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Calaveras county sports through the decades
Remembering 1969

50 years ago saw championships, losses for county sports

  • 6 min to read
50 years ago saw championships, losses for county sports

The 1969 Bret Harte varsity football team.

Who could forget the summer of love and all the great music that came with 1969? But it wasn’t just the groovy tracks and psychedelic times that made the final year of the ’60s memorable.

In July of 1969, one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind was taken, as the United States finally landed on the moon. Even though the moon landing was a major accomplishment, many believe the event to be staged and filmed in a studio in Arizona by director Stanley Kubrick.

The moon landing wasn’t the only first to make an impact in 1969. The first episodes of “Scooby-Doo,” “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” “Sesame Street,” and “Hee Haw” all premiered on TV, while Led Zeppelin’s first album was released in the United States. And if all that new stuff made you hungry, you could now eat at Wendy’s and wash that square burger down with a Capri Sun.

Sen. Ted Kennedy was involved in a drunk driving incident that resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, but that was nothing compared to the series of murders committed by the “Manson Family.” Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones died in the pool of a home he purchased, which formerly belonged to A.A. Milne, the author of the “Winnie the Pooh” books. With so many high-profile deaths, it was nice to hear that, contrary to rumors, Paul McCartney was, in fact, alive.

Top movies in 1969 included “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Love Bug” and “Paint Your Wagon.” In the music world, the Woodstock Music Festival took place Aug. 15-18 and Jimi Hendrix was the final performer. The Beatles played their last public performance, and Frank Sinatra recorded “My Way” three decades into his career.

If you were born in 1969, there’s a chance your name could be Lisa, Michelle, Jennifer, Kimberly, Melissa, Michael, David, James, John or Robert, as those were the top-10, most-popular names. And New York City could have changed its name from “The City that Never Sleeps” to “The City of Champions,” as the Mets and Jets both brought home championships.

In 1969, the world said goodbye to Judy Garland and Dwight D. Eisenhower, but hello to Jennifer Aniston, Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Matthew McConaughey, Dave Grohl and Brett Favre. And in 1969, Calaveras County sports were like a true nature’s child – born to be wild.

Winter

50 years ago saw championships, losses for county sports

Don Maben shoots against Amador in 1969.

The Calaveras High School boys’ basketball team began 1969 by winning the Mother Lode League Tournament, and ended the season as Mother Lode League champions. In the title game of the MLL tournament, Calaveras beat Amador 57-48 and got 10 points from Fred Lavaroni. Calaveras got into the championship game by first knocking off Jackson 71-57.

Calaveras began the league season by once again defeating Amador, this time by a slimmer 50-49 margin. Bill Derby scored 16 points for Calaveras and Lavaroni had a double-double with 13 points and 23 rebounds. Calaveras then knocked off Jackson 65-60 after Dave Butler made two free throws in the final 12 seconds to put the game on ice. Derby scored 27, followed by Lavaroni’s 21 rebounds and 14 points. Calaveras improved to 3-0 in league play after beating Bret Harte 88-47. Lavaroni scored 18 and Bret Harte’s Steve Mayo also netted 18 in the loss.

The hot Calaveras team didn’t slow down, as it beat Ione 77-44 to push its league record to 4-0. Don Maben scored 16 for Calaveras and Lavaroni and Derby each scored 15. Calaveras then beat Summerville 75-63 with Ross Ford scoring 18 and Butler adding 16. As Calaveras drew closer to the league championship, the wins continued to pile up. Behind 25 points from Lavaroni and 19 from Ford, the Redskins beat Amador 74-71.

50 years ago saw championships, losses for county sports

Calaveras' Fred Lavaroni goes up for a shot.

In the final meeting of the 1960s between Calaveras and Bret Harte, the Redskins knocked off the Bullfrogs 104-54. Gerald Kathan’s free throw was the 100th point of the game. Lavaroni led the way with 26 points, followed by Derby (13), Maben (12) and Mike Beatie (14). Mayo contributed 13 points in the loss. Calaveras capped a perfect 10-0 league season with an 80-31 thrashing over Ione. Following the league season, Calaveras competed in the Yreka Tournament, where the MLL champs took home the consolation trophy.

While Calaveras won the league championship, Bret Harte didn’t have as memorable of a 1969 season. The Bullfrogs lost the league opener to Summerville 67-49. Julian Girouard scored 12 points for Bret Harte, followed by Steve Goff and Randy Biedinger, who each added 11 in the loss. The Bullfrogs then lost to Amador 45-37, with 12 points from Mayo and 11 from Biedinger. The season came to an end with a 55-50 loss to Ione.

Lavaroni was named the Mother Lode League’s Most Valuable Player and head coach Mike Flock was the Coach of the Year. Calaveras’ Bill Derby, Gary McGeorge and Ross Ford made the second-team all-league.

Spring

As the cold of winter gave way to the warmth of spring, baseball returned to the Mother Lode. In the opening game of the year, Calaveras lost to Sonora 6-4. Bill Derby led Calaveras with a double and a single. Bret Harte fell to Summerville in the opening game of the season 5-2. Calaveras was able to get into the win column for its league opening game against Ione with a 13-0 thrashing. Calaveras scored three runs in the first inning, and then four in the second and two each in the fourth, fifth and sixth. Pitcher Dave Butler went the distance for the win, allowing just two hits and striking out six. Butler also went 2 for 4 with a double and a single, while Derby smacked a triple and a single. Calaveras finished the 1969 season with a 7-2 win over Summerville. Mark Bullock, Mike Mayden and Stan Nunes each picked up two hits to lead the Calaveras attack.

50 years ago saw championships, losses for county sports

Calaveras' 1969 homecoming queen candidates were Ana Tuttle, Lee Hodo, Libby Smith and Carla Rasberry.

The Bullfrogs ran into some tough losses, but finally snagged a win as they defeated Summerville 5-3. The Bullfrogs picked up five runs on six hits and Bob Segale got the decision.

Calaveras’ Dave Butler and Bret Harte’s Randy Biedinger were named to the first-team all-league. John Lavaroni (Cal), Mark Bullock (Cal), Ray Schwoerer (BH) and Bill Derby (Cal) were placed on the second team.

In tennis, Calaveras started the league season with a 3-2 win over Ione. Betsy Walsh, Danny Walsh and the girls’ doubles team of Brenda Burton and Michele Godfrey all came away with victories. Bret Harte battled Summerville, but lost 5-3. Tim Babbidge, Bob Barnett and Steve Goff picked up wins for the Bullfrogs. Bret Harte bounced back in the next meeting against Summerville and won 3-2.

It cost $1 for adults and 50 cents for students to watch the Mother Lode League track and field championships at Calaveras High School. At the championship meet, Calaveras edged out Jackson 79.5-79 to win the title.

Summer

50 years ago saw championships, losses for county sports

The Angels Camp Farm Team won the 1969 little league championship. 

The Angels Camp Farm Team won the 1969 Llittle League championship for the Calaveras County Farm Team League in a playoff game against the team from San Andreas. The Angels Camp Farm Team won the championship game 20-17.

And the Calaveras Quarterback Club sponsored two Calaveras football players to a summer quarterback seminar at Pacific Lutheran College in Thousand Oaks. Ross Ford and Danny Walsh, along with coach Bob Bach, attended the one-week seminar. Ford was the 1968 MVP of the Mother Lode League.

Fall

50 years ago saw championships, losses for county sports

The Calaveras drum majorettes, below, were Ester Rathjen, Susan Harris, Jackie Freed and Kathy Maben, while the flag girls were Trudy Miller and Teri Sanders.

The Calaveras football team had big shoes to fill coming off of an 8-1 1968 season, which ended with a league championship. Calaveras would be without fullback Phil McCartney, as he had season-ending knee surgery. Although McCartney wouldn’t be on the field, 21 returning players would.

Calaveras’ experience helped lead the Redskins to a 14-0 win over South Lake Tahoe to begin the year. Ross Ford threw touchdown passes to Bob Garamendi and Doug Arendt. Ford also rushed for 68 yards and Gerald Kathan carried the ball six times for 30 yards. The next week against Linden, Calaveras put up over 300 yards of offense and beat Linden 21-6. Ford rushed for scores of six and 52 yards and Mark Bullock also scored on a six-yard scamper. Calaveras couldn’t beat the powerful Oakdale Mustangs the following week and were blanked 12-0. But following the loss, Calaveras pounded El Dorado 40-0.

50 years ago saw championships, losses for county sports

Calaveras High School’s 1969 football coaching staff of Bob Bach, left, Jerry Martin and Dom Campora watch practice

Entering league play with a 3-1 preseason record, Calaveras defeated Summerville 65-14. Calaveras scored on all but one possession. Running back Rich Powers scored three touchdowns and also recovered a fumble for Calaveras, who as a team, rushed for 384 yards. Calaveras followed that win with a 21-6 romping of Jackson. On homecoming night, Anna Tuttle was crowned homecoming queen and Calaveras beat Amador 42-21. Bob Garamendi scored three times and Mark Bullock threw two touchdowns and rushed for scores of 72 and 36 yards. Calaveras clinched its fourth-straight league title with a 34-6 win over Bret Harte.

50 years ago saw championships, losses for county sports

The 1969 Calaveras football team.

Just like the final game of the 1969 season, Bret Harte lost the opening one as well, only this was by a score of 7-6 to Mariposa. The lone Bullfrog score came on a 40-yard run from Greg Franz. Bret Harte lost the following week to Ripon 14-0. The Bullfrogs fell to 0-3 after a 27-19 loss to Our Lady of Mercy. Trailing 19-0 at the half, Bret Harte battled back and got its first score with a touchdown from Franz. Down 27-7, Kerry Spreadborough scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass and later in the fourth quarter, Jerry Biedinger also hauled in a scoring pass.

50 years ago saw championships, losses for county sports

The 1969 Bret Harte homecoming queen candidates were Connie Russell, left, Jennie Callahan, Cathy Walsh and Jill Parker.

In the opening league contest, Bret Harte got blanked by Jackson 30-0. The Bullfrogs beat Ione 34-0 for their first league win of the season. Bret Harte got scores from Franz, Dennis DeLack, Bruce Sage and Rob Nance. Nance rushed for 110 yards and Franz gained 98. On homecoming night, Bret Harte beat Summerville 40-12. Nance and Steve Goff each scored three times and Connie Russell was crowned homecoming queen. Bret Harte lost its final game of the year to Calaveras.

And 1969 came to an end with Bret Harte giving the green light for a freshman boys’ basketball team.

What’s next?

Check back next year when we tackle 2010, 2000, 1990, 1980 and 1970.

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