Giants vs. Lions October 21, 1962
by John Delach
Authors note: Set out at the end of this post is a remarkably clear photograph taken during a game between the New York Football Giants and the Detroit Lions in 1962. It was shot from the closed end of Yankee Stadium looking out toward the outfield bleachers. The colors are so vivid that the photographer must have used Kodachrome film. My son recently discovered this photo on an obscure internet site. With my daughter’s help, we uploaded it to this post making this endeavour a family undertaking.
In 1962, at the age of eighteen, I purchased a season ticket paying for it in cash. The cost was $35.50, $5.00 dollars a game times seven home games plus a fifty cents service charge. I purchased this ticket in person at the Giants’ office then located at 10 Columbus Circle from a woman behind a barred window that resembled a teller’s cage in a bank.
At eighteen, I was over-the-top in my anticipation to begin seeing my new-found heroes in person, but the schedule delayed my quest. The New York Yankees, the prime team in Yankee Stadium, as expected, made it to the World Series where they beat the San Francisco Giants, The Football Giants were relegated to road warriors for the first four games of that season, opening with a loss to the Cleveland Browns. They made up this loss beating the Eagles, Steelers and Cardinals prior to playing their first home game in Yankee Stadium. On that delightful autumn afternoon, October 14, 1962, my brand new team of record let me down by losing my very first home opener to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-17.
The Lions were next and came into this game with a record of 4 and 1 having beaten the Steelers, 49ers, Colts and Rams but having lost to their rivals, the Greenbay Packers, 9-7.
Back then, the Giants home games had a scheduled starting time of 2:05 pm that was in deference to the then existing New York blue laws that prohibited the sale of alcohol including beer before 1 pm on Sundays. This allowed Harry M Stevens, the stadium’s concessionaire, an hour and change lead time prior to kickoff to sell his frothy beverages to the sell-out crowd. The game that day was played on a drop-dead beautiful autumnal afternoon captured in this photograph by the delightful views of the bleacher crowd basking in the mild October weather. It is mostly male and white as it would be today, but it reflected the dress standards of the time. While a good number of these men are in shirtsleeves, they wear what we would call today, business shirts. And every shirt is the same color; white.
Others have on jackets, some wear ties and some, hats too. But, not baseball caps; they sport head coverings that we used to call fedoras.
Those were magnificent times to be a Giants fan and have the privilege to have a ticket admitting you to Yankee Stadium to see the likes of Y.A.Tittle, Del Shofner, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli and Roosevelt Grier. I was a City kid without a car or a driver’s license who rode the subways to the game. My journey began in Ridgewood, Queens to Union Square where I transferred to the IRT Jerome Avenue train on the Lexington Avenue Line, (today the Number 4 train.)
Attending the games was a gift. Those train rides were exciting. VIPs rode the rails. I saw Jim Farley, the former Postmaster General and power broker board the train at 86th Street several times wearing his tweeds and carrying his walking stick. What a thrill to be in the company of a swell like Mr. Farley!
Nothing was greater than the thrill to be on that train when it broke free from the subway tunnel just south of the stadium and brilliant light flooded the cars as the train emerged into the noon time glare as the train turned north onto River Avenue. We caught an all too brief glimpse of the field as the train sped past the stadium before easing into the 161st Street station. The crowd stampeded out onto the platform, descended onto River Avenue and into the atmosphere of stale beer, cigar smoke, hot dogs, peanuts and the anticipation of the game.
The photograph resurrects memories of that day. Look at people sitting on the field. The band: wearing scarlet uniforms sits behind the end zone in left field, to the right, under the Coca-Cola sign, fans sit on folding chairs in front of the Yankees’ monuments in center field. This was where the Giants arranged for people in wheelchairs to watch the game. Most of the people in folding chairs were their companions and this was 1962, long before ADA!
Above that same Coca-Cola sign, others watch from the IRT elevated station. This prized perch was by invitation only exclusively offered on a “who you knew” basis from some unknown Transit supervisor.
The photograph captures an ordinary pass play. Y.A. Tittle (14), the Giants quarterback is setting up to throw what could be a screen pass to his halfback, Joe Morrison (40) who is moving to Tittle’s left. Ahead of Morrison, tackle, Rosey Brown (79) zones in on Lions’ outside linebacker, Wayne Walker (55). Behind them, middle linebacker, Joe Schmidt (56) is tracking Morrison but tackle, Roger Brown (76) seems to be holding back. Defensive end, Sam Williams (88) is charging Tittle unimpeded up the middle having gotten by Giants guard, Darrell Dess (62) while Giants halfback, Phil King (24) and tackle, Jack Stroud (66) double-team an unidentified Lions player, probably Alex Karras (71). Giants tight end, Joe Walton (80) is peeling off to the right on his pass route under the watchful eye of corner back, Dick Lebeau (44) while Lions outside linebacker, Carl Brettschneider (57) makes his rush from the Tittle’s blind side having beaten Giants guard, Greg Larson (53).
A marvelous photograph, the colors so vivid that they shock the senses, and yet, only a photograph of an ordinary play taken on a sunny afternoon at the big ballpark in The Bronx. Brilliant!
For those of you keeping score: the Giants won 17-14 giving the Lions their second defeat of the season.
Despite gaining revenge on the Packers later on Thanksgiving by smothering them 26-14, that was the only loss Green Bay would endure in 1962 finishing 13-1. The Lions finished second in the West with an 11-3 record losing the last game of the season in Chicago, 3-0.
The Giants didn’t lose another game that season winning the NFL Eastern Division with a record of 12-2, but we lost to the Packers in the NFL Championship Game, 16-10 in a frigid and wind-swept Yankee Stadium on December 30th.
good move…kind of like buying ibm in 1952 i remember a giants-lions game vividly from the 1958 season….it was the game they needed to win to have a shot at beating the browns in the last game of season so they could play the colts in the game that made the NFL……i remember them faking a punt and don chandler running for a first down and blocking a yale lary kick….
1958, The “Little Miracle” season.
That was really good
Your feelings really come through😘
John, great writing, must have learned about it on Remsen and Butler Streets. Your recollection is a great trip down memory lane.
John, I think that is me on elevated train station . I grew up in what today is known as the South Bronx. Back in the “Middle Ages” the area was known as “Little Italy” I remember when you got the shuttle el train from 161st Street to the Polo Grounds. Despite being a Dodger fan, we would get free tickets from PAL (Police Athletic League) . I did get to Ebberts Field a few times ,it was a long subway ride from the Bronx to Brooklyn. ( subway toll was 15 cents for over an hours ride). Once I got to meet Happy Felton , but was not chosen to be on his show ( very disappointed since I wore my uniform to the game). MEMORY LANE
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We used to go to Ebbets Field on Borden’ Elsie icecream pop wrappers. Ten wrappers got you one ticket.
What a blessing to have such good memories. Truly the good old days!!!
Thanks again for sharing.
This must have been near the end of wearing fedoras. JFK’s bare head doomed them.
You tell it good, John. Can almost hear the screeching wheels and the roaring crowd. Find more pics.
What a great read, especially for a life-long Giants fan like me. In 1962 I was 11 years old and playing Little League baseball against Andy Robustelli’s kids, Bobby and Ricky. I knew the Giants’ roster like the back of my hand. I had to wait a long time, including the Yale Bowl year before the Meadowlands, before I was able to get a season’s ticket, one of a block of tickets that belonged to a bunch of guys who’d been ‘regulars’ for decades. The name on my ticket was of one of the originals who’d died of old age years before. When one of the group passed on there was always someone invited by the group to assume that guy’s identity & ticket and preserve the integritiy of the block. The father of a buddy of mine, Mike Sabia, was one of the originals and I got to buy a game here and there when one of the regulars wasn’t going to use his ticket. Eventually, I got the opportunity to buy a post-mortem pass to the upper level at the Meadowlands. I rode the Giant fan roller coaster of lows (Joe Pisarchik’s hand off fumble to Larry Csonka scooped up by Herman Edwards of the Eagles and run back for a touchdown that snatched away a victory in the closing minute of the game) and the highs (LT’s dominance and Harry Carson picking off Joe Montana’s would-be touchdown pass and 90+ yard return for a Giant’s score in a playoff game) from that cold seat in the sky before giving up the ticket and my golf game in order to spend more time with my wife and kids. Even after living in Maine these past six years, I’ve never been colder than I was in that upper deck seat, and never more pleased to be so.
Jim, I’m so glad that you read and liked the piece and that it struck such a cord with you. The whole concept that you “rented” one of a bock of tickets that stayed in the names of the original season ticket holders is such a Giants story.Sadly, the PSLs for the new joint ended that and we long time season ticket holders said goodbye to a lot of treasured folks that last game at Giants Stadium. Two years ago, I waited until early summer for the lockout to end before I wrote to John Mara to advise him that 2011 was my 50th anniversary of being a season ticket holder. Fortunately, I still had all of the ticket stubs for the 1962 season including the NFL Championship game against the Packers and an invoice from 1971 that showed the same seat being assigned to me. I didn’t hear anything until after the first home game when I received a game ball from the opening game with my name on it. Needless to say I was thrilled. The Giants went on to win SB XLVI that year. I did have the opportunity to attend but couldn’t as I got a new hip on the Friday before it was played. Last we, I received a certificate in the mail from the Giants inducting me into their season ticket holders Hall of Fame. So I guess watching a lot of years of lousy football finally paid off. I wrote a book, “!7 Lost Seasons” those those years in the wilderness from 1964 to 1980. It’s 220 pages. Send me your address and I’ll send you a copy. John D.
Read your take on Columbus today and it led me to this, which I had missed. So nice to read as you detail who is who. When is the last time you saw Anacin offered in those distinctive tins?
I, too, loved that quick peek into Yankee Stadium, before they renovated it, as the #4 emerged from the 149th Street Station. Wonderful memories. Sorry for the very belated note.