Cal fans over the decades have witnessed plenty of spectacular performances and moments by the home team. From the Golden Bears’ 1959 basketball national championship to “The Play” in the 1982 Big Game and beyond, Cal teams and individuals have authored athletic history that will live on.
But headlines often have trumpeted the achievements of sporting guests of the Golden Bears, opposing teams or athletes who have generated widespread interest by venturing here and then delivered on the Berkeley stage.
Beginning today, we will relive 10 memorable visits to Cal and the legacy they created. Here are the first two, unveiled chronologically:
Sept. 28, 1940: TOM HARMON'S SIGNATURE AFTERNOON
On his 21st birthday, “Old 98” had a game in Michigan’s 41-0 rout of Cal that virtually clinched the Heisman Trophy. Tom Harmon returned game’s opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, took back a punt 72 yards for a score and ran 86 yards from scrimmage for another TD — all in the first half. He added an 8-yard touchdown run and a 5-yard TD pass and kicked four PATs.
“I’ve never seen anyone run like Harmon. He was really something special,” former Cal defensive end Ray Dunn told the Oakland Tribune in 2004.
A two-time All-American, Harmon also was named the Associated Press Athlete of the Year for 1940. Later he was pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II, then played two seasons in the NFL before becoming a sports broadcaster.
Having broken Red Grange's college record with 33 career touchdowns, Harmon was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.
At Berkeley, seemingly the only person who touched Harmon all day was an inebriated fan who jumped out of the Cal crowd and tried taking him down just before he reached the end zone at the end of his 86-yard TD burst.
“The kid looks at me kinda funny,” Harold Brennan said afterward, “and says, `What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ And I says, `I’m tackling you.’ “
As this video shows, Harmon gracefully eludes the would-be tackler as he steps into the end zone.
“I’m glad I did it,” Brennan said later. “Anyway, when the Michigan guys go home they can’t tell folks nobody tackled Harmon. I did.”
The game was notable also because it marked the first time a college football team traveled cross-country by air to play a game. The Wolverines used three DC3 planes, making stops in Denver (overnight) and Salt Lake City (for re-fueling), before completing their 2,400-mile trek from Ann Arbor to Oakland.
Harmon made it all look much easier than that.
May 29, 1954: A TRACK MEET FOR THE AGES
Edwards Stadium was host to the 1954 California high school state meet, which produced an all-star collection of young talent who delivered at an especially high level.
Piedmont’s Monte Upshaw stole the show, breaking Jesse Owens’ 21-year-old national high school record with a long jump effort of 25 feet, 4 1/4 inches, the first 25-foot leap by a prep athlete. Upshaw outdistanced the second-place finisher by nearly 17 inches.
Upshaw, whose promising career at Cal was largely derailed by a injury, also beat future Olympic decathlon champ Rafer Johnson of Kingsburg in the 180-yard low hurdles, although Johnson turned the tables on him in the 120 highs.
James Jackson led Alameda to the team title with a stunning performance in the sprints. He tied Owens’ high school national mark of 9.4 seconds in the 100-yard dash in a preliminary race, then won both the 100 and 220 and anchored the 880 relay.
Lincoln-San Jose star Don Bowden, who later became the first American to break the 4-mile minute mile while running for Cal, won the 880-yard run in a state meet record of minutes, 52.9 seconds, just off his national high school record.
And Hayward’s Dick Dailey was an upset winner in the high jump over Charles Dumas, the Centennial-Compton star who just two years later became the first man to clear 7 feet while at the 1956 Olympic trials.
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jefffaraudo
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