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Thursday, October 27, 2011

25 Things We Love About Michigan Football Saturdays: #15 Carl Grapentine

You remember this list, don't you? Well, I barely did. Heck, I had to go back and look at my notes to remember where we were on our countdown. But I'm up to speed and we continue today with...

#15 Michigan Marching Band and Stadium Announcer Carl Grapentine

"Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the Michigan Marching Band. Baaaaaand, take the field!"

You just got chills, didn't you? Yeah, me, too.

When you hear Carl Grapentine, the Michigan Marching Band and Big House announcer, utter those words over the stadium PA system on Saturday, all will be good in the world.  The game will be mere moments away.  And Grapentine's soothing baritone will have just set the stage.  Like your mom saying grace before Thanksgiving dinner.  You wouldn't even think of touching the turkey until mom had her say.

Same with Carl in The Big House.

For me, the game doesn't start when the Wolverines run out of the tunnel.  Or when they race under the "M Go Blue" banner.  Or even at kick-off.  Nope.  I'm in full game-mode as soon as I hear Grapentine.

According to the Michigan Marching Band website, "Grapentine has been 'The Voice of the Michigan Band' since 1970 when he was appointed to the post by Dr. William D. Revelli.  An alumnus of the University of Michigan School of Music, he played oboe in the Symphony Band and Symphony Orchestra, and was baritone soloist with the Men's Glee Club during his student years."  Having outlasted Bo, Mo, Carr and Rich Rod, Grapentine is as much a part of the band and the gameday experience as anybody down on the field forming the giant block "M".

In 2006, Grapentine added to his duties when he became the stadium PA announcer, as well.  He took over for Howard King, who was The Big House public address announcer for 33 years, from 1972 until his retirement at the end of the 2005 season.

In this capacity, Grapentine is responsible for this other chill-inducing announcement...

"Good afternoon.  And welcome.  To the University of Michigan football stadium.  And this, the 57th meeting between Michigan and Purdue.  Now for the starting lineups..."

Then, after the teams are introduced on Saturday...

"...And in his first season as head coach...Brady Hoke!"

Here come the chills again.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting #15 on our list of the 25 Things We Love about Michigan Football Saturdays...Carl Grapentine.

ED. NOTE: Notice how he no longer says, to my knowledge, the exact number of members in the MMB as he does in the above older recording. Anybody know when that stopped and why? Or am I just not paying attention like I should these days?


DrCatie said...

Sorry if I am off the mark. Since 2007 is when I have been regularly attending our games. For most of that time I sat in the student section, so I learned a lot. I noticed that there were band members who came and sat in their place before the game and were not on the field. The students told me that every Friday they have tryouts and if you didn't cut it, you were not on the field on Saturday. I could be wrong, but if that is the case, maybe Carl wasn't provided the exact count of how many actually were marching that day? That was one of the first things I noticed when I listened to the recording today, that he announced how many members were in the band and I thought, " I don't think I have ever heard him say the number before". I love pregame almost as much as I love the game itself!

One of my favorite little things is when we make a TD and the band plays the victors and then while we are attempting the extra point, the band continues playing the victors very quietly and the band members who are not playing that put a hand over their heart and keep the beat until the extra point is good, then they are full on with the victors again. (Damn that is one long sentence, sorry.....it also sounds like it should start with "and this one day at band camp......" ROFL

Dennis said...

I think we should create a pool for when this will be finished. :)

Seriously, I enjoy these and it is the little things that really make game day such an experience.

616goblue said...

@Dennis, if Mzone 5.0 was a choice in the pool for the completion of the "top 25 we love about Michigan gamedays" that might be a safe bet. Us Mzoners since Mzone 1.0 are still awaiting the finish of the blog coed showdown that started in either 2006 or 2007...


Bigasshammm said...

which is it? #15 or #16?

Back at it again.

Yost said...

LOL, 616.

And BAH...


Blue Forever said...

I just noticed that the number wasn't said this season.

Dennis said...


I was lurking here, even back then. I only finally started posting this past winter when I was looking for some places to get good food while in A2 with my older son for his gymnastics meet. That got to almost the final four. I wouldn't think it would take much to finsih it, though I imagine the ASU cheerleader looks something like this.

GoBlueBob said...

This is the first year that they have not announced the number of members but it is probably the same since the number is the actual number of members "in the block" which is the block M when they come out of the tunnel. Band members 'in the block" made the cut for that week. I have some other interesting trivia about the band but will save it for when the band is the subject of this countdown.

I am not sure if anyone else noticed but they never introduced the starting lineups under the previous (name never to be spoken by me again) coach. My theory is that he did not want to get booed when his name was announced.

Jeremy said...

DrCatie: That's mostly correct, except the tryouts are for the next week. You need more than 1 day to learn a new spot in that block M. :)

Carl stopped saying it in about 2007-2008. He used to say "Two hundred thirty-five member," but that number has been inaccurate for years and can fluctuate annually depending on the number of twirlers. Rather than update it, they've omitted it.

616goblue said...


Not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing the hyperlink you suggested I click on is not working. My take is that there is no middle ground if that link is working; either MILF-tacular or "let me scratch out my eyes with something rusty."

The third alternative is that it is blocked by some virus protection at the office--with as many Sparty fans I work with the company needs as much virus protection as the Pentagon.

616goblue said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mikoyan said...

I'll admit I don't pay much attention to the announcements. so far me the chills start when I hear the M fanfare.

DrCatie said...

Jeremy, Thanks! I would imagine it would take more than one day! I really hadn't thought about the fact that your position in the "M" would change, that would make for a bad day if you thought you were part of the "V" but really was suppose to be the side of the M...HA!

M Fanfare said...

If you live in the Chicago area and enjoy classical music you can hear Carl's smooth baritone during his "real job" on 98.7 WFMT where he's been the morning host for about 15 years.

Announcing the number of band members started way back under Dr. Revelli when all male music students who played a wind instrument were required to be in the MMB. The band was smaller then, and though they had reserves the number on the field accurately reflected the total size of the band. If you get your hands on old recordings going back to the 1970s you can hear the announcement increase from 215 to 225 to 235.

I was in the band when Carl stopped announcing the number. The staff decided it was a bit silly, since as mentioned before the number wasn't accurate based on the number of twirlers, but also it didn't reflect the total membership of the band or the total size of the performance block. Although there are about 235-240 in the pregame show, the halftime performance usually has about 270-280 members on the field, and even then there are reserves who don't perform (but march to the stadium, play in the stands, and play in the post-game show). Announcing a 235-member band implied that those other ~100 students weren't really members (the total size of the MMB is usually around 360-380), even if they had marched the previous week or would end up marching the next. In the end, I think it was the right decision.

Ramona said...

Oh, 1981 in the fall... Carl Grapentine stopped by the now long-defunct bakery where I was a cashier...the voice was unmistakeable, and after the resultant conversation, he signed one of the bakery bags in neat capitalization: "B-A-A-N-D. TAKE THE FIELD!!!!" If I do not actually have the wax paper bag around here somewhere, I can still see the writing.

M Fanfare said...

Carl just linked to this post on his Facebook. Well done.

Dennis said...


More eye scratching. It was a picture of the Magda character from "There's Something About Mary."

Craig said...

Carl's voice is one of the strongest memory triggers I have for Michigan football.

Plus, there are few things better than Carl chuckling on the mic when he's not been muted about something that just happened on the field.