Rams History Trail >> Union Club of Cleveland

Union Club of Cleveland

Where: Union Club of Cleveland

Why: One of the oldest social organizations in the city of Cleveland and gathering place for many of the Rams founding investors

Now: Still located at 1211 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland

WhatThe Rams’ beginnings as an entity in the National Football League originated here. Owners Homer H. Marshman and Dan Hanna, frustrated with the financial struggles and general second-rate operation of the American Football League, met for lunch here at the end of the Rams’ 1936 inaugural season to discuss whether to stay in the AFL. “Count me out,” Marshman told Hanna; the AFL, he said, was “a failure.” Instead the two men called Joe F. Carr—Columbus, Ohio, native and president of the NFL—who encouraged the Rams to apply for entry. A few months later, on February 12, 1937, the Cleveland Rams officially joined the NFL.

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Rams History Trail >> May Company Department Store

May Company.Rams history trail

Where: May Company department store

Why: In 1936 the team’s owners gathered here for lunch every Monday after a game to tote up team expenses and chip in cash to keep the team afloat

Now: Located at 105 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland. The building currently is unoccupied except for some retail at street level (the store closed in 1993) but is scheduled to be converted to apartments

WhatIn the summer of 1936 the Rams franchise was set to begin play in the American Football League—coincidentally just as the Republican National Convention was held in the city. One of the team’s founding owners was Robert H. Gries, operating manager of the May Company and later a founder of the Cleveland Browns with Arthur “Mickey” McBride. Every Monday after each game, Gries hosted the other owners for lunch, at which they would add up on a paper napkin all of the week’s expenses, reach in their pockets, and pool their money. “I mean, it was very primitive,” said Gries’s son Robert D. Gries, long-time minority owner of the Cleveland Browns, but it pulled the franchise through its all-important first year in the post-Depression era.

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Rams History Trail >> Damon “Buzz” Wetzel’s House

Damon "Buzz" Wetzel house, Cleveland

Where: Home of Damon “Buzz” Wetzel

Why: The true founder of the Rams franchise lived here while coaching the team in its inaugural season of 1936

Now: A semi-rehabbed but abandoned residence at 7609 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland

What: The founding of the Rams usually is attributed to lawyer-businessman Homer H. Marshman, and indeed it was at Marshman’s house in the exclusive Cleveland suburb of Waite Hill that funding was lined up to launch the team in the American Football League in 1936. But it was young Damon “Buzz” Wetzel—barely out of The Ohio State University, son of a Cleveland Indians scout, and with one season under his belt as an NFL player for the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Pirates (now Steelers)—who prevailed on Marshman and other Cleveland moneymen to invest. Wetzel recruited future Hall-of-Fame coach Sid Gillman to play for the Rams, became the team’s first head coach, and served as its general manager when the team entered the NFL in 1937. In 1938 he was pushed out by many of the same investors he had brought in and never worked in the NFL again.

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