Lisa Vidaurri Bowling Special to The Monroe News | The Monroe News
Jeremy McNett, owner of Final Score Sports Cards, specializes in old and rare sports cards and memorabilia, so when he uncovered a University of Michigan sports yearbook from 1914, he did a double take.
“The scrapbook, put together by Stanley George Fontanna from approximately 1914 to 1920, included original pictures of several U of M football players from this era. It also included many track pictures of Mr. Fontanna in events,” McNett said. “It contains many of the ribbons he won at the University of Michigan as well as many personal photos and military documents when he was in the service.”
Since 1983, McNett has been buying and selling sports cards and collectibles.
He purchases two to three private collections every week, but until he uncovered the 107-year-old scrapbook, the oldest sports-related item he had purchased was from the 1950’s.
In 2018, McNett opened his business located at 11984 Telegraph Rd. in Ash Township near Ready Rd. and over the years he has made several contacts with whom he does business.
It was one of his main contacts from the Saginaw area that advised him of a collection which included the U of M sports yearbook.
“The large collection contained a lot of baseball and football complete sets from the 1980s and approximately 10,000 single cards of all the four major sports,” McNett said. “I was very excited and fascinated about the scrapbook. I looked at and analyzed the pictures and documents extensively for a few hours to pick up any information that I could. Also, being a huge fan of the University of Michigan football team, I was very excited to see the football pictures.”
McNett, a self-proclaimed history lover, said he found the book interesting to look at and read, comparing the time period to today. He also researched the owner to discover he was a U of M student and athlete who later taught at the university.
“Mr. Fontanna ran track and played football at the University of Michigan from 1914 to 1917. He lettered in track in 1916 and 1917,” McNett said. “His specialty event was the 440-yard dash in which he won several ribbons that are in the scrapbook. He also was a faculty member at the University of Michigan where he was a Professor of Forestry and Dean of Natural Resources.”
According to the University of Michigan faculty history project website, Fontanna’s years at the university spanned from 1951 until he retired on June 8, 1963, at the age of 69.
McNett said his original plan was to piece the book and sell individual items but after careful thought he decided the one-of-a-kind scrapbook should remain intact.
He contacted the Bentley Historical Library, campus archive for the university, to see if there was any interest in purchasing the scrapbook. Although the Ann Arbor library wanted the book, McNett was informed there was no money budgeted to make the purchase.
“After thinking it over for a few days and discussing it with my wife, I decided it needed to be in the library for everyone to see, use and learn from,” McNett said. “I am still trying to figure out a time and date when I can take the book to the museum to give it to them. They plan on posting the photos on their website and doing anything necessary to preserve the condition of the book. Professors use this type of material in projects and they have little material from this era on track and football. They are very excited about it.”
Lisa Vidaurri-Bowling is a contributor to The Monroe News.