Last Sunday 62,982 rabid fans drove, walked or were carried by subway and bus to Yankee Stadium to see the New York Giants humiliate the San Francisco 49ers, 48 to 14, and take over first place in the NFL's Eastern Division. On the same day some 5,000 urbanites drove 75 miles the other way to see the same thing. Each week when the Giants play at home, this determined crowd of rooters joins the regular swarm of Sunday drivers in exodus from the city. They are not out to enjoy the crisp, cool air, but are headed for rooms—soon to be smoke-filled—in the Stratford Motor Inn and other Connecticut motels that lie beyond the metropolitan TV blackout curtain. Artist Marc Simont took the trip recently and sketched a variety of the pilgrims as they rooted, each in his own way, in comfortable quarters with double beds on a field of wall-to-wall carpeting. The motel provides game lineups, Giant programs and even a half-time show (next page). And when the game is over there is no excruciating chain-gang shuffle out of this stadium—the exhausted viewer can fall back on a soft pillow and take a nap before facing the drive home.
Fortified by Scotch and a picnic lunch, these married couples stare intently at the 21-inch screen. "Our husbands would rather go to Yankee Stadium." said one wife. "But we prefer the comforts of motel viewing. I mean, really, why go out there and freeze to death when you can sit in here and be warm?"
Though her husband loathes football, this knitter loves it and never misses a Giant game. "I started watching the Giants with my dad in the Polo Grounds when I was 6, but this is by far the most pleasant way to see them play."
Playing poker when the Giants have a safe lead, these season ticket holders ($80 for all seven home games) must remember the game's highlights because "our wives don't believe we drive this far to see a game that is being played next door, but, man, we can't fight the Stadium crowds."
Going to the game with their dads is a big day for the boys, even if it means being shut in. Their fathers like it, too, and agree with the one who says, "It's cheaper than buying tickets to the Stadium, kids under 12 are allowed in free and, besides, you miss all that awful after-game traffic."
At halftime, Stratford viewers—who have numbered as many as 3,000 for one game—leave their rooms to applaud the music of a Police Athletic League band from Bridgeport, Conn. In true Big Ten style, the band marches proudly in green-satin splendor, playing such college songs as On Wisconsin. For the hungry, a refreshment van zooms around the marching area selling sandwiches, beer and coffee. Inside the motel there is a quaint English tavern where non-music-lovers can stand around the bar and drink.