clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The First Pig Trophy in the Gopher Iowa Rivalry #TBT

New, 2 comments

This is one of my favorite stories, it originally ran a few years ago.

Before the bronze statue, there was the real life Floyd, before the real pig there was this wooden pig sign. Today it sits on display in an Edina sunporch. This is the little known story about oldest, shortest lived, and only pig trophy to never change hands in the Iowa - Minnesota rivalry.

Floyd B Olson, left (WITH VICTORY CIGAR) getting his prize hog from Governor Herring.
MNHS

Named for Floyd B. Olson, the pig came from Rosedale Farms near Fort Dodge, Iowa. Before the bronze statue, there was the real life Floyd, before the real pig there was this wooden pig sign.

Wooden Butcher sign with 1935 Gopher players names signed in pencil.

To settle tension before the Iowa Minnesota game, Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson bet Iowa Governor Herring a pig. To the Minnesota players it wasn't clear at all who would have to pay up on this bet. In some tellings of this story the players worried that they would be on the hook for providing a pig to Iowa should they lose. Other versions of the story state that Minnesota players would present the wooden pig sign as a gesture of goodwill to the Iowa fans. Either way on a dark night in early November 1935 a butcher shop sign in Dinkytown went missing and got onto the train with the Minnesota boys heading to Iowa City.

The sign today is painted on one side but you can just make out "MEAT" underneath the coats of gold paint. The other side has signatures from about 70 people.

"MEAT" is just visible. There is something else underneath MEATS but it is illegible.

After the Gophers beat Iowa, 13-6 (the closest game on Minnesota’s way towards winning a second straight national championship) the wooden pig came back to Dinkytown. For years it was hung in Cooke Hall. Visitors continued to add their names to the pig. At some point when the old wooden sign was headed to the garbage, it was saved by a University of Minnesota employee, Bob Patrin, who still owns it today.

Bob was kind enough to let me see the wooden pig and other treasures acquired from his career working for the U of M. While I haven't been able to corroborate any of the versions of the story he told me, it seems like a plausible tale.

The sign might be from Harvard Meat Market, located at 804 Washington Ave SE, the only butcher/meat market/pig shop I could locate as being around the University in the 1930s. At any rate what is cool about this wooden sign is it is the oldest, shortest lived, and only trophy to never change hands from Minnesota in the Iowa - Minnesota rivalry.

Two detail shots showing some signatures, the most notably absent signature is Coach Bernie Bierman.