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My favorite Ram-Niner games

Being from Southern California I have little use for teams from the bay area.

And it is just not sports.

Put it this way, I have two Uncles, 2 Aunts and 6 cousins that live in the bay area.

I love all of them.

But can’t stand any of them.

Here is the games I will cherish forever.

THE RENO TRIP

The year was 1981. The Rams next opponent was Frisco in Frisco.

I went to my Father’s Wednesday morning and opened the paper to see

the NFL line (remember how you had to wait till wednesday before the

line came out? What technology)

It said the Rams were getting 2 1/2 points,

I was positive it was a misprint.

I went and got the Herald Examiner and it said the same thing THE RAMS

WERE GETTING 2 1/2 POINTS!!

Now picture this, my Father and I started talking very low to each

other.

You see, in our demented Ram eyes, it was like we found the key to

Fort Knox.

Why?

cause the Rams haven’t been underdogs to the Whiners since Christ was

a Corporal.

Why were we virtually whispering? Cause we didn’t want the neighbors

to find out (my Dad has 3 acres) for a fear a rush to the betting

windows would tip off the casinos of their castrophic error.

We were in the air flying to Reno by 1 in the afternoon.

After getting a room at Harrah’s, my Dad was on the crap table.

He knew how to play craps and if the table was hot (throwing numbers)

so would my Dad.

Every $5,000 he won,we would take a cab and go to western union to

wire it back home (didn’t want it on him).

We went 4 times (sending 21,000 back) and he put $4,000 on a 2-way

parlay.

He laid 6 1/2 points taking USC against Norte Dame (Gerry Faust first

year at ND) and taking the Rams and 2 pts (went down a half pt).

USC won 14-7 that Saturday.

So it all came down to the Sunday’s Ram-Whiner game.

With less than 2 minutes in the game, Frisco led 20-17.

But, the Ram had the ball on frisco’s 24 yard line and it’s first and

ten. On first down, Tyler gains 3 yards to the whiners 21 yard line.

On 2nd down, the Rams do a play action pass and Pat Haden has a wide

open Preston Dennard open by at least 5 yards (frisco blew the

coverage) and he overthrows him by less than an arm length.

On third down they run Bryant (typical,huh) up the middle for 1 yard.

I regain my composure and say “let’s tie this sucker get the right

side of the coin and win this baby. Corral comes out for a chip shot

(20 yard line).

The view was from behind the goal post. Perfect placement by Cromwell,

Corral kicks it and to me it looked like it went thru but I notice the

frisco fans jump up at once (the ball hit the left goal post and

bounced directly back, it couldn’t be an inch or two to the right and

angle in,no,hit it straight on and bounced back.

All my Dad said was “that was a $14,000 muff”.

Ram memories are priceless (so was Corral’s kick)

MALAVASI GOES OUT A WINNER

The 1982 meeting

It was Joe Montana vs. Vince Ferragamo.

It was Wendell Tyler against the 49ers’ defense.

The Whiners grabbed a 20-7 halftime lead after Montana hit Renaldo

Nehemiah for a 29-yard touchdown late in the second quarter.

But Ray Wersching missed the extra point, which seem rather

inconsequential at the time.

The 49ers were rolling and they were certain they were playoff-bound.

Most teams would of packed it in.

But the Rams weren’t about to give in.

In a bitterly contested second half, the Rams’ defense shut down

Montana, who was 20-of-38 for 200 yards with two touchdown passes and

an interception in the first half.

Montana couldn’t work his magic in the second half.

Tyler, who would end up being traded to the 49ers in the off-

season, pulled the Rams within 20-14 on a 1-yard touchdown in the

third quarter.

Then Vinnie then threw a touchdown pass to George Farmer (REMEMBER HIM?) that put the

Rams ahead 21-20 in the fourth quarter.

The 49ers put Wersching in a position atone for his missed extra

point, but Ivory Sully slipped through to block the field-goal attempt

late in the game, ending the 49ers’ dreams of making another Super Bowl run.

And letting Ray Malavasi go out a winner.

THE 1985 MONDAY NIGHT GAME

The beginning of November of 1985 I was hired by Safeway to keep peace

between the union strikers and their replacements. In Southern

California a seven supermarket strike took place.

One of the supermarkets was Safeway.

My hours were 6pm to 6am seven days a week.

The pay was 22 dollars an hour.

Safeway’s distribution center is a city.

I never left there for the 8 weeks I worked.

There were 20 men per shift.

From diverse backgrounds.

Gang members to off duty LAPD officers.

This is where I met Bill Malavasi.

On December 9th, the Rams and Niners met on a Monday night for the

western division.title.

We just got our behinds whipped by the Saints and the Niners were

riding a 4 game winning streak.

The Rams were 7 point underdogs.

Here is just one example how cocky the bay area press was.

“Tonight’s 49er/Ram game seems like a lock.

“The Rams show up, get chased out of Candlestick and run shrieking

down the Bayshore Freeway.

“The 49ers end up in first place with a clear highway to the division

championship.”

Now you got to remember most of us have been getting 1800 checks every friday.

And it was burning holes in our pockets

Out of the 20 in my crew, 12 had some serious cash on the Rams.

Well over $20,000 (I had $1500 of it).

When Ron Brown ran the second half kickoff back for a TD.

Gang members and the LAPD officers hugging each other.

People who have not said a word to each other from the beginning are now sitting right next to each other like brothers.

It’s funny how winning changes everything.

And when Gary Green intercepted that Montana pass to seal the deal we

went nuts.

Now comes the big bet.

Bill Malavasi brother, Bryce, started for Fresno St. who was playing Bowling

Green in the California Bowl.

Bryce told his brother this game will be a blowout.

Team speed the factor.

We had to lay 9 1/2 points.

Over 35,000 on Fresno St. (3,000 mine).

Score 51-7 Fresno St.

Now everyone thinks Bill Malavasi has inside information on all games

and would not stop asking “who do you like”.

Well, just after Christmas they settled the strike.

But, my luck still was in high form.

Safeway thought they didn’t have to pay overtime.

They were wrong and I received and check for 2900.

A December to remember.

RAMS STOP THE STREAK

In a game in 1990 betwen the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers the Niners were going for an NFL record of 19 straight wins.

All they needed to do was beat a Ram team in turmoil, a Ram team the Niners beat 30-3 just 8 months earlier in the 1989 NFC championship game.

To make matters worse, the Rams would be without Henry Ellard.

No wonder why Vegas had them a 17 point favorite.

The money-line was 8 to 1

But, Fritz Shurmer put a new scheme for Montana and Company. It was called the Big Nickel.

Playing DB’s Stewart and Newman as linebackers (one of them played TE Brent Jones).

This defense bewildered the Niners so bad that they didn’t get their first 1st down until late in the second quarter.

Never has Montana looked so bad or so confused.

He threw 4 interceptions.

With the score 21-17 Rams and less than 11 minutes to go, the Niners had the Rams pinned on the Rams six yard line.

The Rams offensive line took control by dominating the 49er defense so completely that the Rams went on a 14 play 11 minute drive for a Ram TD.

The Rams stopped the Niners winning streak with a 28-17 win.

The 99 niner game was great.

But that game was in our stadium.

And we were favored against a Jeff Garcia whiner team.

The 82, 85 and 90 games were in frisco against a Montana defending Super Bowl champion niner teams.

We were so big an underdog that the money-line was 8 to 1.

You will never see that long odds again.

And every one of those games cost the niners to either not make the playoffs, win the division or set an NFL record they wanted so bad.

Any win against frisco is great.

But to me those were a little more sweeter.

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