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U-M Club of Greater Chicago: Fun Facts

Club History

Our Club was founded in 1888. Below is a photo from our annual Sports-O-Rama event (then, a football dinner) at the Palmer House in 1950:

Some of the Famous U-M Alumni Living in Chicago:

  • Rick Bayless, renowned chef, author, television host, and proprietor of Topolobampo, Frontera Grill, XOCO, and other restaurants.
  • Arturo Gomez, president and partner of Rockit Ranch Productions, which owns Chicago hot spots like The Underground, Sunda, and Rockit Bar & Grill, one of UMCGC’s official game-watching bars.
  • Stephanie Izard, winner of Bravo’s Top Chef (Season 4),  Beard award winner for Best Chef Great Lakes in 2013, named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2010, and proprietor of Girl & The Goat, Little Goat Diner, and Duck Duck Goat restaurants in the West Loop.
  • Laura Rickettsco-owner of the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame Member.
  • Sam Zell, chairman of Tribune Company (publisher of the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times) and multiple prominent investment firms.

Did You Know?

  • U-M’s first ever football game was played in Chicago! On May 30, 1879, exactly a decade after the first ever college football game U-M played its first football game against Racine College of Wisconsin at Chicago’s White Stockings Park, a neutral site agreed on by school officials. A crowd of approximately 500 spectators witnessed Michigan post its first victory, 1-0. Irving K. Pond, who would later design the Michigan Union and Michigan League buildings on U-M’s campus, scored the lone touchdown of the game.
  • “The Victors” was written in Chicago! Michigan’s come-from-behind 12-11 win against Amos Alonzo Stagg’s powerful University of Chicago team in 1898 not only gave the Wolverines their first-ever conference championship, but inspired U-M student Louis Elbel to compose what John Phillip Sousa later called the greatest college fight song ever written. Elbel was one of the 1,400 fans attending the game at Chicago’s Marshall Field. During a celebration by U-M fans following the victory, Elbel realized that his university did not have a proper celebration song. That night, the song’s melody popped into his head and he subsequently turned it into a march during his train ride back to Ann Arbor. Elbel later recalled: There was never a more enthusiastic Michigan student than I, but that team and that Chicago game pushed me way up in the clouds, and all I had to do was fill in the notes, and there was ‘The Victors.
  • Michigan Icon Fritz Crisler was from Illinois! Herbert Orin (“Fritz”) Crisler was a native of Earlville, Illinois and graduate of the University of Chicago, where he earned nine letters playing football, baseball, and basketball. Crisler coached U-M’s football team from 1938 through 1947, during which time he developed two-platoon football (separating a team’s offensive unit from its defense unit), introduced U-M’s famous winged helmets, and won a national championship with his undefeated “Mad Magicians” 1947 team.
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