Waxing Nostalgic (Bay Area Sports Memories)

Since I don’t post on here all that much I’ll start with a quick self-intro. I was born in 1967 and lived in Walnut Creek from 1973-78, so that’s pretty much why I’m here. My favorite Raider growing up as a child in the bay area was Cliff Branch; maybe because I had two big brothers and I was the little fast kid.

After living in the bay for some time I moved to Hawaii, Olean (NY), Ann Arbor then Seattle before coming to Taiwan in 1996.  Taiwan is 15 hours ahead of Raider Nation’s capitol, which is one reason I don’t post that much; the other being that I’m generally not a big fan of internet arguing; I find it draining and pointless.  Taiwanese wife, two kids, Sagittarius, agnostic/atheist, thc enthusiast.  Politically?  Well, I believe strongly that – ok never mind, I’ll fill you in when we meet.

Two Bay Area sports memories in this post:  The day Rickey went for 118, and 70s Cal hoops.

During the 1982 season a buddy and I would take BART from Walnut Creek to the Coliseum to see the A’s. We probably went to 5-10 games that year. We’d go at least 2 hours early to watch batting practice and shag fly balls – or get them tossed to us by yelling the player’s names (we got balls from Grant Jackson and Chet Lemon among others).  Then of course try to get the balls signed (best get: Gaylord Perry).

So, as I recall Rickey was on 115 steals going into the last game of a home stand, if he’s going to get Lou Brock’s single-season record of 118 in front of the home fans it has to be this afternoon.  I don’t even recall the opponent offhand (still have the program in a box in my parents’ basement, I think).

In the first inning he gets on and steals 2nd and 3rd to get to run his tally to 117.  Then he doesn’t reach base on his next at bat…and then again.  Now, heading to the 8th or 9th, he’s due up for his last chance.  But as he’s on deck, with the bases empty, the 9th place hitter, Fred ‘the Chicken’ Stanley, a career .200 hitter, is walked on 4 pitches. It appears to be to intentionally clog the base paths, and the fans start getting testy.

Next, Rickey reaches, a walk (if I recall correctly), putting he and Stanley on 1st and 2nd.  As there are less than 2 outs, and nothing at stake in this game besides the record, Stanley promptly wanders off 2nd and gets himself picked off to clear a path for Rickey.  Now the fans are pumped.

The pitcher throws to first at least five, maybe ten times in a row.  Boos getting louder, tension building.  Finally, on the first pitch to the plate, Rickey takes off.  Bang bang play – and he is called OUT.  Complete shock in the house. How could this have happened?

Then, somewhere, fans start chanting Bull-Shit and I swear it was less than 2 seconds before it spread to the entire Coliseum, a thunderous chant of “BULL SHIT BULL SHIT.” I’ve never seen anything like that, it was completely amazing (slightly terrifying actually).

The call, however, stands (no review then of course, as I recall the play really was about as close as it gets) and … we all go home ticked off, only to see Rickey break the record a few nights later in Milwaukee.

So that’s my A’s story.  Wonder if anyone on here was also in the house that day…?  Or watching / listening live…?

Here’s my Cal hoops connection, it’s not as much a story as a bunch of related memories. One of my friends at Valley Verde Elementary was the son of Dick Davey, UC-Berkeley assistant hoops coach who later went on to coach at Santa Clara for many years.

So I got to be a ball boy for a couple of seasons—two or maybe three I’m not sure. Had to Google to clarify my hazy memories around this and realized why, this would have been roughly 1974-77, so I was little.

When I started we had, as I recall, Carl Bird and Ray ‘Sugar Bear’ Murry, and I thought I remembered Doug West #32 but a search confirms that was actually Doug True.  Most memorable player was Gene Ransom, a 5’9” Robert Pack-type point guard who was a lot of fun to watch.  Ricky Hawthorne.  And who could forget Tom Schneiderjohn because of his funny name.

Biggest star we played against was Marques Johnson. I remember it was a big deal whenever UCLA came to town.  Also I remember getting James Edwards (and legendary UW coach Marv Harshman) to sign my program; Edwards in a towel, post-game. Oh and Bill Cartwright led a talented USF team we seemed to play every year (Wilfred or maybe Winfred Boynes anyone?) (Ah: it was Winford Boynes). Also got Rick Barry’s autograph once when he sat a few rows behind our bench.

One of the other assistants was Bill Berry who had a son named Ricky, who was also a ball boy. This is the Ricky Berry who was drafted high by the Kings and killed himself in 1989.  I don’t remember much direct interaction with him. He was a head taller than us, a few years older. I do remember hearing stories of how he was dominating his youth leagues.

I also went to several Cal football games in this period and was lucky enough to see one year of the Steve Bartkowski / Wesley Walker / Chuck Muncie (and Jim Breech) era and then into the Joe Roth era (sad story there).  Best memory of Cal football, besides Bartkowski’s long bombs to Walker, and Chuck Muncie being great, is those chocolate malt ice cream things they used to sell (red & white, Carnation maybe, with the flat wooden spoon).  Hey like I said, I was nine.

Later my friend moved to Santa Clara when his dad took an assistant job there and I was invited down for a weekend of being a ball boy, where I got to shag the bricks of Kurt Rambis.  Final memory: getting home after a game, my friend’s dad loudly announced that we had exactly 20 seconds to get into our pjs, brush our teeth and be in bed. Then he starts counting down. I’m not 100% sure if he’s kidding but the absolutely terrified reaction by my buddy, tearing full-speed for his bedroom, indicates this is serious, possibly life-threatening.  I remember his dad was an ex-Marine, wonder what the discipline must have been like when I wasn’t around.

And that concludes this edition of Bay Area Sports Memories.  Bet some of youse guys got some too.  Let’s hear ’em! Still a ways to go ‘til training camp…

Written by: Tony Rasmussen

Edited by: Kenny Stapler