"I could not put this book down. Through vivid storytelling and anecdotes Harvey Frommer details the great social changes of the times, the remarkable coaches and players come to life, the fears and anxieties . It's as if CBS and NBC could rebroadcast the first Super Bowl it as if it were played with today's technology and locker room access."
Ray Andrewsen, General Manager, AM 1220 WQUN, Quinnipiac University
Written by acclaimed sports author and oral historian Harvey Frommer and with an introduction by pro football Hall of Famer Frank Gifford, When It Was Just a Game tells the fascinating story of the ground-breaking AFL–NFL World Championship Football game played on January 15, 1967: Packers vs. Chiefs. Filled with new insights, containing commentary from the recently discovered unpublished memoir of Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram, and featuring oral history from many who were at the game—media, players, coaches, fans—the book presents back story and front story in the words of those who lived it and saw it go on to become the Super Bowl, the greatest sports attraction the world has ever known. Archival photographs and drawings help bring the event to life.
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MEET THE AUTHOR
Dr. Harvey Frommer received his Ph.D. from New York University. Professor Emeritus, Distinguished Professor nominee, Recipient of the "Salute to Scholars Award" at CUNY where he taught writing for many years, the prolific author was cited by the Congressional Record and the New York State Legislature as a sports historian and journalist.
His forty-one sports books include autobiographies of sports legends Nolan Ryan, Red Holzman and Tony Dorsett, the classics "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," "New York City Baseball: 1947-1957," "The New York Yankee Encyclopedia," "A Yankee Century," "Red Sox vs. Yankees: The Great Rivalry" (with Frederic J. Frommer), and "Five O'clock Lightning: The 1927 Yankees." His "REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM" was published to acclaim in 2008.
Together with his wife Myrna Katz Frommer, he has written the acclaimed oral histories "It Happened in the Catskills," "It Happened in Brooklyn," Growing Up Jewish in America," "It Happened on Broadway" and "It Happened in Manhattan."
LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW
When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl has become such a spectacle and de facto American holiday that it's easy to forget it began as a simple football game just 50 years ago and didn't even sell out the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. That inaugural event was organized to determine the 1966 professional football champion between two warring leagues that ultimately agreed to merge. The Green Bay Packers, coached by the legendary Vince Lombardi, represented the older league. The American Football League representative was fortuitous as well, in that the larger and younger Kansas City Chiefs, coached by Hank Stram, were emblematic of the upstart league's strategic originality. After a competitive first half, the savvy Packers blazed ahead. Frommer (Five O'Clock Lightning) notes that both teams were in the forefront of employing African American players. This is a well-executed retelling of the game and its surroundings from all points of view: officials, coaches, players, the media, and even fans. Among the narrative's best parts are the late Stram's detailed recollections from an unpublished manuscript made available to the author from Stram's son. VERDICT Consistently fascinating, this book will appeal to all football fans.
VALLEY NEWS - "Super Sunday’s Humble Origins Explored in Dartmouth Professor’s New Book" READ MORE
Exceprt 6, Exceprt 5, Exceprt 4, Exceprt 3, Exceprt 2, Exceprt 1
From AFL-NFL Championship Game to Superbowl 50
Chicago Tribune, January 28, 2016
When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl by Harvey Frommer, Taylor Trade, 301 pages, $29.95 Long before it became a huge, lavish, if not garish, mega-spectacle, the Super Bowl actually got off to a modest start. Harvey Frommer documents the game and all the events leading up to Super Bowl I in 1967, when it was formally known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. He relies mainly on an oral history from the players, coaches, media and more who were involved in Green Bay's victory over Kansas City. The game wasn't even close to a sellout in Los Angeles. Sports fans weren't excited about the supposed showdown following the merger of the two rival leagues. Indeed, the times were much different: Reporters actually could knock on the door and interview players in their hotel rooms during the days leading up to the game. [Photos: Bears win Super Bowl XX on Jan. 26, 1986]Frommer delivers an entertaining account of a different and transformative era for pro football. The book also has a fascinating inside look into the Lombardi-coached Packers. His players recall how the legendary coach pushed them to achieve excellence, and his intense anxiety about the prospect of defending the NFL's honor against the upstart AFL. Said guard Jerry Kramer: "Lombardi ran the show, and he was way bigger than anything and anybody we had ever seen."
"... When It Was Just A Game: Remembering The First Super Bowl reminds us why it captured the American sports fan's passion in the first place. It’s a great read ..." more
-- Jared Pendak, Valley News
"Frommer delivers an entertaining account of a different and transformative era for pro football. The book also has a fascinating inside look into the Lombardi-coached Packers. His players recall ..." more
"When It Was Just A Game is an absorbing and fascinating read, chronicling a necessary history of the turbulent 1960s that helped create a game and define the sport of pro football ..." more
-- Bob D’Angelo, Tampa Tribune
"This is a must read book with gorgeous pictures throughout...I love it and can't put it down ..." more
-- Robin Valetutto, Lincoln-Journal Star
"If you ever wanted to know everything about the first Super Bowl, the merger that led up to its creation, how the NFL-AFL rivalry started in the first place, and everything in between, noted sports author Harvey Frommer has written the perfect book for you ..." more
-- Dave Martin, Seznam novinek.
"Getting everyone on board for such a game also took a lot of work. Frommer takes all of these aspects, obtains information and stories from people who were there, and weaves them together in a terrific blend of storytelling and narrative that makes the reader truly understand what ..." more
"He’s a fantastic writer. The magic of this book are the quotes and the massive amount of back story leading up to Super Bowl I. Packers fans, sports fans ..." more
-- Russ Cohen, Sportsology.com.
"Frommer’s forte is oral history and he has assembled a great one here, filled with smaller stories from behind the scenes to go along the big stories of the Big Game. It’s an engaging time capsule ..."
-- Allen Adams, The Maine Edge Sports.com.
"This game would be a mystery to all since no one knew what the game would turn out to be....historical for all the right reasons. This book teaches us about the AFL-NFL merger, the greats Lombardi and ..." more
"... the book is far from one that is just about the sport, the players and the coaches. There are many entertaining and revealing stories about other aspects of this first “world championship” game ..." more
-- Lance Smith, The Book Review Guy.
"... Were the two league champions worthy of playing an ultimate game against one another or were media experts correct in predicting lopsided outcomes? History seems to confirm Rozelle’s prescient prediction ..." more
-- J. Kemper Campbell, Ground Zero.
"In When It Was Just A Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl, author Harvey Frommer writes about what passed for media day prior to the Green Bay-Kansas City game in Los Angeles in 1967 ..." more
-- Ed Sherman, Poynter
‘When It Was Just a Game’ Is Not Just Any Other Super Bowl Book
If you ever wanted to know everything about the first Super Bowl, the merger that led up to its creation, how the NFL-AFL rivalry started in the first place, and everything in between, noted sports author Harvey Frommer has written the perfect book for you ... more
-- Dave Martin, The Epoch Times
"You sure are a natural. I have really enjoyed the book!"
-- Dale Stram, son of Hank Stram
"An amazing oral history"
-- George Neary, Vice President of Cultural Tourism, Miami Beach
The first Super Bowl had none of the hype nor the full house that have followed since, but the game played on Jan. 15, 1967, is one of the most significant in the history of professional football.
-- Wendy Parker, Sports Biblio - list of notable football books for 2015
Frommer gives you the full background leading up to Super Bowl I—then known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game—as well as great insights into the historic game itself from his dozens of interviews of those closest to the action ... more
"Harvey, read it from cover to cover this morning. It's a masterpiece. You really outdid yourself. Vince Lombardi would have loved this book. It's a winner, he would have proclaimed. You'll love it too. Harvey Frommer, through the voices of the participants and significant others, tells a rollicking adventure of the very first Super Bowl. The material is fresh and fascinating. I couldn't put it down."
-- Peter Golenbock, author of Landry's Boys and The Bronx Zoo.
"As the Super Bowl nears its 50th birthday, Frommer (Five O’Clock Lightning), a veteran sports writer, expertly takes readers behind the scenes of the historic first game between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs on January 15, 1967. Using a slew of oral interviews from players, coaches, and league officials, Frommer demonstrates how the veteran NFL and the fledgling American Football League imposed their will on American sports and fought to dethrone baseball as the national pastime. Frommer’s well-researched account tells how the controversial merger of the two leagues, under Commissioner Pete Rozelle’s stewardship, developed American football from 14 NFL teams in 1965 to a combined 24 teams in 1966. Frommer also highlights the eccentric character of the opposing coaches, the tough Packers head Vince Lombardi and the strutting Hank Stram, as they piloted their teams, the bigger Chiefs against the more experienced Packers, to a 35-10 victory for the latter. This complete overview of the mythic first Super Bowl is a win for all football fans. (Sept.)"
-- Publishers Weekly.
‘When It Was Just A Game: Remembering The First Superbowl’ is the narrative equivalent, next best thing to having been there in 1967. Quite the flashback, definitely not a bad trip down memory lane Kansas City Chiefs the AFL & Green Bay Packers NFL, lead-up to the game, game itself and post script what is now (but wasn’t then) called ‘Superbowl’ or ‘America’s Game’, least in terms a consensus; that approaching 50 years later it is ‘both’, indisputable.
"... We went to Bart Starr's room and knocked on his door. Starr opened it, saw who we were, and ..."
Harvey Frommer published When It Was Just a Game: Remembering the First Super Bowl. It’s a combination narrative and oral history, but not just about that one game between the Green Bay Backers and Kansas City Chiefs, but the events leading up to that meeting. I found the recollections of how the media covered the event particularly interesting. Did you know it was aired on two TV networks? (I would love to see a book just on that: the behind the scenes machinations, planning, and fretting that went on as the networks and advertisers struggled to bring this to air.) Here suggestion for required readings: Frommer — whose sports books includes Remembering Yankee Stadium, New York City Baseball: The Golden Age, 1947-1957, and Rickey and Robinson: The Men Who Broke Baseball’s Color Barrier, among many others (not to mention It Happened in the Catskills: An Oral History in the Words of Busboys, Bellhops, Guests, Proprietors, Comedians, Agents, and Others, written with his wife, Myrna) — combines just the right amount of his own research with the words of those who were there. And not only the players, because they were just one segment of the participants. Coaches, team and league officials, media, and even family members share their memories as well.
Autographed, personally inscribed copies available. Contact Harvey.Frommer@Dartmouth.EDU
Nominated for Pen Award for Literary Sports Writing, 2015