1961 FOOTBALL INDUCTEE
Johnny Baker, an outstanding athlete at Kingsburg High School, etched his name in USC Trojan football history books in 1931 when he booted a thirty-three yard field goal to beat Notre Dame in South Bend and end a twenty- six game Irish win streak. The victory propelled the once-beaten Trojans of coach Howard Jones to the national championship and Baker, a solid guard for three seasons, to the All-American Team.
USC trailed 14-0 with six minutes to play, but cut the Notre Dame lead to 14-13 by driving again. There was one minute left on the clock when Baker broke Irish hearts with his winning kick. It was the first time that USC prevailed over Notre Dame in South Bend. After the game, Jones took his entire team to visit the grave of his friend, legendary coach Knute Rockne in Highland Cemetery. When the Trojans returned home, they were treated to a ticker-tape parade in downtown Los Angeles before several hundred thousand Angelinos. USC used the upset victory to launch an eighteen-game win streak of its own.
Following his graduation from USC, Baker was an assistant coach at Denver University and head coach at Sacramento City College before joining the AirForce. He coached the Fourth Air Force team to the National Service Championship. After his discharge, he was an assistant for the professional Los Angeles Dons and the University of Washington before finding a permanent home in 1951 as head coach of Sacramento State College. In ten years, he built the Hornets into one of the top small school programs in the state. He was elevated to Sacramento State College Athletic Director in 1961. Baker, who died in 1979, was inducted posthumously into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and was in the third class of Trojans from all sports to be inducted into the USC Hall of Fame in May of 1997.