On a February night in 1969, some 1,600 people packed Glendale High’s gymnasium to inaugurate the school’s Hall of Fame and formally dedicate the new gym, part of a campus rebuild following an arson fire.
In 1964, a student “concerned about his grades set fire to the room in which he thought the grade information was stored,” according to Wikipedia.
Patrick Lancaster, Glendale High’s co-athletic director, said in a recent email, “It happened during spring break, the Sunday before Easter.”
The administration building was severely damaged. However, residents had just approved a bond measure and plans to rebuild the entire campus had already started, as noted in “Glendale, A Pictorial History.” Construction was completed in 1968.
On that February night, the program was mostly about the many athletes in the audience who had come from far and near.
Thirty-five sports figures were included in the Hall of Fame, dating back to Normal C. Hayhurst and Richard Ryan, coach and captain, respectively, of the 1924 Southern CIF championship football team. Twenty-four of the thirty-five honorees were there that night.
The Glendale News-Press devoted a full page to the event, with photos by Louie Deisbeck and story by sports editor Al Ames, who singled out four alumni for special attention.
“Frankie Albert made a special trip from his Pebble Beach home to receive his plaque, along with such internationally known stars of the past as sprinter Frank Wykoff, tennis player Gene Mako and the man who still holds the Dodger batting average record of .393 — Babe Herman.”
Albert was named the Southern California and State Football Player of the Year in 1937 “after leading the Nitros to a CIF championship,” according to an article by Charles Rich, Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2013, edition.
At Stanford University, his 1940 team won all their games and beat Nebraska in the 1941 Rose Bowl. He quarterbacked for the San Francisco 49ers for seven seasons, the article states.
Wykoff set a world record in the 100-yard dash in 9.4 seconds in a 1928 Amateur Athletic Union meet. He “captured a combined nine CIF Southern Section and state titles before attending Glendale Community College and USC,’’ again according to Rich’s article.
He was a three-time Olympic athlete, running the “leadoff leg on the 1928 gold medal winning 400-meter relay,” the article states. He and his team also won gold in 1932 and in 1936. The latter team included Jesse Owens and caught the world’s attention with their victory over Germany with Adolf Hitler in the audience. They set a world record that would last until 1956.
Mako played varsity tennis for four years before graduating in 1930. He went on to UCLA and played on the U.S. Davis Cup team, which beat Great Britain at Wimbledon in 1937. He won the U.S. Open men’s doubles with partner Don Budge in 1936 and 1938, before joining the Navy in 1941, according to the News-Press, May 21, 2015, edition.
Floyd (Babe) Herman was a native son who led his Glendale High baseball team to its first playoff competition in 1920. As a Brooklyn Dodger, he set batting records and inspired this city to honor its hometown hero with a ballpark of his own. In 1986, the Verdugo Little League Field on Canada Boulevard was renamed in his honor, according to the News-Press, Sept. 11, 2009, edition.
Several coaches named to the Hall of Fame were on hand that February night, including Phil Castlen, Ranier DeMandel, Gene Haas and George Sperry.
Baseball players on the list and in the audience were Bob Dillinger, Rudy Regalado, (from San Diego), Gary Sutherland and Gordon Knutson.
Former football players on hand were Chuck Arrobio and George Musacco. Another on the list was Marion Morrison, but he didn’t show. Morrison, who played championship football at Glendale High, graduated in 1925 and enrolled at USC on a football scholarship.
However, after he was injured while body surfing, he lost the scholarship. Instead, he went into acting and became John Wayne.
Tennis player Dave Reed was there, along with golfer Jerry Steelsmith.
Track and field stars in the audience included Al Lawrence, Del Smith and Steve Turner.
Players who received all CIF honors were listed on a special board. Those present included Wayne Sink, Tod Thompson, Randy Siebert, Sheridan Wise, Nelson Rising, Tom Seabold, Dennis Keller, Bob Gilleran, Ron Maire, Bob Peterman and Booth Hartley. Former stars Greg Regalado and Jack Booker were introduced.
As Bob Pedrick, Glendale High’s principal said that night, “I don’t know how Glendale ever lost a game with all these men here”
Katherine Yamada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. or by mail at Verdugo Views, c/o Glendale News-Press, 453 S. Spring St., Third Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Please include your name, address and phone number.