SAN FRANCISCO--UA assistant swimming coach Rick DeMont was named to the prestigious Bay Area Hall of Fame along with an impressive class of inductees who will be feted in April.
????????? Football greats Roger Craig, Ray Guy and Burl Toler, record-breaking swimmer DeMont, and under a new ˇ?Distinguished Achievementˇ± category, former 49er owner Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., have been elected to the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, BASHOF President Tom Martz announced today.
????????? During his swimming career in the 1970s, San Rafael-born Rick DeMont established world records in the 1500-meter freestyle, the 400 free and the 4x100 freestyle relay. He won the 400m freestyle in the 1972 Olympics, but his gold medal was taken away by what was originally thought to be traces of a banned substance, but was later found to be allergy medicine.
Those ˇ?72 Olympics are of course remembered for the murder of 11 Israeli Athletes. In 1973, DeMont won the 400m event in the World Championships in Belgrade, Yugoslaviaˇ?was the first man to swim the 400m free in less than four minutesˇ?and was voted Swimmer of the Year after that single achievement. After years of investigation and a waiting period of 29 years, the USOC confirmed they had made a mistake and reestablished DeMont as a legitimate Olympic Champion
???????? They will be honored at BASHOFˇ?s 29th Annual Enshrinement Banquet to be held Monday, April 21, 2008 at the Westin-St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco.
????????? In the past, only athletes and coaches have been eligible for induction, but BASHOFˇ?s Board of Directors added a new category to include off-field candidates who have made ˇ?an extraordinary impact on the sports history of the Bay Areaˇ±. DeBartolo is the first person to be so honored and was elected by a special panel of 22 community leaders, past enshrinees, broadcasters and sports editors.
????????? The 49ers won five Super Bowls in the 12 years of DeBartoloˇ?s ownership, a record yet unmatched in the National Football League. Under Bill Walsh, the coach DeBartolo first hired in 1979, the 49ers revolutionized football with the so-called ˇ?West Coast Offenseˇ±, which featured such now legendary players are Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, and new Enshrinee Roger Craig. DeBartolo has also been heavily involved in charitable causes in the Bay Area and across the countryˇ?and recognized with national awards from organizations such as the St. Jude Childrenˇ?s Research Hospital, the Salvation Army, and the CYO.
????????? Roger Craig, a strong and determined runner and a superb pass receiver, became in 1985 the first player in NFL history to surpass 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving in a single season. In his 11 seasons with the 49ers, he rushed for 8199 yards and 56 touchdowns. He was twice an All-Pro and a four-time participant in the Pro Bowl.
???????? Ray Guy was one of the greatest punters in NFL history. Only once in his 14 years as an Oakland Raider did he average less than 40 yards, and his career average of 42.4 yards was achieved on an amazing total of 1049 punts. As important as the distance of his kicks were the height and hang-time that set opponents back on their heels.
????????? Burl Toler was the rock-solid Center/Linebacker on the now justly celebrated University of San Francisco team of 1951 that finished undefeated, untied, and uninvited to a post-season bowl game, mainly because two of its great stars, Toler and Ollie Matson, were African-American.
On a roster boasting three future NFL Hall of Famersˇ?Matson, Gino Marchetti, and Bob St. Clairˇ?Toler was considered by his teammates the most accomplished of all. A knee injury suffered in the 1952 College All-Star game against the then Los Angeles Rams ended his playing career.
In a strange twist of fate, Toler became a top NFL Official, and lasted longer in the league that any of his former teammatesˇ?25 years. In addition, Toler, through his work with high schools and the City College of San Francisco, has been a great community participant, and has a campus named after him..
????????? The four deserving on-field athletes were elected by a panel of 70 Bay Area journalists and broadcasters.