Past Inductees

Members of the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame

Steve Bartkowski, Brandi Chastain, Roger Maltbie, Willy T. Ribbs

Rudy Galindo, Art Lambert, Dan Pastorini, Peter Ueberroth, Kristi Yamaguchi

Arturs Irbe, Bruce Jenner, Keri Sanchez, Dave and Mark Schultz

Ron Calcango, Sherly Johnson, Ronnie Lott, Bob Murphy

Dick Gould, George Gund III, Margaret Jenkins, John Oldham

Brian Boitano, Bert Bonannno, Kim Oden, Carlos "Bud" & Ralph Ogden, Mark Spitz

Jennifer Azzi, Bill McPherson, Walt McPherson

Brent Jones, Barbara & Kathy Jordan, Benny Pierce, Ken Venturi

John Brodie, Amy Chow, Kurt Rambis, Pat Tillman

Anne Warner Cribbs, Becky Dyroen-Lancer, Andre Phillips, Billy Wilson

Dennis Awtrey, Ed Burke, Betty Hicks, Carney Lansford, Craig Morton

Ernie Nevers, Joe Leonard, John Ralston, Dave Righetti, Carroll Williams

Donald Bowden, Jack & John Elway, Francie Larrieu Smith, Chuck Taylor

Millard Hampton, Claudia Kolb Thomas, Pat Malley, Patty Sheehan

Hal Davis, Pablo Morales, Buck Shaw, Debi Thomas, Bill Walsh

Payton Jordan, Angelo “Hank” Luisetti, Bob Mathias, Al Ruffo, Tommie Smith,
Chris von Saltza Olmstead

Peggy Fleming Jenkins, John Hanna, Julius Menendez, Yosh Uchida

Donna de Varona, Lee Evans, George Haines, Jim Plunkett, Charlie & Lucy Wedemeyer, Bud Winter


2004 Hall of Fame inductee biographies

John Brodie
– Football –

When you look back over the career of John Brodie, it isn’t long until an inevitable thought occurs: Was there any sport this Stanford athlete could not play? Growing up in Oakland, he won a state youth tennis championship and lettered in four sports in high school. He set a slew of records as Stanford’s quarterback, then went to the San Francisco 49ers and played a team-record 17 seasons. After football, he switched to golf and recorded a dozen top-10 finishes plus a championship in a 13-year career on the Senior PGA Tour.

Yet there’s also another prominent theme that runs through Brodie’s career, and that’s of the many fall Sundays at old Kezar Stadium in which he compiled record passing statistics for a sub-par team before unappreciative fans. It took 14 seasons until a suitable roster was assembled around the quarterback with the precise and prolific arm, but when it was, the booing stopped. The 49ers went to the 1970 NFC Championship Game and Brodie, who led the league with 223 completions in 378 attempts for 2,941 yards and 24 touchdowns, with was named the NFL’s most valuable player. The 49ers returned to the championship game the next season.

By the time Brodie retired from the 49ers in 1973, he compiled passing statistics that still rank him second in team passing yardage at 31,548 and third in team touchdown passes with 214.

Brodie developed his talents during a period of Bay Area sports history that produced several all-time greats. In high school he jumped center against future NBA star Bill Russell and played baseball against future Hall of Fame third baseman Frank Robinson. His original plan was to play baseball and basketball at Stanford, but he ended up on the football and golf teams. In his senior season in 1956 he was named All-American, finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy vote and later was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Following retirement from the 49ers, he joined the Senior PGA Tour in 1985 and won the Security Pacific Senior Open in 1991, finishing with career winnings of more than $735,000.

In 2000, while watching an NFL game on television from his home in Riverside County, Brodie suffered a life-threatening stroke that permanently damaged his speech. He continues to fight back from its affects, slowly regaining the ability to speak and gradually expanding the range of movement with his arms. Those who have watched him master almost every task set before him in his life have no doubt that this is another struggle he’ll win.

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Amy Chow
– Gymnastics –

Two years before she competed in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games – when Amy Chow was beginning to show potential as an international gymnast – her mother mused about Chow’s competitive future.

“You know, if Amy could represent the United States (in the Olympics), I feel it would be a contribution,” Susan Chow said. “I think it's a way to thank the country for letting us immigrate here.”

Consider the debt repaid. The daughter of Chinese immigrants who met and married in San Jose, Chow made history as a member of the “Magnificent 7,” the first U.S. women’s team to win the Olympic team gymnastics championship. Two days later, in the individual event finals, Chow returned to the medal podium to receive a silver medal in the uneven bars.

But perhaps as impressive as her performance in Atlanta was that four years later, Chow qualified for her second Olympics and returned to compete for the fourth-place U.S. team in the Sydney Games, rare longevity in a sport where careers are notoriously short.

Chow’s career began almost by accident. The ballet schools her mother tried to enroll her in would not accept a 3-year-old. By the time she was 5, she had been moved into an accelerated gymnastics program at West Valley Gymnastics in Campbell, and by 8 she was the first elite-level athlete the gym had ever produced.

She was 14 when she was chosen for her first U.S. international team, traveling to Argentina for a dual meet and then to Mexico for that country’s Olympic Festival. There she won first in the all-around, first in vault, balance beam and uneven bars and second in floor exercise. A year later she won floor exercise and finished third in the all-around and vault in a U.S.-Japan meet in Japan.

That set the stage for her first appearance with the senior U.S. team, which won the silver medal in the 1994 World Team Championships at Dortmund, Germany. A year later at the Pan American Games on the United States’ gold medal team, Chow won an individual gold medal in the vault, silver in the uneven bars and bronze in the all-around.

The road to the Atlanta Olympics seemed clear for Chow. All she had to do was get through the Olympic Trials in Boston, and she’d be on the team. But Boston proved to be scary. Her foot slipped during a series of backward somersaults on the balance beam and Chow’s head cracked against the wood. Even as the swelling around her eye grew noticeably, she remounted the beam and finished her routine.

It put her on an Olympic team destined for glory and history.

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Kurt Rambis
– Basketball –

No one – not even Kurt Rambis himself – would have foreseen four NBA championship rings for the former Cupertino High and Santa Clara star. A third-round draft pick in 1980, Rambis was cut before the New York Knicks even finished training camp. A season playing for AEK in Athens, Greece gave no indication of Rambis’ future either. In those days, European leagues were where mediocre American players went to fade away, not the source of NBA talent they have come to be today.

But after a season in Europe, the Los Angeles Lakers took a small chance on Rambis, giving him a non-guaranteed contract in 1981. He responded by becoming one of the greatest role players in NBA history, a blue-collar player on a glitzy team that won league titles in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988.

Of course, there are those in Cupertino today who might say they weren’t surprised. In three seasons at Cupertino High, the Rambis-led Pioneers won two Central Coast Section championships and he was named Player of the Year in 1975 and 1976 by the San Jose Mercury News. At Santa Clara he was the West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year and in 1980 he was conference Player of the Year.

Still, when he joined the Lakers, Mitch Kupchak had just been signed and figured to stand between Rambis and floor time. But Rambis got his break two months into the ’81 season when Kupchak suffered a serious knee injury, and he wound up starting 43 or the remaining 45 games of a championship season.

Over the next six seasons, Rambis continued to play an integral role in the Lakers’ success. With the exception of the 1983-84 season, when he missed 32 games with a sore left foot, he appeared in at least 70 games each year and annually ranked among the team’s leading rebounders.

He finished his playing career in stints with the Charlotte Hornets and Phoenix Suns before returning to the Lakers in 1994 for three seasons as an assistant coach. Early in the 1998-99 season Rambis was named interim head coach and led the team to the Western Conference Finals. He then spent three years in the front office as an advisor and assistant general manager before returning to the bench as an assistant coach under Phil Jackson.

Rambis has also worked in several television ventures including pre-game commentator on Lakers’ telecasts and has begun an acting career.

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Pat Tillman
– Football –

Pat Tillman died a hero. He was in harm’s way in Afghanistan last April by choice, and few people – weighing whether to the alternatives of life as a pro football player or the risks of a soldier in a combat zone – would have made the same choice he did.

Still, it’s important to remember that Tillman’s choice was about service; it was neither a quest for heroism nor a death wish. “The essence of the man was to help somewhere else if he felt he was needed to help,” said Dave McGinniss, coach of the Arizona Cardinals in 2002 when Tillman decided to give up his NFL career for the U.S. Army Rangers following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Tillman’s death sharpened the nation’s understanding of how fully and intensely the San Jose native and Leland High graduate lived his life. He fully supported family, friends and teammates and accepted the consequences of those commitments.

In high school, where he played both ways, Tillman once sneaked back into a game after being subbed out, so the coach took his shoulder pads and helmet away from him the rest of the game. He also came to the defense of a friend in a fight and had to serve 30 days’ juvenile detention. He later told Sports Illustrated he was proud of that chapter of his life, not because of what happened but because “it made me realize that stuff you do has repercussions. You can lose everything.’’

That was two weeks before his first football practice at Arizona State and was the last fight he was involved inn until Afghanistan. The Sun Devils planned for Tillman to redshirt his freshman year, but he made it clear his commitment to them was for four years, after which he had other plans. He rewarded ASU by leading the team to the 1997 Rose Bowl as a linebacker and being named Pac-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He graduated in 3 ½ years.

Still, he was considered undersized at 5-11, 192 pounds, and the Arizona Cardinals waited until the seventh round to take him in the 1998 NFL Draft. He switched to safety and became the first rookie starter at that position in team history. He led the Cardinals in special teams tackles with 30 in 1999, and by the end of the 2001 season, the team was prepared to reward him with a $3.6 million contract.

But for the second time in his football career, Tillman had to tell his coach he had other plans. He and his brother Kevin, a former minor league baseball player, had been profoundly moved by the terrorist attacks on the United States, and they enlisted in the Army together.

Tillman’s decision ended a great football career as well as his life. But it was the decision of a man more concerned with what he could contribute than what he would receive.

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