cover image When All the World Was Browns Town

When All the World Was Browns Town

Terry Pluto. Simon & Schuster, $25 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-684-82246-4

Cleveland Browns fans still nursing a broken heart over the departure of their cherished football team from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996 will find this account of the 1964 season appealing on two levels. Pluto (sports columnist with the Akron Beacon Journal) does a thorough job in recounting the events that led to the 1964 season, including the firing of legendary coach Paul Brown in 1963, and gives a brief description of each game in the year. He then details Cleveland's victory over the Baltimore Colts in the championship game. Browns fans old enough to remember the last championship will no doubt find lots of warm memories in Pluto's account, while younger fans will learn about the different personalities that comprised the '64 squad. Pluto interviewed nearly all the major players of that team, and describes not only how they performed as football players but provides an update on their lives after football as well. He also gives Browns' backers additional ammunition to fuel their hatred of team owner Art Modell, who orchestrated the move from Cleveland. Modell, who had overcome the fans' anger over his firing of Paul Brown by fielding a winning team, found himself the target of the fans' wrath once again in 1964 when he refused to allow the game to be televised in the Cleveland area even when it became clear the game would be a sellout. As Pluto notes, actions such as the TV blackout demonstrated Modell's fundamental misunderstanding of Browns fans who solidly supported the team until Modell abandoned Cleveland for greener pastures in Baltimore and became public enemy number one in his old town. (Sept.)