My first Harmon experience:
I can still remember the first day I ever set foot into Harmon
Gym. It was April 13, 1984. This was not an athletic event, nor a
test of any kind...it was the Cal Band Spring Show. It was the
Spring of my Freshman year, and I was a different person. Even
though I hadn't joined Rally Comm yet, I had already become a Cal
Band junkie. The show itself was a lot of fun, and the theme--"A
year in the life of the Cal Band"--allowed the band to work in a
wide variety of entertaining numbers.
Since that time, I have attended all but one Spring Show (though
last year I ended up watching the dress rehearsal instead of the
actual show). The entertaining shows include skits, music, and
marching. This year's show is on Saturday, April 26, but is in
My first game---
During the Fall of my Sophomore year, I joined Rally Comm and found
out that there were other sports besides football.
My first game in Harmon was an exhibition game against the
University of Alberta. The game itself took place during the middle
of Big Game week in 1984. The game itself was unremarkable, but it
did feature a first and a last...It was my first, and it was the old
scoreboard's last. Prior to the current electronic scoreboard, the
Harmon scoreboard simply displayed the time and the score. The team
names were displayed with movie theatre "marquis" letters. During
this game, someone rearranged the letters so that CA was playing
RATBALL (the person put the E elsewhere.
Another memory of the game was that it introduced the "Tuna"
tradition to me with a vengence. Again, the game itself was
unremarkable, so the only way the crowd could get into the game was
to razz the other players. In this case, someone was given the name
"Tuna". A thin kid with glasses was given the nickname "nerd" and a
burly, hairy guy was given the nickname "sasquatch". It was funny
when they would pass the ball between one another--"Toooo naaaa!"
Bring a towel.
The second game I remember watching was against UC Davis. Before
the game, the old Rally Comm members told everyone to bring a towel
to the game. I wondered what specific reason (other than the fact
that towels are one of the most incredibly useful objects in the
universe ;) we needed to bring a towel. The UC Davis head coach was
so attached to his towel that he was called "towelhead" Hamilton (I
can't remember his real first name.) People think that Bill Frieder
and Jerry Tarkanian are obsessed with their towels; Coach Hamilton
put those two to shame. He would *always* clutch his towel, chew
it, shake it at people and so on. Since Rally Comm and the straw
hat band all brought towels, you also have to imagine about 100
people shaking towels whenever Coach Hamilton would shake his
towel. It was quite a sight. It was even funnier when several Band
members stood in the rows behind the UC Davis bench and immitated
every gesture Coach Hamilton made.
One other memorable thing about the UC Davis series was the Cal
Aggie Marching Band-Uh. It was the first time I had seen another
band play with the Cal Band and since they also played Cal songs, it
Unfortunately, because UC Davis is a division II school, and playing
non-division I schools prevented us from getting into the NCAAs in
1986, Cal no longer plays them. Of course, now that Coach Hamilton
has passed away, the series wouldn't be as fun.
Other Band Antics
I mentioned the band members razzing coach hamilton. There are a
few other band antics that I can recall.
- Even though I wasn't at Cal yet, the Band staged a halftime skit
re-enacting "the play" at the Cal-Stanfurd basketball game in 1983.
- As the Doggies--er--Dollies or the U$c cheerleaders finished
performing, several band members would occassionally run out on
to the floor and wipe it with towels.
- For Reggie Miller's final game in Harmon, the band wore giant
ears that stuck out (much like Reggie's).
- Still, the response to Steve Kerr's "Straw Hat Pizza Band"
comment was the best (for those of you outside the area,
Straw Hat Pizza is a chain of pizza restaurants). Kerr was
given a tuna pizza, and is the only player I ever recall
who was named tuna before the game.
Posters and signs
Things were pretty bad that first year. Rally Comm divided itself
up into "teams". Your team was responsible for attending a certain
set of games (everyone went to the UCla and Stanfurd games) and
also putting up posters. We would try to come up with clever
posters, or ones that worked in something appropriate for the
opponent. Ones I remember:
- "Spade the Kitties" (for both WSU and 'zona)
- "Dam(n) the Beavers", and
- "Pluck the Ducks"
The last one was particularly memorable. Kathy (Smith) Heilmann
and a few others painted the "P" as a basketball backboard, pole
and support. Of course, the backboard was a different color
thus allowing the sign to spell something different (how it got
past the censors is beyond me).
Speaking of posters, some fans have also come up with good signs
over the years.
- Nobody Beats Cal (53 times in a row)
- 'Nother Bear Conquest (more on this later)
- Eradicate Silly Powder-blue Nuisance (Witt Ashbrook held this
up at a later UCla game).
Speaking of signs, how many people remember the little kid with
glasses who used to sit to the left of the North basket and hold up
signs for certain players during warm-ups?
One more sign comment. During the first year of the new scoreboard,
after a questionable call by one of the refs (particularly against
Kevin Johnson), the following advertisement would run:
Contact Bill Glass, Attorney at Law
Yes, that's the same Bill Glass who's the voice of Harmon.
One last memory from that first year. Because the games weren't all
that interesting, I spent a fair amount of time paying attention to
the band. Over that year, I learned most of the "hand signals"
which are used to inform the band members what song will be played
next; I even learned a few of the signals for non-Cal songs.
One of the simplest signs was the one for "Louie, Louie"--the right
hand held up, with the pinky, ring, and middle fingers curled in,
index finger pointing straight up, and the thumb pointing straight
out to form an "L" as viewed by those watching the director.
Coincidently, this was the same as the "Laban" sign used by Corozon
Aquino during the "People Power" revolution in the Philippines which
took place at the same time. But back to our story...
The Coming of Campanelli
Speaking of "Louie, Louie", I still think fondly on the change of
attitudes that took place when Lou Campanelli arrived. After a year
of sitting in a mostly empty gym, Lou got crowds into many of the
games. I can still see the way the student section would quickly
fill up whilest sitting with Rally Comm up in the rafters.
At the Pac 10 home opener against Washington (which was also on
ESPN), Cal fans were treated to a new tradition--the rolling out of
the California Carpet. I can't think of how many times I helped
roll it out, or how many times we almost collided with the Cal Band
percussion session. Back then, the team would also run across the
carpet onto the floor for warmups. The current carpet is much
lighter and more likely to slip, so this practice has been
abandoned. I still wonder what happened to the original.
My View of the end of the Streak
1986 brought the most memorable basketball game I've ever attended--
the end of the streak. Even though I didn't have credentials, I
started taking pictures at games. When Cal played UCla, I sat in
what had become my customary seat...on the floor, underneath the
South basket. If you watch a video tape of the game, you'll see
a guy in a white shirt and blue and gold hat with a camera--that's
me! While you're watching, during the free-throw attempts at the
north end, look for a guy holding up a sign saying "'Nother Bear
Conquest"--that's Chris Hudson. On the back of the sign, it said
"Fuck 'em Bears"...only once did he have the wrong side facing NBCs
cameras (thanks go to his wife, team doctor Cindy Chang, for pointing
out that one).
Other people have recounted the end of the streak. Don't forget
the play of Chris Washington in the game though. When it looked
like the Bears were going to collapse, he stepped up, tied the game,
and then stole the inbounds pass and slammed it home to put the
Bears in the lead for good with about 4 minutes left.
Other people have also mentioned the deafening noise of those games.
I often judged how loud the crowd was by how long after the games
my ears would ring (I should have brought earplugs). Still, there
was an even better crowd excitement gage--If the crowd was excited
enough, the NCAA championship and 2nd place banners, which were
hanging over the center circle, would bounce up and down. I don't
know if it's because the crowds aren't as exciting, or if it's
because they've added cross beams in the roof, but that hasn't
happened for a while.
With the departure of Harmon, the echoes of the following taunts will
be gone. Can you name the player and the team?
Of course, then there are other opponents whom you could try to taunt,
but only would STEP UP their game. The worst of these was Gary Payton.
He didn't need Oski to spill a cake on his family to insipire him to
tear the Bears apart.
There are other sports besides men's basketball.
When I arrived at Cal, I knew two players on the Women's Basketball
(they were friends in high school). Unfortunately for me, it wasn't
until 1987 that I watched the Cal women play. I've been a fan ever
since. When asked about women's players, most people can remember
Milica Vukadinovic (John Billburg has said on more than one occasion
that if the basketball number "5" jersey is retired, it had better be
hers), Jennifer Bennett, and maybe Trisha Stafford (who played for
the Lazers this season). I also remember players like Anja Hellman,
Jennifer Self, Teresa Palmisano, Ingrid Dixon, and Jackie Lear (ok,
any guy who attended a women's game during her tenure remembers her).
The crowds at women's games are nowhere near as intense as those at
the men's games...but the intimate setting of Harmon added to the
family atmosphere. Part of that family atmosphere made it harder to
do certain taunts (even the Band picks a "Bonnie" instead of a
"Tuna"). I have to wonder what Haas is going to be like (though
someday I'd like to see Haas filled for women's games).
That same year, I also attended plenty of women's volleyball matches,
and a few men's and women's gymnastics meets. While the memories of
those games are nowhere near as strong, they still exist.
Who could forget taking finals in Harmon? Those rickety old tables
felt like they might collapse if you erased part of of your blue
book. Climate control was non-existant. During the Winter
semester, the place was as cold as the offices of Scrooge and Marley,
and during the Spring, the sun would shine into the building and
heat things up. Nancy Jamison said that she remembers taking too
many bad finals there. On the otherhand, I spent far more time
helping proctor exams for Math 1 and 16 S then I did taking exams.
Since the 1S final was always the last of the semester, the place was
usually cold instead of hot.
That's enough for now. A little later in the week I'll post about
the final game and the reception in RSF.
I have to wonder, how many foul balls have
been hit into Harmon over the years?
Copyright 1997 Sean "Yoda" Rouse
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