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September 14, 2012 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-09-14
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The Michigan Marching Band spelled out Ufer's name in his honor at halftime on Oct. 17,1981 against Iowa, just 10 days before he passed. Ufer gave a speech and led the crowd in 'The Victors' over the PA.

The Michigan football team
will put Ron Kramer's No.
87 jersey back into circula-
tion prior to the Michigan-Mas-.
sachusetts matchup on Saturday,
designating Kramer as a'Michigan
Football Legend.'
Kramer, a three-sport athlete
from Girard, Kan., played offen-
sive and defensive end, running
back, quarterback, kicker and
receiver at Michigan in the mid-
1950s before a 10-year NFL career
at tight end with the Green Bay
Packers and Detroit Lions.
Kramer passed away on Sept. 11,
2010 at his home in Fenton, Mich.
He was 75.
His children, Kurt and Cassie,
and their families will be on hand
at Michigan Stadium on Saturday
for the on-field pregame ceremony
recognizing Kramer.
One of Kramer's grandchildren,
Kelsey, is an LSA senior at the
University. On Thursday, Kelsey
took a few minutes with the Daily
to remember her late grandfather,
a Michigan legend.
The Michigan Daily: What are
your emotions, what are your
family's emotions as your grand-
father's number is put back into
circulation this weekend?
Kelsey Kramer: My family is
thrilled. It's kind of a cool thing for
me, being a student here. I know a
lot of kids my age don't necessar-

ily know
neat tha
going to
that and
ing here
ful, but
with a 1
you seet
to have
in an ev'
over tim
a norma
to be ab
the fielt
taken o
team an
I thinki
in a way
it's not t

about him, so for me it's that's the end of that.
t it's back on the field. It's TMD: We know your grandfa-
'draw a lot of attention to ther was a player here, but how
I the memory of him play- did you get here? Did your parents
in a way. go here?
Some have criticized that KK: Actually, my whole fam-
ng numbers is disrespect- ily went to Michigan State except
as you mentioned, you're for me and my grandpa. I've been
them back on the field going to games since I was 3 years
egend patch on them. Did old - we've kept the season tick-
this as a good opportunity ets in my family since my great-
your grandfather's name grandma was watching her son,
ed with Michigan football my grandpa, play on the field. So
eryday fashion? I've always had a strong connec-
tion with Michigan in that way.
My grandpa volunteered at the
e wasthe school at the time. He was always
He was t back, bringing apples around to
S full of the president's office and all the
est, fathletic offices. He remained real-
and always ly involved, and I think because of
our close relationship I couldn't
have thought of another univer-
sity I'd want to go to.
TMD: What was your relation-
ship with him like?
KK: Every Football Saturday
do. Part of me feels like before I was a student here, we
re it's going to become just would go to the games together.
d thing, but I think it's nice I'd sit up in the press box with
tle to see that number on him. When I was a freshman
d. Even though it's being and sophomore here, we'd go out
ut of retirement, it's still to lunch once a month, and our
ng that's special to the family always spent Christmas
d to the player wearing it. at his house in Fenton. We were
it's still respectful to him, extremely close, and I think that
. He's still being honored; me going to Michigan brought us
that his jersey is back and even closer. He was the best, so

From Page 5
Catholic? You bet I'd like it,"'
Bob explained on the air. And
he honked that horn into the
microphone each time Mich-
igan scored for the rest of his
broadcasting career.
Before I leave Tom's
office - the same insur-
ance business his father
founded - he brings me into
his study, where 'his walls
and bookshelves are lined
with autographed Michigan
memorabilia. Photographs,
plaques, game balls - he
could probably sell half those
things on eBay and buy an
W He reaches into a cabinet
and pulls out General Pat-
ton's horn. He squeezes the
bulbous end twice, likely jolt-
ing nearby employees who
have that 2:30 feeling on a
Monday. He doesn't care.
"Wanna try?" Tom asks.
I take the horn from his
hands, feel the rust and
squeeze it a few times.
I think about the families
across Michigan who gath-
ered in their living rooms
each fall Saturday and muted
the television to instead tune
into Ufer's broadcast. I think
of the 1979 Indiana game -
Johnny Wangler to Antho-
ny "The Human Torpedo"

Carter as time expired -
and imagine listening to the
incessant blaring of the horn
that followed.
I hand it back to Tom,
thank him and leave.
I'm not sure why, but I
can't stop smiling. More than
30 years after his death, Bob
still has that effect on people.
Last winter break, I was
at a buddy's house in New
Jersey for the Outback Bowl,
where I watched the host
mute Mike Tirico's play-by-
play before kickoff and plug
his iPod in the audio input.
I suppose the Rational
broadcasts are just too vanil-
la for a fidgety generation of
college football fans. Many
have spurned television and
radio commentary for Twit-
ter updates, where the analy-
sis from Sports Pickle is just
a tad edgier than the journal-
istic banter you hear during
the game.
Meanwhile, in Michigan,
CDs of Ufer's best calls still
fly off the shelves like a new
Madonna album.
On Saturdays, you can
hear the classics playing
throughspeakers as you walk
down a corridor of tailgates
in Ann Arbor.
Every Michigan fan has a
favorite Ufer call.
Local WTKA radio per-
sonality Sam Webb loves

playing "Touchdown Billy There isn't a Michigan Man
Taylor" on his broadcast, who wouldn't want to go out
from the 1971 Ohio State and scalp those Buckeyes
game. Taylor, Michigan's right now! They have the
running back, took the pitch audacity, the unmitigated
on the option 21 yards to the gall to tear down the coveted
house to defeat the Buckeyes 'M'"
10-7 in Ann Arbor, and Ufer Webb's radio show co-
went berserk. host, Ira Weintraub, calls in
"It fit rig ht i n with what
Bo was doing with the
Michigan footbal team
S'The Team, The Team,
The Team.' Bob Ufer
was a part of that, too."
- Frank Beckmann

Ufer he was a homer, he
would arrogantly reply, "You
bet Iam."
Ufer wasn't just a Michi-
gan fan - he was, in every
sense, a Michigan Man. In
1940, as a freshman at the
University, he played in the
same backfield as eventual
Heisman winner Tom Har-
mon before leaving the team
to run track.
Ufer later broke a number
of Michigan's track and field
recordsbefore he finished his
"The biggest thing you
can do is go out and be you,"
Webb said. "That's what Bob
Ufer was on the radio. You
could tell that's him. I don't
think it was an act, I don't
think it was a character that
he played on the radio. That
was him.
"You feel like that's you, or
your friend, that's out there
calling the game. I think
there's an endearing aspect
to that."
In 1981, though, the voice
of Michigan football's radio
broadcast transitioned from a
beloved son of Ann Arbor to a
man that grew up in a Michi-
gan State household. The
play-by-play commentator
who succeeded Ufer, Frank
Beckmann, was raised on the
Spartansby his father.
But, like a fine scotch,
Beckmann matured, and he

grew an admiration for the
Wolverines. As the 1981 sea-
son opened at Wisconsin, he
would lead the broadcast,
and a sickly Ufer would take
the back seat in the press box,
relegated to the pregame
show and halftime reports.
"He was sick, he went on
the trip and he told me to
prepare as if I was doing the
game," Beckmann said. "We
got to Madison and I went to
his hotel room, and he imme-
diately says, 'You're doing
the game tomorrow.' He sat
there, very ill, and spent, I'd
say, two hours going over the
team, telling me about play-
"He wanted to make sure
Michigan football was well
represented on the radio. It
fit right in with what Bo was
doing with the Michigan
football team - 'The Team,
The Team, The Team.' Bob
Ufer was a part of that, too."
Of course, the transition
wasn't seamless. After 36
years, Ufer's voice wasn't just
a staple on the airwaves. It
rang through the locker room
to pump up the players, and it
permeated the campus dur-
ing pep rallies.
Schembechler brought
Ufer to speak to the players
the day before the 1981 Rose
Bowl to jack them up before
the game. Heck, in 1976,
President Gerald Ford called

full of life and always partying.
TMD: He played quite a long
time ago, but do remember him
getting recognized around games
pretty often?
KK: Definitely. A lot of people
that worked around Michigan
football definitely recognized
who Ron Kramer was. President
Mary Sue Coleman knew him very
well; I met her a couple times with
him. Kids my age might not unless
they're friends with me.
Two guys that lived next door
to me in my dorm found out that
he was a Michigan football player
and looked him up on Wikipedia.
He only is in the Hall of Fame for
the Green Bay Packers and played
for the Detroit Lions. They were so
mad at me for not telling them. But
my grandpa never talked about his
fame. He was just my grandpa to
TMD: Do you remember any
memories he shared of his days as
a three-sport athlete?
KK: He would talk about Paul
Honorng - he played against him
at Notre Dame (and with him in
Green Bay), one of his really good
friends - and Tom Nowatski (a
teammate in Detroit). He used to
bring me out to lunch with him.
Football was his big thing, and
basketball he talked about occa-

sionally. We went to one game
together when they had an event
at Crisler Arena.
In track he was always told he
would be a really good shot putter,
and he obviously did well in it and
enjoyed it, but he loved football so
much more.
TMD: Sept.11,2010 isa day a lot
Michigan fans remember for the
good things - Denard Robinson
going for 502 yards against Notre
Dame - but obviously it was a dif-
ferent kind of day for you.
KK: I remember sitting in my
grandpa's house, and the coroners
were there. He didn't have his
cable hooked up for some reason,
so I asked his sister and my mom
if they would mind me turning
on the radio to listen to the game.
That was what he'd be doing any-
way and it was what I would be
doing. I wanted to get my mind off
of it and listen to Michigan foot-
I definitely will not forget
Denard Robinson running an
87-yard touchdown that day. That
is the one thing that's always stuck
in my mind about that day, think-
ing, 'My grandpa's probably sit-
ting up there laughing his ass off,
so happy thatwe won. It just felt
like he was there still, watching
the game as usual.

Webb also loves to imper-
sonate Ufer's disgust when
he saw the Buckeyes run out
of Michigan Stadium's tunnel
in 1973 and tear down the 'M'
Club banner - the banner
that the Wolverines jump up
to slap as they run out onto
the field before every game.
"And they're tearing down
Michigan's coveted 'M' Club
banner! They will meet a
dastardly fate here for that!

from the room next door:
"Don't forget about his poem
about truck drivers," in refer-
ence to the Ohio State sellout
crowd that Ufer claimed con-
sisted of 10,000 alumni and
74,000 truckers.
Few people seemed to
mind that Ufer was so bla-
tantly partial. His listeners
loved the in-your-face bias
because it came from some
place real. When critics told

Ron Kramer (top) elevates to catch a pass in Michigan's 42-7 season-opening victory over Missouri on Sept. 24, 1956. (bot-
tom) Kramer stands with his grandchildren, Kurt, Kelsey and Heidi.

6 1 FootballSaturday - September 15, 2012

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