To say that Earl Webb is a part of L.A. Harbor College athletics is an understatement. His jolly, happy-go-lucky attitude makes it evident that he’s not a coach, and his rotund, worn-out and sluggish physique make it clear that he’s not an athlete.
“The bottom line,” said Harbor assistant basketball Coach Jim White, who has been at the school since 1968, “is that Earl is a cheerleader, scorekeeper and statistician. He’s the rock of the place. He’s what Harbor College is all about.”
Webb, 60, is more of a behind-the-scenes guy. He is the encyclopedia of Harbor athletics. He can tell you all about the 1960s, the good old days in the Harbor football program when the Seahawks went to two bowl games and the state playoffs under Floyd (Scrappy) Rhea.
He can give vivid details of the basketball team’s 1975 state championship victory under White, who stepped down as head coach in 1980.
Webb can describe the key plays and the rowdy postgame celebration in 1978 when the Seahawks won the state baseball title. And he remembers when Rhea slapped a referee in the face with the ref’s hat after an unfavorable call and when Rhea threw ice at a player.
And though his memory often fails him, Webb even remembers the first time Harbor beat El Camino College in football in the 1957 Turkey Tussle and the last time Harbor’s football team went undefeated (1964).
“Anyone who wants to know anything about Harbor records or stats,” said Harbor Athletic Director Jim O’Brien, who is also the baseball coach, “should talk to Big Earl. He knows everything. He’s got nothing but Harbor blood. His loyalty is unbelievable.”
The time Webb contributes to Harbor sports is strictly his own. His official job title is physical education facilities attendant. He spends 40 hours a week inside a cage in the men’s locker room.
The facility is definitely not fancy. It’s primarily a storage area for athletic equipment.
Webb spends his days surrounded by helmets, shoulder pads, jerseys. His duties include distributing towels and lockers to physical education students, selling canned sodas and washing uniforms.
It takes about two days to wash all the football uniforms. Webb dedicates Mondays and Tuesdays to getting the dirt and grime off them and restoring them to their original bright blue and gold.
He doesn’t mind because he’s a football fanatic. Webb hasn’t missed a Harbor game since he started working at the school in 1957.
Harbor football Coach Chris Ferragamo, who also played football at the school, considers Webb a precious part of the athletic department.
“He’s always been there,” Ferragamo said. “When I played in 1958, Earl was there. He’s the cornerstone of the school. He’s a fixture.”
About the only thing Webb wouldn’t do for his favorite sport at his favorite school is coach. He played two years of high school football and was a high school official for 20 years, but coaching, he says, is out of the question.
“I wouldn’t do it,” Webb said, “‘cause kids nowadays are terrible. They cuss out the coach and walk right off the field.
“I don’t even want to be on the sidelines. The kids are always arguing and making rude remarks. I don’t need that.”
So Webb travels with most Harbor athletic teams, keeps statistics, announces home baseball games and cheers for the Seahawks. He cheers a lot.
“I’m a miserable loser,” Webb said, “even though I’ve learned to lose a lot because Harbor has lost a lot. But I can get awful mean and ugly.
“There’s an old poem that says something like ‘If I am defeated, I can stand in a corner and wave as the winners go by. . . .’ Not me. I’d be cussing and giving them the finger. I love winning and I love when Harbor wins.”
He’d love to see all Harbor teams succeed, but nothing would make Webb happier than the return of the Rhea football glory days.
“Scrappy was a story and a half,” Webb said. “I loved him and I loved those days.”