One rich element that could be found in yesteryear sports was humor.
One occasion in 1938 found two Harbor High footballers, Al Irwin
and Walt Kelly, returning on a long drive from Newport Beach to
College of the Pacific in Stockton.
In reflecting back once, Kelly, a cousin to Irwin, said, "We
agreed to take turns driving every two hours. That way, one could
sleep and the other could drive."
Kelly, a 6-foot-4 wingman, recalled, "After a long haul, I was
becoming increasingly tired and I guess my turn was becoming shorter
Kelly said, "It dawned on Al once when he took over the wheel. He
finally peered closely at the dashboard panel and exclaimed, 'But,
Walt, you only drove 10 miles.' "
In later years, Irwin returned to Newport to become the grid coach
from 1948-55, then took the grid reins at Orange Coast College and
led the Pirates to a championship in '56.
The late Jack Bell, a one-time CIF diver and a '49 halfback, had a
treasure of humor from his years of travel, but one who amused him
most in early days was Clint Eastwood.
Bell and Eastwood both served as lifeguards once at the Fort Ord
swimming pool in 1952.
Bell once said, "Clint was the craziest son-of-a-gun in the world.
He pulled a lot of pranks during Army days. One day, I asked him,
'Clint, what are you going to do when you get out of the Army?' "
Bell said, "He answered, 'I'm going to go into the movies.' That
made me laugh, but he was every bit a man's man, and a great guy.' "
Eastwood made it to the movies.
One rare episode arose one night in the early 1950s when Orange
Coast College line coach Johnny Owens swore he could see the Chaffey
College coach on the field and entering his team's huddle in the
fog-filled stadium at Huntington Beach High.
And Owens sensed the game officials didn't see what was happening.
Hence, the stocky Owens rushed on to the field in the sweep of fog
and started yelling his protest.
Unfortunately, he was badly mistaken and the officials encouraged
him to return to the sidelines.
The late Les Miller once recalled officiating a high school game
in the country and observed a talented young player drop-kicking the
ball for a field goal.
As he ran past one of the defending players, one of them
exclaimed, "Hey, Coach, what does that mean?"
During another game that season, Miller noted a referee named Bill
Foote of Santa Ana stretching away to the sidelines to cover a long
Miller said, "He was doing a good job until he assumed the lofty
pass was going way out of bounds. Hence, he reached up and caught the
ball, much to the shock of the coaches and players." It is assumed
Foote allowed the offensive team to take another play since it is
illegal for a referee to interfere with a forward or backward pass.