Bison Game Day: For Bob Clark, 500 Bison Games in a Row Was a National Quest


Bob asked Julie if she wanted to go bowling.

“I said no, I want to go to the football game,” Julie said.

Julie was the sports fan in the family. At home, it was she who must have alerted her father when the Vikings were about to kick off. So when her older brother asked about bowling, there was no doubt what she wanted to do.

“I’ll never forget the crowd,” said Julie Baker, who lives in Fargo. “Packed and loud and really cool. “

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This brother-in-law football act is stronger than ever. So tough in the family that Bob will attend his 500th straight NDSU football game on Saturday when the Bison host southern Illinois in the second round of the FCS Division I playoffs.

Earlier this year, Bob tweeted about his journey before the Bison played at Towson University. Maryland was its 24th state to watch an NDSU football game joining a roster that includes the traditional Upper Midwest states, but also destinations like Georgia, Louisiana, Washington, California, Alabama and Delaware.

His streak began in 1982 innocently enough with friends who dubbed themselves the “Road Warriors”. That was the year they traveled to Davis, Calif., To watch the NDSU playoff game in the UC Davis playoff game.

Things got serious in the 1983 Division II playoffs when the Bisons returned to Davis for a semifinal victory and won the national title in McAllen, TX.

Clark is in an elite group, especially in the FCS.

Bob Clark's back-to-back streak began in 1982 with friends who dubbed themselves the “road warriors”.  Special at the Forum

Bob Clark’s back-to-back streak began in 1982 with friends who dubbed themselves the “road warriors”. Special at the Forum

McNeese State fan Chris Buchanan was over 500 straight games heading into the 2021 spring season. Assuming he continues – no news is usually good news in a super fan’s world – he does. is at 518 in a row.

At this rate, the close calls not to play is most likely part of the attraction. Heading into the spring 2021 season, Clark was predictably paranoid that fans wouldn’t be allowed into a game. There was work to be done for him to attend the NDSU and Central Arkansas game at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome in October 2020 – the only fall game for the Bison and was only open to a small contingent. friends and family.

Other super fans have had similar close encounters over the years. Paul Layne was preparing for his 526th consecutive SMU football game in 2020 when the Mustangs traveled to Tulane. But the Green Wave has excluded all fans of the game except family members due to the COVID-19 pandemic endangering Layne’s streak.

Thanks to the sporting director of SMU, who contacted the sporting director of Tulane, Layne lent herself to the game.

Clark had a similar nervous moment when the Bison played in northern Iowa last spring. There were no tickets available to the public because UNI’s season ticket base was greater than the number of fans allowed in the match. But thanks to a fan in Iowa State and Northern Iowa who was featured on an NDSU fan forum, he gifted Clark an extra ticket.

“There were parents who couldn’t even participate in this game,” Clark said.

In 1998, USC fan Giles Pellerin died in his 797th straight game, a streak that began in 1926. San Diego State fan Tom Ables died two days before what would have been his 788th game. in 2017. His allegiance included more than 1,000 states of San Diego. basketball games.

After last season, Tommy Ray in Alabama was 618 in a row. No word if that has continued this season, but it probably is.

One thing about Bob; he doesn’t leave much to chance. He left for the NDSU at the Youngstown State, Ohio game three weeks ago on a Wednesday, driving from Fargo to Minneapolis before boarding a flight.

“What happens when a flight is canceled on a Friday morning?” ” he said. “You are at the mercy of the airlines and when you are 1,000 miles away it is too late to drive. Especially if the wind is blowing and the snow is falling.

He left for Towson’s game on a Thursday for the same reason. Clark did not leave the streak to the airlines to cancel his flight to 500 in a row. Or most places for that matter. Julie accompanied Bob to one of the NDSU games at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, Calif., During the transition to Division I and found the pace pretty quick.

They were at a few airports, hired a car in San José, and drove to Cal Poly.

“I couldn’t follow him at the airport,” Julie said. “Bob is a nervous wreck to run out or not get a ticket or something. It’s gone from being pretty cool to being worried about not seeing a game.

Bob will tell anyone that one of the best perks has been getting to know the parents of bison players over the years. Being in the same remote destinations as they will, usually getting to know each other on the tailgates.

“When you go to Youngstown or southern Illinois, yes there are bison fans that live in the area,” Bob said. “But the group of people who are there are the parents. I stop in front of their tailgate every Saturday and am on their mailing list. That’s the fun part about it.

Bison’s current and former parents and former players are invited to stop by a celebratory tailgate in Bob’s honor west of the Dome on Saturday. It is located at the north end across from the Fargo Air Museum. A group of Bob’s friends rented a large tent.

“He’s been a catalyst for us joining Team Makers, he does a great job of being a calm and reserved promoter of the program,” said Tammi Jo Barta, who helps with the tailgate festivities.

Barta and her husband Randy have been part of Bob’s eight season ticket package for many years. There was a time when John Mark, as president of Team Makers and former Road Warrior, made a big deal out of Bob reaching 33 in a row in the 1980s. And from 1991 to 2007 Bob’s work took him. in Minneapolis but he still hasn’t missed a game.

A football match. Not a bowling game.


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