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The End of an Era…
The letter is one that comes from the Athletic Department Ticket Office every year.
March is the time to renew your football season tickets. Time to get yourself downtown, and in person, verify who you are and get the tickets renewed. For 49 years the ritual has gone on, but this year, it ends. The man who held the tickets in his name is no longer with us.
The year was 1964...
Bob Devaney had come a few years earlier and had quickly increased the demand for tickets. The South Stadium expansion was approved and was set to be ready for the 1964 season.
Dad had applied for tickets the same way thousands of others had. The expansion was to add about 17,000 seats, and although I’m not sure anymore, I’m guessing the number of applicants was at least that many, probably a lot more.
Driving up to Lincoln on a business trip in the early summer of ‘64, Dad decided to head down to the stadium and get a first hand look. As fate would have it, the gates to the stadium were open. The project was basically complete.
Dad walked out onto the field and stood there gazing up at the new South stadium. It was really quite an addition, totally changing the atmosphere of Memorial and making it into a horseshoe.
While standing there about the 20 yard line, a rather thin guy in a coat and tie came walking up to Dad to say hello. They exchanged pleasantries about how nice the addition looked, and Dad mentioned that he was on the list for tickets, but had yet to hear anything back from the University.
The stranger then asked Dad, that if he could pick, where would he like to sit in the new addition. Looking up, Dad said that sitting right behind the ramp-way for Section 19 would be perfect. Nobody would be sitting in front of you and you would have a clear view.
The stranger then asked what Dad’s name was and how many season tickets he was planning to buy. Dad gave his name, and then in a fateful move, said “3” to the number of seats he had applied for. Dad would later regret not saying 4, 6, or 8, because as it turned out, he “was in the right place a the right time”.
It turns out the stranger was Jim Pittenger, a man who for a very long time, would be the Ticket Manager at the University of Nebraska.
That was the day my dearly departed Dad walked into Memorial Stadium, and literally handpicked where he wanted to sit in the new South stadium with the University ticket manager standing right beside him.
Of course, it took Dad to tell the story. Maybe others got the same privilege, I’ll never know, but I’ll never forget his story about hand picking where he wanted to sit.
I’m looking at a notice from the Athletic Department that says we have until 3/28 to renew the tickets we’ve held for 49 years, a deadline we will not be meeting. We are not in position to make the necessary contribution required to keep the tickets.
Of course, the original seats that Dad picked out were lost some time ago when the University moved a large number of people from the South stadium to the North stadium. It was never really the same after that.
Still, lots of great memories come to mind. Tailgating north of the stadium in an old lumber yard lot, crawling under trains to make sure we got there by kick-off. All the great games we saw in person over the years.
It’s a nostalgic moment, to say the least. The End of an Era, and one I won’t soon forget.
My words will never do that story justice. I'll keep this short.
I'm sorry for your loss.
Thanks for sharing... very sorry for your loss.
Wow. Thank you for sharing this. Sorry for your loss.
Wow TUF. Hell of a story.
Sorry TUF. That's an incredibly awesome and unfortunate story. Thanks for sharing.
Great story and I am very sorry to hear about your loss. I'll send some prayers your families way.
I am so old, now, that I've stopped recalling the milestones I've passed in my life. Not all milestones are happy ones and that, right there, is a very unhappy one.
A wonderful story, TUF, but with a sad, sad ending. If only there was another Jim Pittenger at this time. If only.
So, we move on, huh? One foot in front of another.
To TheUnknownFan ...
Wish you could make it to our Wednesday get-together.
Your team. All the time.
Thanks for sharing. Sorry for your loss. God Bless.
We could all pitch in and share the tickets...
I'm sorry for your loss.
Stories like these, and the people who tell them, are the reason I joined and stay a member. It's more than just wins, losses, and the next QB recruit. It's our culture...our values...our shared memories, both good and bad. That, to me, is what defines us and our collective fandom.
TUF, much gratitude for sharing that poignant and touching story.
Well said, Black Hills.
Wonderful story! Sorry for your loss. It's always hard to lose a parent.
I appreciate You Sharing This wonderful Story With Us. Sorry For Your Loss. I Hope You Can Start A New Era That Means As Much As That One Did.
TUF you still have two days...don't give up now!
I'd write this in an email to the Athletic Department. You're not alone in being pushed out of long-held season tickets because of the mandatory "donations" involved with season tickets now. I'm sorry to hear of this Unknown. I'm afraid our beloved sellout streak will end when they require "donations" to put nosebleed tickets in the expanded East stadium.
Nebraska Old Gold Knights
Thanks for the comments, folks, but more than anything, I just wanted to relate the story about how we came to have the tickets we had for all these years.
We knew when Dad passed away several months ago that we weren't going to renew the tickets. Yes, I think it's a joke that you can have season tickets for 49 years in your family, and still have to make a sizable donation to simply "will" the tickets over to a surviving child. It's the age we live in.
It's part of the reason that I simply do not view sports in the same way I once did. Big time collegiate athletics is tainted. The amount of money professional athletes make to play a game is positively sickening.
Back in the days when my Dad got these tickets, they were about $5 a seat. Hard to imagine anymore.
I can remember a Sports Illustrated cover on the St. Louis Cardinals in the 60's, where it was posed as totally scandalous that the Cards had multiple guys making $50,000 a year to play professional baseball. Now we have pitchers that get paid that much for 6 innings of work with a 4.50 ERA.
The sporting world has lost a great deal of it's old innocence, and I dare say, it will never return.
In the end, it's all good. Maybe the family that nabs our old tickets can keep them for 49 years like we did. We had our turn, and it was a lot of fun.
Nice story TUF. I think you saw the best of NU football during that time. I am curious how much was the donation that the AD was asking for? Was it yearly or one time?
It's good to be the King.
Late to the original post, but thanks for sharing. I'm sorry for your loss. Incredible story. 49+ years of Husker football with your family is definitely something to cherish. I hope the next users of the tickets get a similar experience.
This post was edited by Mike Schaefer 13 months ago
Twitter: @mikejschaefer Email: email@example.com
Even later Mike, but your lateness was my happy accident. Unknown, keep on posting dude. Life is in the stories.
My sister did the leg work on that, and if I'm not mistaken, it was several thousand dollars per ticket. I think it was going to be a one time, 5 figure donation on top of the normal price for the 3 season tickets.
There might be someone else on the site here who knows the specifics of how the University handles that these days better than I.
In short, we were pretty much in the same boat as those on the waiting list for tickets. Those folks have to ante up as well. We didn't think it was right to hold tickets that long and still have to make a big donation (to us, at least) to keep them.
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