Updated, Tuesday, 2:03 p.m. ET
Dottie Hampton, the wife of longtime Jets equipment man Bill Hampton, mother of Jets senior director of operations Clay Hampton, and “unofficially one of the greatest Jets fans of all time,” died Friday night after an illness in Florida. She was 76.
Dottie made a couple of key under-the-radar contributions to Jets history along with her husband. The weather was cold and windy all week leading up to the Jets playing the Raiders at Shea Stadium for the AFL Championship on Dec. 29, 1968. In advance of that game, she sewed pockets onto the jersey fronts of QB Joe Namath and his running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.
“That was one of Dottie’s greatest contributions,” said longtime public relations director Frank Ramos. “She took it upon herself to sew the pockets onto the jerseys so players could keep their hands warm during the game.”
That may have been just the ticket for the Jets that day. Despite a wind-chill in the 20s, Don Maynard had six receptions for 118 yards and two touchdowns, George Sauer had seven catches for 70 yards and TE Pete Lammons grabbed four Namath passes for 52 yards and a TD as the Jets prevailed, 27-23, to advance to Super Bowl III.
Of course all Broadway Joe fans remember when he tried on the Hanes Beautymist pantyhose for his celebrated television spot in 1973. Do you know who went out and bought the multiple packages of full-figure pantyhose required for that commercial shoot? Dottie Hampton.
She and Bill, married 55 years, had many of the Jets players and their families over to their house during the course of each season.
“We used to have a barbecue every year at the house for the players,” Bill recalled. “And the players and their wives would come over for an evening. I’d go to bed and Dottie was still downstairs talking with them until midnight. We had a great relationship with the players. We took good care of them.”
Dottie also policed the family area, where family and friends of Jets players attended home games, going all the way back to the Polo Grounds, at Shea, and into the start of the Meadowlands years.
“She made sure she cheered the Jets on,” Ramos recalled, “and if anyone ever came into that section and started booing the Jets or rooting for the other team, she gave them the word that wasn’t tolerated in the family section.”
One last story that tells just a little more about Dottie Hampton is the spelling of her first name. Is it with an “ie” or a “y”? Said one impeccable family source: “It doesn’t really matter. She said she went by both, depending on her mood.” We corrected it briefly in this blog to Dotty but have changed it back to the original spelling.
The entire Hampton family made it down to north Florida to attend a service Friday night at the Cathedral of St. Augustine and to reminisce about someone who Ramos said, “unofficially might be the greatest Jets fan of all time.” We offer our condolences to the Hamptons.
Tags: Bill Hampton, Clay Hampton, Dottie Hampton, Frank Ramos, Joe Namath, Meadowlands, Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium
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