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Griz and Cats used to brawl in Butte

butte brawl of wild.jpg
Posted at 8:31 AM, Nov 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-16 10:33:24-05

BUTTE - It was 96 years ago when Montana State and the University of Montana decided to bring their fabled football rivalry to the neutral ground of Butte.

In fact, in the first decade, they played at Clark Park.

Now, you may think this weekend’s event is a big deal, but nearly 100 years ago, the Brawl of the Wild in Butte was a huge event.

“It was always the biggest game in Montana, and it used to be right here in Butte, from about 1926 to 1950 it was played here in Butte,” said Butte Archivist Kim Kohn.

The Butte games were front-page news at the time and people did more than just watch football.

“This was more than just two college teams meeting on the field. They had two parades; one for the Griz and one for the Cats. And people are mobbing the streets, they’ve got the cheerleaders up there, they got the game mascots,” said Kohn.

By the late 1930s, the game was moved to the newly built stadium at Butte High, which was named Naranche Stadium in 1943.

It was in 1928 when the game saw its first record-breaking crowd.

“They predicted 8,000 people in Clark’s Park. Wow, that’s amazing they could fit that many people in Clark’s Park,” said Kohn.

Of the 21 Butte matchups, Montana won 17 of the games.