March 1, 2013
STANFORD, Calif. -
Long-time followers and supporters of Stanford Athletics might not recognize the name Lou Spadia, but they should. He founded the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF) with support from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and it is home to 20 former Stanford student-athletes and coaches.
A memorial service was held this week for Spadia, who passed away at age 92. Through his vision and hard work, the accomplishments of many Bay Area sporting greats will be preserved, many with plaques at the United Terminal at San Francisco Airport. The plaques of most Stanford honorees are displayed on campus.
Spadia, formerly President/General Manager of the San Francisco 49ers, founded BASHOF to raise money for youth sports programs, primarily through a golf tournament and yearly awards dinner. This year, it will be held on May 23 at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco. Honorees are Tim Brown, Walter A. Haas Jr., Brent Jones and Dave Righetti.
Those who knew Spadia – and I was one of the lucky ones – know it was hard to say no to him. He expected those committed to his cause to do so for free, and most obliged. As golfing great Ken Venturi once said, “Lou Spadia’s first name should be ‘Crime’ because crime doesn’t pay and neither does Spadia.”
I have been a voting member of BASHOF for more than a decade and take the responsibility very seriously. The list of nominees is extensive and many qualified candidates don’t make it.
Stanford has been well-represented from the first class in 1980, when basketball great Hank Luisetti and football standout Ernie Nevers were inducted. Luisetti developed the running one-handed shot and was the first college player to score 50 points in a game. Nevers, a powerful fullback, led Stanford to the 1925 Rose Bowl and played all 60 minutes, earning Player of the Game honors.
Later, he played pro football and baseball, and is the only player to score 40 points in an NFL game. That happened in 1929 while playing for the Chicago Cardinals, when he scored six touchdowns and kicked four extra points against the Chicago Bears. Nevers (No. 1) and Jim Plunkett (No. 16) are the only Stanford football players to have their numbers retired.
In 1981, Stanford quarterback Frankie Albert and track and field star Bob Mathias were inducted. In 1984, football coach Glenn “Pop” Warner was enshrined. Multi-sport star John Brodie, who played football and golf on The Farm, was inducted in 1984. Basketball standout Jim Pollard helped lead Stanford to the national title in 1942 and made the 1989 class.
Plunkett, the school’s only Heisman Trophy winner, headed the 1992 hall of fame inductees. He was followed in 1994 by coaching great Bill Walsh, who guided the Cardinal to three postseason bowl wins and led the 49ers to three Super Bowl victories.
In 1997, three Stanford products: football standout, head coach and athletic director Chuck Taylor; basketball great George Yardley; and football coach John Ralston were inducted. Taylor, an All-America guard and one of the “Wow Boys,” was part of an unbeaten team in 1940 and helped Stanford beat the Nebraska in the 1941 Rose Bowl. Yardley, a power forward, was a two-time All-American and played seven years in the NBA, where he resides in the Hall of Fame. Ralston coached Stanford to back-to-back Rose Bowl victories in 1971 and 1972, upsetting Ohio State and Michigan.
Swimmer Pablo Morales, who captured 11 NCAA individual titles for the Cardinal, was inducted in 2000. Golfer Tom Watson, winner of eight major championships and still competitive on the Champions Tour, joined him in 2001. In 2003, quarterback John Elway, who set school career records for passing attempts and completions, and led the Denver Broncos to two Super Bowl titles, joined the hall.
Swimmer Summer Sanders was inducted in 2004, followed by tennis great John McEnroe in 2005. They were followed by a pair of Stanford coaching legends -- Dick Gould (tennis) and Payton Jordan (track and field) in 2006. And in 2007, women’s basketball great Jennifer Azzi was enshrined.
As you can see, it’s a diverse and distinguished group, representing the best of Stanford University. Thanks to Lou Spadia, their accomplishments will be preserved.
* * * Former UCLA and NBA great Bill Walton was on campus Wednesday working the Stanford-Colorado basketball game as an analyst for ESPN. Earlier in the day, he spoke to a group of Stanford student-athletes and covered a lot of ground, including his one and only recruiting visit – at Stanford – with highly-touted recruits Keith Wilkes and Greg Lee. Head coach Howie Dallmar, hoping to land all three, turned them loose on campus and finally met with them on the back patio of the Stanford Golf Course. With Dallmar within earshot, Walton suggested the trio attend UCLA, where they proved unstoppable.
Following his pro career, Walton returned to the Farm and attended law school for two years.
“It was the time of my life,” he said. “It was the only time I was a student.” Walton even won an intramural basketball title.
Love him or hate him, Walton was entertaining. A regular on Pac-12 broadcasts, he had many words of wisdom. Here’s a pearl:
“Don’t follow brain-dead people over a cliff.”
-- By Mark Soltau, Stanford Athletics
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Palo Alto native Mark Soltau has spent his whole life and much of his career around Stanford sports. A sportswriter for 35 years, Soltau spent 16 (1981-97) at the San Francisco Examiner, where he covered not only the Cardinal, but all five 49ers Super Bowl-championship teams. Golf always has been his passion and Soltau served as the sport's beat writer for the Examiner, national golf writer for CBS Sportsline, contributing editor to Golf Digest, and since 1997 has been the editor of tigerwoods.com.