Super Bowl Party 49er Chatter

After you prepare the chicken wings and the nachos for this Sunday’s Super Bowl party, you can memorize some fun 49ers history factoids to share with friends.

The “49ers” comes from the name given to thousands of prospectors who arrived in San Francisco in 1849. Many took off from The City to head for the hills in Northern California in search of gold.

The San Francisco Forty Niners, Ltd. is the legal name of the team. Formed in 1946 as a part of the All American Football Conference, the team joined the National Football League in 1949 when the two leagues merged. That makes the 49ers the oldest major professional sports team in California.

In 1965, the majority ownership of the team, a total of 55%, was held by two women. The founder of the team was Tony Morabito, joined by his brother Vic as a junior partner. Tony died in 1957 of a heart attack, sitting in Kezar stadium watching his team play. A note was passed to the players that their founder was dead. They came from behind and won a 21-17 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Brother Vic and Tony’s widow, Josephine, continued their majority ownership. Josephine was one of the first women ever to hold a majority ownership in a professional sports team. In 1964, Vic had a fatal heart attack. So in 1965, the majority ownership was held by the brothers’ widows. They owned the team until 1977 when they sold their shares to the DeBartolo family.

The men still dominated on the field. The star quarterback in the 1960s was John Brodie. He started with the 49ers in 1957 and was the quarterback from 1961 to 1973. This clip is not great quality but gives a quick recap of his career:

In the 1960s, women were not considered able to manage a sports enterprise. They hired Lou Spadia as 49ers president to deal with the operations of the team. Josephine’s 1995 obituary by staff writer Stephen Schwartz in the San Francisco Chronicle says, “The women were considered to be more knowledgeable about football than many men, but they considered the game to belong to a ‘man’s world.’ While the relationship between Spadia and the ‘Morabito ladies,’ as they were widely known, was not always cheery, they deferred to him.”
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Go Get’um 49ers!