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Opinion

Verdugo Views: Coach’s story evokes “like father, like son”

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Victor F. Cameron, right, Hoover’s first varsity football and baseball coach, was completing his seventh year in Glendale when this picture was taken by photography student, Sterling Tracy, in May 1935. Victor E. Francy, left, a University of Southern California grad, coached Hoover track and football.
(Courtesy of Steve Cameron)

The old saying “like father, like son” certainly seems to apply to longtime Oakmont-area resident Steve Cameron and his father. Both excelled in athletics in their youths and both coached high school sports.

Let’s begin with the son, Steve. He grew up in a house at the corner of Elm Avenue and Rangeview Drive with his parents, Vic and Mary Cameron, and a younger brother, Phil (Hoover High, 1963). The two boys walked — or took turns pulling each other in their little red wagon — to Balboa Elementary.

From early on, Cameron focused on playing baseball. He made the Glendale Police Little League team at age 8 and the Glendale Lions team at 12.

He played varsity baseball at Hoover for two years, after running track for Sam Nicholson as a sophomore.

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“I made all-league both years, but playing with my friends Billy Frick and Gary Gum was one of the real reasons I played athletics. In one game against Pasadena Muir, at Stengel Field, I stole home from second base — twice — on two ground balls hit to the shortstop. Hoover won 2-0, even though the Muir pitcher threw a no-hitter at Hoover,” Cameron wrote in one of a series of recent emails.

As a senior, he was named baseball player of the week by Hoover baseball coach Keith White, having achieved a .454 average for the preceding seven games. That’s when his teammates began calling him “Greyhound.”

After graduating in 1960, Cameron went to Brigham Young University for two years on a baseball scholarship, then transferred to CSU Los Angeles. There, he met a fellow student, Marianne Little (Glendale High, 1962), as she was coming out of the student cafeteria on crutches.

“She was the prettiest blond student I had ever seen,” he said.

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They married in 1966 after he received his master’s degree.

Cameron taught and coached at Desert Sun School in Idyllwild, while his bride finished her final year of nursing school. He began teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 1968.

In many ways, he emulated his father, Vic Cameron, who grew up in Boise, Idaho, and was a high school and college football star before becoming a coach.

A few weeks ago, Steve Cameron, who now lives in Santa Clarita, dropped by with his father’s scrapbook. The nearly 100-year-old book was filled with clippings from Vic Cameron’s years at University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. The 1922 Spokesman Review described him as one of the stars of the freshman team.

Another clipping, from the front page of Portland’s Sunday Oregonian dated Oct. 26, 1924, described the previous day’s game between Stanford and Idaho to determine who would go to the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, 1925. “It was a heartbreaker,” Vic Cameron wrote in the margins. “Idaho outplayed Stanford ... but lost in the mud.”

Steve Cameron told me that in 1924 his father received an all-American mention from legendary sports writer Walter Camp and was named high scorer of the Pacific Coast Conference.

After his 1926 graduation, Vic Cameron taught and coached at Endicott High in Washington, then came to Glendale High. When Hoover opened, he moved across town to become their first varsity baseball and football coach.

Vic Cameron’s album also includes photos of his Hoover firsts: the first football team in 1929, a “swell bunch who won 5, lost 5 and tied 2,” as noted in the margin; the first baseball team in 1930; and his champion Class C basketball team in 1930.

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In 1935, he coached an offensive right guard football player named Richard Boone. More about this Hoover grad (who later became famous as television star “Paladin”) next time.

To the Readers

Thomas Woodall (the third and youngest son of Dalton Woodall), emailed regarding the Jan. 25 column: “I really enjoyed your article about Ed Cooley’s experience at Woodall Camera Shops ... Ed and his family are great. He always expressed profound gratitude for the experience he had working at the camera shop. I remember his children working at the shops. He was also so supportive of our family and I recall him attending the funerals of my grandparents and parents. It reminds me of times when Glendale felt a lot smaller — and way more personal. Thanks again for your wonderful article.”
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