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The legend of Legends, one of Long Beach’s most respected and certainly its longest operating sports bars, goes a bit like this: Then-owners John Morris and Rams football player Dennis Harrah were in a bar in Long Beach when the big football game of the evening came on. Unlike the convenience of cable of at its beginnings and unlike the seamlessness of streaming nowadays, the bartender had to go grab the rabbit ears—an awkwardly wirey contraption catching the signals of television waves—and attach it to the bulky TV set.

Watching the bartender, the pair of business had a particularly radical idea: Screen sports outside of not just the homes of people and handful of bars, but removed entirely from the unsteady reality of home antennas.Determined to assure their patrons that they wouldn’t have to depend on a faulty antenna, they invested in massive satellite antennas that were then installed on the rooftop of 5236 E. 2nd Street in the Shore for the opening of Legends in the spring of 1979.The result? Long Beach’s first formal sports bar.

“It’s actually quite wild to think about because this was long before cable,” said current co-owner David Copley, who also owns The Auld Dubliner in DTLB. “They had these massive, 12-foot-diameter dishes on the roof and initially they were getting direct feeds off the station. No commercials or anything— so when it went to break for everyone else at home, folks at Legends were quite literally getting the unedited feed of athletes and coaches—so they were cursin’ and what not for the crowd here,” said current David Copley. “Again: it was pretty wild.”

Wild is an understatement: Given Harrah’s involvement with the birth of Legends, he brought the entirety of Rams players into Legends for its first Super Bowl in 1980 when none other than the Rams played (and lost to) the Steelers.While that wildness has perhaps morphed and evolved—there certainly aren’t a gaggle of former professional football players yelling at bulky television sets but there are plenty of passionate sports-goers throwing insults at flatscreens—that wildness has not necessarily been hindered.

Photos by Brian Addison

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