|Snow at the old Met Stadium|
Winter is preferable here in comparison to the heart of the Midwest, like Missouri. A person with an Iowa background once told me there is a certain type of ice that is characteristic of the state. Be advised of this if you move there. But in Minnesota? An abundance of white fluffy snow characterizes. It tends to be a dry snow which is good.
We bundle up but we actually enjoy the outdoors in winter. The conditions further south can be blah by comparison. People just choose to stay indoors.
Remember when all our pro sports were outside here? Football games revealed to the nation our hardy qualities. The most extreme weather showed that maybe we had questionable judgment living here. We are in a position now, two days before December, of having that harshness visiting us.
It was December 4 of 1966 when an onslaught of snow befell a Vikings game. We were playing the Atlanta Falcons who were in their first season. There were 37,117 tickets sold but many fans had reservations about the conditions: Only 20,206 were used. That wonderful white snow started cascading down from the heavens at 6:30 a.m. By kickoff the snow was falling in an unyielding way. Visibility at the airport was 3200 feet. It was a struggle to keep the playing field well enough defined. The temperature was 23 degrees.
Fran Tarkenton did not play in this game. This was the chapter of Vikings history when the great quarterback was having difficulty getting along with coach Norm Van Brocklin. So Tarkenton stood along the sidelines, ironic since this game was the first time his play could have been televised back to his home state of Georgia.
Our quarterback on that snowy white day was Bob Berry. You might remember that Berry ended up having a nice tenure with the Falcons. But in '66 he and Tarkenton both had the horns on the side of their helmets. Berry had talent but he couldn't find his footing with the Vikings. On December 4 he literally couldn't find his footing. He said "I couldn't set up in the snow."
I chuckle because it seemed like a convenient excuse. He completed just 12 of 33 pass attempts but worse than that, threw five interceptions. As Keith Jackson would say, "whoa Nellie." The Vikings lost 20-13. Tarkenton later complained "I was cold." Chuckle.
Then let's consider the December 14 game of 1969. Our foe was the 49ers of San Francisco. Suddenly a snowstorm developed that dumped over two inches of snow on the field in about an hour's time. Yes, we in Minnesota are most familiar with such a phenomenon.
Met Stadium football crowds were famous for having snowmobile suits as typical outerwear. Rumor had it that fans enjoyed certain types of liquid refreshment to deal with the cold too. No one much worried about getting a DWI back then.
Officials had to sweep yard lines in order to manage the December 14 game. Those sweepers ran ahead of the plays. It might seem like a curling performance!
This time the Vikings won the weather-influenced game. Ah, Joe Kapp! Indeed this game was in his distinct era as the purple signal-caller. We loved this "man of machismo," as he was called on a Sports Illustrated cover. Kapp passed to Gene Washington for 52 yards and the key touchdown. We won 10-7. The Vikes turned the screws on the 49ers with a fumble recovery by Earsell Mackbee and interceptions by Mackbee and Roy Winston.
Don't those old Vikings names put a smile on your face? It's important for those Met Stadium memories to be preserved. The fan turnout for the Vikes win was 43,028, and yes there were countless of those snowmobile suits. Imbibing too, no doubt.
Ed Sharockman said that early in the game, players played conservatively and cautiously, most concerned with not falling down. I immediately remember Sharockman as the guy on the Vikings who was into the stock market. I remember him doing a commercial endorsement where he's reading the Wall Street Journal at the start. Those were the days when far fewer people owned stocks - it seemed like a distant novelty, reserved for very rich people.
The players were not nearly as rich as today. It was a different world, one in which we were thankful just having major league sports. The Vikings and Twins began in 1961. Before that? Well, we had the football Gophers. A much different world.
One constant all along: the vagaries of our Minnesota weather. We are about due right now to maybe get a blast. Be vigilant, as always.
- Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org