Working a 49ers-Browns Game Into My Next Jimmy Spracklin Novel

Kezar Stadium.jpg

The Niners-Browns game tonight brings to mind some research I’ve been doing lately about the 49ers in the late 1960s, when they played at Kezar Stadium, within earshot of Haight-Ashbury.

With Book 2 in the Jimmy Spracklin crime series coming out next month, I’m hard at work writing Book 3, which takes place in late October and early November in 1968. It will feature a Niners home game against the Cleveland Browns.

One thing I’ve often wondered is how the 49ers community co-existed with the hippies in Haight-Ashbury in those days. I’m assuming the Niners fans, bringing their kids to Kezar Field, must have been bemused by the hippies at first, then scared as the place became more lawless in 1968 and 1969.

In Book 3, I’m bringing an actual Niners game into the story. On Nov. 3, 1968, (Day 5 in my novel), the Niners hosted the Browns at Kezar. The Browns in those days were still football royalty, having won four NFL championships in the previous 18 years.

Quarterback John Brodie – tied with Roger Craig in my opinion as the Niner most overlooked for the Hall of Fame – led a pretty good team that year. They had just beaten a decent Lions team in Detroit, and were returning home at 4-3.

Having missed the playoffs the year before, the Browns were on the rebound. They also had a 4-3 record when they met the Niners in 1968, having clobbered Atlanta 30-7 a week earlier.

I hope the outcome tonight is different from the one in 1968. The Browns, who would go on to a 10-4 record that season, won 33-21.

The first two Jimmy Spracklin novels were set in early summer. The latest, A HITMAN ON HAIGHT STREET, is set in late June. No football. So with the next book, I plan to bring out Spracklin’s love of the Niners and show the fans, in red and gold, flooding into Haight-Ashbury after the game.

Peter Moreira