Answers to the American Archives Month 2013 Trivia Contest

5 11 2013


Our 2013 Trivia Contest featured questions about athletics at Michigan State University.  Twenty-eight people entered and two people answered all eight questions correctly.  We will be contacting the winners soon.

The staff at the University Archives & Historical Collections would like to thank everyone for playing and we hope that you will participate in our contest again next year!


1. What was the first year the Michigan State football team played in the Big Ten Conference?

b. 1953

Michigan State was officially admitted into the Big Ten Conference in 1949.  Since the football schedules are set years in advance, the Spartans had to wait until 1953 to play their first Big Ten football game.

2. Which Michigan State boxer was undefeated in every college bout he fought?

d. Chuck Davey

Chuck Davey (center)

Chuck Davey (center)

Boxer Chuck Davey went undefeated in every college bout he fought, was 3 times voted the NCAA’s outstanding boxer, and fought at the 1948 Olympics.

The other three boxers listed as choices in the contest also had notable accomplishments. John Horne won three consecutive NCAA titles between 1958 and 1960, was a two-time All-American, and competed without a regular coach, program or sparring partner.  Herb Odom (1952-1955) was back-to-back NCAA Champion at 147 pounds (1954-1955), led MSU to a 1955 team National Championship, was a two-time All-American (1954-1955), and compiled a 29-5-2 career record.  Choken Maekawa of Hawaii won the 1956 NCAA individual title and was awarded the John S. LaRowe Trophy (outstanding boxer of the tournament).  He was chosen for the 1956 U.S. Olympic team, but did not make weight at the official weigh-in and was disqualified from competition.

Note: According to the U.S. Social Security Death Index, his last name was spelled Maekawa.  In some sources, his last name is spelled Mackawa, hence the misspelling in the trivia contest.

Women's Basketball article from February 1, 1898 issue of the MAC Record

Women’s Basketball article from February 1, 1898 issue of the MAC Record

3. What year did women form their first basketball team at Michigan State?

b. 1898

The first women’s basketball team at Michigan State played against teams such as Lansing High School, the teachers from the Flint School for the Deaf, and the Michigan State Normal School (now known as Eastern Michigan University).

4. Prior to being “The Spartans,” what was Michigan State’s nickname?

d. Aggies

Being an agricultural school, Michigan State’s original nickname was the Aggies. After the 1925 name change from Michigan Agricultural College to Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, a contest was held to pick a new nickname.  Dissatisfied with the winning choice of “Staters,” LSJ sports writer George S. Alderton looked through the other entries and picked “Spartans.”  Unfortunately, it is unknown who submitted the entry.

Gideon Smith

Gideon Smith

5. What year did Michigan State’s first African American athlete, Gideon Smith, begin playing?

c. 1913

Gideon “Charlie” Smith helped the Michigan State football team score their first win against the University of Michigan in 1913.  He played until 1915, leaving with a 17-3 record.  For more about Gideon Smith, please read Steve Grinczel’s article on 

6. In 1895 Shoichi Yabina was the first Michigan State student to participate in which sport?

Shoichi Yebina (front, right side)

Shoichi Yebina (front, right side)

a. Fencing

Shoichi Yabina (class of 1895) participated in the first fencing match at the 1895 MIAA field day.  He defeated his opponent, Mr. Swift, from the Michigan State Normal School (EMU).  The sport was revived in 1924 by French professor Omar M. Lebel, and Joseph Waffa, an Egyptian student.

Note: His last name may have been spelled Yebina.

7. In May 1910 Michigan State faculty approved regulations for student athletes.  Which of these were included?

d. All of the above

The faculty regulations stated that students must compete under their own names, could not be compensated for playing and freshmen were not allowed to play intercollegiate sports.  Additionally, student’s eligibility was limited to three years, the football team could not practice until the school year started, they could only play teams from other colleges, and the number of games played was limited (9 for football, 16 for baseball and basketball).

8. What was the name of the first baseball club formed at Michigan State in 1865?

c. Stars

The Stars baseball club played against teams in the surrounding community.




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