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Bob Ufer (April 1, 1920 – October 26, 1981) was the lead broadcaster for the Michigan Wolverines football team for 37 years, starting in 1944. He has been inducted into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor.

Contents

Early years

Ufer was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania; his father was a lumber broker.[1] An outstanding track and field athlete at the University of Michigan, Ufer set eight freshman records. At the Big Ten Conference in 1942, he set the world indoor record in the 440 yards. He was a three-time indoor 440 yard Big Ten Conference Champion.[2].

Broadcast career

He is remembered for his exuberant, partisan broadcasting style, openly rooting for Michigan, but always in such a gracious way that even opposition fans would smile. He had many familiar so-called 'Uferisms,' such as referring to Michigan as "Meeechigan" (a reference to how legendary Michigan coach Fielding H. Yost used to pronounce the name), and honking loudly on the 'George Patton Schembechler horn' -- the actual horn from General Patton's Jeep, Ufer explained on air many times (honked three times for a touchdown, two times for a field goal or safety, and once for an extra point). He even recited his own poetry about the game. Bo Schembechler shared a birthday with Bob, but Bob was 9 years older.

Ufer loved nothing more than his Wolverines, and lost his voice during several broadcasts after too much screaming. One of his most classic moments came in the 1979 homecoming game against Indiana, when Michigan's Anthony Carter caught a touchdown pass with no time left to win the game. Ufer was unable to contain his excitement, calling it the "greatest college football play he'd ever seen," and shouting so loudly that his voice overpowered the sound of the 106,000 fans in Michigan Stadium over the radio that day. You can hear his broadcast here. Bob often referred to Michigan Stadium as 'The hole that Yost dug, Crisler paid for, Canham carpeted, and Schembechler fills up every Saturday'.

Another memorable moment came in November 1973 when unbeaten Michigan played unbeaten Ohio State in Ann Arbor with the trip to the Rose Bowl on the line. At Michigan home games the "M-Club" (a booster club) hoists a large banner at mid-field, under which the Michigan team runs when they take the field, jumping up and slapping the banner as they go. On that day Ohio State, as visitor, took the field before Michigan. The Ohio State team ran to midfield and tore down the M-Club banner. Ufer reported: "Here they come: Hare, Middleton, and the Buckeyes... and they're tearing down Michigan's coveted M-Club banner! They will meet a dastardly fate here for that! There isn't a Michigan Man who wouldn't like go out and scalp those Buckeyes right now. They had the audacity, the unmitigated gall, to tear down the coveted M that Michigan's going to run out from under! But the M-men will prevail because they're getting the banner back up again. And here they [the Michigan team] come! The maize and blue! Take it away 105,000 fans!" Ufer then allowed the sound of the home fans cheering on their team be the next half a minute of broadcast. (The game resulted in a 10-10 tie.)

Personal life

Bob Ufer was also a life insurance salesman who founded his own company, Ufer & Co. Insurance, in 1947.

Ufer lost a long battle with cancer October 26, 1981, nine days after his last broadcast; at Ufer's funeral, former U of M defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann said, "Bob Ufer was Michigan football. That's what he lived and died for. I think he would have liked being described that way."

In 1983, the parents of Ann Arbor raised rock 'n' roller, Andrew W.K., purchased the Ufer home. W.K. grew up in the house before moving to New York City, 14 years later.

Ufer's son, also named Bob Ufer, was later commissioner of the International Hockey League.

Notes

  1. ^ Fannie Weinstein (1996-01-18). "U-M grads rush toward their goal to bring life and career of Bob Ufer to Hollywood". The Detroit News. http://dangerouslogic.com/ufer.html. Retrieved 2008-04-01.  
  2. ^ Hergott, Jeremiah, ed (2008). Two Thousand Eight Michigan Men's Track & Field. Frye Printing Compamy.  

References

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