In 1964, at the age of six, I went to my first Michigan football game with my father. Along with a friend and his father we arrived at the stadium on a warm and sunny fall afternoon. The atmosphere was electric. The first sight of the field and the stands was mesmerizing. Over 100,000 people, I marveled at how big the stadium was. I loved the band. When the team came out of the tunnel in their winged helmets it was the coolest thing I had seen in my life.
In the middle of the fourth quarter and with Michigan winning handily, the stands had emptied. The top 20 rows of the stadium were nearly empty and my friend and I asked our fathers if we could walk the perimeter of the stands. They discussed the matter and agreed, so off we went.
Three-quarters of the way around the stadium I decided to put my arms out as if they were the wings of an airplane. Suddenly, my left hand grazed the wooden bench and became instantly littered with splinters.
I cried out. It was bad, my whole hand was covered - palm, thumb and fingers. Dozens and dozens. I turned back to show my friend. He was horrified. We ran to our fathers as fast as we could. My hand quickly became red and hardened, and boy did it hurt! We got to our fathers and the decision was instantaneous - emergency room. Getting to the car and then to the hospital took forever.
At the hospital I was seen quickly. I still remember the doctor saying that he had never seen anything like it before as if was somehow remarkable. He instructed the nurse to soak my hand in warm water. Thirty minutes later the doctor returned. He picked each splinter out one by one. Though nobody kept track there were about 125 of them.
Even including that day 55 years ago, I have many fond memories of Michigan Stadium. I was a UM student during the Rick Leach and John Wangler years. I was there for AC’s catch against Indiana. Over the decades I have been to several bowl games and have watched 90% of the games on television.
The bottom line: I love you guys … and there is nothing I want more than to see you trounce OSU.
Play with joy and fury this Saturday. Believe in yourselves. Believe in the team. Know that you can beat them, and you shall.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you're right.”