Further Confessions of a Season Ticket Holder
by John Delach
These confessions involve snow, always a possible factor in late season games. First up, 1964, the beginning of our discontent. How did our proud team that went to the NFL Championship Games in 1961, 1962 and 1963 shatter and collapse and fall to last place? By early December, all hope was lost so when the Minnesota Vikings came to town. They dealt my team their ninth loss of the season by the score of 30-21 but I decided to take my revenge as they took the field for the second half.
As their star, quarterback, Fran Tarkington jumped out from the third base dugout, I let fly a snowball aimed for his back. My throw was lame, but the snowball landed close enough to get the attention of one of their linemen. Caught in the act, I froze as this big man looked back at me with an expression that said: “Boy, are you nuts!”
One cold December afternoon after an overnight snow fall found Geoff, Bill and me at a meaningless game at the end of another losing season. We came prepared fortifying ourselves with two pints of whiskey to defend against the elements. Recollections are vague, but I do recall fans throwing snowballs toward the field and some serious troublemakers trying to light the wooden bleachers on fire.
After the game ended, we infiltrated the Stadium Club, Yankee Stadium’s private member’s only watering hole to extend our celebration. Still thirsty, we stopped at a bar on 161st Street for a last libation for the road before trekking up to the Grand Concourse for home bound taxis. Geoff caught one for Kingsbridge and Bill and I piled into a second for his place in Parkchester.
I was on the edge, but Bill was a goner. We made it back to his family’s place where my family was also waiting. Bill was out for the count, puked and went to bed. Somehow, I persevered but a double plus unhappy Mary Ann was forced to drive home.
Bill called me at work Monday morning. “What do I owe you for the cab ride home from the stadium?”
“Nothing, Bill, we are squared away.”
“No really, John, what do I owe you?”
“Nothing; Before you passed out in the cab, I told you to give me your wallet. I used your money to pay for the cab, so you owe me nothing. By the way, you tip well.”
(Authors note: I did repay Bill, but that exchange was worth it.)
Both experiences can’t compare to the great Meadowlands snow ball game. The stadium managers had failed to remove the snow that fell before the Giants last home game on December 23, 1995, a game the Giants would lose to San Diego Chargers 27-17.
Dave Anderson recalled what occurred in The New York Times in January of 2014 as a reminder of what could happen during Super Bowl XLVIII scheduled for the new stadium (not yet called Met Life Stadium.)
On Wednesday of that week, about 12 inches of snow fell. By game time Saturday, the bulk of it had been removed from the aisles and the 75,000 seats, but much remained under the seats. Some of that snow had frozen. And with the Giants about to complete a 5-11 season, several of the 50,243 spectators began to throw snowballs, if not iceballs, onto the field. Soon, hundreds were throwing them.
One of the iceballs struck the Chargers’ equipment manager, 60-year old Sid Brooks, near his left eye. Knocked unconscious, he regained consciousness in the locker room.
When the snowball throwing continued, the referee Ron Blum threatened to declare a forfeit. He did not, but Wellington Mara, a Giant owner, said later that Blum “would have been justified” to rule a forfeit. The Giants later took a full-page ad in a San Diego newspaper apologizing for the “snowball game.”
Some 175 spectators were ejected and their season tickets confiscated. 15 were arrested. Jeffrey Lange, 26, of Bridgewater, NJ, identified by a widely published photograph showing him throwing him throwing a snowball, was later arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. He was convicted of improper behavior and fined $650.
Michael and I attended that game. Through the years whenever questions about that game come my way, my standard reply has been: “On the advice of counsel, neither of us can confirm or deny participation in such shenanigans.”
It is time to expunge the record and come clean.
Our caper occurred towards the end of the first half. NBC, who broadcasted the game, used an obtrusive camera to rove the sideline in front of where we sat blocking our view when the action was in front of us. This gave us, in effect, obstructed seats when it mattered most.
By the end of the first half, I’d become fed up with this obstruction. So, when the cameraman riding on his ten-foot high boom once again obstructed our view, I turned to my son and requested: “Do you think you can put a snowball inches from his wheelhouse and yet not hit him? I don’t want to see him get hurt, just give him religion.”
Michael, who had been an effective little league pitcher, put a snowball so close to the cameraman’s right ear that he ordered his crew to lower his rig shutting it down for the rest of the game.