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LOCAL/STATE Wednesday November 16 1999 - The Michigan Daly -
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live -- for the other eight, I'm in hibernation'
Fisher isn't just faithful to Michigan's
games - rain or shine. he follows the
earn across the country each week.
lthough the signature Michigan motor
ioae is Fisher's principle means of trans-
ortation, he admits "it's dangerous to take
his thing to places like Ohio. East Lansing
nd Madison, Wisconsin!"
On its sides, the motor home reads "Go Blue,
Hail to the Victors," "Michigan Warriors" and
National Champs 1997." Maize and Blue
tripes blaze horizontally from the front to the
rof the vehicle.
took some doing," Fisher said. "My son is
n insurance sales. He has a lot of connections
ad he referred me to a man who owns a shop in
eWitt. I told him what I wanted: big block
tripes of maize and blue._ I wanted it to say
GoBlue.' How they put it on a computer and
urned it into this, I don't know."
"When I went to pick it up at the shop for the
irst-time, I was like 'Whoa!"' Fisher hires a
ecurity guard to keep a watehful eye on the
ele during each game.
While Fisher waits for his guests - between
0 to 100 were invited - self-proclaimed "die-
ard, down-home tailgaters" Tom Yonkovit and
iends are busy grilling sausages and drinking
eer and hot cocoa at their designated spot in the
ioneer parking lot.
"You can come as early as 3 on Friday," says
onkovit, of Brighton. "We usually do. But last
ight was a tough one at work, so we didn't get
ere 'til about 9."
Despite the cold wind blowing around the
ium, Yonkovit's party is equipped for all
Hazel Grinnell, a member of the tailgate,
xplained the group's all-weather capabilities - a
roduct of their 20 years of tailgating experience.
Their motor home is outfitted with a canopy
o block out the rain. Heavy "plastic walls" line
he canopy to create a more comfortable shelter
or when the weather gets rough.
"One time it was raining and we put straw
own on the ground because there was so
r h mud," Yonkovit said. His wife Mary
o kovit added, "You could tell where we'd
een for months, until the wind blew the
Inside this make-shift home-away-from-
ome, there are two barn heaters, a grill and
ables fully loaded with pre-game hors d'oeu-
LANSING (AP) - Representatives
of hundreds of Michigan newspapers
and television news -departments told
state officials yesterday that a proposal to
lint prisoner interviews would violate
th public interest and allow abuses to go
The Michigan Department of
Cdrrections held its only hearing yes-
terlay on proposed rule changes that
ld ban news cameras and reporters'
rding devices from state prisons.
Nws reporters would have access to
inmhates only during telephone inter-
views and normal visitation times.
Corrections officials say the planned
:hanges are meant to increase security.
They say that bringing reporters, pho-
:ographers and film crews into prisons
:hreatens security and can create noto-
-ety for the inmates featured.
The media really should not be
ranteed more access than the pub-
ic," Corrections spokesperson Matt
Davis said outside tie hearing.
'Obviously, we can't have the public
coming in whenever they want."
The department took testimony
from officials representing The
Associated Press, the Michigan Press
Association, the Metro Detroit chapter
of the Society of Professional
ournalists, the Detroit Free Press, the
P sing State Journal, Booth
ewspapers, ABC News and Detroit
elevision stations WJBK and WKBD.
vres. Hazel Grinnel spends most of her time
inside the vehicle's toasty interior preparing the
rest of the food -- the rest of the tailgate party is
counting on its traditional steak dinner after the
"We have all the creature comforts of home,"
said John Snyir, "we lack and need nothing"
One Saturday, the group was entertained by
special tailgate chef and tailgate party cookbook
author' "Tailgate Joe "
"Companies sponsor hir to cook for their
parties:" Mary Yonkovit -ys 'He has special
recipes and would cook a bunch of food for
By 9:30 a.m. Fisher's ac-quaintance, Bill
Serpico is busy securing a satellite dish on
the top of his motor home so that Fisher can
watch the Purdue-Wisc onsin game following
the Michigan game, during his "traditional
Serpico heard of Fisher's infamous motor
home and tailgate parties through friends. He
said he traveled from Ohio just to photograph
"The only way to go in sIvle is like this,"
Serpico said, "Im here to take pictures - doing
the whole nine yards:'
This weekend, Fisher plans to spend nearly
$1,000 on food and other luxuries for tailgate
activities before the Ohio State game.
"This is my life," Fisher says.
Just a few spaces down from Fisher, music
from the Michigan Marching Band resonates
from the site of a joint tailgate party of
devout Michigan fans.
Years ago, Warren and Cherie Major of
Virgina coincidently parked their vehicle next to
Barbara Jandasek and her husband several times
in a row. The couples decided it was fate, and
have stuck together for the past 10 years for
Five years ago, the Majors, both Michigan
alums, made a pact to follow the Wolverines
to every game in each season and thev've
been attending home games for 30 years
"It gives us something to look forward to at
the end of the week," Warren Major said.
Because they travel more than 500 miles from
Virgina, the Majors have a regular plan of action
when they visit Ann Arbor. After traveling to
Baltimore, they fly to Cleveland where they rent
a car and drive the remainder of the trip to
The Majors also fly to each away game,
although their route is usually more direct.
"When we go to away games," Warren said. "We
make it a tourist event."
But the pair said they always make it clear to
locals that they are visiting to support Michigan
football. In Skaneateles, a suburb of Syracuse,
N.Y., Warren says that he set up his dancing
Michigan gorilla doll in a bar. "All the Michigan
fans went nuts."
The night before they leave, the Warrens
make all their preparations, including a trip to
the grocery store to procure items for the tradi-
tional menu including soup, stews, shrimp,
chicken and an abundance of beer.
Across the way from the Majors' tailgate is a
tailgater "restaurant" sponsored by Larry and
Marci Swinckey of Riverview, Mich. - where
Lloyd Carr attended high school.
In the free-of-charge restaurant for family
members, the Swinckeys have a stove top and
food bar set up behind a counter under their tent.
Hanging next to the counter is the game day
menu, reading: Pre-game - Larry's 'M'
Omelette, friendship bread, Lulu's brownies.
Post game --Beef 'M' noodle-mushroom soup,
reuben loaf, ham loaf, tea and pop.
"Everything is non-commercial," Marci
Swinckey says, "We don't by anything pre-made
- we make everything ourselves."
Since 1993, the Swinckey crowd has main-
tained this restaurant-like set-up. But their
guests can contribute the diversity of the menu
by bringing addition family favorites.
Each game Larry Swinckey fries and serves
up his all-encompassing omelette, which contain
tomatoes, onions, peppers and cheese.
"The 'M' omelette:' Larry Swinckey said, "has
everything on it." Prior to the Michigan vs. Rice
game. the Swinckeys' prepared to watch the
Wolverines devour Rice, by concocting several
The Swinckeys, like the Majors and
Fishers, make it to all Michigan games, tak-
ing with them their Michigan Barbie doll and
Marci's favorite blanket. Their tailgating tra-
ditions and Michigan pride were influenced
by their grandma, an avid Michigan fan who's
been tailgating for decades.
"The neatest part (of tailgating) is bringing
my 78 year old grandma," Larry says, "She sits
through anything - rain or shine."
It's just before 10 a.m and the Yonkovit-
Grinnel crowd has increased nearly tenfold.
Friends from Ohio and San Diego have just
arrived. Chris McWaters, from Ohio, paints his
face before he will walk the short distance to the
gates of Michigan Stadium. McWaters makes it
a tradition to get his Maize and Blue-painted
face on TV prior to kickoff.
"The best was two weeks ago, when we
played Illinois," McWaters said, "There were
these girls dressed in wedding dresses promot-
ing a blockbuster film. We got right up there
with them on TV!"
The Wolverine Road Club is parked a few
motor homes down from the Yonkovits and
Grinnels and at 10:30 a.m. members are enjoying
gourmet sandwiches prepared by their highly-
regarded gourmet chef, Abner Taylor.
"We follow through with every game," said
Taylor, a professional chef who, in the 18 years
he has been cooking for the Road Club, has only
missed one game.
Taylor says that he always wraps up The
Wolverine Road Club's season each year with an
elaborate feast of wild game following the last
regular season game.
"This year, for Ohio State, we will have rab-
bit, venison, moose, beaver and maybe bear
Secretary and Chair of The Wolverine Road
Club Ed O'Reilly said the club's weekly cele-
bration has carried on many traditions in the 27
years since its founding.
"We have a little dancing after the game," says
O'Reilly. "We also have palm reading. And we
always encourage the visiting team to come and
sing the Michigan fight song."
The group stresses the importance of guests.
They encourage passers-by, including fans head-
ing back to their cars after the game, to stop by
for food and socializing. They have collected
nearly 12,000 pictures of individual guests
across a 17-year period.
"The biggest thing about this is its constan-
cy," Taylor said. "Anyone who comes by is
welcome. We make sure we have plenty of
food for people who come by to party with
us. We really enjoy it."
With less than 30 minutes until kickoff, the
The Wolverine Road Club packs up some of its
Anticipation in both lots has built over the last
four hours and it's now time to brave the massive
crowd of maize and blue fans in their hike to the
But the tailgater saga doesn't end here.
Hours after the last play, the last cheer of
the crowd and the last young fan has stepped
off the field, the Pioneer parking lot rema ins
littered with about two dozen motor homes.
Blue-tinted lights glow in some of the motor
homes, others are completely dark and outside a
few devout Michigan fans remain soaking up the
pride that still seeps from the stadium following a
37-3 win over Northwestern.
The fans drink, play football and converse
with city employees who empty garbage cans
from the lot.
"We usually go to the bars at night," says
Morgan Mudge, a sophomore at the University's
In the hours following the game, the group
of about eight will play football to pass the
time. They listen to music and relax with
friends. "A lot of people get the same spot
every time. A lot of it is relaxing. We take it
easy. It's a break from school for a couple of
nights," Mudge said.
The group is already preparing for the last
home game of the season this weekend.
"We'll bring a chef with us-he's planning the
menu," said Michael Wolf from Newberry, Mich.,
in the eastern U.P The chef, a friend of the group's
with a degree in culinary arts, will create the game
day spread using a full-size grill, brought along the
near seven-hour drive down from the U.P.
Mudge and his friends are rookie tail-
gaters. The game against Northwestern
marked the three year anniversary of the tail-
"This is where we started out - we've never
been to any other lot," Mudge says.
Across the dimly-light lot, a group of
Northwestern students relax in their motor home
drinking beer and watching reruns of the Purdue
The Evanston, Ill., visitors are saddened by
their team's loss, but said they took comfort in
the break in Purdue's undefeated season -
But a loss to Michigan hasn't stopped these
football fans from mixing with the home team's
crowd. "We're forming relationships with our fel-
low tailgaters. We're getting to know the Michigan
crowd," said Chicago resident Scott Cleve.
The group plans to hit Ann Arbor's bars
later in the night. "Our first stop is the
Touchdown Cafe," says Jeff Bierdrzyk of
Chicago, "Then, whatever happens after that
until we pass out."
Bierdrzyk and his friends embarked on the
five-hour tourney to Ann Arbor from their
native Chicago not only to experience the
excitement of a live game, but to join the other
tailgaters and Michigan fans in their quest to
become a part of what Bierdrzyk terms "the
By 10 a.m. Sunday morning, the Pioneer lot
will be empty and only a few scraps of newspa-
per and dropped hot dog buns will remain. And
whether they battle their way through Sunday
morning traffic back home to Chicago, San
Diego or Newberry, Michigan fans are already
anticipating their return to Ann Arbor for the
game against Ohio State and -just maybe, a lit-
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RI CH E I SEN Days at Michigan, Life at SportsCenter
The University of Michigan welcomes Rich Eisen, SportsCenter
anchor at ESPN. Eisen, an alumnus of the University and Pi Kappa
Phi Fraternity, will speak about his days as a Wolverine and the
roard to hica rrear with PN