It always happens this time of the year. With March Madness in full
swing and college basketball fans from across the country in a state of
ecstasy, some people can not resist asking the same questions over and
But Carl Boldt is only too happy to offer his opinion, a firm
handshake and a nod of his head. For 11 months and several days out of
the year, he is just a 67-year-old businessman quietly living in Arcadia.
On those few days when it matters most to college basketball fans and
the 64-team NCAA men's basketball tournament has been pared down into
it's final-four match-ups like it is for this weekend, Boldt answers the
same questions over and over.
Yes, the 1956 University of San Francisco Dons was one of the greatest
teams ever. Yes, it was a great experience to play on an undefeated NCAA
was one of the greatest players ever, in his opinion.
Boldt, a former player at Verdugo Hills High and Glendale College as
well as the head coach at St. Francis High, was a starting forward on the
1955-56 Dons team that went undefeated at 29-0 to win the NCAA title. He
also played on the 1956-57 team that advanced to the final four and was
"This time of the year rolls around and inevitably, a lot of questions
from the media come my way about the USF teams and what I think about the
game today," Boldt said. "I'm proud of what those teams accomplished and
what I was able to contribute as a starting forward.
"Some guy even remarked that Michael Jordan and I each scored 16
points when our teams won the championship and I had to laugh. I may have
got 16 but I wouldn't be talking to anyone if we didn't have Bill Russell
playing center and K.C. Jones playing guard for us." Visiting Boldt at
his Arcadia home is not like taking a trip down memory lane. Framed
photographs don't line the walls and there is not a basketball in sight.
Any trophy he won over the years or ring or watch that he was presented
with has long been given away.
What does remain is the man himself, a 6-foot-5 inch man with a shock
of gray hair and a story for everything he has done in his life.
He grew up an orphan and landed in Tujunga with a foster family as a
12-year-old. He said he was a better player at Sunland Park then he was
at Verdugo Hills, because he only played one year for the Dons, as a
junior. He was ineligible for his senior year because he had played on an
Boldt credits the two years he played at Glendale College from 1951 to
1953 for head coach Abe Elliot as being pivotal in his life. He was an
All-American for the Vaqueros as a sophomore and ranks No. 11 all-time in
scoring with 1,024 points in 63 games for 16.3 points a game.
"For a lot of kids like me who didn't have families, playing at
Glendale College gave us the only family atmosphere we had at the time,"
he said. "Playing at Glendale also taught me the fundamentals that served
me well as a player and later as a coach."
After a spending a year in the Army where his basketball team competed
against some of the best teams in the nation including USF, Boldt decided
to play for the Dons when he was discharged and the rest, including a
60-game winning streak, is college basketball history.
He even has a few stories dating back to being drafted by the Detroit
Pistons after college and working as a scout and assistant coach for the
old Los Angeles Stars of the ABA in the 1970s.
But nothing he has done in his life compares to the years he spent at
USF and what the Dons achieved. He has worked in the coffee industry for
the last 17 years out of Costa Rica but anywhere he is introduced it is
as Carl Boldt, former USF basketball player.
That will likely be the case this weekend in Minneapolis, MN. when he
makes his first trip back to the NCAA finals since the season of 1957.
Because no matter how many times the same questions are asked over and
over, Carl Boldt loves this time of the year.