If Bernie Allard had been born in the era of big professional sports salaries, he might have had second thoughts about Hastings Law School, but he now knows that he made the right decision. Allard, a three-sport letterman at Fresno High and a two-time CIF state high jump champion, is an attorney in San Jose. "The only pro contract I was ever offered was by Eddie Erdelatz, coach of the Oakland Raiders," Allard said. "He asked me to be his kicker. I told him I was going to law school. He said, ‘If you flunk out, you have a job for $500 a month.’ I said to myself, ‘Yeah, and drive a truck in the off-season.’" Dave Brase, a football teammate of Allard’s at Fresno High, recalls a fifty yard-plus field goal that Allard kicked for the Warriors.
Allard was born in Missoula, Montana and his father moved the family to Fresno in 1946. Allard attended Heaton Elementary School, San Joaquin Junior High, and Fresno High School. He participated in football and track for Warrior coach Owen Ginsberg and basketball for Joe Kelly. His state winning high jumps were 6’6’’ and 6’61/4". When Allard graduated high school, he had seven football scholarship offers and planned to go to USC, but his mother won out and he went to Notre Dame. There, he confined his athletics to track and field. Allard set a Notre Dame record at 6’81/2" which stood for fifteen years. "I cleared 6’81/2" a number of times and I feel that I should have been in the 1956 Olympics. I was an alternate and I got to travel with the U.S. team all through the United States," Allard said. "I consistently beat the other two, but I didn’t make the team." Allard stated, "I copied the jumping style used by the great Russian Olympian Valeiry Brumel. He put the lead leg over the bar first and then pulled the rest of the body over. I tried seven feet a few times but never made it. My best jump of 6’10" was in Norway."
In 1956, Allard went on a Scandinavian twenty meet trip through Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. In those contests, Bernard went undefeated in the high hurdles and the high jump. He won the high school division in the high jump of the West Coast Relays three consecutive times. He did well in the university division in the discus, javelin, 440-meter, 220-meter, and relays. Allard said he thought about the decathlon, but he couldn’t pole vault. Allard said that the Scandinavian trip was a once in a lifetime experience. "It had to be one of the finest five and a half weeks of my life," Allard said. "There were four other American athletes and myself. Four hours after we landed, I was in my first meet. Not just my specialties [high jump and hurdles] but three other events as well. After that, we never stopped. We toured every town we competed and took in every possible sight. I had injured my left ankle [and] so had trouble with my high jump, but did make 6’83/4". I surprised myself with a 213-foot javelin throw. I also ran the high hurdles in 14.3."
When he returned to the United States, he participated in the Labor Day meet in Eugene, Oregon. He tied USC jumper Ernie Shelton for first at 6’6". Allard said he surprised himself by finishing second to Joe Shankel, an Olympian, in the high hurdles. Rafer Johnson was third. Allard had quite a career in athletics and now is excelling in law.
When we talk about a true pioneer who had a legendary career, the first person mentioned is Mary Brown. She did more for girls' basketball in the Valley than anyone. Back in the 1960s, she led the effort to get the girls' game on the hardwoods to where it is today. First, competitive basketball for the girls consisted of a six-player game in which each team had three stationary players on each end of the court and could only play on their half of the court. No fast breaks or full court pressure. It was Mary Brown, the young teacher/coach graduate of Fresno State, who got the CIF powers-that-be to install the full court game. She led her San Joaquin Memorial teams to heights that brought the school, and the Valley for that matter, to recognition around the state, and even the country, with her innovative ideas as the girls game got stronger.
Mary coached at SJM for eighteen seasons, leading the Panthers to an incredible record of 317 wins and forty-five defeats for a winning percentage of 87.6.
When Robert “Bob” Duncan was growing up in Fresno, he spent many happy hours playing ball on sandlots around town. Bob was a busy young man with school, scouting, a Fresno Guide paper route and working his chores around home. Even after losing his sight in one eye, Bob still participated in sports, playing ball when he could. In high school, he went out for the football team at Fresno High and managed to make the cut and he remembers what a thrill it was for him to carry the ball in the first game of the year against Bakersfield. Unfortunately, he failed to mention this to his parents, and when they heard, they immediately put a stop to it. Doctors said an injury could affect his good eye. He never wavered in his love for sports.
Bob's mother, Erma Duncan was an artist and she loved to make ceramic jewelry and gifts for friends and family. She got many requests for her work and the Duncan garage behind their house on Adoline Street turned into a mini-ceramics factory complete with a small kiln. "She loved to do things like that and it was sure to have an influence on me. When I went on to Fresno State, I took some ceramics classes there, as did my mom," remembers Bob. Bob was at Fresno State when he was drafted into the Army during World War II, but for "limited duty" because of his eye injury. When he got out of the service, Bob went to work with his family in the ceramic business.
His mother's products were popular, and when his brother, Dick, got out of the Marines, he joined the family company as well. By the 1960s, Duncan Ceramics had grown to 350 employees and was doing business worldwide. Bob became the President of the National Ceramic Manufacturers Association from 1963-1965. Along with being successful in business, Bob also had a great sense of community pride in his beloved Fresno.
He was impressed with the Fresno State sports programming, in particular, coaches like Jim Sweeney and Boyd Grant. He thought he would like to help Fresno State sports in the building of a new football stadium and sports complex on the campus. Bob became a Bulldog Foundation Trustee in 1963. He was the top fundraiser for the Bulldog Foundation for sixteen consecutive years from 1966 to 1981. In 1969, he received the NCAA College Football Centennial Award. He has been a member of the Bulldogs Quarterback Club, the Time Out Club, the Dugout Club, the Track Backers Club, Softball Club, and the Wrestling Club. From 1972 to 1975, he was the President of the Bulldog Foundation, which became the leading fundraising program of most U.S. colleges and universities. Bob Duncan donated $25,000 seed money for Bulldog Stadium for the initial research for the project and then Duncan Ceramics donated another $757,000 to the stadium-building fund. Bob and brother Dick also contributed $250,000 toward bringing the Bulldog Foundation office back to the university from its location on Shaw Avenue. The stadium was dedicated on September 5, 1981 and it was momentous for the university,but also for the people of Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley.
Bob was honored at halftime by the school and the Bulldog Foundation as the first Mr. Bulldog Endowed Scholarship from the BDF trustees was installed. A little known fact is that the university asked Bob if they could name the stadium after the Duncan family, but Bob said that although he appreciated the gesture, it would make more sense to name it Bulldog Stadium. Bob Duncan is a team player all the way. Bob Duncan has made dreams come true for many in his hometown. The list of awards and acknowledgements that Bob Duncan deserves would take up the main floor of the Save Mart Center which he also helped get built. However, if you know Bob Duncan, you are aware that all of that recognition pales against the strong sense of belief he has in Fresno and its citizens. Ask any athlete, coach, or fan and they will tell you, Bob Duncan deserves the biggest pat on the back in appreciation of all of his support, belief, and leadership of this community.
Every athlete dreams of moments of glory and every fan anxiously waits for them. With football, it's the accurate passing quarterbacks, the hard-running tailbacks, and the sticky-fingered wide receivers who have the best chances to earn a slice of the celebrity pie. But what about football's defensive backs? They don't necessarily become superstars, but every once in awhile, they rise to the top.
Fresno-born Glazebrook was a standout defensive back for the Hoover High School Patriots, a leader in the Pats' championship run in the North Yosemite League, while himself winning all NYL honors and playing in the prestigious City-County All Star game. Not bad considering that, due to his small size, he didn't get to play varsity until his senior year at Hoover. After high school, Bob found himself a very big part of the defensive backfield for the Fresno City College Rams as he led them to a 1975 Valley Conference championship. He was the unanimous choice for All-Valley Conference safety and honored for his work on special teams for the Rams and is a member of the Fresno City College Football Wall of Fame. Very soon after that, he was happy to hear that Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney had a spot for him in the Fresno State Bulldog defensive backfield alongside another prized Bulldog player, Wily Robinson.
At FSU, Bob was an All-PCAA performer and twice earned PCAA Player of the Week awards and All-West Coast honors while playing a leadership role in the Dogs taking the 1977 PCAA championship and a 9-2 record. The sure-handed Glazebrook also handled the place kicks for his sure-footed teammate, the record-setting Vince Petrucci. As if that wasn't enough, the then 6'1" and 200-pound athlete was an outstanding special teams player with the true heart of a Bulldog.
Invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game, Bob was outstanding and, when the NFL called, he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders. It was 1978 and it worked out that Bob found an NFL home in Atlanta that year with the Falcons where his special teams play, especially his hard hitting, made him a favorite of the coaches and fans. He suited up for Atlanta for six seasons and still holds the Falcon record for most yards returned with a fumble for touchdown That play couldn't have come at a better time. It was late in the fourth quarter of a game against the New York Giants, with the Giant's leading 14-9 and looking to finish the Falcons off. When they fumbled on the nine-yard line, Bob picked it up and sent the fans into a frenzy as he raced down the field and gave the home team the victory. The Falcon's star was shining bright on that September day in 1982.
Bob's pro football summary for six seasons is typical of a dependable and hard-working player: buckets of sweat that don't show up on statistic sheets. Glazebrook started forty-two out of seventy-eight professional games that he played for the Falcons. While at Atlanta, he was credited with eight interceptions, six fumble recoveries and one touchdown. Another of the many multi-sport athletes that hail from the fields and courts of the Valley, Bob Glazebrook also played baseball in high school and college.
Al Pombo is another Fresno-born auto racer who has reached legendary proportions by accruing more than 500 main event victories over his racing career. Born in 1921 and raised in Fresno, Al began his hot rod career as a hobby in high school and started his auto racing career at twenty-three in 1948. AI won seven NASCAR state super-modified championships and numerous headliner titles at tracks throughout California like San Jose Speedway, Capital Speedway in West Sacramento, Kearney Bowl, Clovis Speedway, and others. He was a Kearney Bowl champion nine times, won six championships at the Clovis Speedway, and five more at San Jose Speedway.
Born in 1921 and raised in Fresno, Al began his hot rod career as a hobby in high school and started his auto racing career at twenty-three in 1948. Sponsors like Bill Haase and Fred Ede, Jr. kept Al busy as he built a reputation as one of the most colorful and well-respected drivers in California racing history. Back in the 1950s when stock car racing was becoming so popular, Al was content to drive out on the stock car circuit in towns of all sizes. "We used to race eight races in seven days back then. It just seemed like we had more time to do it," Al said recently. The sport was certainly catching on and the drivers would travel the circuits throughout the summer and fall. Al won his first California Gold Cup Race of Champions in 1961 as he roared to victory in his Corvette-powered 1932 Ford sedan in front of 5,000 fans at the Capital Speedway in West Sacramento. He had started the race in 41s position and managed to take the lead in the 28th lap of the 100-mile, 200-lap race, holding on all the way to the finish. Many of his laps were run in better than thirty seconds on the half mile track. His winnings that day were 1,000 silver dollars. In 1961, Al won another California State NASCAR championship as well. During the 1960s, fans loved to watch Al work his way from the back of the pack and take the lead. The fans loved it and his fellow drivers respected it. In October 1964, Al won big races on consecutive nights in Stockton and San Jose and the next night won his second California Gold Cup Race of Champions in Sacramento in his now famous number Circle 3. This time his starting position was 55th and by the 32nd lap, he had passed them all, holding and maintaining the lead for the rest of the 200-lap event. Pombo beat the second place finisher, Ed Brown, by eight laps on the half-mile track. Al won two more of the California Gold Cup championships in 1966 and 1970.
Al ended his twenty-five years in racing in 1972. Dennis Gage, a director of the Gold Cup series, said "Those of us who watched and cheered Al Pombo on those dusty tracks around California knew that we were lucky enough to be watching the master of the West Coast half mile." In his retirement, Al still liked to go to the races and visit with the fans and to talk about the glory days of California dirt and hardtop track racing. His manager and friend of many years, Paul Reiter recalls, "In 1976, four years after Al retired, he was asked to come out of retirement for one more race. It was a sprint car race at Clovis Speedway and he accepted the challenge. The car was owned by Al Brazile and Al Pombo raced for his friend and the fans, one more time," says Reiter, "And he won! He beat the twenty-eight other cars and that was his last race. That was how competitive he was."Al Pombo's name is still a favorite among racing fans and he is honored to be in many racing halls of fame around California. Madera Speedway runs its annual Al Pombo Classic each year and Al tries to make it to as many of them as he can.
Some people point to a single event or time when they made a decision that shaped their life and career. Billy Wayte can recite, day, time and year that happened to him. Wayte was a walk-on freshman for the Fresno State football team. In the first scrimmage, veteran All Conference tackle Nick Brown smashed Wayte in the face. “My nose was re-arranged, I had a cut from which I still have a scar and two black eyes," Wayte recalled. "I was only 160 pounds and he was 200+. He really drilled me." The next Monday, Wayte walked into Coach Clark Van Galder's office. The head man and assistants Kenny Gleason and Bob Burgess were there. "I told the coach I didn't think I was cut out for this. I was too small and I was getting beat up too much. Clark looked at me and said "We really don't want you to quit.' Burgess was more direct and pointed to the door. 'Wayte! Get out of here. Go in and get your uniform on. I don't want to hear another word from you."
Wayte learned what many Bulldog players before already knew: you don't monkey with Burgess. "I left the office, went to the locker and put my uniform on and that was that," Wayte said. "Bob put the fear of God in me, but it might have been all over had Bob not got after me. Had I decided otherwise that very well could have ended my career before it started." That career included three years as a starter for the Bulldogs and six years in the Canadian Football League, four with Montreal and two with Hamilton. He was a defensive backfield star when Hamilton won the Grey Cup in 1965. He knew he wanted to teach and coach and helped coach the Fresno State freshman team as a postgraduate.
Compounding Wayte's problems of size were four very good lettermen tailbacks, L.C. Taylor, Bobby Garne, Hank Hernandez, and Hank Vasquez, so in his freshman year, Wayte was shifted to fullback behind Philpott and Don Aiken. The 5'8" and 165 pounds Wayte was a fullback in name only. He showed potential by carrying the ball fourteen or fifteen times against Coalinga JC and their heralded quarterback, Willie Wood. The following spring, Wayte began to open eyes. In the annual spring game, he scored three times. "I was more quick than fast, but I did run a 4.5 for 40 yards; pretty good at the time" Wayte recalled. "1 started at tailback as a sophomore. In my junior year, Dale Messer transferred from College of the Sequoias." Messer was a former state high school hurdles champion at Lemoore and a very elusive runner. Van Galder switched Wayte and Messer. One was the tailback and the other was a halfback or wide receiver. Van Galder left for the University of Wisconsin and Cecil Coleman arrived with his "Wing T offense. Wayte was installed at right halfback, Messer left halfback and Larry lwasaki fullback. It was a potent threesome.
Wayte's senior year under Coach Cecil Coleman was hampered by a hip pointer which caused him to miss three games. He did receive honorable mention on the Little All-American team. He stayed a fifth year to finish his degree and cut his teeth in coaching. He and Harold Householder basically coached the freshman team."We were in spring practice of my fifth year when Bill Herron (former Fresno City All-American and University of Georgia end from Sanger) came out to watch," Wayte said. "Herron had been playing for Vancouver in the Canadian Football League." Wayte was still eager to play, so Herron said he would talk to people in Vancouver. At that time, the CFL did not have a draft, but each team had a twenty player negotiation list. If you were on that list, no other team could touch you. Vancouver offered such a small salary that Wayte decided to stay home to teach and coach. He was dropped from Vancouver's list and J.J. Albrecht, later an official for Dallas, then a personnel official at Montreal called him. The money was much better, so Wayte signed with Montreal. He was there for four years and finished his career with two in Hamilton all as a corner back. "My knees were beat up, so after the 1966 season, I decided to hang them up." Wayte said. "I was almost thirty years old [and] it was time to get on to my career which was coaching and teaching. I was hired at Fresno City College as an assistant coach for football and track." It was at Fresno City College that Wayte became a coaching legend, but surprisingly, in the game of tennis, not football. He was a football assistant in charge of defensive backs for Coach Clare Slaughter when the Rams won four state championships. Taking over men's tennis in 1977, Wayte suffered through four lean years, then his team won eighteen straight league titles (1982-1999) and played in numerous state finals. He retired in 1999, but still travels with the women's team and does budget and paperwork for both.
So how did tennis enter the picture? Wayte's father, Ted, and brother, Larry, were members of the Fig Garden Swim and Racquet Club. He picked up a racket and was "hooked." Ted Moranda was the men's coach at FCC and Wayte started hanging around the school courts. The college wanted to start a women's team in 1975 and Wayte volunteered to lead it. He had the women for two years. However, in 1977, Moranda announced that he was retiring from coaching and Wayte took over the men's team. He won his first conference title in 1982. From that year until he retired in 1999, the Rams won eighteen consecutive league championships and several Northern California crowns. Many of his students went on to play for Division I or Division II. Several are still in the area in tennis-related jobs. Wayte has had surgery on both knees because of painful injuries. He can look back on a fruitful and rewarding career, but credits Burgess with makine it possible.