Sigmund "Sig" Harris (July 2, 1883 – November 8, 1964) was University of Minnesota’s All-American quarterback in 1902–04, for powerful teams under Dr. Henry L. Williams. He was also a plucky, 5' 5" 1/2 145-pound blocking back, punter, punt returner, and defensive safety, and played a critical role in the Little Brown Jug game between Minnesota and Michigan in 1903.
I went to Cheder. There was no other organization for Jewish education in those days. I lived some distance from the Jewish population in town. I always felt that I considerably missed Jewish life in not being in closer touch with our people.
Interested in football from a young age, he played for the Minneapolis Central High School team and distinguished himself in 1900 against the University of Minnesota football team (the Gophers began each season with games against local high school teams) when his Central team held the powerful Gophers to a scoreless tie.
The following year, Harris enrolled in the College of Engineering and Mechanical Arts at the University of Minnesota, and that season was the second-string quarterback behind "Gloomy" Gil Dobie, who later became a famous coach.
During the 1902 season, his first year as the starting quarterback, Minnesota finished with a 9–2–1 record.
He called every play during the 1903 season, as the sideline coach was restricted from calling plays during college football’s early years, when the Gophers won a share of the Western Conference title (14–0–1; Minnesota out-scored its opponents 656–12). Harris was named first team Fielding H. Yost All-American, third team Walter Camp All-American, and first team Camp All-Western.
The Minnesota-Michigan game ended 6–6 when Minnesota fans rushed onto the field and the game was called soon after because of darkness, even though minutes remained on the clock. The next day, a Minnesota custodian found a drinking jug left near the Michigan bench. Minnesota officials wired their rivals that Michigan could have the jug back by beating the Gophers on the football field, and the "Little Brown Jug" rivalry was born.
He also called every play in 1904 when the team went undefeated (13–0–0), to capture a second consecutive co-Western Conference championship. During the season, the team out-scored its opponents 725–12, with Nebraska notching the only opponent points on the season in a 16–12 contest. He was named third team Camp All-American.
Following graduation, Harris signed on as the sole assistant coach, and held that position until 1920. He even served as a substitute head coach for a game in 1922 when Williams suddenly took ill. Harris also was called upon by Head Coach Bernie Bierman to give locker room pep talks to the Golden Gophers before Michigan games during the 1930s, reminding the team of the Little Brown Jug. He would return to coaching for a brief time, but he was devoted full-time to the machinery business that he founded in 1903 and continued to head until his death in 1964.
Hall of Fame
Harris is a member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
- "Harris, Sig". Jewsinsports.org. November 8, 1964. Retrieved March 30, 2010.