1936-1945 - The Cleveland Years

Podcast Ep. 2017:1 – Going back to the Cleveland Rams with author James C. Sulecki

The Los Angeles Rams originated on the shores of Lake Erie as the Cleveland Rams in the 1930s. Managing editor Derek Ciapala sat down with James C. Sulecki, author of the new book “The Cleveland Rams: The NFL Champs Who Left Too Soon, 1936” to talk about the team’s rather unknown history. From Homer Marshman to Bob Waterfield, Sulecki shows how the fortunes of the Rams could have been different from what we know today.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Gerald Reynolds

    February 7, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Its great that he took time to write this book and its a part of Rams history and I didn’t listen to the whole interview as its 30 minutes long and its now late at night here in SoCal but, the one thing I do know is one huge motivating factor for the Rams to move to LA in 1946 was the city of Cleveland leased out the only stadium in the city to the Browns of the AAFL and the Rams who had just won the NFL title didn’t have a place to play. How do you lockout a team that just brought a title to your city?

    Dan Reeves had been wanting to go to LA for years and after the War was over the league saw the potential of expanding to the west coast.

  2. James Sulecki

    February 12, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Hi Gerald. Thanks for listening in to the interview and for your comment.

    You’re right: The stadium issue was a factor in the Rams leaving—though that card has been a bit overplayed, as I note in my book. Cleveland Stadium was a publicly owned facility that easily could have accommodated both the Browns and the Rams, just as the L.A. Coliseum hosted both the Rams and the Dons. In fact, in late December 1945, just weeks before the Rams left Cleveland, Browns owner Mickey McBride announced he was willing to share Cleveland Stadium by potentially playing his games on Friday nights so that the Rams could continue playing on Sundays.

    Barring even this, the Rams could well have continued playing at League Park, which Reeves said in his post-championship-game elation might be expanded by 10,000 seats the following season. However, as you say, Reeves had wanted to go to L.A. for years, so McBride’s overtures probably fell on deaf ears, and any stated interest in an expansion of League Park likely was insincere.

    You’re partially right about the league seeing the potential on the West Coast. It was really Reeves who saw this, but the other owners attempted to block him from going to L.A. or even to Dallas, which was his backup choice. It was only because of the existential threat to the NFL owners’ monopoly from the AAFC’s Dons in L.A. and the 49ers in San Francisco in rapidly growing California that they finally capitulated. But even then, had Reeves failed to gain access to a stadium in L.A. within three months of his announced departure from Cleveland, guess where the other NFL owners would have had him play in 1946?

    Cincinnati.

    Long story short, the stadium drama was mostly a backdrop to a much larger skirmish of very wealthy team owners jockeying for the most favorable market conditions for their businesses. Sound familiar?

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