MCGILL: Time capsule treasures survive 25-year journey
The Word on the Herd -- Sept. 21, 2016
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The white helmet with a green block M and green facemask shows only a few scuff marks. The Jim Donnan-signed football, commemorating the inaugural game at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, just needs inflated with a little air. The green No. 91 uniform – in honor of the stadium’s opening season, 1991 – and the white No. 16 jersey – a tribute to the silver anniversary of Marshall University’s football home – may need a spin or two in the washer.
For the most part, the contents of the MU athletic department’s time capsule, which was opened last Friday, are in good shape.
“I’m really surprised by the quality,” said Woody Woodrum, who was the school’s equipment specialist in 1991, the year the capsule was dedicated. “The uniforms are pristine.”
Joan C. Edwards Stadium celebrated its 25th birthday on Sept. 7. The capsule, a 30-by-30-by-30-inch box sealed in bricks and concrete between the shrubbery that sits in front of the Shewey Building beyond the north end zone, was placed there in December 1991. A cast bronze front plate with polished raised letters – which came at a cost of $526 at the time – was fixed to the outside of the capsule. The capsule was scheduled to be unsealed this month, September 2016, at an undetermined date. We here in the athletic department chose Friday, Sept. 13.
Retrieving the contents of the box was not a simple endeavor. It required a small jackhammer and a crowbar. After carefully chipping away at the outside, Scott Morehouse, MU’s associate AD for game operations and facilities, lifted the concrete top off and looked inside.
“We pulled it back and nothing was there,” Morehouse said. “We got the top off there and realized the box is in the bottom. I never imagined it was going to be that large.
“Once we got the dirt and debris off, we see that it’s a metal lid. We tried to take a crowbar and pry it off, but we come to find out there are screwheads. What we think happened is some of the concrete fell on top of those screwheads, and the chemicals in the concrete corroded all the heads.”
It took more time to grind the screwheads off and to pry the box open. The process, he said, took approximately one hour.
“I don’t know who did it but they were very smart because they put foam insulation in there to keep the water out,” Morehouse said. “Once we pulled the contents out they were wrapped in three or four trash bags so everything was dry. They were very smart about it.”
The box contained the aforementioned helmet, jerseys and football. There were portfolios, envelopes and business cards. Joe Feaganes, who was assigned by Moon to be the capsule coordinator, placed a golf ball in there. There is a Big Green construction hard hat, a Big Green towel and numerous publications from the inaugural game and season at Edwards Stadium.
“It was probably (athletic director) Lee Moon’s idea,” Feaganes said of the capsule. “Lee kind of assigned me the job of coordinating everything to put in the time capsule.
“Honestly, I had forgotten about the helmet and a couple of the jerseys we put in there. I know Scooter Shreve, who was the director of the Big Green at the time, had tried to gather publications and media guides.”
Woodrum had recalled most of the items in the capsule, and he is pleased the pieces of Marshall athletics history survived.
“I think it was such a massive building project and they thought something should get saved from it,” he said.
Woodrum snuck his own piece of history in the capsule, too. Inside the helmet, Woodrum and his equipment staff placed two photos inside the top of the helmet. One was of Woodrum, who had written a note to himself and listed the names of the people on his staff. The other was a photo of the equipment staff.
“We thought we ought to put a picture of us in there and hide it,” Woodrum said. “Nobody will know and we can dig it out in 25 years.
“The helmet is the one thing that I thought, even if water gets to it and it gets nasty in there, the helmet will make it through,” he added. “I don’t know what else will make it, but I know that will.”
Additional items from the 25th anniversary time capsule will be covered in the coming weeks on HerdZone.com and Thundering Herd Illustrated, the official magazine of Marshall athletics.
The items will also be on display for the media to view and photograph on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at noon on the working press level of the Edwards Stadium press box prior to Herd football coach Doc Holliday’s weekly press conference at 1 p.m., in the same location.
The contents of the time capsule will eventually be displayed in Marshall's athletics Hall of Fame.