[A tip of the ol’ cap to Redskins.com intern Mackenzie Rivers, who did the lion’s share of the work on this.]
The very nature of being a sports fan is to be a fanatic. Most Redskins fans were born that way, but some of them have very cool stories along the way.
During training camp, I had the opportunity to meet such a fan: Abram Spencer Jr., 86, who has been a season ticket holder for the last 50 years.
Over that span, Abram has been to “practically every game,” both at RFK Stadium and FedExField, only daring to miss a few in recent seasons under inclement weather.
He’s been there through four championship seasons with the Burgundy and Gold. But he wears his Redskins gear just as proudly during a loss—like the 1940 NFL Championship, which the Redskins lost 73-0.
“That was a cold, cold day,” he said, still shaking his head 72 years later. “It was cold. It was cold. That game was—Lord have mercy—that was terrible.”
Raised in downtown D.C. near Griffith Stadium, Abram was a casual Redskins fan growing up, going to the occasional game when he could.
“I remember my first game was some time during World War II,” he said. “I was there when Andy Farkas ran a touchdown back from the end zone, with Dick Todd leading the way. I guess I was around about seventeen, eighteen. I’m not too sure.”
With a little historical research, we can guess which game that was. Farkas scored on the opening kickoff of a Nov. 15, 1942 game against the New York Giants. The play—which led to Farkas’s only kickoff return touchdown in the NFL—led to a 14-7 Redskins home victory.
And sure enough, Abram would have been 16 at the time.
It took another 20 years after Abram’s first game before he finally embraced the Redskins whole-heartedly: the day the Redskins traded for future Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. Prior to that, the Redskins had never had an African-American player, alienating a large portion of the fan base.
But with Bobby on board, so was Abram, who called for season tickets the next day.
“It was when Bobby Mitchell signed, that’s right,” he said with a proud smile. “When you had the first African American on the team and what-not, I signed—right then and there. There were very few blacks signed up for season tickets [back then].”
Abram was able to cover five decades of Redskins history in the same breath, remembering Mitchell’s signing, lamenting the disappointments of the past two years, and anticipating the rookie campaign of Robert Griffin III.
“I hope [Griffin III] won’t be disappointing,” Abram muttered with a furrowed brow. “I don’t think he will, though.”
To this day, Abram continues to buy four season tickets each year, posting up in section 106 to cheer on his favorite football team.
He doesn’t make it out to as many games as he used to, but he’s happy to send his son, Abram Spencer III, and his grandsons Julian and Joshua. Just so long as he makes it out to a game early in the season, he’s a happy football fan.
“I’ve got to go the first game and the second game to make sure the people around me, the community around me know I’m still living,” he said with a grin. “I’ve still got my season-tickets and everything.”
Here’s to another 50 years, Abram!