, “LM” and possibly “VB” (photos below). Several websites explain that those building the RME would initial the sections that they completed.
The initial “cb” has been identified as belonging to Clint Boyer. To complete the history of this receiver; can anyone provide documentation as to the other two initials?
The second question is; how did W8UM come to possess this RME-69 receiver? I have been told that;
- it may have belonged to Professor Everett “Lowell” Kelly and his wife Lillian. Lowell was the Chair of the Psychology Department and also started the Huron Valley Amateur Radio Association (Bus Photo). Lillian worked in LSA and was well known among the foreign exchange students for sending messages back to their parents using Morse code. Their daughter, Pat, said the bus was parked in their back yard and the last time she saw the receiver was in their garage on Easy Street in Ann Arbor.Above: W8KGG Bus with Dr. Kelly & wife Lillian
- It may have belonged to Professor John Kraus (W8JK). John was the amateur radio club’s treasurer during the 1930’s and had a station, with a RME-69, in Tappan Hall. John later took a faculty position at Ohio State University where he developed “The Big Ear” antenna.Above: Dr. John Kraus with Missionary visitor
- Some other explanation?
Below: Picture of the three initials we are trying to identify.
Any assistance in providing documentation into this RME-69 receiver would be greatly appreciated. Please contact John Palmisano, KB8OIS or the club info email if you have any information.
People in Club History
Original Pioneers of “Wireless Communications” at the University of Michigan: 1898
Professor Augustus Trowbridge
Professor Karl E. Guthe
Professor H. S. Carhart
Professor B. F. Bailey
Professor R. D. Parker
Original “Paid” Wireless Operators
Date of Hire: 1909
Date of Hire: 1912
Felix J. Watts
Date of Hire: 1913
Felix J. Watts
Date of Hire: 1914
Dudley A. Nichols (DA)
Jesse B. Proper (P)
Guy R. Cowing (GR)
Date of Hire: 1915
Dean A. Lewis, resigned February 1, 1917 (WAR)
Lester M. Ilgenfritz, resigned February 1, 1917 (WAR)
Robert G. Sidnell, (8KS) resigned February 1, 1917 (WAR)
Sidney E. Anderson, resigned February 1, 1917 (WAR)
Elwin W. Esslinger
Elwood A. Windham; special student assistant
Date of Hire: 1916 Radio