One of the most unimaginable treasures in M&M football lore is the fact the twin towns were the first and second opponents of the Green Packers before they became members of the National Football League.

It seems odd to lay claim to a football game when the teams lose by scores of 53-0 and 61-0 respectively. But the losses marked the beginning of one of the most storied franchises in American sports history, and Menominee and Marinette aren’t backing down one bit for claiming bragging rights.

Much has been written about how a cadre of young husky athletes assembled on Aug. 11, 1919, and organized a football team. The organizers were Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun, sports editor of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

One month later, the Packers played their first game at Green Bay’s Hagemeister Park. Two years after that (1921), the Packers made their debut in the American Professional Football Association which was renamed the National Football League in 1922.

Green Bay stuffed the Menominee North End Athletic Club 53-0 Sept. 14. One week later, the Packers clouted the Marinette Northerners 61-0 and went on to complete its first year as a professional team with a 10-1 record. The team’s only loss was in the final game of the season, a 6-0 setback at the hands of Beloit.

The Marinette and Menominee teams were on Green Bay’s schedule in 1920 when the Bays forged a 9-1-1 record, again losing to Beloit and tying the Chicago Boosters 3-3 in the Sept. 26 opener. After two seasons of nonleague action, Green Bay made the jump to the newly organized APFA. The rest is history.

After the shellacking in 1919, the M&M teams showed improvement for the 1920 meetings at Hagemeister Park. Green Bay defeated Marinette’s East End Badgers 25-0 Oct. 17, and beat Menominee 19-0 before 800 fans Nov. 20. The Marinette game was replayed in a previous ByeLines column.

Dr. Patrick “Doc” Boyle coached the 1920 Menominee squad. Frank Wescher was business manager and handled some of the coaching. The lineup included Jack Jaeger and Paul Christensen at the flanks; Benny Swanson and Elmer Christensen at the tackles; John and Joe Kellner at the guards; Wally Nieman at center; and a backfield of quarterback Alfred “Smiley” Teichler, halfbacks Eck Erdlitz and Cully Hermanson and fullback Ralph Sutliff.

Menominee had several tune-ups before its date with the Packers. The first came when Menominee ripped Gladstone 81-0 at the Menominee Fairgrounds (just north of the vacant Emerson Electric building). Other victims were Little Chute, Wis., 47-0; Iron River 12-0; De Pere 48-7; Marquette 26-0, and Iron Mountain 53-0, the latter surrendering at halftime.

With six straight wins, and outscoring its opponents 267 to 7, Menominee was a confident bunch when it visited Hagemeister Park. Green Bay had a 6-1-1 mark going into the Menominee game. Two local players, tackle Sam Powers and fullback Buff Wagner, starred for Green Bay.

Menominee stunned the Packers with a first quarter touchdown on a 25-yard run by Erdlitz. It was the first time Green Bay gave up a touchdown on its home field in eight games. Green Bay scored twice in the second quarter to take a 13-7 lead at the half, and added a third TD in the third period to lock up the win.

Wagner scored two touchdowns for the Packers, Lambeau the other. Lambeau, an extra point specialist for the Bays, missed two field goal attempts and two extra points. He was a drop kick specialist.

The game was played on a muddy field as rain fell throughout the contest. The Packers media guide places the attendance at 800. The Menominee Herald-Leader reported that half of the onlookers were from Menominee. The team and the local fans took a train to Green Bay.

The Packers considered visiting Menominee for a Dec. 5 rematch, but the game was never played. Green Bay ended its 1920 season Nov. 28 by spilling a Milwaukee squad 26-0.

With its successful season, Menominee looked forward to playing the Packers, or “Meat-men” as the Herald-Leader sometimes nicknamed them in 1921.

It was virtually impossible for a small city like Menominee, or Marinette, to advance from semipro status to professional eminence like the Packers did in 1921. Green Bay’s financial struggles in the early years of professional football are well documented.

Menominee wasn’t ready to end its season after losing to Green Bay on Nov. 21. It challenged Marinette’s East End Badgers to a Thanksgiving Day showdown. Marinette wanted to cancel the game, but eventually agreed to the matchup. The game was played at Marinette’s Eleventh Street (now Shore Drive) field. It ended in a typical Marinette-Menominee dispute that marked local sports in earlier times.

Menominee was ahead 7-0 at halftime when Marinette fans stormed the field to protest the officiating of referee Orton Keys of Niagara. Police were summoned and promptly ended the game. Coach Richard “Jab” Murray and Capt. Joe Belik issued public statements in the Eagle-Star critical of Menominee’s poor sportsmanship during the game. Coach Boyle issued a statement on behalf of the team. So did the referee and police chief. The editor of the Eagle-Star editorialized on the controversy, noting in part: “Marinette didn’t mind the penalties if the referee had seen them all.” The editor accused the ref of accepting the word of the Menominee players on the field which intensified the donnybrook.

Murray, a well-known Marinette barrister, filed a $30,000 lawsuit against the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal which claimed he inspired the mob to attack the referee. Nothing became of the lawsuit.

Menominee claimed victory because they were leading when the game was halted. The conflict was just one of many disputes in the colorful history of M&M sports.

In the meantime, Green Bay continued its activity in professional football while Marinette and Menominee resumed theirs in semipro ball under various name plates.

When the Packers come to Marinette July 11 on one of their “Tailgate Tours” in Wisconsin, local fans will be able to give them a history lesson.