In welcoming the Rams back to Los Angeles, I present to you to a revisiting of the history of the Rams in Los Angeles.
My first day on the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum field, running an out pattern and catching a pass thrown by one of my childhood L.A. Ram heroes, in front of my father, a lifetime Ram fan. This sounds like a great story already… Let me give up some more detail. These were pre-digital days, my father brought an Instamatic camera to commemorate the date for history. After 45 years let’s go back and review.
A day in the life of a Rams fan: June 28, 1970.
It was my only time on the field, the pass was thrown by defensive back Clancey Williams, one of six Rams players present for the event, and I was just shy of my 9th birthday. My father had received tickets and brought his oldest son, which fortunately, was me.
The 1969 Rams had opened the season 11-0 with eventual league MVP quarterback Roman Gabriel leading 3rd year coach George Allen’s team. A loss to the Vikings in week 12 ended any undefeated dreams. The playoffs were not hosted by the team with best record, but rotated yearly, so the Rams knew their playoff run would start in Minnesota. Rams did not win another game that season, losing their final two regular season games before the Divisional Playoff match-up. Outdoors in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Rams built a 17-7 halftime lead, but 10 degree weather (-1 wind chill), and a safety that I still see in my minds eye regularly, led to the first of the Vikings cold weather wonders, defeating the Rams 23-20. The Vikings then went on to defeat the Cleveland Browns for the NFL Championship, and into Super Bowl IV as the NFL favorite over the Kansas City Chiefs from the American Football League, losing 23-7 and securing an overall .500 mark (2-2) for the AFL in the four Super Bowls prior to joining the NFL.
Back to 1970, my father arrives at the Coliseum, and we make it to the field where I with dozens of other children listen to each player impart some wisdom which, has long since escaped me. Then we would run some light drills and get a player autograph. The I was there moment!
Keep in mind, Instamatic camera. I imagine my father, a huge Ram fan, was still quite frugal, 6 players, 6 pictures. The Los Angeles Rams players I met that day, in no particular order, with a brief player bio and photo description.
Alvin Haymond #23-
Kick off and punt returner, led the league in punt return average in 1969 (13.8) and in kickoff return yards in 1970 (1,022). Listed as a defensive back on the roster, but was used almost strictly as a kick returner. My favorite player. Haymond returned the second half kickoff on opening day 1970 for a touchdown against the St. Louis Cardinals in the Coliseum, that game was blacked out locally, we will get into black outs more later.
You can just make out my cowlick at the bottom of the photo to the right, just under the sun hat. Does it look like Alvin and my pop are having a stare down.
Doug Woodlief #57-
Linebacker and career Ram, after just completing his 5th and most productive season with the team, it was also his last.
Woodlief was out of football before the 1970 season started. He had started 11 games the prior season, coach George Allen was big on defense, but he liked older experienced defenses.
This time, if you look to the bottom left of the frame. See the cowlick? That’s me.
Jack Pardee #32-
Linebacker, college Hall-of-Fame. The only person to be a head football coach in college, the Canadian Football League, the World Football League, the United States Football League, and the National Football League. 1970 was the last of 14 seasons for Pardee with the Rams, he followed George Allen and his “Over the Hill” gang to the Washington Redskins.
I think it’s him anyway. He’s wearing Pardee’s uniform, he’s there with several other bonafide Ram players, and look, there’s my cowlick!
Clancy Williams #24-
Cornerback, another career Ram, Clancy had some big interceptions, including returns for touchdowns against the Colts and the Packers in a division rivalry games.
I am assuming that my father was more adept by now with the camera and timed this picture just a smidgen better than the previous, or later, images, my best guess is that is my arm waving the autograph sheet in Clancy’s face.
I can’t see the cowlick here.
Nate Shaw #44-
Defensive back, an All-American in college out of USC, Shaw was beginning his second and final year with the Rams and in the league.
This was obviously a defensive day for the Rams and the crowd, even though they had a league MVP at quarterback, George Allen touted his D.
Bam! Cowlick in front.
Ritchie Petitbon #17-
Defensive back. Pettibone had quite a career with the Chicago Bears before coming to the Rams, and also followed coach Allen to the Redskins in 1971.
Apparently I was wearing Packer colors to the event… they didn’t sell team jerseys to the public in 1970.
There’s the cowlick!
This is the welcome piece, after 21 years it took a few weeks for me to accept not that the Rams are coming back, but how I will accept them. I didn’t have much to compare this to, after much reflection I can be the bigger person and accept the Rams back in the fold.
My cowlick hasn’t been gone as long as the Rams, but I’d welcome it back too.
More LA Rams history coming.