The ‘60s did not begin in 1960. That was especially the case in Berkeley.
Darrall Imhoff led the Cal basketball team to a second straight Final Four in 1960 and Craig Morton was one of the nation’s elite quarterbacks in the fall of 1964.
By then, JFK had been assassinated and The Beatles arrived.
Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement took hold at Berkeley beginning in 1964, with a student occupation of Sproul Hall prompting nearly 800 arrests and garnering widespread attention. The Civil Rights Movement, women's rights demonstrations and Vietnam war protests weren’t far behind.
People’s Park became a political battle ground, and Gov. Ronald Reagan hardly quelled the protests when he sent in 2,000 National Guard troops, who confronted protesters with tear gas.
The effect on sports at Cal was significant. Parents watching the nightly news worried about sending their children to Berkeley, and that included their athletic sons.
Tension among African American players on the 1967-68 basketball team led to coach Rene Herrerias resigning at season’s end. That incident made headlines, but the general trend was undeniable.
After Joe Kapp led his team to the Rose Bowl, the Bears went 10 more years before their next winning season. After Pete Newell retired following the 1960 season, Cal’s basketball team didn’t play again in the NCAA tournament for 30 years.
The ’60s weren’t invented on the Cal campus, but Berkeley certainly found its place in a volatile decade.
Which leads us to . . . our Cal Athletes of the Year for the 1960s:
1959-60: DARRALL IMHOFF (basketball). The star center on Cal’s 1959 national championship team, Imhoff was a consensus first-team All-American in 1960 while leading the Bears to a second consecutive Final Four appearance. Imhoff averaged 13.7 points and 12.4 points as a senior, and scored 15.2 points per game over nine career NCAA tournament games, including 22 points and 16 rebounds in the Bears’ 1959 semifinal win over Oscar Robertson and Cincinnati. He then played for coach Pete Newell on the 1960 gold-medal Olympic team before a 12-year career in the NBA.
1960-61: BILL McCLINTOCK (basketball). A sophomore starter on the Bears’ 1959 national championship team, McClintock averaged 12.0 points and 9.6 rebounds on the ’60 Final Four team. As a senior, he generated career bests of 15.0 points and 10.6 rebounds to earn team MVP, first-team all-conference and third-team All-America honors. McClintock later conducted basketball clinics worldwide and served as an assistant coach at USF and San Jose State and as head coach at Cal State Monterey Bay.
1961-62: ROGER OLSEN (track & field). Olsen won the high jump title at the 1962 NCAA championships, scaling 6 feet 10 inches. A year later he was second at the NCAAs and finished in a tie for third at the U.S. nationals with a clearance of 6-11. Also: Paul Davis (gymnastics).
1962-63: DICK SMITH (basketball). A senior team captain and two-year starter, Smith led the Bears with a 14.6 scoring average and helped his team engineer a 5 1/2-game improvement over the previous season.
1963-64: MIKE EPSTEIN (baseball). A power-hitting first baseman, Epstein batted .375 as a junior in 1963, then topped that at .384 in ’64 to earn team MVP and All-Region honors. He went on to a nine-year major league career in which he hit 130 home runs, including 30 for the Washington Senators in 1969.
*** Craig Morton recalls his days on campus as the free-speech movement began:
1964-65: CRAIG MORTON (football). The quarterback earned All-America honors as a senior in 1964 and won the Pop Warner Trophy as the most valuable player on the West Coast after passing for 2,121 yards (No. 2 in the NCAA), completing 60 percent of his attempts (also No. 2 nationally) and throwing 13 touchdowns. He finished his three-year varsity career with 4,501 passing yards — a Pac-8 record at the time. He was the fifth player selected in the 1965 NFL draft and helped lead both the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl. Morton was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1992. Also: Loren Hawley (football/rugby), Andy Messersmith (baseball), Jack Schraub (football).
1965-66: JOHN GARAMENDI (football). The offensive guard earned first-team all-Pac-8 honors as a senior. Garamendi later became a career politician, including U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Lieutenant Governor of California and, since 2009 has served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
1966-67: RUSS CRITCHFIELD (basketball). A junior guard on the basketball team, Critchfield averaged 20.9 points to help the Bears to a 17-10 record. A year later, Critchfield scored 22.1 points per game as a senior to earn All-Pac-8 for the second season in a row. His 41 games of 20 points or more is second-most in Cal history. He scored more than 30 points in a game five times, including career highs of 36 twice. Also: Bob Presley (basketball).
1967-68: KEN WIEDEMANN (football). Fifty years after he played his final game for Cal in the fall of 1969, Wiedemann still owns the program record with 16 career interceptions. He had six of them as a sophomore in ’67, then tied the school record with seven a year later. Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school, Wiedemann played both football and baseball for two years at Cal and later earned a PhD in clinical psychology.
1968-69: ED WHITE (football). The nose guard was a first-team All-American as a senior in the fall of ’68 as the anchor of Cal’s “Bear Minimum” defense that allowed opponents just 3.6 yards per play. White moved to offensive line in the NFL and played in four Super Bowls and four Pro Bowls during a 17-year career. White returned to Cal as an offensive line coach from 1999-2001. Also: Charlie Johnson (basketball).
Follow Jeff Faraudo of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @JeffFaraudo
Click the "follow" button in the top right corner to join the conversation on Cal Sports Report on SI. Access and comment on featured stories and start your own conversations and post external links on our community page.