JOE AMALFITANO - A native of San Pedro, Joe Amalfitano played baseball at St. Anthony’s High School, Loyola University, and USC. He signed as one of the original “bonus babies” with the New York Giants in 1954. He played with the New York and San Francisco Giants through 1963 and finished his career with the Chicago Cubs from 1964-1967. Amalfitano managed the Cubs for a little over one year and was the third base coach with the Los Angeles Dodgers for sixteen years. He is currently a special advisor for player development for his original professional team, the San Francisco Giants.
GEORGE “SPARKY” ANDERSON - Sparky Anderson is the only manager in the history of Major League Baseball to have won a World Series championship with a National League and American League team. Twice named manager of the year and third on the all-time Major League win list, Anderson was the skipper of the Cincinnati Reds from 1970 to 1978, when the fabled “Big Red Machine” won four National League pennants and two World Series championships. From 1975 to 1979 Anderson managed the Detroit Tigers and brought the Motor City a World Series crown for the first and only time since 1968.
ALAN ASHBY - San Pedro grad, Alan Ashby played 21 years as a catcher in professional baseball, including 16 seasons in the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays and the Houston Astros. He is a select member of 11 catchers who were behind the plate for 3 no-hitters, including Nolan Ryan’s major-league record fifth. Ashby, who logged 1,370 games and more than 1,000 career hits, was the first Astros player to ever hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same game. He is currently an analyst for radio broadcasts of Toronto Blue Jays games.
BOBBY BALCENA - Considered to be one of the greatest athletes in San Pedro history, Balcena starred in football, track and baseball. In his first year in professional baseball, Balcena batted .369 for Mexicali to lead the Sunset League and in the following year had the league high of 132 RBIs. Balcena’s speed, defensive skills and hitting led him through a very successful 15 years in the high minor leagues and a brief stay with the Cincinnati Reds. He may have been the only Filipino to play in the major leagues.
GEORGE BRETT - George Brett is considered one of the best third basemen in Major League Baseball history. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999, Brett’s 3,154 career hits are the most by any third baseman and he is 15th on the all-time hit list. During his 21 year career with the Kansas City Royals, Brett made the all-star team 13 times, netted the American League batting champ in three seasons, was named American League MVP in 1980, and led the Royals to their first and only World Series title in 1985. In 1980 Brett captivated the baseball world when he flirted with the fabled .400 batting average for a season and finished the year hitting .390.
ROY CAMPANELLA - Roy Campanella began his professional baseball career in 1937 at the age of 15 on the Washington Elite Giants in the old Negro League. After the color barrier was broken Campanella joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948 and was the only Dodger in history to be named MVP more than once, winning in 1951, 1953 and 1955. Campanella was the Dodgers starting catcher from 1949 through 1957, making the National League All-Star team every year from 1949 to 1956. He compiled a lifetime batting average of .276 with 242 home runs, and played in five World Series. His playing career ended in January, 1958, when an automobile accident left him partially paralyzed. Campanella was named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969 and passed away in 1993.
NICK CASTANEDA - Nick Castaneda joins a fine list of San Pedro High baseball alumni to be honored on the Sportswalk. The 1980 graduate was the Marine League MVP in his senior season and was twice named to the All-City baseball squad. Drafted straight out of high school, Castaneda enjoyed a minor league baseball career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals and St. Louis Cardinals organizations. However, Castaneda’s peak season occurred south of the border when he set the Mexican League single season home run record with 54 blasts. What made that record even more amazing is that he was battling injuries and only had around 350 at-bats and hit .411 for the season.
RON CEY - Ron Cey concluded a 14-year major league career in 1987 with the Oakland A’s, but is best known for his decade as third baseman of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He played in four World Series, six consecutive All-Star Games, and he still holds the Dodgers record for career home runs (228) and runs batted in for one game (eight). In 1981, he was selected tri-MVP of the World Series along with Pedro Guerrero and Steve Yeager. Cey is the fifth third baseman in major league history to have at least 300 home runs, finishing his career with 316.
DON DRYSDALE - A pitcher for the Dodgers from 1956-1969, Don Drysdale was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1984. He compiled a 209-167 lifetime record, a 2.95 ERA, and was selected to 10 National League All-Star teams. Drysdale played in five World Series and was on world championship teams in 1959, 1963, and 1965. He set a major league record by pitching six consecutive shutouts and 58.2 consecutive scoreless innings in 1968, a record which stood until it was broken in 1988 by Orel Herschiser. Drysdale was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984 and passed away in 1993.
BOBBY GRICH - An outstanding baseball and football player at Wilson High in Long Beach, Bobby Grich started his Major League Baseball career in 1970 and went on to play 17 years for the Baltimore Orioles and California Angels. In 1974, he established a major league record for most putouts by a second baseman in a single season (484). In 1981, he became the first second baseman to lead his league in home runs since 1929 when Rogers Hornsby did it. Grich was a six time American League All-Star and won four Golden Gloves.
BRIAN HARPER - A quarterback in football and a catcher in baseball, Brian Harper was a standout football and baseball player at San Pedro High School. Harper chose to pursue a professional baseball career and his .350 batting average led the Pacific Coast League in batting in 1981 with 192 hits and 122 RBIs. In the major leagues he bounced around with the California Angels, St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland A’s, Detroit Tigers and Pittsburgh Pirates before reaching stardom with the Minnesota Twins. In a memorable 1991 World Series, Harper batted .395 in Minnesota’s four games to three win over the Atlanta Braves. Harper batted .304 in 1993 to become only the fifth catcher since 1953 to hit over .300 for three consecutive years.
ED JURAK - Ed Jurak was an outstanding baseball player at San Pedro High School and, at age 17, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox. In 1981, while playing for Bristol, the Sox AA farm club, he batted .340 to lead the Eastern League in batting. In 1988, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the first ever AAA All Star game which featured players from the Pacific Coast League, International League and the American Association. Jurak became a solid multi-position player in his six year Major League career with the Red Sox, Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants.
TOMMY LASORDA - Ask Tommy Lasorda what would happen if you cut him, the answer would inevitably come back that he would bleed “Dodger Blue.” Ask him how the Dodgers won in a come from behind game and he would tell you that the “Big Dodger in the Sky” was looking out for them. Mention a tough defeat and the only blue you might here is the language that he was famous for. The loquacious 20 year Dodgers skipper (1976-1996) built a Baseball Hall of Fame career as manager by getting his players to believe in themselves. The results speak for themselves -- two World Series championships, four National League pennants, eight division titles, and two manger of the year awards. Go Dodgers!
ANDY LOPEZ - Andy Lopez was an outstanding baseball payer at San Pedro High and UCLA. He was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, but elected to join the coaching ranks. Lopez is only one of three college coaches to lead three separate teams into the College World Series. He began his career at Cal State Dominguez Hills where he lead them to a national Division II title. He became head coach at Pepperdine in 1989 where he led the Waves to the 1992 College World Series championship and was named College Coach of the Year, an honor he has won twice. In 1995, Lopez was hired by Florida where he coached seven seasons and led the Gators to two College World Series appearances. He is currently the head coach at Arizona and has guided the Wildcats to three straight post-season tournaments.
JOE LOVITTO - Joe Lovitto was a star football and baseball player at San Pedro’s Fermin Lasuen High in 1966-68 and the Washington Senators made him the No. 1 pick in the 1969 baseball draft. Lovitto played three years in the minors as a second baseman and outfielder and in 1972 he made it to the big leagues, becoming the starting center fielder for the Texas Rangers. Although Lovitto had blazing speed, his career was hampered by injuries and he retired in 1975. Former baseball manager, the late Billy Martin said, “Lovitto would have been a great player, but he was plagued with injuries.
GEORGE LUSIC - A graduate of San Pedro High School (1972), George Lusic went on to pitch for the Atlanta Braves organization (1972-1978). At San Pedro High School, Lusic was All-City First Team (1971, 1972) and All-Marine League Player of the Year (1971). He also was a three-year varsity baseball and basketball player. The Atlanta Braves drafted Lusic out of high school as the 33rd overall pick in the nation in the 1972 MLB June Amateur Draft. He played on various farm teams in the Braves organization, including the Wytheville Braves (Rookie League), Greenwood Braves (Class A), Peninsula Pennants (Class A), Savannah Braves (Class AA), and the Richmond Braves (Class AAA), where he won the International League Championship (1978).
GARRY MADDOX - A San Pedro High star, Garry Maddox was an outfielder with the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies from 1972 to 1986. Nicknamed the Secretary of Defense, Maddox won eight consecutive Gold Glove Awards, a National League outfielder record only surpassed by baseball greats Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays. He is fifth on the Phillies all-time stolen base list. A lifetime .285 hitter, Maddox’s biggest hit was a 10th inning game-winning double in 1980 against the Houston Astros, which put the Phillies into the World Series, where they won their first and only championship.
TOM MORGAN - A native of El Monte and longtime San Pedro resident Morgan played baseball for El Monte High 1945-48 and was drafted by the New York Yankees in 1949. A lifetime 67-47 pitcher, in his 12 year career, Morgan played for various teams, including the Yankees and Los Angeles Angels. He played in three World Series with the Yankees and later coached several years for the California Angles.
DON NEWCOMBE - A Dodger legend, Don Newcombe pitched for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948-1958. He pitched in three World Series (1949, 1955, and 1956) and four All-Star games. Newcombe is the only man in baseball history to win Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player and the Cy Young Award. As one of the early black players to enter the major leagues (he played one season in the Negro League) Newcombe was active in speaking out for human rights during his time off field. Today, Newcombe serves as Director of Community Relations for the Dodgers.
JEFF PEDERSEN - Jeff Pedersen attended San Pedro’s Fermin Lasuen High School, where he earned nine varsity letters and held numerous records. He was voted Athlete of the Year in 1968 and was second-round draft choice by the Chicago Cubs, but chose a USC baseball scholarship instead. At USC, he was the first player in NCAA history to start on three straight National Championship baseball teams, serving as team captain in 1972, and was selected to represent USC in the Pan American Games.
JACKIE ROBINSON - Following an outstanding athletic career at UCLA, Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 and broke the color barrier in Major League baseball, which paved the way for all future generations of black athletes to compete in professional sports. In 10 major league seasons, he batted .311 and helped the Dodgers win six National League Pennants and defeat the Yankees in the 1955 World Series. He was voted the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 1947, Most Valuable Player in 1949 and was a six time All-Star. Robinson was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1962 and in 1997, Major League Baseball, in recognition of the 50th Anniversary of his first game with the Dodgers, retired his number 42 across all teams in the Major Leagues. Robinson passed away in 1972.
REGGIE SMITH - Reggie Smith enjoyed a 17 year career as an outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. During that span, Smith earned seven All-Star game invitations and appeared in four World Series, including three with the Dodgers. At the plate, Smith led the American League in total bases in 1971, and led the National League in on-base percentage in 1977. A Gold Glove award winner, Smith was widely recognized as having one of the strongest arms in all of baseball.
FERNANDO VALENZUELA - Fernando Valenzuela burst on the baseball scene in September 1980 and early 1981 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, creating an instant sensation called “Fernandomania.“ In 1981 he was the first player to earn both the Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young awards. Valenzuela won his only start in the World Series that year, helping the Dodgers defeat the New York Yankees. Valenzuela made the All-Star team five times. His best year was 1986 when he had a record of 21 wins, 11 losses, 20 complete games and 242 strikeouts. A highlight came in 1990 when Valenzuela pitched a no-hit, no-run game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
JOHN WERHAS - San Pedran John Werhas was a two-sport All-American at USC, playing both baseball and basketball from 1956 through 1960. As a Trojan, he helped win the NCAA baseball championship in 1958. Although drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, he chose to sign with the Dodgers and played with them from 1960 through 1967. Werhas currently is the senior pastor at The Rock Community Christian Church in Yorba Linda, CA.
MAURY WILLS - When former Los Angeles Dodgers great Maury Wills got on base the Dodger Stadium fans would begin chanting, "Go, go, go!" Wills almost single handedly changed the way baseball players run the bases. In 1960, Wills' first full season, he led the National League with 50 stolen bases and in 1962 he set a Major League record with 104 thefts. To put that in perspective, Willie Mays led the National League in 1959 with only 27 steals and in 1962 no other team had a total that matched Wills' mark. A five-time all-star and two-time Gold Glove winner, Wills won three World Series championships with the Dodgers and was the National League MVP in 1962.
JERRY ZUVELA - Named one of San Pedro’s 100 all-time best athletes, Jerry Zuvela was on the 1946 All-Marine League baseball team as an outfielder for San Pedro High and he also won the league long jump championship while wearing baseball spikes. After graduating Zuvela played for Compton College and Loyola University before embarking on a seven year minor league baseball career. He coached Loyola University for a season.
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ELGIN BAYLOR - A first team All-American at Seattle University, Elgin Baylor led his team to the NCAA finals in 1958. He was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers and played 14 seasons for them, twelve of which were in Los Angeles. He led his team to five NBA Series Finals. His 27.4 scoring average was third all-time in the NBA. He also held the record for most points (61), most field goals (22) and most points (33) in a half in a Championship series game. A ten time all-star, Baylor was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1977 and in 1996, he was named to the NBA 50th Anniversary All-Time Team. He is currently general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers.
BOB BENEDITTI - Named one of the best 100 athletes of the century in San Pedro, Bob Beneditti starred for the San Pedro High basketball team and in 1958 made the All-City team and was the Marine League MVP. He received 35 basketball scholarships from all over the county before finally choosing to play for the University of Southern California. At USC, Beneditti was a three-year varsity letterman and played on the Trojans 1961 Pac-8 championship team. He once scored 21 points in seven minutes during a game and has the unique distinction of being the first player to score a basket for USC at the Sports Arena when it opened in 1959.
JACK BOGDANOVICH - A celebrated high school basketball player and community college coach, Jack Bogdanovich was the San Pedro Athlete of the Year and made the All L.A. City Basketball Team in 1959 while playing for San Pedro High School. As a coach, Bogdanovich was the head basketball coach for Cerritos Community College in Norwalk, Calif. from 1983 - 1998, with an overall record of 411 wins, 91 loses, and three State Championships. Bogdanovich is this year's Trani Award winner for contribution to local athletics.
NICK BUZOLICH - San Pedro High grad, Nick Buzolich achieved extraordinary national success in the 1940s both basketball and tennis. He gained national recognition when he scored all of his team’s points in an 84-36 amateur game. He led Compton Junior College to the State Junior College Championship. An All-American at Pepperdine, he twice led the Waves to the National Collegiate Basketball championship rounds, losing in the semi-finals one year and in the finals another year. Buzolich was also rated as one of the top tennis players in the nation.
WILT CHAMBERLAIN - One of the greatest players in the history of basketball, Wilt Chamberlain held numerous NBA records, including the highest single scoring game (100 points on March 2, 1962, against the New York Knicks). A prolific scorer, he owned the top four scoring games in NBA history and is the only player to ever average 40 and 50 points a game. In addition, he holds the NBA record for most rebounds in a career (23,924) and even once led the league in assists. A four-time MVP and 13 time All-Star, Chamberlain played with the Philadelphia 76ers from 1959-1968 and for the Los Angeles Lakers from 1968-1974, winning two NBA titles during his career. He was named to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1978. Chamberlain was an All American for the two years he played at the University of Kansas and began his pro career as a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
BOBBY GROSS - One of the best basketball players to come out of San Pedro, Bobby Gross started at the San Pedro Boys’ Club and went on to star at Fermin Lasuen High School. In 1975, as a senior at Long Beach State, Gross was named an Honorable Mention All-American and conference MVP. He was drafted in the second round by the Portland Trailblazers, where he played from 1975-82. During that time, Portland won one NBA championship in a memorable Finals over the Philadelphia 76ers. Gross was the unsung hero of that series, shooting an amazing 67% from the floor and upping his scoring from the season average of 11.4 to 17.3 points a game, including 25 points in the pivotal fifth game. Gross played his last season in the NBA with the San Diego Clippers before retiring in 1983.
TOMMY HAWKINS - In 1959, Notre Dame grad, Tommy Hawkins was a first round draft choice of the Minneapolis Lakers and later moved with the team to Los Angeles. At Notre Dame, where Hawkins was the school’s first African-American basketball star, he held all scoring and rebounding records, and was team captain. He played a total of 10 years in the NBA, four years with the Cincinnati Royals and six with the Lakers. After completing his basketball career, Hawkins became one of the first athletes to cross over into broadcasting and had a long career in television and radio.
WALT HAZZARD: Walt Hazzard has the unique distinction of being the star player that led legendary coach, John Wooden’s first NCAA basketball championship team in his incredible run of ten titles in twelve years. During that 1963-64 season, Hazzard was named All-American and College Basketball Player of the Year. Hazzard himself went on to coach at UCLA where he won an NIT title in 1985 and the Pac 10 championship in 1987. A first round draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers, Hazzard played 10 seasons in the NBA and he was also a member of the 1964 USA Olympic gold medal basketball team.
DENNIS JOHNSON - Dennis Johnson, who possesses three NBA title rings, is a native of San Pedro. He played two years at Harbor College before moving on to Pepperdine University. His 15-year professional career started with the Seattle Supersonics. In 1979, he led the team to the NBA title before being traded to the Phoenix Suns. From 1983 until his retirement in 1989, he played for the Boston Celtics, where he won two more titles. A five time NBA All-Star, Johnson scored his ten thousandth point in 1984 and was a part of seven division championship teams. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been named to the NBA’s All-Defense team more times than Johnson.
WILLIE NAULLS - A UCLA basketball All-American in 1955-56, Willie Naulls still holds the all-time UCLA single game rebounding record - 28 in one game. The San Pedro High graduate had a ten year NBA career that included playing for the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. He was a member of three NBA championship teams, was a four time NBA All-Star, and scored over 11,000 points in his career. Naulls was the first black athlete to be named team captain in integrated professional sports.
GEORGE PADOVAN - San Pedro native, George Padovan led Harbor College to the 1956 California junior college basketball championship and continued his college career at Oregon before playing professionally in the old American Basketball Association for the Anaheim Amigos. During Harbor's run to the state title, Padovan, at 6'3" held his own against centers much taller than him, including 7-footer Gary Alcorn of Fresno. While playing for Oregon, Padovan was once called the "toughest player I ever played against" by pro football quarterback Joe Kapp, then a basketball player at Cal Berkeley.
ALAN SAWYER - Alan Sawyer was one of the premier basketball players in the South Bay area during the mid-1940s, earning first string All-City basketball honors in 1945 while at San Pedro High School. He later starred for John Wooden’s first teams at UCLA, beginning with his freshman year in the 1945-46 season. After a short military tour, Sawyer returned to UCLA in 1947. He became the school’s all-time leading scorer as the Bruins won two conference titles and made two NCAA appearances. He later played for the professional Washington Capitols basketball team.
BILL SHARMAN - Bill Sharman coached the record-setting 69-13 Lakers in 1971-72, guiding that team to an NBA record 33 consecutive victories. He served as the club’s general manager when it won NBA titles in 1980 and 1982, and was club president for its championships in 1985-1987, and 1988. He also had a very distinguished career at USC and as a pro basketball player for the Boston Celtics. Arguably, the greatest shooter during the NBA’s first generation, he was the first guard to shoot .400 from the floor for a season and had an impressive .884 free throw percentage.
JERRY WEST - Twice an All-American at the University of West Virginia, Jerry West went on to become one of the greatest basketball players in NBA history. When he retired after a 14-year career with the Lakers in 1974, he had scored 25,194 points, the third player to reach the 25,000 mark. Known as “Mr. Clutch,” West was the all-time NBA playoff leader in points (4,457) and assists (970) which stood until 1985. His 29.1 scoring average in the playoffs is still the highest in NBA history. He was selected to the All-NBA first team 10 times, the second team twice, the All-Defensive first team four times and second team once. He played in 13 consecutive All-Star games. In addition to being enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, West has the unique honor of being the model for the NBA logo, which is a silhouette of him dribbling a ball.
JAMAAL WILKES - A winner both on and off the court, Jamaal Wilkes was a collegiate All-American both in basketball and scholastically at UCLA, where he played for John Wooden. He went on to play for the Golden State Warriors and received the NBA Rookie-of-the-Year award en route to his first NBA championship. Later, after being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Wilkes won three more NBA titles. He was on three All-Star teams and retired from the NBA in 1985 after 12 seasons in the league.
JOHN WOODEN - As the most successful coach in the history of collegiate basketball, John Wooden posted a record of 88 consecutive victories and won 10 NCAA championships at UCLA. His lifetime coaching record, which spanned 40 years, was 905 wins compared with 203 losses. He is the only person to have been inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. From 1930 to 1932, he was an All-American basketball player at Purdue University. He was named College Coach of the Year in 1973. The “Wizard of Westwood,” Wooden is loved by his former players for the lessons he taught them about life and is considered by many to be the greatest coach of any sport in the history of American athletics.
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BEN AGAJANIAN - An Honorable Mention All-American in 1941 as a kicker and lineman at the University of New Mexico, Ben Agajanian had a long association with sports. In 1945, he joined the Pittsburgh Steelers as the National Football League’s first kicking specialist. In 1956, he was the kicker for the New York Giants world championship team. In all, Agajanian played 17 years and was the oldest active player in the NFL (age 45) until George Blanda. In 1964, Agajanian became affiliated with the Dallas Cowboys as kicking team advisor.
GEORGE ALLEN - A Pro Football Hall of fame coach, George Allen coached the Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins in the NFL and the Chicago Blitz and Arizona Wranglers in the USFL during his fourteen year career. Allen holds the NFL's third best winning percentage behind Vince Lombardi and John Madden. Allen never had a losing season in the NFL or USFL and was twice named coach of the year. The pinnacle moment of his coaching career occurred in the 1972-73 season when his Washington Redskins team won the NFC title before losing to the unbeaten Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VII.
GARY BEBAN - Known as the “Great One,“ Gary Beban excelled in academics and sports during his career as quarterback at UCLA. In addition to being named all-conference three times, Beban was the recipient of the 1967 Heisman Trophy, awarded to the college football player of the year -- the only Bruin to ever win the award. During his career at UCLA, Beban led the Bruins to a 24-5-2 record and set a record for total offense that lasted fifteen years. The team’s biggest win was over #1 Michigan State in the 1966 Rose Bowl 14-12 with Beban scoring both Bruin touchdowns in the victory. After graduating from UCLA, Beban played two seasons in the NFL for the Washington Redskins.
JOHN BRODIE - A fantastic athlete, John Brodie enjoyed a 17-year career as a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL and was later a regular on the PGA Senior Golf Tour. In college Brodie was a two-sport star at Stanford. Brodie’s Cardinals golf team made the NCAA finals and in 1956 he made the All-American football squad while leading the nation in passing. He was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. In 1970 Brodie led San Francisco to the NFC title game and he earned the league’s player of the year award. After his football days were over, Brodie joined the PGA Senior Tour, where in 1991 he became the first former athlete from another sport to capture a title. Brodie was forced to quit the tour in 2000 when he suffered a stroke.
VINCENT CARRESI - Born on August 13,1905, Vincent Carresi played varsity football and baseball for San Pedro High School in 1923,1924 and 1925 and was the first athlete in school history San Pedro to make All Bay League. Carresi attended the University of Santa Clara on a football Scholarship, playing guard for four seasons. Carresi was on the 1927 Santa Clara team that played in the Hula Bowl, the school’s first ever bowl game. After graduating he coached the Longshoremen’s football team called the Blue Tide for a number of years and later coached varsity football, baseball and track at Banning High.
SAM “BAM” CUNNINGHAM - Sam “Bam” Cunningham capped a great career at USC by scoring four touchdowns in his last game as the Trojans beat Ohio State in the 1973 Rose Bowl to capture the national title. Although Cunningham won All-American honors that season, the African-American fullback might be best remembered for his first USC game in 1970 against Alabama. The Trojans walloped the all-white Tide squad 42-21 and after the game Alabama’s legendary coach Bear Bryant invited Cunningham into his team’s locker room so that his players “could see what a player looked like.” That game is often called the catalyst for Alabama’s decision to start recruiting black players the next season and integrating football squads in the South.
JOE & MARIO DANELO -- USC kicker Mario Danelo had just completed his junior season after helping his Trojans team beat Michigan in the 2007 Rose Bowl when he tragically died in a fall off the Point Fermin cliffs in San Pedro. Less than a year later, Mario and his father Joe Danelo, also a kicker, were honored together in one of the most poignant induction ceremonies in the history of the Sportswalk.
Mario Danelo was often said to respond with “Living the dream,” whenever asked by his coaches how he was doing. Danelo, a graduate of San Pedro High, was one of the rare few at the football powerhouse to make the team as a walk-on and perform so well that he was later offered a scholarship. During his tenure as USC kicker, Danelo set the NCAA record for most PATSs with 83 in 2005 and he showed amazing accuracy in 2006 when he booted 16 of 17 field goal attempts through the uprights.
Mario is joined on their plaque by his father, Joe Danelo, a great kicker in his own day. After three seasons at Washington State, where he was first Cougar kicker to ever boot a 50 yard field goal, Danelo had a 10 year NFL career kicking for the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, and Buffalo Bills. in 1981, Danelo tied an NFL record for most field goals in a game without a miss when he kicked six for the Giants.
FRED DRYER - A native of Hawthorne, Fred Dryer was a junior college All-American at El Camino College and an All-American at San Diego State. He is only one of three San Diego State Aztec to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Dryer had a 13-year professional career as an All-Pro defensive end for the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams. Dryer set an NFL record in 1973 with two safeties in a single game against Green Bay and was accorded AII-NFC honors in 1970 and 1975. After retiring from football, he went into acting and became a star of the “Hunter” television series.
VINCE FERRAGAMO - Vince Ferragamo was named City Player of the Year while playing for Banning High and later won All-American honors as quarterback for the University of Nebraska. Ferragamo had a nine year quarterback career in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams, Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers. The highlight of his career was in leading the Rams to their only Super Bowl appearance while the franchise was in Los Angeles. The Rams lost Super Bowl XIV in a thriller, 24-19 to the powerful Pittsburgh Steelers. During his Rams career Ferragamo completed 730 of 1288 pass attempts (57%) for 9376 yards and 70 touchdowns.
JOHN FERRARO - A native of Los Angeles, the late John Ferraro gained All-American honors in football at USC in 1944 and 1947. He played for the Trojans in the Rose Bowl games in 1944, 1945, and 1948 and played in the 1947 East-West All-Star Shrine game. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1974. In 1972, the NCAA presented him with the College Athletics Top Ten Silver Anniversary Award. He was a member of the Los Angeles City Council.
MIKE GARRETT - Mike Garrett established a three year collegiate rushing record of 3,221 yards while playing for USC. A two-time college All-American, Garrett ushered in the advent of “Tailback U” at USC by breaking 14 NCAA, conference, and Trojan records and winning the 1965 Heisman Trophy as college football’s most outstanding player. He played eight years with the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers, including two All-Star selections and two Super Bowl appearances. In 1985 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Garrett later became the Athletic Director at USC.
JOHN GLIGO - Voted one of San Pedro’s Top 100 Athletes, John Gligo played center for the San Pedro High football team and first base on the baseball team from 1940-42. He was an All Southern California Football Scholar in 1941 and named top athlete in Southern California. A highly sought after player, he was offered football scholarships to USC, UCLA, Loyola, St. Mary’s, Santa Clara, Alabama, and accepted at the University of San Francisco. He played four games for USF before joining the Army during World War II. When he returned home, he was offered a baseball contract by the Cleveland Indians. Gligo played center for the semi-pro San Pedro Athletic Club from 1944-49.
PAT HADEN - The current Director of Athletics for USC (2010), Pat Haden quarterbacked the USC to three Rose Bowl appearances and two national championships and was named co-MVP of the 1975 Rose Bowl. He was inducted into the GTE Academic All-American Hall of Fame in 1988, and the National High School and Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1995. A six-year veteran of the NFL, he played with the Los Angeles Rams from 1976-81. He was the Rams' 1976 Rookie of the Year, was named to the Pro Bowl in 1977 and was named the NFC Player of the Year in 1977 by the Washington, D.C., Touchdown Club.
DICK HARRIS - Harris played football at San Pedro High School, Harbor Junior College and McNeese State University. Drafted by the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League, he was named All-Pro Defensive Back in 1960, 1961, and 1963. He was a member of San Diego’s 1963 championship team which also included Lance Alworth and John Hadl, In 1961, he returned three interceptions for touchdowns setting a new pro record, which stood for 15 years.
CHUCK KNOX - An old-school football coach that emphasized the running game and defense, Chuck Knox led three NFL teams in his 22 seasons as a professional head coach to numerous playoff appearances. He is the only coach in NFL history to lead three separate teams to division titles. Knox launched his NFL coaching career in 1973 with the Los Angeles Rams, leading that team to five straight NFC Western Division titles and three appearances in the NFC championship game, but was never able to get to the Super bowl. He also later led resurgences with the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks, guiding those two previously hapless squads to the playoffs in six seasons.
MANUEL LARANETA - One of USC’s all-time athletes, Manuel Laraneta was the first person to score a touchdown at the L.A. Coliseum, which he did as a freshman in a game against Pomona on October 6, 1923. In 1926, his senior year, he was the leading ground gainer in the nation, gaining 1,165 yards from scrimmage as a fullback. He and fellow Trojan Morton Kaer were asked to flip a coin that year to determine who would be named to the All-American team. Kaer won the toss. In addition, Laraneta shared the USC record for career pass interceptions with 13 that stood for 40 years. Laraneta, a native of San Pedro and onetime San Pedro High Football Coach, died in 1969.
TOM MACK A native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a former All-American tackle from Michigan, Mack was the Number 1 draft choice in 1966 of the Los Angeles Rams, whom he remained with for 13 years until his retirement in 1979. An All-Pro offensive guard, he participated in the post-season Pro Bowl classic 11 times. He was recognized as one of the top offensive linemen in the NFL. Named team co-captain in 1976, he had the distinction of never having missed a game, playing 184 straight games, second only in club history to a record 198 set by Merlin Olsen.
MARLIN MCKEEVER - Marlin McKeever was named All-American at USC in 1959 and 1960. In 1971 the Los Angeles Rams sent six players and a draft choice to Washington in exchange for seven draft choices and one player - McKeever. He became a defensive leader for the Rams at middle linebacker. He is the only player in Rams history to win Ye Olde Rams awards on both offense and defense. The All-Pro originally played for the Rams as a tight end before being traded to Minnesota and later Washington.
RENE MONROY - Nicknamed “Mighty Mouse” by the L.A. Press & Sportswriters, Rene Monroy, a 5’6” 165 pound dynamo, was a star on the championship San Pedro High School (1941) and Compton Junior College football team where he earned All-Conference honors. Monroy played in the first ever Junior College “Junior Rose Bowl” and later became an outstanding lineman for Loyola University and a standout single wing quarterback and defensive lineman for the storied San Pedro Athletic Club.
HAVEN MOSES - A graduate of Fermin Lasuen High School in San Pedro, Haven Moses went on to become an All-American wide receiver and defensive back at San Diego State. His professional career included four years with the Buffalo Bills and ten years with the Denver Broncos. During that span he made the all-star team in the old AFL in 1969 and the NFL Pro Bowl in 1973. His career reception total of 448 ranked 20th in all-time NFL history. He retired after the 1981 season.
JIM OBRADOVICH -- Many USC football fans might know Jim Obradovich as the guy that owned Julie’s Restaurant across from the Coliseum, but fans from the 1970s recall Obradovich as a Trojans tight end that was All-Pac 8 in 1973-74 and All-American in 1974. Obradovich, who went on to play nine seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was known as a fierce competitor that never missed a practice or game in high school, college or the pros.
BOB PETRICH - A native of San Pedro, Bob Petrich played college football at West Texas State University. He was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1963 where he earned the position of starting end. That year, the Chargers claimed the AFL Championship against the Boston Patriots 51-10. In 1967, he joined the Buffalo Bills for one year, and then moved to the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts for his final year, retiring due to recurring injuries.
ROBERT RADOS - A San Pedro native, Rados played on the San Pedro High School 1940 championship football team and the championship track team. He received two football scholarships and played on the University of Santa Clara’s football team. While in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II, Rados transferred to the University of Texas, playing on the 1943 Southwest Conference championship team, which appeared in the 1944 Cotton Bowl. During that season, he led the conference in scoring and made three touchdowns in each of the games with Arkansas, Texas A&M and TCU.
JOHN ROBINSON - John Robinson, longtime head coach at USC, is the fourth winningest active coach in the NCAA and 15th all-time with a ten year record at 74.1% of 104 wins, 35 losses and 4 ties. He owns a 7-1 post season record with a 4-0 mark in the Rose Bowl. In 1978, Robinson led USC to a national championship and in 1979, he was selected as National Coach of the Year. Robinson was head coach of the Los Angeles Rams from 1983 to 1991, leading them to the playoffs in six seasons.
JOE SCIBELLI - Joe Scibelli, a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Long Beach resident played football for Cathedral High and the University of Notre Dame. The long-time right guard of the Los Angeles Rams was drafted by the team in 1961. He was first named co-captain of the Rams in 1966 and was the Rams’ longtime offensive team leader. The All-Pro never missed a game until midway through the 1969 season when he was temporarily sidelined with a knee injury. He and Charlie Cowan became permanent fixtures for the Rams in a winning era, playing in more than 200 regular season games.
DON SHINNICK - A football standout at San Pedro High, Don Shinnick went on to UCLA where he played offensive guard, defensive back, running back and linebacker. As a senior, he was an honorable mention All-American. The second draft choice of the 1957 Baltimore Colts, he played 13 seasons as a starting linebacker, intercepted 37 passes - which remains the National Football League record for that position. He then became linebacker coach for the New England Patriots.
GEORGE TIMBERLAKE - A native of Long Beach, George Timberlake played football for Jordan High, Long Beach City College, and USC. He played in the Junior Rose Bowl for Long Beach City against Boise College. In 1953, Timberlake played for the Trojans in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin. He was tabbed on All-American that year. Timberlake was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1954, playing linebacker for the Pack through the 1956 season. In 1975, he was named to the all-time National Junior College All-American starting team.
“DEACON DAN” TOWLER - The number two all-time ball carrier for the Los Angeles Rams, “Deacon Dan” Towler was one of the most feared rushers in professional football from 1950-1955. Part of the “Bull Elephant” backfield along with Paul Younger, Towler finished his career with 3,493 yards on 672 attempts. He was named to the All Pro-team four times and received the Most Outstanding award in the 1952 Pro Bowl game. Towler was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.
TIM WRIGHTMAN - Named the South Bay Player of the Year as a senior at Mary Star of the Sea High School in San Pedro, Tim Wrightman went on to become only the fifth player in UCLA history to receive unanimous All-American honors. While at college, he was also named an Academic All-American. Originally drafted by the Bears in 1982, Wrightman opted to sign with the Chicago Blitz and became the very first player in the USFL. When the league folded, he switched to the Chicago Bears and played with them as a tight end when they won the 1986 Super Bowl. Wrightman retired in 1988.
PAUL “TANK” YOUNGER - The first free agent signed in professional football and the first black pro player from an all-black school (Grambling), Paul Younger was a standout fullback for the Los Angeles Rams from 1949-1957. During that time, he gained 3,640 yards and was named All-Pro three times. Younger was part of the Rams’ celebrated “Bull Elephant” backfield, which also included Dick Hoerner and Dan Towler. That tandem helped lead the Rams to the 1951 World Championship title.
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AMANDA AUGUSTUS - After completing four seasons at California as an All-American women’s tennis player, Amanda Augustus went on to capture 20 professional titles during her career on the WTA circuit. At Cal, Augustus served as team captain for three seasons and was a two-time NCAA doubles champion in 1998-99. Augustus began her coaching career at Michigan where she led the women’s team to the Big 10 championship and the second round of the NCAA tournament. Augustus was recently hired back at her alma mater as head coach of the Cal Golden Bears women’s tennis team.
EVELYN ASHFORD - One of the fastest female sprinters of all time, Evelyn Ashford claimed Olympic gold in both the 1984 and 1988 games. At the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, she set an Olympic record in the 100-meter race. Two weeks later, she set a world record time of 10.76 seconds, which stood until 1988. At the Seoul Olympics in 1988, she saved the day for the U.S. Women by running down a Soviet and an East German in the final 100 meters to claim the gold in the 400-meter relay.
DENISE AUSTIN - In her 25 years of work to promote health and fitness, San Pedro native Denise Austin has sold nearly 20 million exercise videos and DVDs. In addition, Austin has written nine books on fitness and is now entering her 20th season on television. “Denise Austin’s Daily Workout” is the longest running fitness show on the air. A gymnast from the age of 12, Austin earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Arizona and graduated in 1979 with a degree in exercise physiology. President Bush appointed Austin a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
TRACY AUSTIN - In 1979 Tracy Austin became the youngest tennis champion in the history of the U.S. Open and repeated as the tournament women’s singles champion again in 1981. A resident of Rolling Hills, CA, the former number one player in the world began playing tennis when she was just two years old. She has won numerous tournaments on the tennis circuit, including the 1980 mixed doubles title at Wimbledon, but had to cut her career short due to recurring back injuries.
HEIDI & HEATHER BURGE - It's easy to imagine that Heidi and Heather Burge provided double trouble for basketball opponents when the twins played together at Palos Verdes High and then later at the University of Virginia. At one time, the 6 foot 5 inch sisters were in the record books as the world's tallest female twins and their remarkable life stories were the subject of a Disney television movie, titled Double Teamed. After graduating from Virginia, they both went on to play professional basketball in Europe and in the Women's National Basketball Association.
VICTORIA BRUCKER - In 1989, San Pedro’s Eastview Little League made local history by going all the way to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. However, of even larger historical note was Eastview’s clean-up hitter and first baseman -- that role was filled by Victoria Brucker, the first girl to ever play in the Little League World Series. Brucker later earned a scholarship to play softball at San Jose State and made the All-Regional Team in two of her three seasons there. Brucker skipped her senior season at San Jose State for the opportunity to return to her true love of baseball and play in the new Ladies League Baseball. She was the starting shortstop and lead-off hitter for the San Jose Spitfires, which took the league championship in the only season of the league’s existence.
ASHLEY ESPARZA - San Pedro High School softball legend, Ashley Esparza was named the Los Angeles City Softball Player of the Year an incredible three times, made All-Marine League four times, and led the Pirates to city championships in all four years of her high school career -- as the winning pitcher in the title game of the last three. After graduating, Esparza attended Penn State on a softball scholarship where she made the first team All-Big Ten and third team All-American squads during her softball career with the Nittany Lions.
JANET EVANS - Janet Evans, a three-time U.S. Olympian in swimming (1988,1992 and 1996), is a native of Southern California. Dubbed the “American Sweetheart” of swimming, Evans has won four gold medals and one silver medal, however it was as a member of a very special relay team at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics that brought her the most fame. Evans ran with the Olympic Torch on it’s trek across America and, in one of the most emotional sports moments of all time, it was she who passed it off to Muhammad Ali to light the flame that towered above the Atlanta Stadium. Evans has won 45 U.S. National Titles and is the only female swimmer to hold three world records concurrently, 400, 800 and 1500 Freestyle. In 1989 she also won the Sullivan Award, the nation‘s top award for amateur athletes.
JACKIE JOYNER-KERSEE - Perhaps the world’s best female athlete of her era, Jackie Joyner-Kersee claimed two gold medals at the Seoul Olympics in the heptathlon and long jump. It was the first time in 64 years that an athlete had won a multi-event competition and an individual event in the same Olympics. She finished the heptathlon with 7,290 points, 394 more than her nearest competitor, for the greatest margin of victory ever in an Olympic women’s multi-event competition. She also became the first U.S. woman ever to win the Olympic long jump competition, with a jump of 24 ft. 3-1/2 inches.
LISA LESLIE - The dominant female basketball player of her generation, Lisa Leslie once scored 101 points in only one half of a high school basketball game! At USC she was chosen to the All-American team three consecutive years and, in 1994, was unanimously chosen as national player of the year. Leslie was a standout with the U.S. women’s basketball team, which dominated international play, winning the gold medal in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympic Games. One of the original members of the WNBA, Leslie was a three time MVP as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks and became the first player in the league to dunk in a game.
ANN MEYERS - Ann Meyers became the first four-time women’s basketball All-American during her days at UCLA (1975-78). She led UCLA to the 1978 AIAW National Collegiate Women’s Basketball Championship and the U.S. team to a silver medal at the 1976 Olympics. In 1978, she was named the college women’s basketball player of the year and the winner of the Broderick Cup as the outstanding female collegiate athlete of the year. The La Habra native averaged 17.4 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game at UCLA and is still the school record holder for most assists in a career. Meyers holds the distinction of being the only female player to ever be given a tryout for an NBA team.
CHERYL MILLER - An outstanding basketball player, Miller led the USC Trojans to three final four appearances, two national titles and earned All-American honors four times. She set Trojans records in career points, rebounds, field goals made and free throws made. Miller was USC’s leading scorer and rebounder in all of her four seasons during which the Trojans compiled a 112-20 record. In 1994, Miller was appointed head coach of the Trojans woman’s basketball team and in two seasons her team went 44-14, made the NCAA tournament both years and the regional finals once. She later coached the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA to the finals. Miller is currently a television basketball analyst for TNT.
SHIRLEY MULDOWNEY - As auto racing’s most successful woman driver, Shirley Muldowney has pioneered in a sport usually identified with men. Her will to win is reflected in how she bounced back from a tragic accident in 1984 that nearly cost her life. In the 10 seasons prior to the accident she won 17 National Hot Rod Association events and was runner-up in six. She was the first woman to win a Winston World Championship and to win a berth in the Auto Racing All-American Team.
MAUREEN O'TOOLE - Widely regarded worldwide as the greatest female water polo player of all time, Maureen O'Toole began her water polo career 23 years ago at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif., playing on a boys water polo team because a girls team did not exist. She was named the Most Valuable Player of the U.S. Women's National Team 15 times, U.S. Water Polo Female Athlete of the Year five times and World Water Polo Female Athlete of the Year six times. She has been named to the All-American Team for U.S. Water Polo a record 28 times. She came out of retirement in 2000 to play for the U.S. Olympic Women's Water Polo Team in Sydney, Australia, where she led the team to a silver medal.
LOUISE FIGLEWICZ QUICK - Louise Figlewicz earned Most Valuable Player honors in basketball, volleyball and softball in each of her three years at San Pedro High School and, in softball, was named to the All Los Angeles City team three times. In her senior year, she led San Pedro to an undefeated 31-0 season and to the City Softball Championship, She was selected as Southern California Softball Player of the Year. As a pitcher at Chapman College, Figlewicz earned All-American honors and, in 1988, became the first female athlete to be inducted into the Chapman College Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1995 she became the first female athlete from San Pedro High School to be inducted into the Sportswalk of Fame.
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J.C. AGAJANIAN - One of America’s most respected motor racing personalities, J.C. Agajanian was universally acknowledged as the “dean” of Indianapolis Motor Car owners. He set an all-time record with 36 consecutive entries in the Indy 500 race and twice he stood in the victory lane. In 1971, Agajanian was honored at the White House as America’s premier race car owner and motor sports promoter. Ascot Park, where “Aggie” served as president was referred to as the busiest race track in America. Agajanian passed away in 1984.
ED ARNOLD - The voice of the Sportswalk, Ed Arnold received a special Sportswalk Humanitarian Award for his achievements both inside and outside of sports. Arnold began his broadcasting career at the age of 14 in his hometown of Texarkana, Arkansas. He has won many awards, including an Emmy, the prestigious Golden Mike, and in 2007 Arnold was honored with a lifetime achievement award by the Radio and Television News Association of Southern California. In addition, Arnold has contributed to numerous charitable causes and volunteered extensively for organizations like the Boys & Girls Club, March of Dimes, the Southern California Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and California Special Olympics.
GARY GABELICH - Gary Gabelich held the world land speed record of 622.407 mph over the measured mile in the rocket-powered Blue Flame from 1970 to 1983. He was the 34th man to hold the record since 1898. He completed more runs over 600 mph (six) and more runs over 500 mph (16) than anyone else. A native of the harbor area, Gabelich attended school at Mary Star of the Sea in San Pedro. He became involved with racing at age 17 and won numerous racing events. Gabelich was killed in an accident in 1984.
DAN GUERRERO - The current Director of Athletics for UCLA (2002), Dan Guerrero is also the current president of the Division I Athletic Directors Association. He also played baseball for UCLA in the early 1970s. In Guerrero's eight years as athletic director, UCLA teams have won 20 NCAA team titles (the highest total in the nation in that span) in 11 different sports, finished second 16 times and have had an additional 28 Top Five finishes (64 total). UCLA stands as the No. 1 University in the nation for NCAA team championships (106) won, a number that continues to grow under his direction. A staggering 152 teams (of 184 possible) have qualified for NCAA post-season competition and the football team has appeared in seven bowl games.
JIM HARRYMAN - In his prime, Jim Harryman, once known as the “King of the Street Fighters,” was a three-sport star. In addition to boxing for ten years and playing football for twenty-eight, Harryman was a rugby player for fifteen years. Harryman, a football JC All-American from Compton played pro football in Canada with the Calgary Stampeders. As a boxer, Harryman was rated as one of the top heavyweight prospects in the world, but it was street fighting that he was most famous for. It was quoted in Ring Magazine about Harryman that “He’s three times better in the street than in the ring.
ANDY HEILMAN - During his boxing career in the 1960’s, Andy Heilman was ranked as high as number three in the world middleweight class. Heilman’s two biggest marquee fights were both against former middleweight champion of the world Emile Griffith, once in Oakland and the other time at Madison Square Garden in New York. During his career as a middleweight boxer, Heilman was a fan favorite for his brawling toe-to-toe style. His manager, Jackie McCoy once said about him, “Heilman doesn’t know how to go backwards, only forward.
TIM HOVLAND AND MIKE DODD - One of the legendary two-man teams in the history of beach volleyball, Tim Hovland and Mike Dodd competed together in 163 tournaments, winning 50 over a ten year career on the sand before splitting in 1990. Hovland, named to Volleyball Magazine's All-Century team, was a three year All-American indoor volleyball player at USC and led the Trojans to the NCAA championship in 1980. Dodd, a college basketball player at San Diego State, went on to become a pro beach volleyball player and earned a silver medal winner at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta with partner Mike Whitmarsh.
RAFER JOHNSON - Winner of the gold medal in the Decathlon at the 1960 Rome Olympics, Rafer Johnson scored a record-breaking 8,392 points. He graduated with honors from UCLA in 1959, where he starred in basketball and track and field. Johnson has won virtually every major U.S. sports award, including the 1958 Sports Illustrated Athlete of the Year and the 1960 Associated Press Athlete of the Year. In 1984, he again received international attention as the torchbearer to light the torch for the Los Angeles Olympics at the LA Coliseum. Johnson is an avid supporter of the California Special Olympics.
PARNELLI JONES - Born in Texarkana, Arkansas, and raised in Torrance, California, Parnelli Jones is one of the most famous names in auto racing, having won nearly every major auto event in the United States. In 1962 and 1963, Jones won the pole position at the Indianapolis 500, and in the latter year was the first driver ever to exceed 150 mph, setting a mark of 151.153 mph for his lap qualifying run. He went on to win the race. Away from the track, Jones is a highly successful Firestone Tire dealer.
JOHN MATESICH - With 55 years of public safety service in San Pedro, Calif., and South Bay beaches as a lifeguard, John Matesich is possibly the oldest active beach lifeguard in the U.S. Matesich holds 53 National Titles in age group competition for swimming, paddling, rowing, running, and surf ski, with 24 Silver & 13 Bronze finishes. He's in the Guinness Book of World Records as a member of a group of seven South Bay paddlers who set a record for an English Channel crossing.
MARTY MCSORLEY - Known as one of the toughest men to ever don a hockey uniform, Marty McSorley enjoyed a 19 year career in the National Hockey League with six teams, including the Los Angeles Kings. McSorley won two Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers alongside teammate Wayne Gretzky before they were traded to the Kings in a multi-player deal. Although best known to casual hockey fans for his brawling ability, McSorley's versatile skills as a player who could play forward or defense made him a sought after player in the NHL.
BILL MUNCEY - The most famous name in unlimited hydroplane racing, Bill Muncey was killed October 18, 1981 in an accident during the final heat of the World Championships in Acapulco. A resident of La Mesa, California, he won more unlimited hydroplane races than any other driver. Muncey amassed 61 victories, including a record eight Gold Cups and seven national titles. He was a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness.
GREG NOLL - World renowned surfer, Greg Noll grew up riding the waves of Lunada Bay in Palos Verdes and later became a surfing legend by conquering the huge 25 to 30 foot surf in Hawaii. Known as "Da Bull" for his fearless style of charging down the face of waves, Noll is considered by many to be the greatest big wave surfer ever and was featured in the seminal surf documentary film, Riding Giants. Noll is also well known in the surfer community for his surfboard designs and his boards are some of the most sought after in the world.
JOE ORBILLO - Although Wilmington native Joe Orbillo had a boxing career that lasted less than a decade, those who saw him fight never forgot him. Known as a blood and guts crowd favorite, Orbillo was a heavyweight hopeful in the 1960s who fought various top boxers of the day in toe to toe brawls that earned him the respect of all his opponents including championship contenders Jerry Quarry and Eddie Machen. At the conclusion of Orbillo’s boxing career he trained Joe Lewis to title of American Kickboxing Champion.
MANDO RAMOS - A native of Long Beach, Mando Ramos attended Franklin Junior High and Poly High where he was an outstanding athlete in both football and basketball, before setting his sights on boxing. He began pro boxing in 1965. A hard-punching, aggressive fighter, Ramos made Los Angeles his base. There on September 28, 1968, he fought for the world championship, but lost on points to Carlos Teo Cruz. At a rematch the following year, Ramos became the World Lightweight Champion at age 20, becoming the youngest man ever to win the title. He retired from boxing in 1975.
SUGAR RAY ROBINSON - Credited by many informed sports writers as having been “pound for pound, the greatest fighter in the world,” Sugar Ray Robinson was the five-time champion in the middleweight ranks and also took the welterweight title once. His boxing career spanned 26 years and 202 professional bouts, beginning in 1940, after having an undefeated string of 88 amateur fights. Robinson took the welterweight title in 1946 and decked Jake LaMotta to win his first middleweight crown in 1951.
BILL SHOEMAKER - The most successful rider in the history of thoroughbred racing, Bill Shoemaker recorded more than 8,800 wins. He led all riders in purse earnings 10 times. He was the second leading money-earning jockey of all time and the first to earn more than $100 million in a career. He surpassed Johnny Longden as thoroughbred racing’s all-time winningest jockey in 1970, with his 6,033rd career victory. He retired in 1990.
SINJIN SMITH - Known as the unofficial ambassador for beach volleyball, Christopher St. John “Sinjin” Smith is without a doubt the most recognizable and most accomplished volleyball player in the world. Smith, a three time All-American at UCLA, led his team to a national title in 1979. A leading force on the Pro Beach Volleyball Tour for the past 15 years, Smith has claimed 12 World Championship crowns throughout his career, and is the all-time open winner totaling over 130 victories. Smith has dedicated himself to promoting the sport on both the national and international level, and was instrumental in getting Beach Volleyball in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
MARK SPITZ - Mark Spitz was propelled into the international spotlight when he won seven swimming gold medals and broke seven world records at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. However, his swimming records began long before the Olympics. Born in Modesto, California, in 1950, Spitz held 17 national age group swimming records at the age of 10. Furthermore, in the 1968 Olympics at Mexico City, Spitz captured two gold, one silver and one bronze medal. In 1971 he won the Sullivan Award as the outstanding U.S. amateur athlete.
MIKE STAMM - World class swimmer, Mike Stamm won two silver medals and one gold medal while representing the United States at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. A backstroke specialist, Stamm took individual silver medals for the 100 and 200 meter events and the gold as part of an American 4 x 100 meter medley relay team that included Mark Spitz. Stamm was born in San Pedro and moved to San Diego as a teen, where he was a High School All-American swimmer. He later won numerous Big Ten and NCAA championships while swimming for the University of Indiana.
JIM THORPE - Thorpe is considered by many to be the finest athlete the United States has ever produced. In the 1912 Stockholm Olympics he finished first in the pentathlon, first in the decathlon, fourth in the high jump and seventh in the broad jump. He was the only person in Olympic history to win both the pentathlon and decathlon. In 1913, he was stripped of his medals for having once played semi-professional baseball for $2 a day. Those medals were posthumously returned to him by the International Olympic Committee in January, 1983. In addition to the Olympics, Thorpe was an All-American half-back, played pro football, and played baseball for six years with the New York Giants. He died in 1953.
PAT YELOVICH - Pat Yelovich is San Pedro’s greatest ever swimmer and water polo player. In the mid-1960s, he was the L.A. City champion in several events and still holds the San Pedro High School record for the 200 yard individual medley. He earned All-American honors at Harbor Junior College and Long Beach State College as a swimmer and was a unanimous All-American in water polo. In 1973, Yelovich was a member of the USA National Water Polo Team.