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Rams receiver Leon Clarke and the house afire

Leon Clarke, 1933-2009

The news that Leon Clarke, a leading offensive end for the USC Trojans and the Los Angeles Rams in the 1950s, died Oct. 5 at age 76 brought back memories of the days when the NFL still played here in L.A. on Sundays -- and not just on television.

The Rams drafted Clarke in the second round of the 1956 NFL draft then after four seasons traded him to the Cleveland Browns. But the Clarke family stayed in South Pasadena (yes, instead of moving to Cleveland). Which leads us to the burning bungalow that Clarke helplessly watched from the Browns' bus as it drove to the Coliseum for a 1962 game against his former team.

Click here to read the original Times article.

-- Claire Noland

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Very interesting story from 1962. I grew up just a couple of blocks from the location, which begs the question why a bus would be passing near the location on Laurel. That address would put the house near Marengo Ave., some distance from Fair Oaks. Maybe the team was staying at the Huntington Sheraton?

In any event, I remember Leon Clarke as the Scoutmaster for Pack 7 at Marengo School in So. Pasadena, and receiving my Wolf badge from him in 1967. Needless to say, he was huge. But also able to use his NFL connections to get Merlin Olsen to speak at one of our pack meetings. Do Hall-of-Fame caliber NFL players do that sort of thing any more?

Tim, it's a good question. My guess is that some of the out-of-town NFL teams would have stayed at the Huntington hotel back in those days, to keep the players in a quieter setting the night before a game.


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