Field Pass with Richard Retyi

Oct. 16, 2010

By Richard Retyi

The Voices of Michigan Football for the Last 67 Years
For the last 67 years, only two men have been the regular play-by-play voice for Michigan football. Beginning in 1944, Bob Ufer's voice represented Michigan football, floating over the airwaves and into cars and homes throughout Michigan for 37 years. After Ufer broadcast his final game in 1981, Frank Beckmann picked up the torch and, 30 years later, he's still going strong as Michigan's radio play-by-play voice alongside colleague and friend Jim Brandstatter.

Beckmann's first broadcast was at Wisconsin during the 1981 season. He flew into Madison as a back-up plan in case the ailing Ufer wasn't fit enough to make the call. On Friday, Beckmann visited Ufer at the team hotel and learned he'd be calling his first Michigan football game the next day. The 31 year old was nervous but excited. Ufer prepared his replacement for the Saturday opener and by kickoff the young Beckmann was ready. It was an inauspicious start with the top-ranked Wolverines losing by a touchdown to the Badgers, but the beginning of a new era in Michigan football radio.

Beckmann's memories are filled with great moments. Heisman Trophy seasons in 1991 and 1997 and the national championship team and their win over Washington State. Beckmann has called a million names in his career, but his favorite in 30 years of broadcasting Michigan football is an easy pick.

"Tim Biakabutuka," Beckmann says flawlessly. "It's a tough name to nail every time. I always called him Touchdown Tim after he scored, just in case."

Other than conflicts broadcasting Detroit Tigers games and a few games off following surgery, Beckmann has never missed a start -- though he came close once. The Michigan radio crew flew out of Ann Arbor the morning of a Saturday showdown at Penn , but fog prevented them from landing in Happy Valley. The aircraft rerouted to Irwin, Penn. (population 4,366), and Beckmann and the radio crew piled into a car to drive through heavy traffic and fog, arriving in the radio booth with 10 minutes to spare.

This year, Beckmann was honored with the Ty Tyson Award for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting and was voted the Best AM Local Talk Show Host by Hour Detroit in 2010. Still going strong after all these years!

44th Annual Alumni Cheerleader Weekend Awards
On homecoming weekend, we hand out awards for the 44th annual cheerleader alumni weekend!
Oldest Attendee: Cal Tobin, class of 1949
Most Athletic: Dick Kimball sticking assisted back flips in the end zone
Best Looking: All of them!

And Now, a Few Notes on Herky the Hawkeye, Iowa's Mascot
• Herky first appeared as a costumed mascot during a football game in 1959
• Herky's overbite may require orthodonture
• Herky's helmet is actually attached to his face. Perfect fit or potential concussion concern?
• Knee pads seem unnecessary for an animal without knees
• Herky's jersey is a few sizes too big. Is it because it's a Nike product? Zing!

Dhani Jones Haute Couture
Who else could get away with an all-black outfit paired with gold rimmed glasses, a maize and blue bowtie, a giant spider encased in amber as a belt buckle and sneakers with fluorescent green accents? Jerry Hanlon! Just kidding. Former Wolverine linebacker Dhani Jones!

Will Hagerup, Air Traffic Controller
Freshman punter Will Hagerup booted a career-long 63-yard coffin corner punt in the first quarter -- a ball that hugged the left sideline like a Jet Blue flight path, bounced just inbounds and set up a sure special teams tackle. There's a comfortable chair and a headset in a windowless building somewhere in New Jersey with your name on it if this football thing doesn't work out!

Denard Robinson Breaks the 1,000-Yard Rushing Barrier
Quarterback Denard Robinson passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark on his second carry of the game, a fourth-and-one gamble that netted a first down. Robinson helped engineer the game-opening 75-yard touchdown drive despite losing center David Molk to injury two plays in. On Shoelace's milestone carry, Robinson corralled a high snap, took off to the right and squirted and spun for a carry of eight yards. "You could miss that guy in a phone booth!" Jim Brandstatter quipped on the radio broadcast.

The Stars of Detroit 1-8-7
Erin Cummings, one of the stars of the new TV show Detroit 1-8-7 (playing Dr. Hailey Cork), was on the sideline with a few of her co-stars, wearing adidas shoes and a Michigan AT&T fan tube as a wrist band. We trust the Huntsville, Texas, native is a fan of the Maize and Blue, not those other colors (burnt orange, maroon or Texas Tech red).

Snot Bubbles and First Starts
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Kenny Demens earned the first start of his career today, making an immediate impact on defense. Demens made a snot-bubble tackle on Iowa's opening play, dropping Adam Robinson for a gain of one. On the next play, Demes was among a gang of Wolverine tacklers to stuff Robinson for a three-yard loss on a running play. Demens finished the game with eight tackles, giving him 19 on the season.

Final Thought
Sometimes I take it for granted but standing in the end zone with the teams on the field and 112,000 fans roaring in the stands -- all under a beautiful blue fall sky, I realized that I have the best job at the University of Michigan. No offense, Mr. Brandon. Join us for another Field Pass in three weeks when the Wolverines host the Illini at the Big House.

»  Learn about ticket packs and individual game tickets for the 2017 Michigan football season.