Nov. 23, 2009
By Bruce Madej, U-M Associate Athletic Director of Athletic Media Relations
When should one be sentimental? When should one feel a pang in his or her gut when something goes away?
I tried, I really tried to feel that way Saturday afternoon during the Michigan-Ohio State contest when the relic called the Michigan Stadium press box hosted its final game.
Individuals like Detroit News reporter Angelique Chengelis (read her press box memories) and long-time statman Bud Roberts felt those pangs. Both of them wanted to take their chair from the box.
Clare Canham-Eaton wanted us to try and save the booth 11 door from Level 3 where her father, Don Canham, watched so many games as athletics director and spoke fondly of the years they worked in that box.
And for me, as a cub reporter for The Ypsilanti Press in 1974, what did I want to take as memento of all those years working from press row and later watching all those games from the control point?
I announced on Saturday that any reporter wanting to take his or her chair home could do so. And some did. I smiled when I watched the four Michigan Daily reporters all clutching their chairs as they walked out of the press box for the last time.
But for me, what could I take? I probably never sat in my chair for more than five minutes a game, so that held no special meaning. So when I walked out of the press box Saturday, there was nothing in my hand.
But I had a reprieve. I was able to go back into the press box this morning, Monday, Nov. 23, for one last check to make sure everything of value was out, and I thought, if I needed that special memento, then I could take it.
Walking up the steps to the press box, I brought my digital camera and took my last walk through the press box. The stands were empty and there were just a few of us up there in the press box. Then I realized, the best part of being in the Michigan Stadium press box was not the box itself. It was the opportunity to be a part of Michigan lore by watching and working Michigan football.
I will remember the press box, no doubt. But more so I will remember the people, some of whom will join us in the new press box next fall and those who inhabited it in the past.
I thought of Les Etter and Will Perry, who stalked this box for so many years as PR gurus for Michigan.
I thought of people like Keith Jackson, Bob Ufer, Wayne DeNeff, Joe Falls, Jerry Green, Al Cotton, Bill Fleming, Tom Hemingway, Jack Moss and others who crafted their work in such a way they adorned the now-missing Media Hall of Fame wall.
And more than anything, I will remember Bo Schembechler doing his final video interview on a gray, dreary Thursday evening in the second row of the Michigan Stadium press box just in front of the control point. It was also the last day I talked to Bo and was able to see him alive.
That is when I liked to be in the old press box -- not on game day but during the week, an empty press box, getting ready for Saturday afternoon. Then I could take it all in.
This morning, I had that one last opportunity, touring the old press box for a final time -- this time getting the box ready for the wrecking ball.
I didn't feel any sentimental pangs, just a feeling of happiness that this was a wonderful home for so many, including me.
And what did I finally take from the Michigan Stadium press box? One last picture, looking down from the control point onto an empty field. That's all I wanted from the old box because the memories of those years mean everything for those who have worked a Michigan football game.
• Past Memories from the Press Box: Bruce Madej (11/23/2009) | Jim Wood (11/19/2009) | AMR Staff - Part 2 (11/12/2009) | AMR Staff - Part 1 (11/5/2009) | Jerry Green (10/29/2009) | Jerry Hanlon (10/22/2009) | Geoff Larcom (10/15/2009) | Pat Perry (10/9/2009) | Will Perry (10/1/2009) | Dick Gaskill (9/24/09) | Jim Meyer (9/17/09) | Frank Beckmann (9/10/2009) | John Borton (9/3/2009)