In front of a capacity crowd of 50,408 fans enjoying 75-degree weather, Florida State University defeated the University of Oklahoma 36-19 in the 20th annual Gator Bowl.
The game was played Jan. 2, 1965.
Quarterback Steve Tensi threw five touchdown passes, four of them to All-American wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, as head coach Bill Peterson’s Seminoles ended what was referred to as “the greatest season in the school’s football history.” The game was watched by the Gator Bowl’s biggest crowd and a national television audience.
It was the ninth win since September for FSU, a new record for the football program.
The 55 points scored by the two teams was the most in a post-season football game in Jacksonville.
• It was estimated half of America’s population saw, read or heard about the Gator Bowl game.
Writers and photographers from the wire services and about 50 newspapers were in Jacksonville to cover the game and related events.
ABC paid $140,000 for the rights to televise the game on 207 stations in its network — except Jacksonville, where it was blacked out.
Chuck Howard, producer of the 40-member broadcast team, said the “TV wizardry” included elements being tried for the first time.
Ten cameras and 13 microphones, including a camera above the stadium in a blimp, fed the game into three trailers behind the Gator Bowl. Three of the cameras were connected to videotape machines for instant slow-motion and stop-action playbacks.
It was noted that one procedure not new to televised football games was commercials. Howard said ABC had arranged with the head referee to prolong timeouts on ball exchanges to allow enough time for the network to broadcast the advertisements.
“There would be no telecast if not for the sponsors,” Howard said. “We have no apologies, though we have a policy that we will not stop a touchdown drive in crucial moments for a commercial.”
TV directors on the sidelines formerly used red or white hats to signal the officials when commercials were on, Howard said, but that embarrassed the referees, so confidential signals were worked out before the game.
The TV narration was by Curt Gowdy, an alumnus of the University of Oklahoma.
• The 20th Gator Bowl had story lines other than those related to the gridiron action.
The “biggest goof of the day” award went to the Florida Department of Agriculture’s SunFLAvor promotion. Cheerleaders chucked oranges into the stands during halftime, but with many fans paying attention to the halftime show, some were struck unexpectedly by the citrus.
A vendor from New Jersey was selling 2-foot-long plastic horns in the parking lot before the game. The horns reportedly were loud to the point of “uncounted decibels” with the resonance of the ocean liner Queen Mary’s foghorn.
According to Harry Talbert, public address system announcer, the horns were loud enough to disrupt some of the television equipment, so he asked fans to please stop blowing them. His plea came at halftime, and except for a few errant blasts, the horns were quiet through the second half.
Miss America 1964, Vonda Kay Van Dyke, was a guest of honor at the Gator Bowl brunch and was seated at the head table with her chaperone and other guests.
After sitting and watching people go through the buffet line and begin eating, but having been offered no food, Van Dyke and the other dignitaries got in the long line and waited their turn for corned beef, ham, potatoes au gratin and salad.
Asked to say a few words to the crowd, Van Dyke brought down the house when she said what she enjoyed most about football was “the passes thrown and caught.” After the laughter died down, she added, “I also enjoy the passes thrown and caught in the stadium.”
• C.D. Towers Jr., chairman of the local United Fund Drive reported the 1964 campaign was within 1 percent of its goal and only $17,000 was needed to be pledged in the last few days of the year to achieve the $1.7 million goal.
“We are most grateful to the thousands and thousands of you citizens who have given this year. We sincerely appreciate your support,” he said.
Towers also said there probably were people and businesses that had not been contacted but wanted to donate and there were potential donors who had been asked to contribute but had not yet done so.
“If there are any individuals or groups who have uncommitted funds, or if there are those who found they had a better year than they had expected, we would be happy to receive any donations they would like to make,” he said.
• The Board of County Commissioners voted to ask the city Board of Library Trustees what it would charge the county annually to provide public library service to residents of unincorporated areas.
City Council previously enacted an ordinance calling for substantial increases in fees charged for library cards for non-city residents, effective Jan. 1
Prior to the ordinance, the library system did not charge a non-city child up to age 12 for a library card. The annual fee for a non-city resident over 12 was $2. The same fee schedule applied to residents of Clay, Baker, Nassau and St. Johns counties.
After Jan. 1, the fees would increase to $5 for a library card for children 12 and under, $10 for a person over 12 and $15 for a family library card.
Board Chairman T.K. Stokes said the commissioners tried to negotiate an arrangement with the trustees in 1963 as a way to allow suburban residents to obtain free library service, but to no avail.
Commissioner Bob Harris supported a contract under which the county would pay a certain sum of money into the city treasury annually. In return, residents of unincorporated areas in Duval County would be eligible for free library cards.
In other business, the commissioners changed the name of Ginhouse Creek Court South to Colonial Court South on petition of residents along the street. One resident complained that the previous name “sounds like we have a speakeasy down there.”
• After spending a day in the woods in the rain, 31 members of the local chapter of the Audubon Society completed the 65th annual Duval County bird census.
The birdwatchers spotted 150 species of birds, including two recorded in the area for the first time: the glossy ibis and the Lincoln sparrow.
The avian census-takers covered more than 160 square miles of the county and sighted 23,452 birds, down from the 1964 results of 29,984 birds of 153 species.
A bird common to the area, the cedar waxwing, was not counted. A fruit eater, its absence was attributed to Hurricane Dora, which in September stripped trees of food.
One area included in the bird census was the Sawpit Creek Bird Sanctuary, which was owned by the Audubon Society. Birdwatcher and society member Estelle Robinson said many migratory birds stopped there each year to rest and get fresh water on their way north or south.
Asked how the birds knew the property was a sanctuary, Robinson replied, “There’s a very big sign there.”
• A U.S. Navy fireman from the aircraft carrier Shangri-La was shot in the head and critically wounded outside a bar on West Forsyth Street a few hours after the Gator Bowl game ended.
Other sailors at the scene told police the victim was Robert Claywell, 21, a mess attendant on the ship.
City Patrolman R.J. Barker found a .22 caliber automatic pistol lying in the gutter a few feet from where Claywell fell.
Barker’s partner, Patrolman J.W. Carter, questioned three sailors stationed at Jacksonville Naval Air Station about the shooting. They said the assailant had shown them the pistol moments before the shooting at a night club about half a block away from the crime scene.
The suspect, with a rabbit tattoo on his arm according to witnesses, was last seen running west on Forsyth Street. Claywell was taken to Duval Medical Center.