I Was There

Januray 1, 2010

Happy New Year everyone,

As the decade closes, I thought I’d pass along a few favorite sports moments of the past ten years I had a chance to witness.

January 26, 2003 Super Bowl 37

My job was going to be easy that day. All I had to do was deliver NFL updates during the Raiders’ broadcast on KNBR 1050, as the Raiders faced the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. No sweat. The game WAS all that was going on, so I just had to watch and enjoy. Then the word came during the pregame show that starting center Barrett Robbins was missing. It turns out he made a run for the border, heading to Tijuana and then back into California. We went on a wild goose chase trying to track him down while the Bucs blew by the Raiders, 48-21 and coach Jon Gruden beat the team that traded him (yes, TRADED him ).

October 8-11, 2009 The President’s Cup

Harding Park was spruced up and re-configured, and very fan-friendly. It was a chance to watch many of the world’s top golfers, including Tiger and Phil, in an event that lacks the tension and history of the Ryder Cup but is still a good show. The top two golfers in the world were on fire, but I’ll remember the event for something else. I walked a few holes right behind Tiger and Elin as they followed the Americans at the end of Day Two. It was one of their last public appearances together before … well, you know.

August 7, 2007

I sat in the press box behind home plate as Barry Bonds did what he had done so many times before — deliver the expected. He hit a laser-shot home run to center field against the Nationals’ Mike Bacsik for #756, breaking Henry Aaron’s major league record. Although many baseball fans consider his record tainted, that wasn’t the feeling that night at AT & T Park. Bonds may well have cheated the game, but it is also true that he was a singular talent. We are realizing that more and more as we get farther away from that time.

May 2007

It was the “We Believe” days of the Warriors. Those days seem long, long ago. They bounced the #1 seed in the West, Dallas, in one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. Oracle was rocking with each three-pointer and slam dunk. A sea of yellow shirts. I never heard an arena so loud. Now, you can’t even hear an echo from that time. Baron, Barnes, Pietrus, Jackson; many of those Warriors are long gone. I Believe it will be a long time before we see a repeat.

Late May 2005

This is when one of the most improbable stories in local high school sports history unfolded. Santa Clara High School’s baseball team, which had barely made a peep in 38 years, did something unequaled in the Central Coast Section playoffs. As the 15th seed in the tough Division One, the Bruins defeated three West Catholic League schools to reach the finals. They shocked #2 seed Serra 3-1 at Serra, defeated Valley Christian in a 3-2 nail-biter at Milpitas, then knocked off St. Francis 4-0 at San Jose Municipal. They ran out of gas in losing to Mitty in the finals, but a public school with a roster of 14 players ran down three private schools with double that roster and unrestricted recruiting areas. One other team in CCS history beat three WCAL teams in the playoffs, but no team ranked so low had gone so far.

( Full disclosure: my son was #3 hitter on that team. He hit .385 in the playoffs and played an error-free outfield. Later that summer, he and a few Santa Clara High teammates also won the Palomino World Series in Puerto Rico. Those memories will be more cherished as he grows older. Cue up Springsteen and “Glory Days.” )

I sense the next decade will have even more memories and who knows? Maybe the Bay Area will have a major sports champion. Bets, anyone?

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