San Diego State’s Tom Ables announced with a Twitter message and email today that his national leading active streak for attending a team’s home-and-away football games has been forced to an end at 600.
Ables, 89, said two ear infections are preventing him from flying to Hawaii for No. 601 to see the Aztecs face Cincinnati Dec. 24 in the Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
“Obviously, the focus right now is on the Aztecs’ very successful season, and the upcoming bowl game in Hawaii. But please let me share with you the hurt in my heart right now. After an unbroken streak of 600 Aztec football games since I missed a road game in 1964, and a total of 770 games since I started in 1946, I am forced to miss this one because of two serious ear infections which prevent my flying.”
Ables’ 770 references two games he missed to his everlasting regret.
In 1952, he felt it was too expensive for him to travel to Hawaii to see San Diego State in the Pineapple Bowl. In 1964, his doctor instructed him to stay home with an illness from the season’s third contest.
“I should have found the money and ignored my doctor,” he told me in a past story I wrote on him.
Ables streak has been No. 1 since 2013.
Alabama SuperFan Dick Coffee died that year after he attended 781 straight home-and-away Crimson Tide games. The all-time record is held by USC SuperFan Giles Pellerin. His streak was at 797 when he died at age 91 in 1998. He suffered a heart attack while attending the USC-UCLA game.
Ables has long joked of a San Diego State game, “That’s the way I want to go.”
Such is his passion for San Diego State football, which was highlighted by the glory days under Don Coryell from 1961 to 1972.
In recent seasons, Ables has been traveling with the team. Once he began to slow down in his late 80s, he asked Aztecs head coach Rocky Long before the 2014 season if he was getting in the way.
“I don’t want to be a nuisance,” Ables said while retelling the story in an article I wrote prior to his 576th game at North Carolina’s Kenan Stadium last season. “Rocky said, ‘I’ll tell you when you’re in the way – we want you on the trips.’”
Ables’ son Ken has been traveling with him in recent years. Ken’s streak is up to 406, but Tom didn’t say in his Twitter message or email if Ken is traveling to Hawaii.
Ables’ devotion to the Aztecs began upon returning from World War II and enrolling at San Diego State. He was the school newspaper sports editor covering games. Later he was the school’s Sports Information Director.
Once he moved onto a public relations career, he served two terms as the Aztecs’ booster club president.
Ables has been to many stadiums across the country. He rates Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium crowd as the most intimidating, Wisconsin and Camp Randall the most enjoyable environment and Michigan Stadium and its fans the most overrated.
“Brady (Hoke, former SDSU head coach) will be mad at me for this, but one year we were playing well at Michigan,” he told me. “We only had about 1,000 fans, but I was down on the field and you could hear them. Something like that would never happen at Ohio State.”
Ables plans to start another streak with next year’s season opener. I responded on his Twitter page he has a couple-hundred more in him.
— Tom Shanahan (@Shanny4055) December 20, 2015