Every Fan Should Read The Story of Gene Moody's Life
By Randy York
Nebraska fans everywhere understand why there is no place like Nebraska, but few know Gene Moody, who will sit in East Memorial Stadium seats Saturday for a 400th consecutive home game.
That is not a typo. Born on Sept. 28, 1929, Moody is an Arcadia, Neb., native who played four years of basketball at Hastings College. During the Korean War, he volunteered to serve in the Air Force from January 1953 to 1955, stationed in Panama City, Fla., where he opened a physical therapy department in the base hospital.
The soon-to-be 88-year-old “Grandpa Gene” bought single-game tickets to all five Nebraska home games in 1955 when he returned to Lincoln to be near his very sick mother. Sensing that Nebraska football was getting good and fans were talking about sellout crowds, Gene and his father each decided to buy two season tickets. All four are still in family hands in the East Stadium Balcony since 1956 – two on the 50-yard line in row 2, section 106, and two more on the 35-yard line in row 5, section 108.
It took some digging to authenticate the facts because Gene Moody, one of Nebraska's’ most loyal season ticket holders, has never missed a Husker home football game in 62 years.
“Grandpa” Moody is also a devoted Nebraska men’s basketball season ticket holder since the 1960s when Joe Cipriano-coached teams played in the NU Coliseum before moving to the Bob Devaney Sports Center and then on to Pinnacle Bank Arena, one of the nation’s best facilities.
We also mention that Grandpa Moody was an annual Nebraska Volleyball season ticket holder when the Huskers played in the Coliseum before moving to the Devaney Center.
Longtime Volleyball Season Ticketholder Appreciates the Television Coverage on NET and BTN
“I finally had to give up my volleyball season tickets because the steps are getting harder, but I still watch every game when they’re on NET or BTN,” said Moody (with grandson Scott Degenhardt above left). Grandpa Moody watched Nebraska sweep Penn State, 3-0 Friday night on BTN in State College, setting the right tone for Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. Nebraska football kickoff against Rutgers on Homecoming.
Let the record show that Gene Moody has never booed once as a fan and that fact will never change.
“I’m just a loyal Cornhusker who’s been to a lot of games and enjoyed them all,” he said. “I haven’t missed a football game since 1955 because I love Nebraska. I told my kids and grandkids that I don’t mind my family and friends knowing about this 400-straight game milestone, but I’m not one for publicity. It makes me uncomfortable.”
When you ask Moody about his most memorable moment watching Husker football inside Memorial Stadium, he does not hesitate. “When we upset Oklahoma (25-21) and ended their long winning streak in 1959,” he said.
OU had the longest conference unbeaten streak in NCAA history – 74 consecutive wins – before quarterback Harry Tolly and guard Lee Zentic grabbed the headlines along with captains Don Fricke, Pat Fischer and Ron McDole.
Upsetting No. 1 Oklahoma in 1978 Might Be Moody’s Most Memorable Football Game Ever
“Nebraska ran onto the field, tore down the goal posts and called off classes on that Monday in 1959,” Moody said. “You never forget one like that. The police were overwhelmed. So were the fans. I also remember when we upset No. 1-ranked Oklahoma (17-14) in 1978. I think we all remember (OU running back) Billy Sims losing a fumble with about three minutes left in the game. In all the home games that I’ve watched, that just might be the most memorable one.”
Despite the historic flashbacks to Nebraska-Oklahoma showdowns, Moody is “glad that we made the move to the Big Ten, even though we are in a period that follows the golden days of Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne teams,” Moody said. “Bob won two national championships and Tom’s teams won three. The Big Ten is a tough conference to play in. We need some prestigious wins and until we get some, we need fans who will support us. I don’t go along with any boos. I never have and I never will, no matter what happens on the field or on the court.
“There’s so much parity across the country,” Moody pointed out. “We’re getting some top recruits, and that’s what it’s going to take to get back in the top 10 again.”
In the meantime, Moody wholeheartedly will support “19 and 20-year-old kids who are playing their hearts out,” he said. “I hope our fans are at their best for the Homecoming game against Rutgers. I’m pretty excited to see us play a university that won the first college football game ever played (in 1869 against Princeton).
Yes, Moody has a refreshingly sharp mind and a true heart of gold when he discusses collegiate athletics.
Even though “it’s a quite a climb to the East balcony, I love watching the game from up there,” Moody said. “I will do this until it becomes too much of a chore. I do what I always do – take it one day at a time.”
Moody Teared Up When He Followed Nebraska’s 1941 Rose Bowl Game Against Stanford
How long has Moody had that mindset? “When I became a Nebraska Cornhusker fan,” he said. “I was 12 years old when Nebraska played in the 1941 Rose Bowl against Stanford. To this day, I still remember what that 1940 team did. I can name most of the players on that roster. That is when I became a real Cornhusker fan. I teared up a bit, not because they lost. I was just a very young boy, and I was just so proud of what they did when they represented Nebraska in Pasadena.”
Scott Degenhardt, Moody’s grandson, says his grandpa “would be the last person in Memorial Stadium to think his attending 400 straight home football games is a big deal. He would say that he's just one of the thousands upon thousands who love the Huskers and stay loyal every step of the way. It is a big deal to know that grandpa was there before every game started and after every game ended. I'm 33 and I learn something from him almost every day."
Even though his last name is Moody, “Grandpa is never moody,” Scott added. “He’s always as genuine as they come. Everybody who meets my grandpa becomes an instant friend. Nebraska takes great pride in our consecutive home football sellout streak. It’s almost unbelievable that Nebraska will celebrate 357 consecutive home sellouts this weekend. My grandpa has been in his seat for every single game of our NCAA record sellout streak, plus every home game in the eight years before they even started counting.”
Now you know the truly unique and kind story of Gene Moody's humbling life and why he's such a gem.
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