NOTES AND QUOTES for a Tuesday in the Napa Valley:
One of Vic Bottari's favorite places in the Bay Area was the University of California.
It's where he attended college and starred as a halfback, leading the Golden Bears to a win in the 1938 Rose Bowl. He was voted the most valuable player of the game, capping a brilliant career in football that saw him earn all sorts of honors and awards.
"He had a very strong arm," said Yountville's John Bottari, a nephew of Vic's. "He threw the football 80 yards in the air."
Vic could also run. He scored the Bears' only two touchdowns and rushed for 137 yards on 34 carries in their 13-0 win over Alabama in the Rose Bowl. In his three years with Cal, he had 1,536 yards on 388 carries, which ranks him 15th on Cal's all-time rushing list. He also scored 22 touchdowns and kicked 13 PATs, and his 145 career points puts him 14th on the school's all-time charts.
On Jan. 6, Bottari died of natural causes at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek, which is not far from his home in Orinda or where he excelled as a high school athlete, Vallejo. The nickname "Vallejo Vic" followed Bottari through life. He was 86.
"He was a very nice gentleman with a great sense of humor," John Bottari said. "He loved life, enjoyed his children, nephews and nieces, and growing up with football and Cal in general."
Vic Bottari was one of the best to come out of the Bay Area. He was the captain of Cal's 1937 "Thunder Team" that won the school's last national football championship with a 10-0-1 record. The gym at Vallejo High is named after Bottari.
"Besides the physical attributes that he had, he thought about what he was doing," John Bottari said. "He went into business later on and had his own insurance business in Oakland for years."
Athletic success set Bottari apart from others. He was a two-time first-team all-Pacific Coast Conference halfback and is in three halls of fame: the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame (1981), University of California Athletic Hall of Fame (1986), and Rose Bowl Hall of Fame (1996). He was also voted a first-team member of the Pacific-10 Conference's "All Century Team" in 2001.
"You put his name, Bill Buckner's and Tug McGraw's, and he's in that category with all those guys," said John Bottari, who played third base in college at San Francisco State and has coached baseball locally with Napa Little League, Napa Senior Little League and Napa High.
Said Stephen C. Gladstone, Cal's director of athletics: "Cal has lost a legend. Vic Bottari will always be remembered as a wonderful family man and someone who greatly enriched the tradition of Golden Bear football. Our heart goes out to his family and close friends."
John Bottari not only spent time with his uncle, going to Cal games and visiting the campus, but has also seen old game films of Vic.
"It looked like an old-time movie and I guess, in effect, it was, because of the black and white film and people running around a lot faster than normal speed," he said. "It was extremely gratifying and I got goosebumps every time I would see the films."
"I went to a few football games with him over the years," he continued. "He would talk about the campus and where he would hang out, the field, and all the famous stories with Strawberry Canyon."
Cal had recruited John Bottari for baseball.
"What they would do is bring me to football games and then they would bring me up into the coach's locker rooms and show me movies of Vic when he played ball. That was quite a joy for me," he said.
Vic Bottari finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting his senior year, when Cal went 10-1. He was a consensus All-American in 1938.
Bottari went on to start for the 1939 College All-Stars in a game against the New York Giants, the NFL champion, in Chicago. He turned down an offer from the Brooklyn Dodgers of the NFL to play professionally.
A few years ago Brian Bottari, John's son, played football and baseball for Napa High against Vallejo. He now attends UC Santa Barbara as a political science major.
"It was also a thrill for Brian when he was playing football and baseball to be the first Bottari back on that field since Vic played at Vallejo High School. It was a thrill for him as well," said John, whose daughter Samantha is a Napa High junior and plays soccer and volleyball for the Indians.
KVON-1440 AM will carry Sunday's AFC Championship Game between the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders at Network Associates Coliseum. Air time is 2:30 p.m.
Asics, Vintage High and the Napa Valley Wrestling Club are putting on the fifth annual Napa Valley Girls Classic Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. The finals will get under way about 5 p.m.
If you're an NFL fan, here are some important dates in 2003 to keep in mind: Feb. 18-24 for the scouting combine in Indianapolis; April 26-27, for the annual NFL Draft, to be held in New York City; and August 4, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, from Canton, Ohio.
Napa Valley Register Sports Editor Marty James can be reached at 256-2223 or firstname.lastname@example.org