Mike Hunter

Mike Hunter, Vintage High School Class of 1976, will be inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He is seen with the ball he was awarded following the 1974 season when he rushed for 1,235 yards. The ball has all of his teammates and coaches names written on it. He was the first player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in Napa.

J.L. Sousa, Register

Mike Hunter did it all for Vintage High School in the 1970s.

In the fall, he was a tailback for coach Burl Autry in football. In the winter, he played point guard on the basketball team for coach Keith Pahre. In the spring, he was a pitcher, first baseman and outfielder for coach Clarence Tye in baseball.

Three sports is just what you did during that time, said Hunter, who ran for back-to-back 1,000-plus yard seasons as a junior and senior while dominating as a left-handed pitcher. The Oakland A’s selected Hunter in the 34th round of the 1976 major league draft; he chose to attend the University of New Mexico on a baseball scholarship instead.

“I have nothing but very fond memories of Vintage High School,” he said last week. “When I was there, things weren’t quite as specific, so coaches encouraged you to play more than one sport, instead of one sport on and offseason. It’s a huge commitment.

“But again, it was a complete joy, at least for me. I really had a good time there.”

Hunter, a 1976 graduate, will be recognized for his all-around play when he is inducted into the Vintage High School Athletic Hall of Fame, which is now in its fifth year. Hunter and the rest of the class – Frank Silva, Norma Hill, Jim Lanterman, Conrad Alvarez, Lori Stultz Gentry, Mark Nicol, J.C. Pickett, Bruce McCall and Glenn Hughes – will be honored during a dinner and ceremony on Sept. 9 at the Elks Lodge of Napa.

The 10-member class was elected by a selection committee. The Hall of Fame’s board of directors approved the class.

The newest members will be introduced at Vintage’s Hall of Fame game against Davis on Sept. 8 at Napa Memorial Stadium.

Individuals may be nominated in one of the three following categories: athlete, coach, or special/other.

“I’m very honored,” said Hunter. “I’m very respectful of the coaching I got there and the class of coaches that were there. Getting an honor like this, with the kind of athletes that were around at that time, I’m extremely honored. Again, I’d like to give a lot of credit to the people I played with, for me to get to where I was.

“They are team sports. Not individual. If you don’t have athletes that are willing to give it all, you’re not going to look as good. I want to give credit to all the good athletes I played with.”

Hunter was All-North Bay League and All-Napa County in football and baseball. He was MVP of the NBL and MVP of the Redwood Empire in football.

He became the first running back in Napa prep history to rush for 1,000 yards during his junior season in 1974. He had 1,235 yards on the season after running for 242 yards in a 21-14 win over Vallejo.

Hunter ran for 1,255 yards during his senior season.

“And I credit that to our unbelievable line. The linemen don’t get enough credit,” said Hunter.

He was a standout in two Big Game wins for Vintage.

Hunter ran for 183 yards and scored on an 82-yard run early in the third quarter in a 32-22 win over Napa in 1974. Hunter had 122 yards rushing as the Crushers beat Napa, 21-13, in 1975.

His quarterback in those days was Craig Landis, a member of the Crushers’ Hall of Fame. Landis was an All-American in two sports, football and baseball. He was a three-year starter in both sports and was the CalHiSports.com “Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year” in 1977. He was a first-round pick — the 10th overall selection — of the San Francisco Giants in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.

“Having someone who excels like Craig, makes you better, too,” said Hunter, a Napa resident. “That was very beneficial. A very good guy, a very athletic guy. An absolute solid athlete in all sports.

“Having a great line and Craig Landis, that’s a good combination.”

Hunter learned more than just about football by playing for Autry and assistant coach Les Franco. He said he learned valuable life lessons.

“They really cared about you,” said Hunter. “They taught you to work hard. To me, they were extremely good role models. They taught you about life – not just sports. Both of them in my mind are absolute winners.”

Autry, known as “Mr. Football” in Napa, was the founder of Vintage’s program and compiled a 110-48-2 record with eight Monticello Empire League titles in 14 years while leading the Crushers to a 13-0 record and their first CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship in 1980. He is in the VHS Hall of Fame, along with Landis.

Hunter played three years of varsity baseball. He threw a no-hitter as a sophomore to beat Napa, 2-1, in 1974. He tossed a no-hitter and struck out 22 batters for Napa Post 113 in a 6-0 win over Utah in an American Legion regional tournament in 1974.

He was selected to an all-star team and got to pitch at the age of 17 in a game at the Oakland Coliseum and in a game at Anaheim Stadium.

“It was a highlight for me to go into a major league stadium and play,” he said. “Just being able to play on those fields was very exciting.”

Hunter said he threw four pitches – fastball, curveball, slider, drop ball.

“My best pitch was my curveball,” he said.

Hunter returned to Napa after one year at New Mexico. He continued with baseball, playing one year for Napa Valley College and spent two years playing for San Francisco State.

Hunter, 59, has been retired for two years after a 21 ½-year career with the Napa County Sheriff’s Office. He was a sergeant when he retired.


Executive Sports Editor Marty James has been with the Napa Valley Register since 1979. He is a member of the Associated Press Sports Editors, California Prep Sportswriters Association, and the California Golf Writers Association. He was inducted into the