Last week I wrote a blog about my feelings concerning the Old Browns, or I should say the Ravens, going to the Super Bowl again. In the article I mentioned that my dad had season tickets in 1965 and all week people have been asking me about that, so I thought I would share my memories about that season.
My dad had season tickets to all the home games of the Cleveland Browns in 1965. He got them from his cousin Harvey who had purchased a color TV from a store that was running a promotion that previous summer. If you bought a new color TV from them, they would give you season tickets to the upcoming Browns’ games. Harvey didn’t like football, as his interests were car racing, so he gave them to my dad.
The tickets weren’t for any particular seat. They were actually vouchers that you had to trade in each week and they would assign you seats. You could end up sitting anywhere in the stadium, and we did. I don’t remember all the games, but I do remember mostly sitting in what would be the right field area of the stadium probably the 25 or 30yard line - right behind one of the support beams that held the upper deck up. If you remember the old Municipal Stadium, you know what I’m talking about.
I had to go to Sunday school at our synagogue, but on game day, I got to leave early when my dad would come get me. I loved seeing him show up at the door to the classroom. We would drive down, and after parking the car, we would walk over to a deli near the stadium and pick up a couple of corned beef sandwiches to take to the game with us, then sit and eat while we watched the teams warming up on the field.
Of course, the games were exciting - especially to a 14 year old who had never been to a Browns’ game before. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was Jim Brown’s last season playing in the NFL. I don’t remember too much about the individual games at this point, but I do remember watching him. Seeing him take the pitch out and run the sweep with two or three defenders hanging on his back was incredible. It seemed he was unstoppable. One of the games that stands out in my mind was against the Minnesota Vikings when we sat behind home plate. That would have been great for baseball, but it was the end zone for football. All you could see was the game either coming towards you or going away from you. In those days, the goal posts were H shaped and on the goal line. The Browns had the ball on the one yard line facing us. Frank Ryan handed the ball to Jim Brown who jumped over the line, grabbed the goal post with his forearm, and pulled himself over the line for the touchdown. That just can’t be done anymore!
That game was also very special because they were filming the movie, The Fortune Cookie, in town. It starred Walther Matthau and Jack Lemon. The story was about a cameraman who was hit by a football player on the sideline, and his ambulance-chasing lawyer/brother-in-law. The lawyer has his brother-in-law fake an injury so they can sue the player. Billy Wilder was the director and he wanted to use the Browns in the movie since they were the defending NFL champs that year, so there were extra camera crews filming the game to use footage for the movie. They announced before the game started that if you wanted to come down on Monday, you could get in for free and watch the actual filming. There would be door prizes given away too. I guess they wanted to get a crowd there. The Browns lost that game 27-17. They played so flat that day my dad thought they were camera shy. I think it was the only game I saw them lose!
I remember how cold it was during those games. The wind coming off the lake would whip through the stadium and chill you to the bone. After one game my feet were in pain they were so cold. But, it was all worth it and was so much fun to be there - the dark stadium, The Cleveland Browns, the crowd, the excitement, the corned beef sandwiches, and the memories with my dad.