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RAMS GO FOR GOLD : For Fans, Not a Very Fond Farewell : Reaction: They recall team’s glory days in Southern California, hope NFL owners will block St. Louis move.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Andrew Kulick cried Tuesday when they became the St. Louis Rams. His association with the team, up close and from afar, spanned more than 25 years and included three generations, from his father to his three sons.

Tuesday was not an easy day.

“How can I describe my feelings,” said Kulick, a 36-year-old Canyon Country resident. “I had three dreams. To pass the bar exam, to have a wife and family and to see the Rams win a Super Bowl. I’ve done the first two, but I’ll never fulfill that last dream.”

The Rams ended a year of speculation Tuesday by announcing their move to St. Louis. Long before the deal was signed, Southern California Ram fans could read the writing on the wall.

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Some took it hard, while others clung to slim hopes like the National Football League meetings in March, in which the Rams must win approval from at least 23 of the 30 team owners.

“Well, the NFL hasn’t said it’s done yet,” said Kevin Steputis, a 35-year-old Santa Ana resident. “I guess that’s all that can stop them. I’ll be a Ram fan forever, but I won’t get to see my team.”

Many felt that loss, maybe none more than Kulick.

He became a fan through his father, Sherman Kulick, who died in 1993. Sherman was a season-ticket holder from 1946 through 1979.

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During the lean years, starting in the late 1950s, Kulick said, his father gave Ram players $100 gift certificates, good at any of his 10 jewelry stores, for every victory. The Rams won only 25 games from 1959 through 1965.

When he was 10, Andrew Kulick began working in his father’s store in Long Beach because it was where most of the Rams came to cash in the certificates.

“I met Charlie Cowan, Deacon Jones, Roman Gabriel,” Kulick said. “That’s the only reason I would work there.

“I still have a photo of my dad and Lamar Lundy after the team won the (Coastal Division) title in 1967.”

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Sherman Kulick stopped going to Ram games when the team moved to Anaheim, refusing even to attend the 1980 Super Bowl between the Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers. His son went without him.

“My father was bitter about them leaving Los Angeles,” Kulick said. “But he loved the team. When they lost that game, I drove to his house and he was waiting for me on the porch, crying. He loved the Rams, no matter where they were.”

Now they will be in St. Louis, leaving other fans who have followed the team since it moved from Cleveland before the 1946 season.

Charles Adair attended Los Angeles Dons games in the 1940s, but switched to the Rams when they arrived. He has been a season ticket holder ever since.

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Adair, 78, has seen attendance at games rise and fall for 49 years. He said the fans would have come back. All it would take is a winning team.

“I just haven’t understood what they’ve been doing for the last eight years,” said Adair, a Cerritos resident. “I think Georgia’s a great lady. I envy any woman who is worth $200 million. I can’t marry her because I’m already married, but I envy her. But I don’t think she got the proper people to run the team.”

Adair and his wife, Ruth, eagerly followed the team down to Anaheim in 1980.

“All I remember from the first game was all those nice drinking fountains,” Adair said. “The restrooms were right there and I didn’t have to run through the parking lot. We loved Anaheim Stadium.”

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Orange County residents were even more excited.

“We were an hour closer to our Rams,” said Tustin resident Don Comstock, 41. “The only thing that bothered us was they were still the Los Angeles Rams. They should have changed to the California Rams.

Many Ram fans were left pondering their football future.

“I guess I’ll become a Chargers fan,” Adair said. “They seem to know what they’re doing.”

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Some were just stunned.

“I thought they might move, but I didn’t think it would happen this year,” Todd Davis said. “I thought we might have another year or two. The team was getting better; we just needed a little more improvement.”

Davis has not missed a Ram home game since 1985, when they reached the National Football Conference title game.

“We’d get to the stadium between 8 and 9 a.m. and have a good lunch and see some friends who live in other cities,” he said. “After the game, we’d play catch until the cars cleared out. I enjoyed my Sundays.”

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As did Kulick.

“When I was 12, I had to go in for surgery on a Friday,” he said. “I told the doctor I had to be at the Ram game on Sunday. He told me if I could walk a half-hour after the surgery, he’d let me go. Well, I got the nurse to help me and I was walking a half-hour after the surgery.

“My dad picked me up and we went to the game. Willie Ellison went 80 yards on the first play. I was jumping up and down so much, I ripped the stitches out.

Said Davis: “I wish the fans had more of a say-so.”

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Comstock said he was in the same restaurant as Ram owner Georgia Frontiere in Sedona, Ariz., on New Year’s Eve. He was introduced to her and her guests.

Said Comstock: “I pulled her hairdresser aside and asked him if the team was leaving Anaheim. I figured, if anyone knew, he did. He said, ‘God yes, the deal’s been done for three months.’

“I told Georgia how sorry I was that the team was leaving and she said, ‘Oh well.’ That was it. I had to walk away.”


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