1971 ATHLETIC ADMINISTRATOR INDUCTEE
Huntley Dayton was an object lesson that debunked Leo Durocher’s famous line that “Nice guys finish last.” The Minnesota native moved to Parlier in 1921 and spent thirty-five years coaching a variety of sports. He was at Parlier High School until 1925 and at Sanger High School from 1926 to 1961 where he became an Institution. Dayton was a winner and yet gained the respect of his peers for sportsmanship, integrity, and love for his athletes. His Apache teams won three football, seven basketball, and six baseball Sequoia League titles. After he retired as coach and athletic director at Sanger, Dayton admitted to Fresno Bee sports writer Tom Meehan that he got into coaching almost by accident.”I applied at Parlier for a shop teacher’s job, ” Dayton told Mechan. “The principal took me outside the school and pointed to a field where the students tied their horses. “You can build your shop there,’ he said. ‘And we need some help in coaching, so you will do that, too, after you finish building the shop.” It was a different era, so the former Bradley University basketball captain built his shop and managed to squeeze in some coaching.
When Dayton moved to Sanger, he coached basketball, baseball, football, track, and tennis. It was the norm then, especially in rural schools, that one coach wore many hats, although it is doubtful that many were told to build their own classroom. Many of Dayton’s athletes became an “extended family” for him and his wife, Florence. He watched with pride at the progression of some who went on to collegiate fame and into professional sports. He was equally proud of those who became good fathers, successful businessmen, farmers, and superior role models.
The Dayton-coached athlete that gained the most notoriety is Tom Flores, who excelled as a quarterback for the Apaches, Fresno City College, and the University of Pacific in Stockton. Flores also quarterbacked early Oakland Raider teams and won two Super Bowl titles as head coach of the Raiders. Lou Papac was a sixteen-letter winner in major sports and was a basketball star at Fresno State. His brother, Nick started at quarterback for Fresno State. Frank Starnes was a basketball starter and top scorer at USC. Bill Herron was a JC All-American at Fresno City College and went on to play in two bowl games for the University of Georgia. Gene Green, a marvelous all-round athlete, played professional baseball for St. Louis. Len Sondergard played basketball at Fresno State and also was one of the Valley’s top softball pitchers and the list goes on. Dayton was able to accept defeat in a gracious manner, but was also humble in victory which is the real test of a man.