Art Spander edited transcript
[00:00:01.510] - Todd
Hey, Art, what a pleasure to have you on the show. Thanks for joining us.
[00:00:05.370] - Art
You're welcome. Thank you.
[00:00:07.260] - Todd
It's quite an honor. A few writers can match your career experiences. I think you began and you're native Los Angeles in 1960 and moved up to San Francisco in 65, and you've been a Bay Area institution ever since. When people say to you, 60 years in sports riding, what do you tell them?
[00:00:27.260] - Art
I say, I couldn't be. It's funny, you cover guys and they're young, then you cover their grandfathers. Where does it all go? When you're a kid, you hear your parents and grandparents talking about time, and Einstein said they asked him to describe the theory of relativity, and he said, Excuse me, 60 seconds with a pretty girl seems like ten and 10 seconds on a hot stove seems like 60, and that's relativity. And it's funny because when you're in high school, say, getting 78, you're 1878. Seems forever when you're 78 and I'm past that. That was yesterday. Yeah. A lot of time, a lot of sports, a lot of people. It's been great. Well, my late friend John Madden said I got to know him because of the Oakland connection and everything. John said I never worked a day in my life, and sometimes, even though when things got really tough and gritty and miserable and things went wrong, I still think that way.
[00:02:01.010] - Todd
Will Rogers said the older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for. And yet you're still waiting in line at media entrances, at stadiums and big events, still writing. I love it. Artspander.com, after all those years at the Chronicle and the examiner in San Francisco, what keeps you writing, Art?
[00:02:22.760] - Art
What else am I going to do? That's the deal.
[00:03:10.760] - Todd
Well, I love the fact that you're still riding. You're over at Wimbledon and the British Open just this past summer. You've got many, many streaks and major events that you've covered that we're going to talk about. Think about it. You came from the early sixty s at UPI in Los Angeles. You were working on night shift and then they would send you out to do a Lakers game and they paid you like $5 a game, right?
[00:03:33.940] - Art
That's right. That was a lot of money in 1960. The Lakers moved there, 59, 60, I believe it was, and nobody went to games. And once again, I bought a Volkswagen. I think it costs $1,700. Now, they cost, what, $27,000. That will give you a little bit of a sense of relativity of what cost and payment was.
[00:04:05.890] - Todd
What was a Lakers game like in 1960 in Los Angeles to a mostly.
[00:04:14.370] - Art
Empty arena at the Sports Arena, right next to the Coliseum? And what the Lakers caught on, I believe, is their third or fourth year, I'm not sure on the years, but they were in the playoffs, and they played the St. Louis Hawks. And of course, the Hawks were to move eventually, and they had a great playoff, and it really turned La. On. And people got excited about pro basketball. But La. Was never a basketball town or city. It was an outdoor city. That's why you had so many baseball players from California. You could play ball basically all year round.
[00:05:03.190] - Art
[00:05:04.760] - Art
So we went out, we used to surf in the fall, and I went to UCLA, and it was right near the ocean. We run down and grab a little surfing there when I was 18 to 1920. And so you didn't think indoors. And there were no large arenas in La. The Pan Pacific Auditorium, where they had ice skating, and they played some basketball, and the Shrine Auditorium, where they had operas and stuff like that, plays. They were the basketball arenas. And then UCLA started getting good, and UCLA had to play its games. They had a 2500 seat arena, like a gymnasium. Yeah, yeah. UCLA gym. And when they got good, they started playing at Venice High School because that was a larger arena. And so it was crazy. And obviously, once the Lakers got good and UCLA got good, and then they started building arenas all over the place.
[00:06:18.400] - Art
[00:06:19.540] - Todd
Well, you went off to San Francisco in 65, where you spent the rest of your career, and like I mentioned, you're still writing. I look back at your career and all the different things that you covered, and I think about the way you write. And I think you once said, I don't kiss their ass. And I was going to ask you about this because there's a record that you once set in 73. You said that in a span of five days, you had three different athletes want to kill you.
[00:06:54.110] - Art
Yeah, that's true.
[00:06:58.990] - Todd
Let's go through the hit list here. I think we had golfer Ken Still at the PGA Championship driving range. What happened?
[00:07:07.390] - Art
He was mad at obviously, everybody who doesn't like a story gets angry, and sometimes it passes and sometimes they take it seriously. And Ken Still, I haven't seen him for a while. I come to the PGA in Cleveland, and he picks up a five iron, I think it was, waves it at me and says, I got to kill you. I can't remember exactly what the story is about.
[00:07:37.320] - Todd
And then wait, did he swing it?
[00:07:41.040] - Art
No, he didn't.
[00:07:42.130] - Todd
[00:07:42.930] - Art
I've had a lot of threats. And then that same weekend, the 49 ers were playing an exhibition game. We used to call them exhibition games. Now they're preseason games. And I was multi purpose in those days. I was the golf rider, I was the backup 40 niner writer. And I did all kinds of things, which I loved.
[00:08:07.230] - Todd
There were like nine or ten arts fanners running around. Yeah.
[00:08:11.740] - Art
You know, I would sometimes write two or three stories for the Chronicle, and they'd use different bylines.
[00:08:21.190] - Todd
All right, so Ken still wants to kill you with a five iron. You go to the Niners preseason game and Ken Willard to running back. What does he say to you?
[00:08:30.700] - Art
Well, he's mad at me because I had called his home, he was holding out, and I had got his mother on the phone and his mother says, he's not here. And I hear Ken in the background saying, tell him I'm not here. Anyway, so I wrote that. And so I see him after this exhibition game, and he's angry. He takes his helmet bar and sticks it right up under my nose and said, I didn't say that. I said yes. You did. He said, you're a bad guy and a liar. I said, I may be a bad guy, I'm not a liar. I quoted you verbatim. Now, okay, the game was, I think, Sunday night. Yeah, in Cleveland. In Cleveland. And then also multipurpose. Oh, you're back there. There's a raider game. So. I had gone raider practice earlier up at Santa Rosa. And here's George Blanda, who is, what, 800 years old?
[00:09:43.990] - Todd
Wait, I love this. I love Art Spanner calling somebody 800 years old. This is awesome.
[00:09:49.310] - Art
Well, he was older than I was in those days.
[00:09:52.450] - Todd
[00:09:53.370] - Art
But he was great kicker and he didn't he wasn't playing football. He would sit around the swimming pool and he would kick a few and anyway, we get to this exhibition game and they're playing the Patriots, and it's the old Schaefer Stadium where you walked up either side outside and you went into the inside. So now he misses a field goal that would have won the game. This is once again exhibition or preseason. And I had written, George Blanda warming up by sitting around the pool. He misses the extra point or a field goal. So he's angry and he wants to hit me, and he didn't. So that was all the same week in 1973.
[00:10:52.910] - Todd
One week, five days, three different athletes want to kill your art.
[00:10:58.910] - Art
And some of them over the years say, darn it, why didn't they catch you?
[00:11:05.890] - Todd
Hey, let's let the record show how tall were you, Art, back in your prime? Danger? Five.
[00:11:11.660] - Art
[00:11:13.460] - Todd
So in your prime, how much did you weigh? Five, eight what?
[00:11:16.990] - Art
100 and 5145. Hundred and 50.
[00:11:20.080] - Todd
And you got guys trying to kill you.
[00:11:26.360] - Art
That's all right.
[00:11:28.690] - Todd
Like you said, you didn't kiss their ass. Right.
[00:11:31.390] - Art
Well, and another great thing is you see them years later. They're your pal because they just remember the good times.
[00:11:40.120] - Todd
That's what memory does.
[00:11:41.890] - Art
That's right. And that's what sports was, right?
[00:11:44.670] - Todd
Well, let's remember some good times. You get so many of them throughout your career. Just give me the numbers. I'm going to rattle off a few major events. Give me how many times you've covered that event.
[00:12:01.540] - Art
Okay, masters, 54 straight until COVID. Now I've done 55, but 54 in a row.
[00:12:12.460] - Todd
US. Open golf.
[00:12:17.660] - Art
Starting in 1966, when I was a rookie and the Open was here, I've covered all but two. Excuse me.
[00:12:27.000] - Todd
[00:12:28.540] - Art
British Open. I've covered about 25 to 30.
[00:12:32.960] - Todd
[00:12:34.690] - Art
[00:12:35.520] - Todd
I've covered in the open tennis.
[00:12:40.010] - Art
US. Open tennis. Not as many. I think 25 or so. I started covering tennis because I went to the British Open and I said, hey, they got this tennis tournament here. Why don't I cover both of them?
[00:12:55.020] - Todd
Hey, I can stay in Europe a few more weeks on the dime on a per diem.
[00:13:32.730] - Todd
And then we're going to talk more about this, but how many Rose Bowls?
[00:13:40.460] - Art
Let's see. 67. And I run a 67 in row in the Rose Bowl. I did not go to the run in Texas two years ago or a year and a half ago, but I went to everyone from 1954, when I started as a program salesman, until a year ago, 2000. What is it? That one? So I went to everyone, and then I didn't go to the one that was in down to Jerry's World, because that didn't count. Well, that's what everybody's telling me.
[00:14:23.010] - Todd
You can't see the San Gabriel Mountains in Texas.
[00:14:29.140] - Art
[00:14:30.310] - Todd
So dozens and dozens and dozens of these major events. Do you have a favorite, a favorite moment, a favorite event game that still, all these years later, is with you?
[00:14:56.290] - Art
Two things. One. I was at the 1980 Winter Olympics and I saw the United States defeat the Soviet Union. And it was so emotional.
[00:15:07.530] - Todd
A miracle and ice, right?
[00:15:09.130] - Art
That's right. American life over the years. Even I knew him before that. Almichaels and I and our wives are friends because of the La connection. Basically. He came up with the perfect analogy there, and that great thinking. Do you believe in miracles?
[00:15:47.810] - Art
Those are the things obviously those are the things that make our business. I've talked to younger guys, and they're sitting we're sitting at the Super Bowl, and I've done 40 45 or something, Super Bowls, and they'll say, oh, this is like, overworked. And I said, if you are covering sports and you don't want to be at the Superbowl or the World Series or the Masters or the British Open or whatever, then you're in the wrong business.
[00:16:21.160] - Todd Jones
[00:16:21.990] - Art
Why are you there if you don't want to do the big events?
[00:16:25.390] - Todd
Okay, you're there for the Miracle on Ice. Put us in the arena. What was it like that day?
[00:16:30.490] - Art
Well, Dave Israel, who's still around, was running up and back in the press section saying, all the rules against cheering in the press box are off. I still remember that.
[00:17:02.740] - Art
Anyway, it was fantastic. I guess when it's happening, you're not as cognizant as you are ten years or even a month or a week or down the line.
[00:17:42.850] - Art
And Joe Montana to Dwight Clark. And it just changed the bay area psychologically. Could never win. Can never beat La, can never beat the Cowboys, and boom, one play changed everything.
[00:18:15.410] - Todd
When you think about the game, obviously the catch. But what about the game itself as it unfolded in Candlestick?
[00:18:28.610] - Art
The week before, they played the New York Giants and it was raining and not very much very much fun, and I gave the grounds crew a nickname, the Sod Squad, and they didn't like.
[00:18:45.340] - Todd
It, so they're pissed at you.
[00:18:49.540] - Art
Candlestick was terrible. It was along the shore, and it was poorly kept. This is just a little trivia. The Oakland Coliseum across the bay was underwater, when I say underwater, below water level, but they had pumps running 24 hours a day to keep it clear. And keep it clean. But the Candlestick, which is on an elevated area above the Bay, but this field itself was in Soggy ground, and so the game against the Giants the week before, there was turf everywhere, flying, and that's where I got on the Sod squad. They didn't like it. They sent me a bucket of manure.
[00:19:50.740] - Todd
I love it.
[00:19:54.260] - Art
Yes. I could not put it next to my tropics.
[00:19:59.020] - Todd
Okay, all right. But the game itself, I mean, it comes down to, obviously, one of the most famous plays in football history. They catch. But you got Dallas, America's team. They're at the end of their dynasty of the upstart Niners with this young Joe Montana, and Bill Walsh is the coach. It's a real street fight of a game, right?
[00:20:22.510] - Art
Oh, yeah. And the thing is, everybody a lot of people forget after the catch. Dallas got the ball and had the ball, and then the 49 ers stopped them. It was an interception. I'm trying to remember.
[00:20:38.910] - Todd
I believe so, yes, people forget.
[00:20:42.190] - Art
But the thing is, it's just like the emotions of the Bay Area. And it's funny, because when people think of San Francisco and I travel enough, people don't think of, let's say, Pittsburgh, the Steelers. When you think of San Francisco, you think of wine, you think of food, you think of the Bay. And the sports fans get frustrated or got frustrated. And so it all changed that day. And then, of course, they went on to win several Super Bowls. And Walls, I went out in the field doing interviews, and Walls sees me, and he says, you can't write. We can't win the big one anymore. And he's the guy, quote, never read the papers.
[00:21:38.890] - Todd
He was as happy with you as the Manure guys.
[00:21:41.320] - Art
Yeah, bill was okay.
[00:21:44.810] - Todd
You know what else people forget about? The catch, about that game. Montana threw three interceptions in that game.
[00:21:52.610] - Art
Yes, he did. But the play he had to make and, of course, Dwight Clark, unfortunately died from Luke Eric's disease a couple of years ago. And when that happens, when people, young people relatively who you've seen perform over the years, when something happens to them, it's like that makes you realize how fast time passes, right?
[00:22:25.180] - Todd
Yeah, it certainly does. And a tragic ending to Dwight's life, but always etched in NFL lore with amazing play. The catch. Okay, you were there for the catch. You mentioned the Super Bowl, which the Niners obviously went on to win many times. What the hell happened at the 2017 Super Bowl that's season? Art, with Kyle Shanahan's backpack.
[00:22:59.810] - Art
This is funny. Maybe the first time they had the media day at night. And so I flew in. It was at Houston, and they were having the press conferences at the astros ballpark. And so I get there. I'm late, it's dark, and everybody knows that Shanahan is going to become the 49 ers coach as soon as the Super Bowl is over. And he's the offensive coordinator for the Falcons. Anyway, so I run in there. I have a backpack. I used to use a rollie. I'm back to the roley now. But the backpack was convenient. And we're sitting right on the edge of a bullpen, the third bass bullpen in. We're sitting on the wood on the little Bannister area. And anyway, I'm trying to move in close and get Shanahan get quotes, because that's the only story that really matters in the Bay Area at a Super Bowl for two other teams. Anyway, I then grab the backpack and walk away after the interview. And it turns out I have Shanahan's backhand. We have the exact same backpack. Green. And now all of a sudden, people from the Falcons are all looking for me.
[00:24:47.130] - Todd
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. The Shanahan backpack has $18,000 worth of Super Bowl tickets and the Falcons game plan.
[00:24:57.090] - Art
Yeah, the game plan. He told me later. It didn't bother him. Bother me?
[00:25:02.370] - Todd
Well, that the game plan was for the fourth quarter of that Super Bowl. It's probably good that you took it.
[00:25:08.250] - Art
[00:26:09.640] - Art
Anyway, so now people track me down. Oh, yeah. I get a phone call from Jared Bell of USA Today. Where are you? I'm here. You have Shanahan's backpack? I do. Anyway. You're the Super Bowls. Nothing happened since of the game. So this becomes caused celeb.
[00:26:38.260] - Todd
[00:26:38.670] - Art
Wow. And everybody they're interviewing me, and I want to interview people. I was also writing for Newsday, and Newsday said, do a story about this. Anyway, infamous. When Shanahan when they won the year later or so, when they went to the Super Bowl, they won the NFC Championship. I passed them. Anyway, I passed him and I said, you're going to bring your backpack? He said, I'm not going to let you have it.
[00:27:30.860] - Todd
Well, it's part of a super bowl history.
[00:28:21.190] - Todd
All right, Art, you mentioned the Rose Bowl, and I want to talk to you specifically about that major event. You were inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, the class of 2016. And as you mentioned, the first time you ever went to the Rose Bowl as a Los Angeles native was 1954. You were aged 15, and you actually sold game programs, and I think for about ten years. You went as a fan spectator, and then you started covering it in 1964, and you really never stopped covering it. What is it about the Rose Bowl that kept bringing you back to Pasadena?
[00:28:55.720] - Art
Well, one, I was in La. Native and referencing what I mentioned. There weren't any sports arenas in La. There weren't a lot of sports. You had minor league baseball, and you had college football. You had the Rams who came there. But the big event was the Rose Bowl. And the la. Times in those days would put out special editions. And also there were very few ball games. The Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Ball, and the Orange Bowl. That was it. And the Rose Bowl was the big one. Now they're, what, 200? It's amazing.
[00:32:03.700] - Todd
I was fortunate at the cover of the Rose Bowl several times, and I have distinct memories of my 1st 1990 beauchampler's last game at Michigan as coach and USC beat them. You have covered so many. Are there certain games and distinct moments that you have in all those years of covering the Rose Bowl?
[00:32:32.490] - Art
Well, I went to UCLA, and when UCLA finally won a Rose Bowl, 1966, gary Beeben, I remember that game. I also remember the Ron Vander Kellen game.
[00:32:46.680] - Todd
[00:32:47.740] - Art
Wisconsin. The lighting was very poor. The game went on and on and on. It was virtual of darkness, and the game changed. I believe it's against SC, right?
[00:33:02.140] - Todd
I think so.
[00:33:03.250] - Art
SC a big lead in Wisconsin, and Vander Kellen, the quarterback, kept bringing him back, and that was a historic game.
[00:33:13.760] - Todd
But it's more than just the football, right? It's something about the setting, the Rose Bowl. For somebody who's never been fortunate enough to go to the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day, what is it like to be in that stadium and cover that game?
[00:33:28.240] - Art
Well, one, you better get there early because the traffic is terrible and a lot of people are coming from the parade. The parade draws a million people, maybe a million and a half. And a lot of people go to particularly from out of town, from Ohio or Michigan, Northwestern. They'll go to the parade. It's the one chance they'll go to the game.
[00:33:49.990] - Todd
Those are the people that Jim Murray used to write. We're all bringing the potato salad to Southern California.
[00:33:55.620] - Art
Murray, I got to be great friends with Jim. He and I both have eye problems, or had eye problems, but Jim, every time, it would be one of those great days where it was about 70 degrees and the sun was out, and Jim would say, oh, no, another 100 people will be coming to California. He wanted bad weather.
[00:34:22.460] - Todd
But there is something about that sunset, right, that setting and the game.
[00:34:27.040] - Art
Yeah, it's just watching the sunset over the hills to the west of you. Now, from the road, from the press box, you just see part of it, but everything is sort of turning purple and the game is going on. So once I got involved, I wanted to keep going, and I sort of like, hey, I'm going to do this next year. Anyway, I sold programs and then I went to UCLA, and they asked me if I'd work in the press box, and I sort of passed out stats. Remember stats? They were on paper. Now they're all remember paper.
[00:35:15.790] - Todd
You would cut down trees and make paper.
[00:35:17.850] - Art
And then when I graduated and I went to UPI, they let me work in the press box. And then I started covering when I got the Santa Monica outlook, and basically there and then The Chronicle and the examiner. And even though I wasn't assigned, I went one game I wanted to go, and I was the Raiders beatrider, and they were playing Denver and Denver, but fortunately the game was New Year's was on Sunday, so the Rose Ball was going to be on Monday. So I cover the Raider game and I jump on a plane and fly to La. And do the Rose Bowl. And my boss at the Chronicle is outraged. Why did you do this? How come you're supposed to be at the Raiders? I said I was the paraders. Anyway, I said I got to keep my streak going. Right?
[00:36:17.620] - Todd
Yeah, you had to, right? Yeah. Well, in all seriousness, the streak is really legendary among sports writers, and you're in the Roosevelt of Fame for a reason. I mean, you were part of what that game became in American sports lore.
[00:36:37.610] - Art
Well, you know, I call it an Odometer Award because I didn't play, but it was really amazing in the parade with sitting in one of those old cars, 1920, 319, 25, whatever it was, with a couple of guys who actually earned the right by playing in the game. I sort of felt awkward because I'm used to covering things and not covering the story and not being the story, but it was great. I look over here to the side and there's a big statue and hey, I was there and my name is on a plaque on the wall, a hall of Fame, which I have grandkids now, and I think someday they may take a look at that.
[00:37:46.480] - Todd
Well, let's talk some more football here. Let's go to the pro ranks in San Francisco. When you're at The Chronicle and at the examiner, before you became a. Columnist. You actually covered the NFL as a beat, and you were covering the Raiders, the 1970s Raiders of Val Davis, John Madden, and a host of cretans and miscreants and former inmates and all kinds of people playing on that team. What were the 1970s Raiders like in Oakland?
[00:38:18.340] - Art
First place, they own the town, and people love them. They were good. Secondly is it was very relaxed atmosphere. You know, these days, when you go to do an interview, the PR people say, two more minutes, we got to get going. In those days, Al Davis would say, go interview the guy, and if he won't talk to you, that's your problem. So I loved it. Madden was the great guy. Bill Walsh said he never read the papers, but Madden read the papers and would take them, and I'd come to practice, and he'd say, I didn't say that, and he'd hold the paper up on my face.
[00:39:05.210] - Todd
Well, Madden madden is a guy that most people now know. Madden, obviously, because of his tremendous broadcasting career, but he was a hell of a coach for ten years with the Raiders, won a Super Bowl and had so many great teams. What was he like to cover as a coach?
[00:39:26.890] - Art
Very accessible. And as I mentioned, he said, I never worked a day in my life. But basically, he appreciated what he could do, which was get involved in a game. He was a great coach, and he had a lot of fun. And Al Davis, whose reputation, unfortunately, got worse, but Al knew football, and he knew people who could coach and who could play, and so they were fun.
[00:40:15.190] - Todd
All right, we've heard all these tales about some of the high jinx among the players. Give us your favorite Raiders story.
[00:40:23.890] - Art
Let's see. Well, the Super Bowl, I think it was around 80 or so, 83.
[00:41:00.360] - Todd
Okay, so they're playing it's the Eagles and the Raiders in the Super Bowl in New Orleans, of all places. Yes, every sporting event should be held in New Orleans. So you're there. What was going on with the Raiders that week?
[00:41:13.200] - Art
The Raiders never went to bedmeal in a very tight ship.
[00:41:20.890] - Todd
For the Eagles?
[00:41:22.120] - Art
Yeah, for the Eagles and the Raiders. Meanwhile, I'm trying to remember Benzak and a few of the other guys, they just went out on their own. There were rules, they just broke them. And it didn't matter as long as that was the deal with Al Davis. He said, I don't have hard and fast rules. I just want the guys ready to play football and not a bad idea, right.
[00:41:54.190] - Todd
Matuzak was quite a character, right?
[00:41:56.580] - Art
Yeah, he was the tuz. They call him T-O-O-Z. Yeah, he was a guy. Had been in other teams, and he never went to bed during the Super Bowl.
[00:42:11.890] - Todd
Before that Super Bowl. In the quarterback was Ken Stabler, who was always a favorite player of mine back in those days. Tell us about Stable and what he was like to cover.
[00:42:23.360] - Art
Stabler was a guy. I sort of got involved with him. I was writing the Raiders, and he wanted to play, and he wasn't playing. And so I go to see him, and the Raiders weren't scoring, and he tells me, I could get this team. Darrell Lemonico was the quarterback, and he says, I can get touchdowns. And the Chronicle ran the headline, I can get TDs.
[00:42:56.660] - Todd
[00:43:00.790] - Art
Madden Davis, they didn't care. They thought, that's great, go get those TDs.
[00:43:07.150] - Todd
That's what we want from the quarterback, right? Leadership.
[00:43:09.540] - Art
Yeah, that's right.
[00:43:10.470] - Todd
[00:43:12.190] - Art
And that's what he got. He was a guy. He died a couple of years ago, but he had a wildlife, too. These guys just they enjoyed themselves. The whole key was play the game, and as soon as the game's over, have a good time.
[00:43:34.600] - Todd
Was training camp a pretty wild affair?
[00:43:40.990] - Art
The Raiders wouldn't tell you anything, so you had to find out for yourself.
[00:43:46.390] - Todd
Do some reporting, Art. Come on.
[00:43:48.600] - Art
Yeah, we're staying up there at the El Rancho Hotel in Santa Rosa, and we're in one section and players are in another, and one of the guys bangs on my door and said, you better get up. They just cut somebody, whoever it was. So we're all running out in our underwear, in our pajamas to find out who cut so we could write a story. Another thing, and I'm married and I wear my wedding ring, but guys would get up there and they'd take off their wedding rings.
[00:44:28.540] - Todd
So raiders tradition.
[00:44:31.140] - Art
[00:44:34.460] - Todd
Let's go from the Raiders back to college real quick, because you mentioned this, and I have not spoken to anybody who was actually at this game. That's November 20, 1982. Now, you covered pretty much every Cal Stanford game since you've seen them all. There's never been a game like that in that series and really never been a game end in the history of college football. Quite like that Cal Stanford game. The famous the bands on the field game. Where were you, Art, when the Stanford band took the field during that kick return?
[00:45:14.790] - Art
I was in the press box. In other words, we would go down after the game.
[00:45:19.230] - Todd
Okay, so you weren't down on the field, okay.
[00:45:21.250] - Art
No, I was in the press box watching it, and it's like Joe Starkey, who's just retiring, he was the announcer who said, the band is on the field. It's like, what? I didn't hear that because I'm in the press box. But you're seeing this unfolding and it's hard to put it into your brain what's going on down there. And of course, another thing I remember, that was John Ellway's last college game and he was going to go to the Rose Bowl and they got knocked out and he was outraged. He wouldn't talk about the play for years.
[00:46:05.160] - Todd
[00:46:07.760] - Art
About ten years later I talked to him and he said, yeah, I've adjusted, but he was so angry. The Stanford people thought they had won the forward laterals. And Ken moan also. What's great is the guy, the trombone player who ran on the field.
[00:46:36.280] - Todd
Yeah. Kevin Moon scores a TD after five laterals by the Calvary. Moan runs it into the end zone and just runs over this trombone player.
[00:46:47.740] - Art
The trombone player and the runner, the Kale runner are good friends. They became longtime friends. The trombone is in the College Hall of Fame, I believe, all bent up. And it's obviously once in a lifetime. You've seen teams try to duplicate that, where they just throw the ball around. Didn't work there. And they play it on TV here just about every time Cal play Stanford, which is once a year.
[00:47:20.080] - Todd
We've seen the video clips all these years, but what was like in the stadium and in the press box when it was unfolding?
[00:47:27.550] - Art
Well, it's like, what's going on? Everybody's screaming now. You don't know if it's a touch. There was a long break while they're trying to figure out if he actually scored a touchdown was a legitimate and so that takes time. And finally the guy goes with his hands touchdown. And the Cow people are delighted to tap Cow. They've had some crazy games.
[00:00:52.390] - Todd
Well, you know Stanford. They'll get over it eventually. It's only been 40 years. All right, well, speaking of Stanford, there was a guy who played a little bit of golf out there at Stanford in the Bay Area, and you got to know him a little bit as a young California amateur, US. Open Amateur champion three times, goes on to Stanford, where you really get to know this guy. His name is Eldrick Woods. I think he goes by Tiger. What was the young Tiger Woods like as an amateur? And during his time at Stanford?
[00:01:31.600] - Art
He's always been very, you might say, reluctant or hesitant. He never wanted to make a big deal. He knew who he was, and his father pushed him. When he got to Stanford, they used to call him Herrkle.
[00:01:49.910] - Todd
Oh, yeah, the TV character with the big glasses.
[00:01:52.090] - Art
He was sort of out of it. He played golf and he went to class, and he wasn't one of the guys that ran up and down the dorm wall, hallways, that type of thing. But later on I got to know him a little bit and interviewed him. And I asked him about doing things, and he said basically he wanted to do it his own way, in his father's way, and he didn't want what other people wanted.
[00:02:27.040] - Todd
What is your first memory of Tiger?
[00:02:31.540] - Art
Well, I met him at a banquet when a Stanford function, and he was really hesitant and a little shy. Once again, they introduced him woods. He had already won a US. Amateur, as you mentioned. He won three us. Amateurs. Nobody else ever did that. Not Bobby Jones, not Jack Nicholas, not Arnold Palmer and anybody. And so he was on his way, still winning. And I saw the third amateur was played up in Portland.
[00:03:17.290] - Todd
Pumpkin ridge. Right.
[00:03:18.490] - Art
Yeah, right outside of Portland. And something I remember played a guy named Steve Scott in the Finals. So Tiger is down five holes. It's match play. He's five down to Steve Scott. I go on the radio to station Cambr, which is the sports station, one of the two sports stations here. And I go on at the break when they're waiting to play the afternoon. And I said, basically, it's all over. Tiger's way behind. He's going to lose. And of course, he came back and won. So I learned something there.
[00:05:29.890] - Todd
So he makes history as the first and only person to win three straight US. Amateur Championships. You had covered golf at that point already for many years, including Nicholas and his prime. When you looked at that young Tiger Woods who was getting ready to turn pro, did you envision that he would become what he did become?
[00:05:50.640] - Art
No. You don't know? Well, we knew he's going to be very good. The continual success indicated that out there he would win. I was at the Masters, as been all these Masters, when he broke through and won, and all of a sudden, boom. That changed golf. But going back a couple of years, his father Earl, used to both build them up and knock them down. And this was at the US. Open at Detroit. And Tiger was an amateur and he was playing, and he's playing pretty well. And then he started playing not quite so well and didn't look like he was going to make the cut. And Earl would say, oh, he's not very good, and he's got to learn a lot. I remember that Earl was like, downgrading him, and of course, that was right into the media right there. But outside he built them up. Tiger did what nobody's done, but he has not won all four majors in the same year. Nobody has. Hogan did it. Tiger one three. So that's pretty good.
[00:07:28.240] - Todd
So 97 at the Masters. He wins by twelve strokes. You said it changed golf. What do you remember about being in Augusta that year in particular?
[00:07:37.990] - Art
We didn't know. In other words, at 36 holes, there was no indication that this was going to happen. But he wins and all of a sudden it brings in minorities. It makes people pay attention, who is this guy, Tiger Woods? And basically brought so many people, both minorities, into the game, but it made people pay attention. I would go to golf tournaments and at the US the La open or the Genesis, whatever it was. And you'd have all these black kids following Tiger, and they would not have been on a golf course had he not won.
[00:08:32.890] - Todd
Right. He also just brought in the general sports fan. Right. Because golf is kind of a niche sport in many respects, but Tiger was a guy that, even if you didn't like golf, you wanted to know what Tiger Woods was up to.
[00:08:45.450] - Art
Right? Well, since after he became really great and famous, even now, he's not playing. Or maybe he'll play a little bit, but the only question was, what's Tiger doing? When there's team sports, you root for the jersey, the laundry. If it's Ohio State or if it's the Rams, if it's UCLA, it doesn't matter who's under that jersey, that's your guy or your girl. But in individual sports, you need a person, whether it's Tiger, Serena Williams, Roger Federer, somebody like that. And Tiger just brought us all in. It got to the point where people didn't care what was going on. They just say? What's tiger shooting?
[00:09:49.240] - Todd
Right? Well, I just think we remember in 2005 at the British Open at St. Andrews, you and myself and Marla Reidnaaur from the Akron Beacon Journal had dinner and talked a lot about, obviously, Tiger at night. And he goes on and wins that tournament wire to wire. Won it by five strokes. He's 29 years old. That was his 10th major championship. It was Jack. Nick was his last British Open. That's why I was there from Columbus. And there was just this real feeling that it was inevitable that the torch had been passed, that Tiger, with ten titles at 29, was going to break Nicholas record of 18 major championships. And then we know the story about, everything that happened away from the course, his injuries, his marital trouble, all the things that happened to bring him down. But when you think about it, what happened to Tiger?
[00:10:51.090] - Art
Well, that is what happened. And also, I think, the injuries. The late Dan Jenkins, who one of the great journalists of all time writers, and died a couple of years ago in 2000, I believe it was after Tiger had won his third major of the year. Dan and I are standing I'm trying to remember it was Valhalla. But anyway, so I said, Dan, and Dan had been covering golf since he was 15 years old, and this is 40 years, 50 years later. I said, Dan, who's going to stop this kid? What's going to stop him? He said, the only two things that stopped him will be an injury or a bad marriage. It's funny. I mean, he had a bad marriage. You might say. We don't know about how much, but the injuries, that will stop anybody. And you're swinging this golf club. He was already beat up. And he did a lot of, we would say, dumb things, but he jumped out of airplanes. He wanted to be a trooper like his father in the military. And his dad was fantastic. He would extend his body, and he'd wrestle, and he'd basically do parachuting, bungee jumping, things like that.
[00:12:28.180] - Art
Well, you know, you're going to wear your body out. You're going to beat it up. And so then he already had a bad knee and things got worse.
[00:12:40.390] - Todd
Right? I always just thought from afar that maybe he was just a geek, maybe he was erkel and he was trying to prove something else by getting involved in all these other things, you know, all these macho things, parachuting and being hanging out with the Special Forces and to each his own. You live your life. It just seemed like there was something else going on there besides golf.
[00:13:03.180] - Art
Well, he was a driven guy, and he was also this is my own theory he was an only child, and so he didn't have brothers and sisters of which he knew. And so he went out and did things sort of to be recognized and be known. By the way, there's a story supposedly when he got to kindergarten or first grade, and he was, quote, the only person of color, only black kid. This is in Anaheim area, Orange County, that the other kids tied them up or beat them up or something like that. Tied them up, I guess. Well, turns out that was a phony story. It was made up. And I believe that story until a few years ago when I heard somebody just made it up or his father or Tiger didn't his father wanting you to think that way. And Earl, remember, said he's going to be more famous than any person in history. He mentioned jesus Christ. He mentioned various kings. He mentioned kings and golfers and athletes and statesmen. And actually, he's pretty famous, but not quite that famous.
[00:14:32.800] - Todd
Well, for a period of time, obviously, he was the most famous athlete, or one of them, certainly, around the world. And that said, he was also he was also a bit distant. He was not easy to get the crack through the wall, especially at press conference settings and so forth. But I will say this. You Art Spander, you were one of the few writers that Tiger would address by name. You had some type of work in relationship with him. What click between you guys?
[00:15:07.540] - Art
I was there, and I'd ask him questions. He knew who he was. I was a Bay Area guy, and he went to Stanford and all these things. And I had people who knew him, I guess, who said, Art is okay. I'll tell you one of the last things I remember. Five years ago or so, we were in a tournament, and Tiger here's one thing I found out about Tiger. He did not like people. You're talking about kissing ass before. He didn't like that. When he turned pro, they had a press conference at the La. Tournament genesis, or whatever they called it, anyway. And they had to actually have seats at the press conference because there were so many people. And you had all these Hollywood reporters and this woman was saying, oh, Tiger, you know what it is? He just cringed. He likes somebody saying, hey, jerk. I'd see him after a tournament. He didn't want to talk to anybody else. He'd say a few obscenities and then he'd say, all right, come on in here. But he just wanted to be one of the boys, I think.
[00:16:30.940] - Todd
Right. Just be treated like the other guys. Even though obviously his talent was not like all the other guys. Well, Tiger knew Art Spander by name and Art, you knew of quite a few celebrities even outside the world of sports. When you started out at Up, I didn't you cover Marilyn Monroe's funeral?
[00:16:56.310] - Art
Yes, I did. I did, because I was a young guy there.
[00:17:45.860] - Art
So the first year, 1960 they used to have a thing called the backbone wire. And here I am, the only guy in the office after 03:00 A.m. Three to six. And it's ringing, it's raining. And I go over there and says, understand, marilyn Monroe has committed suicide. This is and I don't know what to do. So I called Hank Rigor, the late bureau chief and he says, Good. I'm glad you called me. This is what we do. I started calling all the Hollywood vernon Scott and Joe Finnegan, the Hollywood people and turns out she was in Reno making the Misfits with Clark Gable.
[00:19:17.230] - Art
So I really feel stupid. Anyway, now two years later, 62 now I'm married, and the phone rings on a Sunday morning and they said, you better come to the office, marilyn Monroe committed suicide. I said, they pulled that bleep on me two years and I hung up. And she did so then because they put all manpower, everybody, even though I was not knowledgeable, I was young, so I could climb the funeral. And obviously the graveyard is in Westwood, right near UCLA, so I knew the territory. So they had me climbing up over the walls and doing that kind of thing.
[00:21:13.160] - Todd
So you're jumping the wall to get any kind of news you can get at the funeral for Marilyn Monroe.
[00:21:20.250] - Art
No notes, and then give them for the big shots so they could write the story anyway, I was a little shocked.
[00:21:29.170] - Todd
They're for history. But you got to know Tiger. Tiger got to know you by name. You got to know quite a few celebrities when you think about it, from covering the at and T Pebble Beach Pro AMS, which back in the day was called the Bean, Crosby, Clam Bay, and you would have all the old Hollywood people come out, right? Crosby, Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Jack Lemon. You had all kinds of no big deal.
[00:21:59.250] - Art
I had drinks after a round with Jack Lemon, and I'm saying, I'm telling him how much I love China syndrome. He's looking at me a stupid sportswriter. But anyway, it was fun. I'll tell you who I liked. D. Martin was great and great like that and being himself, because I wrote for the Chronicle, which was the paper Bing Reddit, and he knew what I was writing about his tournament. And so I would call him just before the tournament and he would talk to me at his home in Burlingame.
[00:23:04.390] - Todd
Okay, so you have Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson. Eastwood, obviously was the mayor of Permanent.
[00:23:12.790] - Art
I saw eastwood. I was walking the fairways, let's say seven or eight years ago. I can't do that anymore. And we were at Spyglass Hill, and he sees my media badge and archbander San Francisco examiner, and he looks at it and he says, Archbander? God, you've been around here a long time. So I said, not as long as you.
[00:23:40.010] - Todd
Hey, wait a minute. Hold on, Clint.
[00:26:58.460] - Todd
Well, you're hanging out with all those stars up there at Pebble Beach and all these major names and personalities from sports all these years at different venues, famous places, and you certainly you've been a star in the sports writing universe. It's been such a pleasure and honor to have you spend time with us.
[00:27:18.150] - Art
[00:27:18.990] - Todd
I can't thank you enough.