The victories kept mounting, but the person who paid the least attention was Len Bourdet, who finished his Fresno City College baseball coaching career in 1988 with 722 victories which at that time was the most in California junior college history. Bourdet was one of the many disciples of legendary Fresno State coach Pete Beiden who became very successful in the high school and collegiate coaching ranks. "You know, I never kept track of those things (wins]. I just wanted to field the best team I could and if I did that I knew we would win," Bourdet said. "After a while, media people came to me and said, 'You know, you could be the JC coach with most wins ever in California?" I knew we were winning pretty consistently (fifteen league and four state championships plus two third places); I just never knew the totals. I was fortunate to have a lot of really good kids, some good assistants and good school support."
Twenty-year assistant Fred Bartels said Len had pretty strict rules, but could also be flexible. "You know, not all kids want to have short haircuts or you couldn't do this or that because they didn't have to in high school and Len would back off a little depending on the kids he had," Bartels said. "I noticed he mellowed on those things but in a good way. They knew how far they could push and I was right there telling them not go over the line. I worked with the outfielders and I liked that and Len let me do it. I know we never had a cross word to each other the whole time I was his assistant." Bourdet and Bartels each played three seasons for Beiden and their coaching tactics showed it. The workouts were long, tough, and meaningful. Beiden could forgive errors, but not mental mistakes or a breach of fundamental baseball. Bourdet patterned his workouts to mirror those of Beciden. Bourdet said he learned from Beiden that long, hard work paid off.
Fresno State practices were never short and there were no breaks and everyone was doing something. Bartels said when he played in 1951, Beiden would post the daily workout schedule in the old field house next to Ratcliffe Stadium. "We couldn't understand what it said, but we knew it would be hard and long with no time for standing around," said Bartels. "That was the same way Len's workouts were and our teams had great fundamentals, as did just about every coach that played for Pete." Bourdet was born and raised in Hollister where he was a three-sport star at Hollister and Napa High Schools. Two years in the Army in Okinawa were followed by a single season at San Benito Junior College and then on to Fresno State. He played his first season as a Bulldog at third base in 1948 which was the year that Beiden was hired. His final two seasons were at third base. He played five seasons of minor league baseball before deciding that coaching was his gift.
In 1958, his first Rams team was 15-10 and finished second in the Valley Conference. That was a precursor of what was to come. The following year, he was 25-4 and tied for first in the league, but lost in the regionals. In the next six years, the Rams won the league outright and won three straight state championships from 1961 to 1963. The Bourdet Rams added a fourth state title in 1972. He also hired Dick Selma to his staff as a volunteer assistant until Bartels retired due to bad knees and then Dick went full time. Bourdet became the winningest community college coach in California history with 675 wins on February 14, 1987 when he passed Wally Kincaid of Cerritos College. Number 700 came February 18, 1988. Bourdet's last win was May 21, 1988 at the regional playoffs in Stockton where the Rams beat San Jose City, 8-5. The same Rams lost a wild 13-12 decision to De Anza College to close out his career.
Bourdet's nicknames included the "Hollister Cowboy"-since he team-roped steers with his brother, Gene, who later became Fresno State Athletic Director-and "Lizard" which players used, but never to his face. Bartels said it was very difficult to fool Len, but forty of his players pulled off a surprise reunion of the 1961, 1962, and 1963 State Champions at the Fig Garden Country Club. He was lured there by the opportunity to conduct a golf teaching class. "I was fully prepared for a golf clinic, but I certainly was not prepared for the greeting I got when I walked into the clubhouse," Bourdet recalled. "I didn't have a clue that anything was in the wind. It was a complete surprise, but a great one:" Bourdet still works part-time at Fresno City. He is an accomplished single digit golfer and along with his wife, Becky, spend part of the summer at their home in Santa Cruz.
The undisputed king of tennis in the San Joaquin Valley was J. Newton Bramblett from 1920 through 1927. The Fresno High School Class of 1917 graduate attended the University of California from 1923 to 1924, Stanford in 1925, and Fresno State from 1926 to 1927. In the early 1920s, he was dominant in singles play in both the city of Fresno as well as Fresno County. Bramblett also teamed with Bill Lauritzen to win the Valley and Fresno County and City Men's Doubles championships. He also teamed with his sister, Mrs. Cora Buford, to win the City and County Mixed Doubles championships for several years running.
At Fresno High he was a hurdler, played third base for coach J.W. "Pop" Warner and participated in junior tennis tournaments. Displaying his athletic versatility, Bramblett won the Fresno City Junior Golf Championship while attending Fresno State. He was one of the stars of the Fresno Tennis Club six-man team in intra-club play with squads from Stockton, Berkeley, Sacramento, and San Francisco. Bramblett promoted a number of Fresno tennis projects including building concrete courts at the Fresno Fairgrounds for an appearance by tennis superstar Helen Wills, who drew the biggest tennis crowd of that time. He served as an official for exhibition matches of professionals Bill Tilden, Don Budge, Jack Kramer, and fellow Fresnan Walt Senior. Bramblett taught science and American government and coached tennis at Edison High School for thirty-four years.
In an era where 300 games were not as common as today, Flesch rolled five of them, three which were sanctioned. His highest three-game series was 773. He once bowled 1,200 for five games during a benefit for the Chicago Service Men's Center. The Illinois native begin managing bowling lanes in his home state. Flesch, who carried twin nicknames of "Deacon" and "Chopper"during his professional career, took turns at managing at the Playdium, the Midstate Bowl, and the Sunnyside Bowl in Fresno. He teamed with Buddy Bomar to win the 1944 National Two-Man Title. He also made the Bowlers Journal All-American team in 1949 and was captain of the Western All-Star teams in 1946 through 1948.
Goldie Long was born in Virginia, but graduated from Sanger High School in 1902. He coached swimming at Roosevelt High School from 1937 to 1945. Perhaps his greatest contribution was as the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) director in Manila and the United States from 1907 to 1937. In 1917, he was director of the Fresno YMCA and co-founded the YMCA Sequoia in the 1920s. Always a physical fitness expert, he competed in tumbling, wrestling, boxing, archery, track, and football. Long was also assistant Director of Health, Physical Education, and Welfare for Fresno City Schools. Long impacted the lives of young men in athletics and recreation as few Fresnans have.
Jack Mulkey has a unique piece of Fresno State football lore. In 1941, the Dos Palos native was the first Bulldog in school history named to play in the East-West game when it was the biggest All-Star competition in the country. Mulkey transferred from Stanford University to Fresno State in 1937 to play for Jimmy "Rabbit" Bradshaw. The stocky 200-pound end was an All-Far Western Conference choice in 1939 and 1940 and an Associated Press Little All-American the same years. He was co-captain of the Bulldogs in his senior year. Mulkey was a four-sport letterman at Dos Palos High School. Showing his athletic versatility after graduating from Fresno State, Mulkey played tennis with Frank Kovacks and was captain of the San Francisco Clippers professional football team. He later played with the Roma Winery softball team. Mulkey was an assistant football coach at Fresno High School and later served as principal there.