1937: On Februay13th, the National Football League grants a Cleveland franchise to Homer Marshman and Associates, a prominent group of local businessmen. It was Cleveland’s fourth NFL franchise. There had been a pair of teams called the Indians, one at the NFL’s founding and another in 1931. Cleveland was also home to the Cleveland Bulldogs, 1924 NFL Champions. The group had owned a team in the rival American Football League in 1936. That team was also known as the Rams and finished with a 5-2-2 record, second-best in the league. This new NFL franchise was a separate entity since none of the personal joined the new NFL team. The NFL Rams’ first coach was Hugo Bezdek, and he led the Rams on to the field at Cleveland Municipal Stadium for their first game in on September 10th. Unfortunately, the Detroit Lions would shut down the Rams 28-0. The Rams would get their first win 11 days later when they beat the Eagles in Philadelphia 21-3. However, the Rams would not score more than ten points in any more games that the first season finishing with a 1-10 record.
1938: The Rams, now playing their home games at Shaw Stadium, a high school stadium on Shaw Avenue in Cleveland, losing their first three games of the season before coach Hugo Bezdek is fired. The move pays off right away as a new coach as the Rams win their first three games under Art Lewis. The Rams would win only one of their final five games and finish their second season with a 4-7 record.
1939: The Rams return to Municipal Stadium as rookie halfback Parker Hall makes a big splash earning MVP honors as the Rams finish with a .500 record for the first time at 5-5-1 under new coach Earl “Dutch” Clark.
1940: The Rams would stumble in Dutch Clark’s second season as coach falling back below the .500 mark at 4-6-1.
1941: Daniel F. Reeves and Fred Levy, Jr. purchase the Rams. The Rams get the new ownership group off on the right foot by winning their first two games. However, they would not win again and closed the season with a 2-9 record.
1942: With new owners Daniel F. Reeves and Fred Levy, Jr. enlisting in the Armed Forces, Bob Kelley is named club secretary. After three seasons in Municipal Stadium, the Rams decide to play their home games at League Park. The Rams would finish the season with a 5-6 record in Dutch Clark’s final season as coach.
1943: Daniel F. Reeves buys out partner Fred Levy Jr., as the Rams are forced to suspend operations due to wartime travel restrictions and lack of manpower.
1944: The Rams resume operations with an expansion style roster full of free agents and castoffs. Under coach Buff Donelli the ragtag Rams get off to a great start winning their first three games. However, their inexperience would catch up to them as they won just one of their next seven games to finish with a 4-6 record.
1945: After coach Buff Donelli joins the military, General Manager Charlie Walsh names his brother Adam as the team’s new coach. Bob Waterfield, a quarterback drafted in 1944, joins the team and leads the Rams to their first division championship with a 9-1 record Waterfield would become the first player ever to win the NFL MVP by a unanimous vote. The highlight of the season came on Thanksgiving in Detroit when Jim Benton caught ten passes for NFL record 303 yards in a 28-21 win at Detroit over the Lions. On December 16th, on a frozen field at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the Rams defeated the Washington Redskins 15-14 to win their first NFL Championship. However, the joy for Cleveland fans would be short-lived as the Rams got approval to move to Los Angles less than a month later. As the Rams headed for the coast, a new league called the All-American Football Conference would begin play. The league was dominated by the Cleveland Browns, who would eventually join the NFL in 1950.
©MMXVI Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Football League. This site is not affiliated with the Cleveland Rams or the National Football League. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on June 18, 2002. Last updated on September 10, 2016 at 11:30 pm ET.