Stalwart Ram Fans Have a Ball in San Francisco

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

At the posh reception in the Golden Gate Way ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Saturday night, even the food symbolized the fan loyalties for the game between the Rams and 49ers, who face off under cloudy skies today for the NFC Championship.

The Rams people dug into pizza from a station at "Hollywood and Vine," surrounded by movie posters and stuffed pink flamingos. The 49ers piled their plates from a boatload of seafood a la Fisherman's Wharf.

Los Angeles Rams owner Georgia Frontiere swept into the party fashionably late, sparkling in an amethyst necklace and bead-splashed turquoise chiffon dress. "I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it," she said. "It's going to be the Rams all the way."

Not all Rams fans can get invited to parties at the Hyatt. But the hundreds of Rams supporters who made it to San Francisco for the game to decide the NFC's Super Bowl team found the city teeming with football fever, undampened by the rainy weather. None of the Rams' fans lacked for spirit either.

At San Francisco International Airport, Yvonne De Jon of Long Beach was decked in Ram colors--a blue and gold Bermuda-style hat, with a football-helmet charm dangling from her neck, and a Rams' jacket.

She and others gave a boisterous hello to the city when they arrived on a Saturday flight from Long Beach.

"Is that for Joe Montana?" she gently chided an airport porter pushing a wheelchair.

"No way. Go 49ers," he shot back."

De Jon and her friends arrived early enough on Saturday to greet Rams players as they checked into their hotel.

"I've got on my (Rams) colors, right down to my blue bra," De Jon boasted.

Closet Rams fans cropped up at the unlikeliest of places. At Candlestick Park, where the game will be played this afternoon, groundskeeper John Gilledo, 24, said he was only sporting a 49er hat because he works there.

"I'm a Rams fan," he said. "I have a hunch that they are going to win."

Late Saturday night, 30 members of the Rams Booster Club climbed aboard a bus for a night of revelry. Waving a banner and blowing horns, the group charged into the lobby of the West Hotel at the airport, where the players are staying, in hopes of finding some of their heroes.

"You blew it," a hotel clerk said. "You're about an hour late."

But they were lucky enough to find defensive back Kevin Greene, who found himself surrounded by well-wishers.

"This is great," Greene said. "We're getting great support. I'm happy to see all these smiling faces."

Some Ram boosters made a stop by the offices of the San Francisco Chronicle, taping a banner to the window that read "Watch Out, the Rams Booster Club was here." They were steamed about an article in Saturday's paper describing them as lousy fans.

"We're really mad," said Joanie Feria of Glendale. "We won't wear white shoes after Labor Day." That crack was in response to the article's suggestion that Ram fans were even bad dressers.

There were plenty of non-Ram fans in town, of course.

"I hate the Rams," said Manny Robleto, a San Francisco policeman. "I'm hoping it's going to be a 49er blowout."

At the Hyatt party, 49er owner Edward DeBartolo Jr. apologized about the weather.

"Sorry about the rainy weather," he told some Rams people. "I don't think it will affect the game that much. In fact, it may help the offense."

The $40,000 party, attended by nearly 400, was for team owners, their staffs, sponsors, and the media.

Someone jokingly noted the Hollywood theme and asked: Doesn't San Francisco know that the Rams are from Orange County?

It was a festive mood, whatever the theme. But one element missing from the 6 to 8 p.m. party was the players.

Dick Beam, director of operations for the Rams, explained they were in team meetings.

"Then it's two hours of free time, when they'll go into their hotel rooms, watch some TV, and play some cards. They'll have their meal at 9:30--hamburgers, fried chicken, salads, that kind of stuff--and curfew is at 11."

Former Rams defensive end Jack Youngblood, now a Rams broadcaster, confided he would rather be resting up to play in the game instead of rubbing elbows.

"We'd all like to be 28 and out there playing the game," he said. "It was a very exciting time for me, and right now I know the Rams are trying to relax. You get stressed out just trying to relax. Tomorrow morning, they will get up at 6 and drink six gallons of coffee, have a little breakfast and load up on the carbs (carbohydrates)."

For those without tickets, the 49ers booster club was selling them for $300 each. Some of the Rams booster club members were worried they would get tickets at all.

It wasn't until Wednesday that 18 tickets were made available to them. And that was only because booster president Larry Kenemore called Georgia Frontiere at her hotel in New York. The club actually wound up getting more tickets through the 49ers booster club, which made 50 tickets available at the regular price.

Two Ram fans, Beth Fisher, 14, and her sister, Karilyn Fisher, 21, had a special reason for making the trip. They got a call from Coach John Robinson himself after the Rams beat the Giants last week.

Beth Fisher said he told them: "Make plans for San Francisco."

Robinson is engaged to their mother, Linda Fisher, owner of a modeling agency in Anaheim. The daughters said they think the wedding will be next month.

"We usually just go to home games, so this is real exciting," Beth Fisher said.

The Rams supporters were having fun, but anxious for victory.

"The Rams are going to be the team of the '90s," predicted Jim Ort, a charter member of the Booster Club.

But most fans will likely agree with 49ers owner DeBartolo.

"All I know is it's going to be a great game," he said.

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