“The Granddaddy Of Them All!”
Since I have attended 30 Rose Bowl games in my 60+ years (including the 2014 Stanford-Wisconsin contest…the 100th), it only made sense that on the first day in its 91-year history that the famed Rose Bowl held guided tours, I would be on it. But before I get into the tour (a must for any college football fan), I’ll tell you a little bit about attending the actual game, which has become a football tradition in my lifetime.
Although the 100th Rose Bowl game took place in 2014, the actual Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena has only been around since 1922. The Rose Bowl is called “The Granddaddy Of Them All” since it was the first bowl game. It was also the first bowl game to be broadcast on television in the early 50s and the first bowl game to be broadcast in color (1962). My first Rose Bowl game that I attended was on New Year’s Day 1960, when my dad’s alma mater, the University of Washington Huskies, throttled Wisconsin 44-8. I’ve been hooked ever since. The photo below (from the web) shows coach Jim Owens (my dad’s favorite coach) being carried off the field by his team.
There have been many memorable games, including USC’s 1963 victory over Wisconsin, one of the most exciting games played. Also the 1966 game where UCLA’s Bob Stiles stopped a two-point conversion by Michigan State in the final minute is in my Top 5 list. The photo on below is my program that has Stiles’ autograph (got it on Ebay).
The most exciting Rose Bowl contest was the 2006 game, which also happened to be for the National Championship. Vince Young scored a late touchdown and Texas edged U.S.C. 41-38 in the most remarkable sporting event I ever witnessed in person (and I’ve seen a lot). The game was remarkable, and the crowd was electric. As you can see by the above and below photo, programs have gone from 50 cents to 10 bucks. Tickets have climbed from 6 bucks to the mid $100 range…and more.
In 2013, thanks to tickets from my friends Burt and Paula, I hit #30 in Rose Bowl games attended (2014 marked #31). The hoopla before the game is always fun. There is lots of tailgating, to be sure. Many years we have just walked to the stadium from our seats at the Rose Parade and tailgated until game time (yes, numerous brain cells have been damaged throughout the decades).
It’s always cool when the B-1 Bomber flies over the stadium during the National Anthem. Fortunately, it missed the Goodyear Blimp.
Our seats were not the best (first row), which meant lots of standing, but I must admit it was kind of cool to get a new perspective from these seats.
Rose Bowl Tour
I had read in the local paper that for the very first time the Rose Bowl was going to have guided tours, so there was no way I would miss going on the first day, even at the relatively steep cost of $17.50. Tracy and I booked the 2 p.m. tour.
First, we viewed a short film on the history of the Rose Bowl, and then we visited the cramped, original 1922 locker room that had some cool memorabilia. It included a photo of the Four Horsemen (Notre Dame) and a vintage Minnesota Vikings’ pennant from one of the many Super Bowls the Rose Bowl has hosted.
They also had some of the original lockers from 1922 and a large poster of a 1947 ticket to the game ($5.50).
We visited the luxury suites that have primo views of the field and of the San Gabriel mountains ( so this how the other half lives).
I was asked to give a news conference, but our tour guide Amy cut me off, and it was on to the new locker rooms.
I’ve had apartments with less square footage than the locker rooms. The Visitors locker room has some vintage Rose Bowl photos, including one that shows the Washington Husky card section being duped by our local genius school, Caltech (who had switched the cards) in 1961. Instead of reading WASHINGTON, when the Washington students flipped the cards, it spelled out CALTECH. I was at that game.
During the regular season, the Rose Bowl is home to the UCLA Bruins, whose locker room has numerous photos of Bruin greats like Jackie Robinson.
When I was a kid, I was a huge UCLA football fan, and quarterback Gary Beban of those “gutty little Bruins” is still one of my all-time favorite college players.
At the end of the 90-minute tour, everyone on the tour received a rose (rather fitting).
I have had so many great memories of coming to Rose Bowl games here with my dad and friends that the Rose Bowl Tour was a must (I attended Rose Bowl game #31 in 2014). If you’re a college football fan, and you get the opportunity to go on this tour, I highly recommend it. And if you ever get a chance to go to the Rose Bowl Game, my guess it will be a highlight you’ll remember for years to come.