Adding color to Jack Trice’s fatal game

Some years ago, I came across the only known photo of Jack Trice playing against Minnesota and it was a small, blurry, dark image. When I published that story in 2018, I hoped I would eventually be able to find something else from that game, but so far I’ve come up empty–although there are still some dark corners that I’m digging through. In the absence of an original photo, there was only so much I could do to bring Jack to life in that game.

But why stop there?

Since I have Ira Young’s 1923 Iowa State jersey and extensive knowledge of that doomed fall season, I decided to try adding color to the Minnesota game, despite the immense challenges that came with working on a small copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. (Not an exaggeration.) Across large swaths of the image, I was presented with a binary choice of black or white with absolutely nothing else. Vacillating between extremes, I teased out the tiniest specks of tonal differences and used those as a starting point.

There was also his equipment. On the left side of Jack’s head, there’s a small line that likely represented the collar of his shoulder pads peeking out, thus giving me a hint of where to apply some colors. His helmet was also the same one from the Simpson game photo the previous week, so that helped. I ended up layering 15 different shades of color on his uniform and many other tricks and barely had enough to pull it all together.

Other photos, especially the ones from spring 1923, are in a much higher quality and would be vastly easier to colorize, but don’t have the emotional impact of showing Jack minutes away from his fatal injury. This is also perhaps the final image of his life that still exists. The end result isn’t perfect, but every little step brings me closer to 1923.

Here is Jack Trice playing on Northrop Field in color.


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