It took the historic San Francisco earthquake of 1906 to move San Jose-born "Bud" Blosser to Fresno. He was another in the long line of Fresno High graduates to be inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame. Blosser participated in basketball and track for the Fresno High School Warriors. He also was a member of the Stanford University track team where he earned his degree. It wasn't on the playing fields that he became influential, but rather in selling sports equipment. In the middle of the 1930s, he became a sports gear salesman for the famed A.G. Spalding & Brothers company. He helped pioneer and develop several products such as plastic football helmets, rubber game balls, girdle football hip pads, and foam core wrestling mats. Blosser founded the Sports Equipment Company with former Fresno State football star Seymour "Sim" Mathiesen. He quickly built a strong high school and community college clientele. He was probably best known in Fresno as a one-man employment agency for young coaches. If Blosser gave the okay the man was hired. When World War II ended, Blosser shipped baseball equipment to Japan to promote a game which would become widely accepted in that country. His home was a favorite setting for West Coast Relays parties. Bud Blosser died in 1955.
Stu Inman has done just about everything you can do with a basketball career except own a team. Born in Alameda, Inman played basketball for Alameda High School and San Jose State College; coached at Madera and Roosevelt High Schools, Santa Ana Junior College, Orange Coast JC and San Jose State; and was chief scout, interim coach, and general manager for the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA. Inman ended his career as the director of player personnel for the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat.Inman's direct connection to the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame is as one-time coach for the Madera Coyotes in 1951 and Roosevelt Rough Riders from 1952 to 1953. While that may not seem a high recommendation for selection, his additional coaching forays at Santa Ana, Orange Coast, and San Jose State fatten his résumé to merit plenty of applause.
Stretching 6'5", Inman set individual scoring and rebounding records at San Jose State from 1947 to 1950 as the Spartans became California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) champions in 1947-1948 and 1948-1949. Inman set a single-season scoring record with 521 points in 1950, a mark that stood for thirty-four years, and racked up 1,504 points for a career record that lasted thirty-eight years. He was a three-time All-CCAA selection as the Spartans made their first two National Intercollegiate Athletic Association (NAIA) Tournament appearances in 1947-1948 and 1948-1949. Inman coached Santa Ana to 5-12 and 14-11 records before producing an 18-9 Eastern Conference Co-Championship team at Orange Coast.
Stu returned to Prune City as head coach from 1961 to 1966, succeeding Walt McPherson and producing four winning seasons. Inman also joined pals Pete Newell, ex-University of California at Berkeley coach, and one-time Madera High athlete and Portland State coach Jack Avina, as they conducted basketball camps in Europe, Asia, and Australia. His imprint with Portland started in 1970 as chief scout and he then became president of player personnel. His behind-the-scenes value began to draw attention as the Blazers won their only NBA crown in 1977. They called Inman "The Shadow" and he never claimed proper credit for being the architect the Blazers' court success. For example, eight of his draft selections won All-NBA rookie honors.
Portland, at a cost of $3.7 million, began NBA play as one of three expansion teams in 1970-1971; Cleveland and Buffalo were the other two new additions. Inman was the first scout. In 1972, Inman was the interim coach until Lenny Wilkins took over in 1974-1975. Bill Walton, a three-time NCAA Player of the Year, became a team member in 1975 and Jack Ramsey replaced Wilkins in 1976. Portland's fans went nuts beginning April 8, 1977, as the Blazers went on a string of 814 consecutive Memorial Coliseum box office sell-outs, the longest in the history of professional sports. Their 49-33 regular season was capped when the Blazers won the NBA playoffs against the Julius Irving-led Philadelphia 76ers.
Throughout his director of personnel duties, Inman was considered to be a hoop sport genius. He possessed a sixth sense when it came to selecting players for Portland. He was widely admired for his skill in detecting outstanding emotional as well as physical qualities in athletes. He brought in many great stars over the years, but there was one draft choice he would like to have again: the second pick in the 1984 draft when he passed on Michael Jordan and chose a center that the Blazers needed, Sam Bowie. So you can't win them all, but Stu Inman has won a lot of them.
Earl Jones was a standout football and baseball player at Roosevelt High School from 1935 through 1937. It was his eye-blinking fastball and wicked curve that convinced scouts to hire him for professional baseball in 1938. He made the Arizona-Texas League All-Star team in his rookie year. He graduated to the Penn State League the following season and posted a 15-9 record, landing on his second straight All-Star team. In 1940, Jones was 12-4 in the Three-Eye League, making the All-Star team again and notching his first no-hit, no-run game. He struck out a league record twenty batters in 1941 and led the Canadian American League in strikeouts with 220 in 184 innings in 1942. With his star rising fast and a 17-11 record, he was promoted to the AAA American Association in 1943. He went to camp with the same team in 1945, but was called up by the parent team, St. Louis Browns. He pitched relief in ten games and in twenty-eight innings had a 0-0 record with a 2.54 earned run average. Jones struck out thirteen and walked eighteen. He returned to Fresno to become a fireman and, on weekends, he pitched for the strong Roma Wines team. Following the end of the war, he spent four seasons in the American Association and Pacific Coast League.
The sixty-year history of Fresno City College football is accented by four outstanding chapters that were contributed by state champion teams coached by Clare Slaughter. Slaughter put his stamp of excellence on the state's competitive football map by achieving state titles in 1968, 1969, 1972, and 1973. Additionally, the Slaughter-coached Rams won seven conference championships-1964, 1966, 1968-1969, 1972-1973, and 1975-with three out of five post-season bowl appearances. During his tenure from 1959 through 1978, Slaughter's teams compiled a 136-61-6 record in eighteen seasons. From 1968 through 1973, the team captured four state titles for a 52-11-3 record. His teams also won twice as many games as they lost during two decades, going 66-31-2 from 1960 to 1969 and 72-30-3 from 1970 to 1979.
Slaughter was an end for football teams at Porterville High School and the College of the Pacific. He also led the varsity team at Sanger High School, coaching Tom Flores, later of Oakland Raiders coaching fame, for two years at Sanger High. Sanger won three consecutive Valley Prep Championships in its division from 1953 through 1955 during Slaughter's seven years as coach for the Apaches. After he succeeded Hans Weidenhoefer in 1959 as the third head football coach for the state's oldest junior college, Slaughter coached Flores for two more seasons at Fresno City College before Tom transferred to COP (now University of the Pacific). Other notable Rams under Slaughter's influence included wide receivers Bill Herron and Ervin Hunt, running back Freddy Figueroa center/linebacker Jim Merlo, defensive lineman Greg Boyd, defensive backs Mike Freeman, Dewayne Crump, and Rod Perry. Herron and Merlo also prepped at Sanger High. Four players on the Rams' four state championship teams were picked on the Junior College Grid-Wire All-American First Team: Offensive guard Ken Mayo in 1968, quarterback Mike Rasmussen in 1969, defensive linemen Tom Ryska in 1972, and Mike Long in 1973. Merlo, an honorable mention for the 1969 state champs, was named to the Junior College All-American first team the next season, a non-state title year.
Slaughter still resides near Fresno City College with his wife Eveline, who teaches at her own private school. daughter, Julianne Ely also lives in Fresno and the Slaughters' two sons, Jeffrey and Jonathon, live in Merced and Illinois respectively. A third son, Jim, who played football for his dad at City College, has passed away. Slaughter declines to name a favorite athlete amongst those he coached, but he does name Gene Green, who played at Sanger High, as the best all-around athlete. What was his biggest coaching thrill? "It would have to be the first state championship we won in 1968," he said. "My son, you know, also played on that team." During six decades of football played by Fresno City College, forty-three of those seasons were on the winning side of the ledger, equating to .662 percent. The red and white uniformed Rams have logged an impressive 394 career wins in a state where junior college football has always been hotly contested and 122 of those moments of gridiron glory were stamped with Slaughter's initials.
Harold Barton "Hal" Windell did a balancing act of fighting fires and earning respect as one of the finest umpires to ever call strikes in Fresno. Windell retired as a captain for the Fresno Fire Department after thirty-two years of service. His umpiring career stretched to nearly a half century. Born and raised in Fresno, Windell got his baseball baptism at Fresno High from 1926 to 1929 as a catcher. That was his position as a player for the Warriors, the Fresno Acorns, and two Fresno Twilight League teams until 1939 when Fresno Tech coach Pop Warner asked him to umpire a game.
During the war years, Windell umpired games in the military league where rosters contained many former and future professional players. That was no picnic, but Windell earned respect for his consistent calling and his gentlemanly way of dealing with players. Rules Stickler, Erwin Ginsburg, who was supervisor for officials in the northern Central Section of the CIF for eighteen years and, perhaps the greatest authority when it came to the rules book, praised Windell's work. Ginsburg told Fresno Bee columnist Omer Crane in 1974: "He's the best man we've got at the plate. Hal's never had a protest that I can remember, and I honestly can't recall he ever had to eject any kid out of a game. He's respected by coaches as much today as he was twenty years ago. He does it quietly, inconspicuously." In the same column, Windell told Crane he never made a makeup call. "If I do, then I've missed two."
Windell could have boasted that he was certainly the Valley's and maybe the state's senior umpire except he was not the boasting type. He was an honest and devout Christian. In total, he called close to 3,000 games. Not bad for a man who said umpiring was a wonderful hobby.