The digital age is tough for memorabilia collectors like Ken Magee. The law enforcement consultant and politician had been collecting U-M football souvenirs since he was a little boy, when his mom would give him a dollar for a ticket, and he’d bike to the stadium from their home on Hill St. Instead of buying a ticket, he’d sneak in under the fence, and use the dollar for a hot dog and a Coke—but after the game, he’d collect a treasure trove of discarded tickets and programs.
Nowadays when Magee, sixty-four, goes to the Big House with his wife, Dawn, it’s slim pickings. In 2021, U-M began delivering game tickets digitally. The programs went digital, too.
Magee isn’t putting his collection online. Instead, he and Brian Snider, author of The Ultimate Michigan Memorabilia Collectors Guide, produced a 680-page, hardbound book. The Ultimate Michigan Football Program and Ticket Guide has more than 2,500 color photographs of every Michigan football program and home and away game ticket since the 1800s, with a summary of each game played.
“I even had President Gerald Ford write an introductory letter,” says Magee. “That’s how long I have been working on it.”
Magee shares U-M football season tickets with a friend each year. As returning season ticket holders, they can request printed tickets for an extra $50 per season. He paid up.
“I can’t stand digital tickets,” he says. “Part of the game is holding the ticket. It’s part of the ritual.”
Magee spent $28,000 to print 750 copies, which makes the book itself a kind of collectible. It’s available at the M-Den, Schuler Books, and umichfootball.com.
“My friends say when I write my memoir, I should call it In the Shadows of the Big House,” Magee says, “because Michigan football was just so much a part of my life.”