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Y.A. Tittle ready to pass

Y.A. Tittle ready to pass

1955: San Francisco quarterback Y.A. Tittle prepares to pass in a game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Memorial Coliseum. The Rams’ Bob Griffin (58) is bowled over.

This photo by Times staffer Larry Sharkey was featured in the April 3, 1956, Look magazine as one of the top 10 sports photos of 1955. Sharkey won a prize of $100. About 600 images had been entered in the Look magazine contest.

Sharkey used a Bell and Howell Foton 35mm sequence camera set at 1/250th a second at f:4. The camera shoots at four frames a second.

One mystery on this image remains — the exact date this image was taken. In 1955, San Francisco twice played the Rams at the Memorial Coliseum.  During a Sept. 9 exhibition night game the 49ers won 31-10. I suspect this game since this image was shot under stadium lighting.

But the second contest Nov. 6, 1955 — with the Rams winning 27-14 — may have lasted into dusk, forcing the Coliseum lights to be turned on during the second half.

This photo was not published in the Los Angeles Times until 1956 after winning the Look magazine prize.


  1. December 14, 2011, 10:46 am

    I think your initial instinct is correct; nighttime game. I can't prove this, but I believe that's a "night ball", ie, white with black stripes.

    That's the ball that would have been used for a nighttime game, but I doubt they would have substituted in a night ball during a day game that simply ran late.

    By: LPB
  2. December 14, 2011, 11:11 am

    I believe your first guess is correct. Notice that the ball in Tittle's hand is white. White balls were used for night games to be better seen by the fans. The wattage of stadium lighting at that time was minimal whencompared to daylight and todays modern lighting.

    By: Richard Wegescheide

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