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RC Owens gets Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame nod

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RC Owens gets Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame nod

Manteca resident R.C. Owens displays his Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame plaque he received at the enshrinement banquet earlier this week in San Francisco.

VINCE REMBULAT/ The Bulletin/


POSTED March 29, 2010 2:13 a.m.
For R.C. “Alley Oops” Owens, his induction last Monday into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame was a family reunion of sort.

The Manteca resident was joined at the 21st annual enshrinement banquet at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco by his wife of 21 years, Susan, and his extended family.

Included were members from the NFL Alumni Northern California Chapter.

Some played for the neighboring Oakland Raiders – Jim Plunkett, Dave Otto, and George Atkinson were among those there for owner Al Davis, who was also being inducted to the Bay Area shrine but was a no-show – while many, like Owens, were of the San Francisco 49ers family.

Y.A. Tittle, his quarterback during his five years with the Niners, was among those in attendance as was Bob St. Clair.

Ronnie Lott, Jerry Rice, Keena Turner, Guy McIntyre, and Steve Bono were there from the San Francisco’s Super Bowl glory days.

“I can still remember when they put their shoes on for the first time (for the 49ers),” said Owens, who was an administrator with the organization, of the latter group.

He was in charge of organizing the summer camps and, later, community relations. Owens wears the Super Bowl rings from those years with great pride.

Owens welcomed his new family.

These were the 2010 members of BASHOF. Included were 1988 Olympic Gold Medal skater and Sunnyvale product Brian Boitano, former Oakland A’s shortstop Bert “Campy” Campaneris, USF soccer coach Stephen Negoesco, and Davis.

The shrine can be found in the United Airlines terminal in the San Francisco International Airport.

Owens and the others were recognized by 70 sports writers for their accomplishments during their playing days.

He earned the nickname “Alley Oop” for his ability to out-leap defenders. Owens credited that to his playing days at the College of Idaho, where he averaged a double-double in points and rebounds.

In 1953-54, he averaged an astonishing 27.6 rebounds per game. Even Nate Thurmond, who once had 15 points and 15 rebounds per game while playing for the NBA Warriors, was blown away by that stat.

The following year, Owens, a junior, and Elgin Baylor, his teammate on the NAIA Division II power, both averaged double-double.

He was also impressive on the gridiron. But numbers aside, Owens, who is from sunny Santa Monica, wore fur-lined gloves he purchased at a department store to battle the cold elements.

“I was the first (receiver) to wear gloves,” he said. “I wore them for three years (at the College of Idaho).”

Owens was also the punter for his college team.

In 1957, his rookie year for the 49ers, Owens caught 27 passes for 395 yards. But he would gain fame as “Alley Oop,” catching lob passes in the end zone from the likes of Tittle and Frank Albert.

He held various jobs after his playing days, but was welcome back to the NFL shortly after San Francisco hired Bill Walsh from Stanford to run the organization in 1979. The legendary coach, in turn, brought Owens and former NFL coach John McVay, who was Alley Oop’s BASHOF presenter, to the Niner family.

As always, family is first and foremost for R.C. Owens.

“I thanked my wife, Susan, at the (BASHOF) dinner,” he said last Wednesday. “She gave me the calmness that I needed.

“She also was a good (speech) coach for me.”

Owens, in addition, was thrilled to see plenty of familiar faces.

“It made me feel good to have those who I played with and those who were a part of my life there when I got this award,” he said.

Owens added, “I might not have known all 670 (in attendance) but it really appeared as I did,” he said.

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