The Fresno-based team of U.S. Army members won back-to-back World Fastpitch Championships in 1943-44 behind balanced play and the masterful pitching of Private First Class Al Linde and Sgt. Kermit Lynch.
In '43, the Raiders beat the best teams in California and the West Coast to qualify for the world tournament in Detroit. They took five of six games there, twice beating the hometown Briggs Bombers with Lynch in the pitching circle.
They went one better the following year by going undefeated in the World Championships, which were held in Lakewood, OH, just outside Cleveland, and attracked nearly 48,000 fans over six days.
Instrumental to the Raiders' success were 2-1, 18-inning, and 1-0, 12-inning victories over the Zollners of Fort Wayne, IN.
1943 Raiders: Pfc. Al Linde, Cpl. Dalton Monroe, Cpl. Ed Scienski, S/Sgt. Jim Clendening, Cpl. George Papach, Pfc. Woody Alexander, Pfc. Dutch Chandler, Cpl. Jim Jelenich, Sgt. Bob Nugent, Sgt. Kermit Lynch, Sgt. Nick Russo, Sgt. Charles Stojeba, S/Sgt. Fred Rickert, and 1st Lt. Art Miller.
1944 Raiders: Pfc. Al Linde, Sgt. Kermit Lynch, S/Sgt. Jim Clendening, Pfc. Woody Alexander, Lt. Tony Iacovitti, S/Sgt. Fred Rickert, Sgt. CHarles Stojeba, T/Sgt. William Anderson, Sgt. Harry Goorabian, Sgt. Bob Nugent, Sgt. George Guss, Cpl. Dalton Monroe, Cpl. George Papach, Pfc. Dutch Chandler, and 1st Lt. Art Miller.
Fresno State linebacker Ron Cox's toughness and athleticism took him all the way to the NFL following standout careers at Washington Union High School and Fresno State University. He was awesome, the strongest athlete I ever coached," said former Bulldog coach Jim Sweeney. His attacks on the quarterback were legendary, leading to three Fresno State records: seven sacks in one game, twenty-eight in a season in 1989 and a career total of fifty. Sweeney and others talked about Cox's infamous take-down of a fellow Bulldog during a live play in a pre-game warm-up. "We were in a bowl game and he knocked out our starting fullback on one of those plays," Sweeney said. "The guy missed the game. He hit like a sledgehammer." The team's headfootball trainer at the time, Paul Schecter, said he was "fierce on the field and a gentleman off the field. Ron would do anything for you."Cox, 6'1" and 240 pounds, was named the Big West Conference's Most Valuable Player, Team MVP, and Second Team All-American in 1989. He helped the Bulldogs to a 27- 8 record in his three seasons, along with two California Bowl wins. Five of those losses came in his freshman season. In the 1989 Cal Bowl win over Ball State of the Mid-American Conference, 27-6, Cox intercepted a fourth-quarter pass and returned it fifty-eight yards for a touchdown.
He declared for the NFL after his Junior year and was a second-round pick (the 33d player drafted) by the Chicago Bears. He was a devastating tackler and steady outside linebacker for six seasons. Cox then signed with Green Bay as a free agent. He stepped into the middle linebacker role and won a Super Bowl championship ring.
Gene Johnson, the former Edison High School, Fresno City College, and University of California star, was the first high jumper in the world to leap over 7 using the western-roll style, eventually hitting a personal best of 7'2 3/4". Johnson was number one in the United States in 1963 and was world-ranked from 1962 through 1966. He won the Pan-Am Games in Brazil and finished second to world-record holder Valeriy Brumel during the U.S. vs. Russia meet in Moscow during the Cold War in 1963. Johnson finished second to Brumel a number of times and liked to say, "I scared him to several records."
Johnson was in junior high watching an Edison High meet when he became interested in high jumping. His brother, Spencer, was jumping about 5'8". Johnson decided to try and sailed over the bar. "That was the start of my western-roll style, just by watching," Johnson said. "I progressed and in high school, Frank Fletcher became the coach and he was a good one. I jumped something like 5'10". In my senior year, I went to the state meet. I finished fifth." Future jumping stars like Joe Faust and Paul Stuber were jumping 6'8" or 6'9" and Johnson was at 6'2". He advanced to 6'6 before entering Fresno City College, where in his first meet he cleared 6'8", establishing him among the best junior college jumpers in the country. He also played basketball at City College.
At Fresno City, Johnson was part of a team that challenged perennial power Allan Hancock. Along with Johnson, the Rams included John O'Leary, Joe Lee, Tom Jacobson and John Malone. But a career-ending knee injury to Malone spoiled any chance to beat Hancock, Johnson later stated. Johnson's future was decided when the Rams met the Cal freshman and he won the high jump at 6'7". Venerable California coach Brutus Hamilton recruited him, although Fresno State's Dutch Wamerdam and UCLA's Ducky Drake also made offers. "The clincher was I had family in Berkeley and I knew where I could get a free meal and Coach Hamilton was such a great gentleman and coach, so it was an easy choice. I enjoyed Cal. I'm glad I went there," Johnson said. In 1963, during a meet at UCLA, Johnson jumped 7" for the first time. Second place was future Olympic decathlon star, C.K. Yang.
Johnson and other premier high jumpers from the U.S. got a glimpse of the future of high jumping, even though they didn't realize it at the time. Johnson, John Rambo, Ed Caruthers, and Bob Hoyt watched a young high schooler named Dick Fosbury use a new technique to jump 6' 10". But Johnson and the others were already in the seven-foot-plus club. “Perhaps had Dick Fosbury jumped higher that night, we might have taken a little more notice," Johnson said. "Had he made seven feet or so we may have said, 'Maybe this is something we better look at more closely. Whatever, two years later, he had the gold medal in the Olympics and the high jump was changed forever. Then the flood gates opened and it seemed everyone went to what was called "The Fosbury Flop.' I think it was an easier jumping style, but I don't care what style you use when you jump 7'8", that's getting up there."
While track and field gave him the opportunity to see the world, Johnson said he regretted not making the 1964 Olympic team. He recalled his missed opportunity jumping at Randall's Island in New York: "I don't know how I knocked that bar off at 6'11", but I did. I was told I still had a chance to make the final trials, so every time I jumped 7’ or higher, I sent a clipping to the Olympic Committee. I just knew I would make the trials and I waited for a call. Finally, the Olympics were on and I was still in Berkeley and no call came." Still, Johnson was one of the premier high jumpers in the 1960s and the fourth American to reach seven feet.
An exemplary person from West Fresno, who is a living example of what can be achieved through determination, is Tim McDonald. Anyone who is familiar with the great athletic traditions of the Edison High School Tigers, the University of Southern California Trojans, and the San Francisco 49ers knows that Tim McDonald is a testament to perseverance.
If asked, McDonald would not hesitate to enumerate the various people - teachers, counselors, coaches - who have guided him to a successful and fulfilling life. The building of a role model begins with lessons that are learned about respect, discipline, obedience, commitment, dedication, dependability, poise, pride, loyalty, honor, work ethic, and self-esteem. Whether at home, in a classroom, or on a football field, those were the tenets that McDonald absorbed. He knew it wasn't going to be easy.
McDonald was rewarded by becoming a prep football All-American at Edison. He was a quarterback and a safety on defense. His statistics would make any college recruiter drool: 2,739 yards passing (56.9 percent), thirty touchdowns, 400 yards rushing, six touchdowns, 123 tackles, and five interceptions. The next chapter in McDonald's athletic career was written at USC, where he majored in business administration and was a defensive safety during three years, making eleven interceptions and 325 tackles. McDonald was named to the 1986 All-American Team and was selected as the 1987 Defensive Player of the East-West Shrine Game. McDonald's aggressive play for the Trojans enabled him to be selected to the Walter Camp All-Century Team in 1999.
Naturally, the 1987 National Football League draft would show interest in McDonald and he was the 34th pick in the second round by the St. Louis Cardinals. He played his first six seasons in the NFL for the Cardinals from 1987 to 1992 and his final six with the San Francisco 49ers from 1993 to 1998. Career highlights included thirty-eight interceptions, fifteen fumble recoveries, seven and a half sacks, and four interceptions for touchdowns, but that doesn't begin to reveal McDonald's durability. He started 171 of 175 games, sitting out only once as a 49er and three times as a Cardinals. Tim's underwent ten surgeries, yet played in six Pro Bowls and the XXIX Super Bowl in 1995 when the 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers, 49-26.
Rival quarterbacks directed their attacks away from McDonald's zone. He was a quick-thinking, fast-footed, hard-rushing, solid-hitting, and well-coordinated adversary. His value to his team was further signified by his willingness to help younger players adapt by coaching them on techniques, finesse, and mind-set of a professional football safety. "Nobody lasts forever in this league," McDonald said during his last season in 1998. "I always figured one of my jobs was to also help players get ready to replace me when I couldn't play any more." He explained his philosophy of being an efficient play-for-play safety: "Ifa defensive lineman slips, one of the linebackers can cover for him," he said, "but ifa linebacker doesn't make a play, there's a defensive back behind him and we are not allowed to slip. It's a challenge, but I believe that the most satisfying thing is doing something that people say you can't" An insight into MeDonald's unselfish attitude, it has been noted, extended far beyond the playing field. For example, during the 1993 season -his first with the 49ers he generously donated $2,000 to charity for every victory by his team that season.
When it came time for him to retire in 1999, McDonald exited the sport he loved graciously, saying simply, "I've had a great time." He wasn't idle during his brief retirement. He promptly opened the World Sports Cafe in Fresno's River Park, and in January 2002, he was named head varsity football coach for his alma mater, Edison High. Realizing a longtime goal to "give something back" to the community, he said, "Kids are often told about the negative. I'm here to tell them the positive, to keep them motivated to get good grades, as well as to help them play football; it is my belief that football is secondary to those things."
In seven years at the helm of the football program at Edison, Tim led the Tigers to a 58-24-2 record, including a Valley Championship in 2009. During his tenure as coach, twenty-five of his players signed major college scholarships, twelve of whom went with Pac-10 schools. To top off the 2009 championship season, sixteen of his players posted a GPA of 3.0 or better, and nine of those had a 3.5 or higher. Coach McDonald emphasized character and discipline to his team, saying, "We talk about character, about how important it is to attend practice, how it relates to getting to class on time, and how that relates to taking care of your homework." He devotedly emphasized the "consequences of their actions" to his athletes. "Everyone wants to know why they have to do a certain thing a certain way," he explained, "but I say if you can't show them, then you're not going to get the most out of them."
Tim married his high school sweetheart, Alycia, and together they have raised three children, daughter Taryn, and sons T.J. and Tevin. T.J. played safety at Edison and followed in his father's footsteps at USC in the 2009 recruiting class. Younger brother, Tevin, another All-Valley player during his time at Edison, made things interesting at the McDonald home by accepting a football scholarship to major USC rival, UCLA. As if Tim McDonald was not busy enough, in 2010, he re-enrolled at USC to finish up his college degree. He has always practiced what he preached. After that, will he return to the coaching ranks? Most likely. As he told Andy Boogaard, sportswriter for the Fresno Bee, "Football has always been a part of my life for so long, I don't know what I'd do without it. In some shape of form, it will always be a part of the family, and pretty much year-round."
Bill Musick was one of the most successful community college wrestling coaches, winning four state college championships, twelve Northern California titles and seventeen conference crowns during a twenty-two year career at Fresno City College. His overall record was 247-50-5 with twenty-five individual state champions and three two-time state winners. When a state dual-meet championship was introduced in 1992, the Rams won four out of six. Musick coached the team three different times until he retired in 1997.
Musick was a fine athlete himself, winning the Valley Championship in wrestling while at Madera High School. After serving two years in the Army and bulking up in size, he played football for Bakersfield College. The Renegades won the conference during his freshman year and went 11-0 the next season, triumphing in the National JC Championship by whipping Del Mar, Texas 36-12 in the Pasadena Rose Bowl. Bob Burgess, the longtime Fresno State line coach, recruited Musick, tackle Monte Day, and center J.R. Williams from that team to play for Coach Cecil Coleman. During Musick's two seasons as a Bulldog, Fresno State lost just one game to Montana State on a field goal in the final seconds of the next-to-the-last game of the 1960 season. The next year, Fresno State's Mercy Bowl team was 10-0. "That was quite a run," Musick said of his college years.
After graduating from Fresno State, Musick coached football for two years at Fresno High School, then was hired as defensive coordinator for Claire Slaughter, coach at Fresno City College. Musick helped the Rams win four state championships. After fifteen years as an assistant, he was head coach for nine seasons. "Those state championship teams were incredible," Musick said. "They were practically all local players, usually outweighed, especially by those powerful Southern California teams such as Santa Monica and Fullerton, but we did have some outstanding players who went on to play at top four-year schools. They were smart, tough mentally and played better than we had reason to believe they could. The 1972 season stands out. We had lost by a big score to Fullerton in a non-conference game early in the year, but we won our conference and wound up in the JC Rose Bowl against Fullerton. The game was fogged out in the first quarter on Saturday night, so we played it Sunday and we beat Fullerton bad. It was one of the most satisfying games I was ever involved in as a coach."
After a couple bumps in the road, he found success as the Fresno City College wrestling coach. It started when the athletic director asked if he would take the program for a year while they looked for a permanent coach, Musick later stated. He went from fill-in coach to one of the premier community college wrestling coaches in the state for more than two decades.
Terry Pendleton, one of Fresno State's all-time greats, played fifteen years in the major leagues, winning the National League Most Valuable Player award, three Gold Gloves, and went to the World Series five times. After his first year in Little League at age nine, Pendleton said he was the worst player on the team and begged his parents to let him quit. He stuck with the game and made the all-star team the following year as a shortstop. After Oxnard Junior College, he chose to play for Coach Bob Bennett's Bulldogs and blossomed. He led the Dogs to two Pacific Coast Athletic Association conference titles, topping the team in hitting and defense during the 1981 and 1982 seasons.
In 1982, he set the Bulldog season hits record with ninety-eight while batting .397, slamming twelve home runs and driving in sixty-five runs. This production led the slick-fielding, switch-hitting Pendleton to receive All-American honors. Following the 1982 college baseball season, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Pendleton in the 7th round. He was sent to the big leagues in 1984.
In 1982, he set the Bulldog season hits record with ninety-eight while batting .397, slamming twelve home runs and driving in sixty-five runs. This production led the slick-fielding, switch-hitting Pendleton to receive All-American honors. Following the 1982 college baseball season, the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Pendleton in the 7th round. He was sent to the big leagues in 1984 after leading Double- and Triple-A teams in batting and fielding.
The third baseman won two of his Gold Glove Awards and went to the World Series twice with the Cardinals. In 1991, the Cards granted Pendleton free agency and he moved to the Atlanta Braves in a deal that paid big dividends for the Braves. That first year in Atlanta, Pendleton led the National League in batting average (.319), hits (187) and total bases (303) while winning the NL most valuable player award. In 1992, he had another great year for the Braves, with a .311 batting average, 199 hits, a third Gold Glove, and was the starting third baseman for the National League in the All-Star game. He also finished second, to Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, in the 1992 National League MVP race. "T.P." spent four years with the Braves and was granted free agency again. He signed with the Florida Marlins in 1997 and then got picked up by the Cincinnati Reds.
In 1998, Terry was a Kansas City Royal and then retired at the end of the season. Pendleton batted.298 in World Series games with twenty-eight hits, seven doubles, a triple, and two home runs. He was hired in 2002 as hitting coach for the Braves and in 2007, Fresno State retired his #8 Bulldog uniform, placing it on the left field fence at Pete Beiden Field.
Tim Simons coached football at Clovis High School for twenty-four years, amassing an incredible 220-59-4 record while winning five Central Section championships and eleven league titles. He also was an assistant coach at Fresno State and came out of retirement in 2006 to launch the football program at Clovis Unified School District's newest high school, Clovis North. Simons comes from a sports-oriented family and a long line of teachers and coaches. His dad, Jud Simons, co-founded Fresno's youth baseball program in 1951.
At Fresno High School, Simons played baseball as an infielder and football as a running back. "I loved to play, but my dreams were not always about playing. When I got older, I really liked the idea of teaching and coaching. That's what I wanted to do," Simons said. After graduating from Fresno High School in 1959, Tim enrolled at Fresno State to pursue his dream. He credits Phil Krueger, one of his teachers at Fresno State and the Bulldogs football coach in 1964 and 1965, inspiring him to pursue coaching football. "He made me a graduate assistant at Fresno State, and that really got me going," Simons said.
After graduation, Simons landed an assistant coaching job at Clovis High School. He went on to serve as head football coach at Lennox High School in Los Angeles and Roosevelt High School in Fresno. In 1976, he took over the Clovis High Cougars where he remained until Fresno State hired him as receivers coach in 2000. He coached at FSU for seven seasons: "I was fortunate to be a part of some great moments with Pat Hill and the Bulldogs. I loved it and I learned so much." His legacy, however, was his unmatched record at Clovis High. He and assistants Larry Kellom, Jack Erdman, Cliff Wetsel, Mike Freeman, John Sexton, and Bill Biggs built a powerhouse program that set a standard for Clovis Unified football. Simons was named the California High School Coach of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports in 1984 and was the 1991 Nor-Cal Coach of the Year. The Cougars were nationally ranked in 1991 and 1999. "You know, it wasn't just about the wins and the losses. It was about the [team] family and what we could do to help these young people. We were all great friends and we still are," Simons said. "We all stay in pretty good touch with a lot of our players to this day."
Bernard Thompson was a prolific scorer for Fresno State and a key member of the Bulldog basketball team when they won the historic National Invitation Tournament title at Madison Square Garden in 1983. Teammate Ron Anderson and Thompson were the "Bookend Forwards," the outstanding offensive and defensive tandem for Coach Boyd Grant's style of play -heavy on teamwork and defense. Under Grant, the Bulldogs were 194-74 with four titles over nine years. After excelling at Fresno State, Thompson was a first round draft pick in 1984 by the Portland Trailblazers. He played six seasons in the NBA with the 'Blazers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets. Thompson was recruited to Fresno State University by assistant coach Jim Thrash, who had scouted Thompson at South Mountain High School in Phoenix. It was early in the Grant era, when the coaching staff also brought in Rod Higgins, Bobby Anderson, Bobby Davis, and Tyrone Bradley. At 6'6" and 210 pounds, Thompson had a great career at South Mountain as an all-round performer. He was hoping to primarily play guard at Fresno State, but ended up taking on all five positions at one time or another. "Bernard really sacrificed for the team," Bradley said. "He was so quick and he could move the basketball, but we needed him to play more at the forward and center positions and he just got in there and worked his butt off. Obviously, it paid off for us, and him as well."
Bernard made the All-Pacific Coast Athletic Association freshmen team in 1980-1981, second team All-PCAA in his sophomore year, and then won first team All-PCAA honors for his final two seasons. In 1983, United Press International named him an Honorable Mention All-American, and in 1984 he won that honor again with the UPI and also with the Associated Press.
Thompson broke records at Fresno State, including shooting fifty-eight percent from the field. Bernard averaged sixteen points a game during his junior and senior seasons and twelve points a game during his four years as a Bulldog. He was a career seventy-five percent free-throw shooter and was one of Grant's great defensive players with 560 rebounds, 188 assists, and 151 steals. A highlight of Thompson's stint at Fresno State was the team's 69-60 NIT victory over DePaul University. The Dogs had lost a chance to play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament that year on a three-point defeat to University of Nevada, Las Vegas in overtime in the PCAA tournament. Grant accepted an invitation to play in the NIT, and the Dogs knocked off University of Texas, El Paso, Michigan State, Oregon State, and Wake Forest to finally face DePaul at the Garden. A pass by Bradley down court to Thompson for the score finished off the Blue Demons as a national television audience watched and their fans at home celebrated. Thousands gathered on a parade route and at a campus celebration when the Bulldogs returned to Fresno. It was fitting that Thompson-the steady, quiet leader-scored the basket that won the game.
Transplanted Englishman Harold S. Young introduced youth soccer to Fresno County in 1967, launching a movement that attracted all ages in communities throughout the area. Young, who had lived in Fresno for ten years, brought his favorite sport-largely unknown before then-to the attention of Howard Holman, chief of Fresno Parks and Recreation Department.
With Holman's blessing, Young organized schools throughout the city. He recruited volunteers, held coaching clinics, and became known as "Mr. Soccer" when he spread the game to Clovis, Madera, Sanger, Oakhurst, Visalía, Merced, Kingsburg, and Kerman. Soccer became a mainstream school sport, complimented by nationally recognized college programs and a semi-professional team in Fresno. Indoor soccer also gained popularity. Young would be proud of his legacy.
In 1973, Young received accolades in Soccer America with a story that named Fresno's junior program as the best in the nation and praised Young for his enthusiastic and capable leadership. He was the point man in convincing the CIF to the sponsor soccer as a high school sport and, in 1973, the Harold S. Young Classic holiday soccer tournament for high schools was launched. Prior to initiating junior and high school programs, Young helped found the Olympic Soccer Club, a Fresno adult team that won three league championships in a row. In 1971, Young was named Fresno's Volunteer of the Year. Five years later, he was the second person inducted into California's North Youth Soccer Hall of Fame.