The Kingsburg native Anderson was a starting guard at 150 pounds on the unbeaten 1930 Fresno State football team and received honorable mention on the Little All American team that year. He was a key player on opening holes in the line for stellar running back Stanley "Frenchy" Bordagary and a hard-hitting tackler and blocker. Anderson was no surprise for Fresno State coach Stan Borleske. In his senior year at Kingsburg High School, Anderson captained the Vikings who lost to Fresno High 23-13 for the Valley Championship. It is difficult to picture the easy-going, pipe-smoking Anderson as a tough football player. He was a jack of all trades and master of many at Fresno State where he was hired as athletic equipment manager following his graduation in 1932. At the urging of another Fresno Athletic Hall of Famer Goldie Long, Anderson took up the sport of archery. He became the "Robin Hood" of Fresno, winning city titles from 1935to 1942. His high scores of 714 placed him among the best archers in the state. He continued as equipment manager and was Equipment and Field Manager for the famed West Coast Relays for many years.
Following two years in the Navy during World War II where he served as a physical education trainer, he was elevated in 1948 as Director of Intramural Sports at Fresno State, a job he kept until retiring in 1973. Anderson also coached the tennis and swimming teams in 1948. He was a real pleasure to be around and an excellent outdoorsman.
Jeanne Contel was a standout for the Fresno Rockets amateur softball team, playing in a bygone era when the team was popular entertainment and business sponsors sent the squad traveling throughout the United States. Contel competed fourteen years for the Rockets beginning in 1951 and was known for her prowess at third base and RBls. She was elected to the Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in 1969. As a Fresno Rocket, Contel was part of the team's world championships in 1953, 1954, and 1957. "I think one of my biggest thrills was when we won that first championship,"Contel said. "We defeated Orange, the defending champions, and a great team."Contel loved the challenge of hitting with people on base. "I wasn't a high-average hitter, but I did drive in a lot of runs, she said. She said one of her career highlights was hitting her first national tournament home run which she slammed over the fence in Toronto.
Many diamonds at the time, including the Rockets' home field at Holmes Playground, did not have fences. She said she misses the relay plays of her era, when there were no fences to signal automatic home runs. Contel said much has changed with women's softball since the no-frills time she played in. "I look at kids today playing and they get to fly in planes to away games, everything on a silver platter," she said. "I wouldn't trade when we played for anything. Because, you know, there were so many good teams. [There was] nothing else to do then, so softball was big time." She recalled crowds of 400 to 800 fans at Holmes Playground near downtown Fresno and lamented the demise of company-sponsored softball teams and adult travel teams. It was a far different and much simpler era. Contel said players were allotted $2.50 a day for food when traveling. Sometimes, players would pool their money and splurge on fried chicken. Contel said the team managed to attract sponsors including Betsy Ross Grape Juice. "When someone hit a foul ball, if the fan gave the ball back, they got a bottle of Betsy Ross Grape Juice which was horrible tasting. Contel said.
Local businesses would often sponsor individual players, giving them S150.00 for the year to help cover uniforms a First Team All-American for five years 1958 Championship Record: 21 Assists Played in l1 National Championships other costs, but when the team needed to fly to Stratford, Connecticut in 1958 for the championships, team members didn't know how they would come up with the money for airfare. Eventually, local companies stepped forward to help out and the team scraped together enough to fly for the first time to a tournament. Most of the time, the team traveled by car.
When we won in Toronto, we had this huge trophy to bring home. We also had fifteen individual trophies in boxes all padded, very nice. The big trophy rode between the beds in the back. So we had to squeeze our way in. "When the team would hit the road, Contel, who always enjoyed drawing, would decorate the car windows with stick figures and slogans like "Toronto or Bust" and "Fresno Rockets from California." Other travelers would respond to those signs. Many folks had heard of the Rockets, but didn't know where Fresno was. She recalled driving into Oklahoma City and stopping for breakfast. "A big guy knew someone in Fresno, so he wanted to see us," Contel said. "We didn't know his friend, but he bought us breakfast which was kinda neat."
When the Rockets traveled to Connecticut for the national championships, raisin industry representatives sent packets of raisins which the team tossed to fans in the stands. "They were great fans anyway, but when we started throwing those packages to the fans, many started rooting for us against their own team," Contel said. Contel was born in Oakland and knew of and liked Fresno after spending time at a friend's parents' farm east of town. While playing softball in the Bay Area, the Fresno Rockets recruited her. Contel's goal was to teach in a rural school, so she landed a job in Caruthers and began playing for the Rockets. Contel later taught at Roosevelt High School, eventually becoming Dean of Girls across town at Fresno High School. She was late promoted to principal, serving in that post for eleven years. Playing for the Rockets, Contel said, had a significant impact on her life. "It opened a lot of doors for me." she said. "It gave me name recognition. I got to play on a nationally recognized team, and made it to the national hall of fame.
It is difficult to imagine a more idyllic career in sports by any definition-exhilaration of competition, expansion of cultural horizons, accumulation of wealth and national recognition-than that which Daryle Lamonica was privileged to experience. He has a remarkable sports resume: four-sport Clovis High School letterman, All-American, Third Team quarterback for Notre Damë, 1968 Super Bowl II quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, two-time AFL-AFC Player of the Year, and four-time Pro Bowl selection. Lamonica was christened the "Mad Bomber" by television commentator Howard Cosell. That was something Lamonica admitted he didn't like at first, but the seemingly appropriate nickname stuck with the 6'3", 215-pound, right-handed Raiders passer with the explosive arm.
Lamonica could launch a football forty yards with effortless accuracy. For the record, catch-and-run distances for some of Lamonica's longest touchdown completions measured between sixty and ninety-three yards. Was he a "Mad Bomber? Yes. And the "Black Hole Gang" of wild-eyed, beer-guzzling, weirdly-costumed Raider fans loved him for it and roared their approval all the way to the Super Bowl. It didn't take Lamonica long to adjust to being called the "Mad Bomber." He said, "I was able to utilize it [the long pass] as a weapon and as a tool, and it worked out well for me..I used to rely on my vertical game for the long passes and, of course, we also had our short-to-medium range passes as well. But, I mostly relied on my receivers with speed for big yardage with quick strikes." Lamonica would complete 1,138 of 2,248 passes (50.6 percent) for 16,655 yards and 148 touchdowns during eight seasons with the Raiders.
During four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, he had completed only 150 of 353 passes (42.5 percent) including sixteen touchdowns. His two-team career totals were 1,288 completions in 2,601 attempts (49.5 percent) for 164 TDs during 151 games spread over twelve years. Dating back to his boyhood on his family's grape and peach farm, Lamonica's earliest athletic success was as a member of a Clovis team that participated in the Little League World Series. He was good enough in high school to have been offered a pro contract by the Chicago Cubs before he accepted a scholarship to Notre Dame. During his three seasons at Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish were only 12-18 in the win-loss columns. He woefully completed only three of thirty-one passes for 242 yards as a sophomore; kept laboring for twenty of fifty-two for 300 yards and two touchdowns as a junior; and when he became a starter as a senior, he completed sixty-four of l128 passes for 821 yards and six TDs. Best of all he completed his collegiate career by passing the East in a 25-19 win in the 1962 East-West Shrine Game, and was selected as the outstanding offensive player.
Lamonica was signed by the Buffalo Bills in 1963, but spent four seasons as starter Jack Kemp's backup before he was traded to the Raiders to be "born again" in 1967. His first season with the Raiders made a huge impact on excitable coach John Madden and Oakland's blue collar fans as he led them to a 40-7 win over Houston in the AFL championship game; however, the Raiders lost their Super Bowl II game against the Green Bay Packers, 33-14. During the regular season, Lamonica completed 220 of 425 passes for 3,228 yards and thirty touchdowns. He was named AFL Player of the Year in 1967, an honor that he would win again in 1969, although the Raiders lost the AFL championship that year to the Kansas City Chiefs, 17-7. Lamonica completed 221 of 426 passes for 3,302 yards and thirty-four touchdowns in 1969.
There were many thrills during Lamonica s fourteen-year pro career and he says that his most exciting game was the unforgettable 1968 "Heidi Bow" in Oakland when he and "Broadway Joe" Namath of the New York Jets dueled on national television. To the utter amazement of millions of outraged fans, the Jets were ahead of the Raiders, 32-29, when NBC cut away from the game to its previously scheduled program the movie Heidi-with fifty seconds left on the scoreboard clock. Miraculously, Oakland would score twice within nine seconds, first on a Lamonica pass and then on a kickoff recovery in the end zone for a 43-32 win. But millions of TV viewers never saw the ending to what is still considered one of the most exciting football games ever played. "We scored fourteen points in a matter of nine seconds," Lamonica recalled. "I was able to hit Charlie Smith with a long TD pass and then we recovered the ball in the end zone on the kickoff. But that one pass that I threw changed the game for the networks today: they cannot stop an NFL game until it is over. You can say that we were able to make sports history."Since his retirement, Lamonica has often been asked to name his favorite teammates and he always begins with Jim Otto. "He was one of the greatest centers who ever played the game," he said of "Double O." He also said that he always admired the blocking of linemen Art Shell and Gene Upshaw, the pass catching and blocking of tight end Raymond Chester, and the tackling of defensive back Willie Brown. In addition to many great moments experienced throughout his career, Lamonica was paid to do two of the things he loves best-fishing and hunting-as a host of Outdoors with the Pros for Fox Sports Net. Elected to the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame, Daryle has had a Clovis stadium named after him and has even been named to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame along with such luminaries as Joe DiMaggio, Rocky Marciano, Willie Pep, Yogi Berra, and Rocky Graziano.
Bruce Farris once said, "Every town needs a cheerleader, and Al Radka was certainly Fresno's. Everywhere he went, Al would be talking about Fresno and what a great place it was to love. "The sixty-six year love affair between Al Radka and Fresno began in 1937 when a young Al Radka came to play football for Fresno State. The red-headed Radka had been a star lineman for the Moors of Alhambra High School in the Los Angeles area. He went on to Pasadena City College, playing well enough for the Lancer to get offers to play at some four-year colleges, Fresno State among them. Bulldog head coach, Jimmy Bradshaw was pleased to get the young guard with the high-spirited personality to go along with his red hair. Legend has it that Radka, while on the defensive line, spent so much time in the opponents backfield, making tackles, that he was known as "Raider Al" around the Far Western Conference. He made the All-FWC team in 1939. He was also named as one of the guards on the Fresno State all-time football team.
Al was the student body president at Fresno State in the 1938-1939 school year. Besides playing football and being involved in student government, he found time to write, produce, direct, and appear in three annual FSC Spring Swing great place it was to live" Musicals. After graduation in 1939, Al decided to settle down in his adopted hometown. He married the love of his life, Alma, a Fresno native. This man of many talents then began his working career as a sports writer for The Fresno Bee. He was the part-time announcer/entertainer at Euless Park, home of the Fresno Cardinals and Fresno Giants, both minor league baseball teams. Al was involved in helping to make Fresno a better place to live. He was the vice president of the Fresno Junior Chamber of Commerce, the chairman of the Raisin Bowl game, and served in the Air Corps. He entered the corps in 1942 as a private and, when discharged in 1946, was a captain.
He is most notably known for his local, legendary career in radio and television where he became "Mr. Fresno" and was the favorite local celebrity in Fresno for many years. Even though he was a very busy man, Al always looked for ways to make contributions to helping and stirring up interest in sports. He was always available to help raise funds for sports programs in the area and served tirelessly on many committees to help build and raise money. Al was an early member of the Bulldog Foundation in the 1950s and he helped to create one of the most successful college programs in the United States. The Fresno Hot Stove League dinner was one of the best-known and most successful events in the city's history. Under Al's guidance, the annual dinner drew many of the great baseball players of the day to Fresno for the annual fundraiser.
Stars like Johnny Bench, Billy Martin, Brooks Robinson, Willie Mays, Casey Stengel, Don Drysdale, Vida Blue, Joe Morgan, Robin Yount, and a Fresno favorite, Willie McCovey, who came back three times, are just a short list of the many players that came to the dinner at Al's invitation to raise money for Fresno youth programs. Most of the players attended at far below their usual appearance fees. In his retirement, Al loved to play golf with his buddies, to make appearances, and to return fan mail even as he got older. Al Radka died in March 2005. The City of Fresno dedicated the Al Radka Park, complete with two baseball fields, a concession area, walkways, and bleachers. The park is located on Belmont, just south of Fowler Avenue. There is also a memorial with a beautiful sculpture of "Mr. Fresno," Al Radka.