Aug. 30, 2004
EDITOR’S NOTE: Every Monday, hawkeyesports.com will bring readers a Kinnick Stadium Memory from the thousands of stories that have been submitted to the website for the 75th Anniversary of Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa’s 1968 Homecoming game against Indiana didn’t go down in any record books for posterity – no one’s records were shattered and Iowa lost 38-34. But for an 11-year-old Mark Roeder, finding a ticket to the sold-out contest remains one of his favorite Kinnick Stadium memories.
The Roeder family lived in Dubuque in the 1960s and took their ’66 Chevy Biscayne down to Iowa City on that Saturday in mid-October. And while the Roeders had already purchased their tickets, Mark used the opportunity to purchase his own with his hard-earned paper route money.
While Mark walked the east stands with a single finger pointed to the sky, his parents anxiously waited nearby knowing that their ability to attend Homecoming depended on their son’s ability to get a ticket from a scalper.
“A fellow offered to sell me one for $5,” Roeder said. “It seemed a little high priced as it was the `knothole seat’ in the south end zone.”
The frugal ticket purchaser sought the advice of his father — who had graduated from the University of Iowa only eight years prior — on the price of the inconvenient seat. But the hesitation cost the youngster what he considered the last pass to Kinnick.
“What a mistake to hesitate,” Roeder said. “My dad said, `What is wrong with you? Why didn’t you buy it?’ I was tongue-lashed, feeling very downcast.”
An especially miserable small child went back to the crowd trying to find a ticket, while his parents hoped they could use their seats on the 10-yard line, roughly 70 rows up.
“A woman walked up and had a ticket on the 35-yard line in the east stands about 25 rows up. When I asked her how much for the ticket she said, `I know of no one I would rather give a ticket away to than a small boy like you.’ I accepted the offer, found Dad moments later, showed him my ticket and told him it was free. With the passage of time, and having a child, I know now that I must have looked darn cute, darn sad or, most likely, both.”
But a couple of saviors found Mark Roeder (and his parents) on Oct. 12, 1968.
“A woman walked up and had a ticket on the 35-yard line in the east stands about 25 rows up,” said Roeder. “When I asked her how much for the ticket she said, `I know of no one I would rather give a ticket away to than a small boy like you.’ I accepted the offer, found Dad moments later, showed him my ticket and told him it was free.
“With the passage of time, and having a child, I know now that I must have looked darn cute, darn sad or, most likely, both.”
But the day hadn’t ended for the young member of the Roeder family.
While his parents hiked up the steep stairs of what was then Iowa Stadium from the concession stands after halftime, they barely noticed the announcement that recognized the dozens of Iowa State Legislators that attended the game.
However, their son had no other reaction than surprise when he heard the announcement and noticed that everyone in his section stood up – a member of the state legislature had given young Mark that complimentary ticket and helped him out of what he considered to be “a bit of a jam.”
In fact, Mark’s seat that day remained the best view of a game for 28 years, until he was able to attend the Iowa-Texas Tech Alamo Bowl game in 1996.
Mark, now a 47-year-old lawyer in Manchester, went on to earn his BBA at Iowa and then his law degree from Florida State. And even though he’s been a season-ticket holder and keeps up with the Hawkeyes today, that game in 1968 remains at the forefront his Iowa memories.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com