Flyer for the city championship game. Dorothy Ford's message on the front: "The game eliminating both teams from the state championship but leaving both city co-champions.  Terrible day – boys almost froze their hands. Coldest Thanksgiving on record.  Party a huge success.  Will write later both Dick & Jim have whooping cough."

The Union-South Game


The 1930 season came down to the last game of the season.  The city championship was on the line and with it a chance to become state champions.  Both Union High and South High offered undefeated teams.  South welcomed the visitors to its new athletic field, where Principal Krause urged each team to “Let good sportsmanship mark this encounter to the extent that the winner will be modest in victory, and the loser gracious in defeat.”


Neither team would have opportunity to test those qualities.  A blizzard swept through Grand Rapids, and on Thanksgiving Day the temperatures plummeted.  Ford remembered the crowds and the effort to clear the snow.  “That high school game drew 12,000 people.  They got all the equipment out and cleared the field.  The snow was piled up high on the sidelines.”  Art Brown recalled that “…it was the first game in the city of Grand Rapids that they charged a dollar admittance.”


The game was marred by fumbles and stalled drives as players slogged through ankle-deep snow and mud.  Each team had opportunities to score, but neither did.  And just as had happened when the two teams first met in 1916, the game ended in a scoreless tie.  Writers and fans lamented the way weather affected the performance of two powerhouse teams and that the tie ended the hopes of either team winning the state championship.  Together, however, Union and South would be crowned co-champions of Grand Rapids.  And fans left South field knowing they had seen an epic contest.


Later it was learned that Union had played an ineligible student and had to forfeit many of its 1930 games, including the South contest.  South then was named city and state champions for that year.



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