Marinette fans cheer on their team Saturday at Walton Blesch Field. EagleHerald/Nikkay Zahn
Marinette fans cheer on their team Saturday at Walton Blesch Field. EagleHerald/Nikkay Zahn
Was there a bounty on Bill Rademacher for the 1959 M&M Game?

One of the legends of Twin-City football lore attended Saturday's M&M Game. The quarterback for the Menominee Maroons in '59, Rademacher remembers his senior year M&M Game like it was yesterday.

"We won 35-14," he said without hesitation. "I remember they tried to lay me out of the game on the very first play."

Rademacher's senior year girlfriend, Virginia Danner, was a Marinette cheerleader, and that didn't sit well with the Marines, several of whom went after him on the opening kickoff.

"I wasn't a very popular guy with the Marinette gentlemen," Rademacher explained. "She was a very popular girl. I think that's why they wanted to knock me out on the first play. I kicked off, and all of a sudden I got knocked silly. But I managed to get back in there and we won the game."

After starring at Northern Michigan University, Rademacher carved out a seven-year career as a receiver/defensive back with the AFL's New York Jets and Boston Patriots. Rademacher was a special teams' ace for the Jets in their historic win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

And yet, his memories are just as fond of his Menominee days, especially the M&M Game.

"It's got a classic tradition that you just can't get away from," Rademacher said. "The heritage of this game is what makes it special. You couldn't help but to be excited. Very quality game. I still remember half the plays I was running. You could lose every game of the season, but if you won the M&M Game, you still were a star."

Marinette High School teacher Brenda Blystone was back in the Walton Blesch stands, very close to the exact spot where her husband, Romy, proposed at the 1999 M&M Game. They met on a Marine fan bus, and Blystone had planned on proposing the week after the M&M Game.

"I was mad at him because he was late for the game," she recalled.

Turns out, he was late because he went to pick up the ring before the game.

"He showed the ring to the guys at the ticket gate, and they let him in," she said.

Caught up in the emotion of the moment, Romy popped the question at the game.

"I was totally surprised," she said. "I was just kind of figuring out what this M&M Game was all about."

Because Romy was out of town on business, she attended her first M&M Game without him, but he sent flowers.

"It's been 14 awesome years," Brenda said.

Bill Krah of Menominee has seen his share of M&M Games.

"Twenty five or 30 for sure," Krah said. "Maybe 35-40."

His sons, Bill and Scott, played for the Maroons, and daughters Pam, Terri and Stacie, were cheerleaders.

Like everyone else who played in an M&M Game, Krah remembers the score his senior year.

"I played here back in 1954, and we got beat 19-7," he said. "It's just tradition - what else can you say?"

Other than the new playground, not much has changed at Walton Blesch.

"I don't think it's any different except I like what they did with the scoreboard and the plaques on the wall," Krah said.

Since he graduated from Menominee High in 1951, Ross Rynning has missed two M&M Games - because he was in the Army.

"The whole thing is to get to see more people that you never see at other games," said Rynning, who was one popular guy just beyond the south end zone.

So was Rademacher, who thoroughly enjoyed his homecoming.

"Football is big around here - that's all there is to it," he said. "Even though I played in a Super Bowl, if there is one other game I've always had in the back of my mind, it's playing in the M&M Game."