LaVerne O’Rourke saw the traits, qualities and characteristics in his younger brother, Terry, at a very early age in life.
The motivation and desire to always give his best. The drive. The want. The heart.
“I played with a lot of good guys, but nobody compared to him with that,” LaVerne O’Rourke said.
The youngest in a family of five brothers, Terry O’Rourke grew up in the Deer Park area of Napa County, always taking time to explore the abundance of the great outdoors, and also playing sports, including football as a halfback, defensive back and linebacker, in St. Helena.
“My brothers groomed us from a young age,” LaVerne O’Rourke said from his home in Napa in September. “You know, they didn’t treat us any different than they would treat their friends. I mean, they tackled us hard.
“Terry was stubborn. He did not want to be tackled. He would hit you as hard as he could.”
It wasn’t just football that Terry O’Rourke excelled at for St. Helena High School in the 1970s. A multi-sport star, he also played baseball, leading the Saints in center field.
His career totals in football are impressive: 1,559 yards rushing, an average of 7 yards per carry, 15 rushing touchdowns (10th most in school history), 1,897 yards of total offense, 2,099 all-purpose yards.
His career totals in baseball are equally as impressive: a .409 batting average (fifth-best in school history), 18 doubles (third-best), a .553 slugging percentage, 35 RBIs, 39 runs scored, 32 stolen bases.
“We knew Terry was going to be good when he was little,” said LaVerne O’Rourke. “He had this work ethic you that wouldn’t believe. He went all out all the time. I mean, he loved it. Growing up with our older brothers, we would play baseball in the front yard. We played tackle football a lot. We’d go play tackle football at the Carpy Field. We had a lot of fun growing up. Terry was always good. He was quite the athlete.”
Terry O’Rourke, a 1977 graduate, will be honored for his stellar play and achievements when he is inducted posthumously into the St. Helena High Athletic Hall of Fame later this month. O’Rourke passed away on Nov. 14, 2017 in Sonoma at the age of 58.
O’Rourke and five others were selected for this year’s class, which will be honored and enshrined on Oct. 19 at Native Sons Hall in St. Helena. A cocktail hour at 6 p.m. will be followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and the induction ceremony. The motto of the Hall of Fame is “Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, and Connecting Generations.”
Coach Fred Miller, Bob “Bimmer” Sculatti (Class of 1946), Harland Morley (Class of 1954), Rebecca “Beci” Ivanoff (Class of 1987), and Adam Beattie (Class of 1999) are also in the seventh annual Hall of Fame class.
Sculatti, who passed away on April 26, 2008 at the age of 81, will be inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame.
LaVerne O’Rourke said he is honored to see his brother enter the Hall of Fame. He will be the presenter at the ceremony for his brother.
“I think it’s the greatest thing that could happen to him,” said LaVerne, a 1975 graduate of St. Helena High and four-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball, track and field) for the Saints.
St. Helena High years
Terry O’Rourke was not only a top runner, but also had 187 career yards passing with three touchdown passes and had 151 career yards receiving, an average of 18.8 yards per reception, and seven touchdown catches. He also returned kicks, averaging 18.7 yards per return during the 1975 season.
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“He loved hitting people and he could run over anybody,” said LaVerne O’Rourke, who works for the Napa County Roads Division. “He had speed and good eyes. He was fun to watch.”
Terry O’Rourke played on the 1975 football team that went 10-1-0 overall, winning the North Central League I title with a 5-0 mark and finishing second in the CIF North Coast Section Class A playoffs. O’Rourke had 433 yards of total offense, 529 all-purpose yards, three rushing touchdowns and five receiving.
O’Rourke was named All-NCL I in 1976 for the Saints after rushing for 1,217 yards (a school record at the time; now fifth-most in school history), an average of 6.9 yards per carry and scoring 12 TDs. He passed for 187 yards (26.7 yards per completion) with three TDs and had 60 yards receiving with two TD catches. He had 1,464 yards in total offense, helping lead St. Helena to a 7-3 overall record and a league title at 5-0 while finishing second in the NCS Class A playoffs.
He ran for over 200 yards in games against Willits and Lower Lake.
“Terry’s high school career stats as a football and baseball player speak volumes to type of athlete he was,” Darrell Quirici, a dentist in St. Helena, teammate and classmate of O’Rourke’s, wrote in an email. “As a running back with a low center of gravity, he was a tough load to bring down. As one of the offensive linemen who had the opportunity to block for him, I can honestly say he was the ultimate teammate. He was never comfortable taking credit for what he did on the field and always deflected that praise towards others on the team.
“Terry was one of those guys who would literally leave it all on the field. He would be soaking wet with sweat, vomit outside the huddle and then take the ball and break free on a long run. One of my favorite memories of Terry was a game against Willits in the fall of ‘76. He was loose on a long run and was heading for the end zone, but a defensive back had the angle on him and the two met somewhere near the 10-yard line. Terry slowed, dropped his shoulder, turned and delivered the hit to his pursuer. The defender did not fare well in that exchange.”
Quirici played left tackle and defensive tackle. He has been St. Helena High’s head baseball coach for the past seven years.
O’Rourke batted .328 with 12 RBIs, 17 stolen bases and a .486 slugging percentage during the 1976 baseball season.
His 17-game hitting streak during the 1977 baseball season is a school record. He batted .500 (third-best in school history) with 31 hits (second-most), 10 doubles (second-most), a .726 slugging percentage, 23 RBIs (third-most), 23 runs scored (fifth most) and 15 stolen bases. O’Rourke was named All-League as St. Helena went 15-4 overall and won the NCL I title with an 8-1 mark.
“What I always loved about him was that he had the drive, more desire than anybody I’ve ever seen, the motivation to play his best,” said LaVerne O’Rourke.
A love for hunting, fishing and golf
Terry O’Rourke had a love for the outdoors – fishing, hunting and camping. Terry, who worked as a carpenter, and LaVerne hunted and fished together. They fished the Napa River and Lake Berryessa.
They also played golf together; one of their favorite courses was Aetna Springs in Pope Valley.
“We just loved it. Terry excelled at it,” said LaVerne. “He drove the ball well. He had a good short game and putted well.”
Added LaVerne, “We did everything. He was my best friend. We loved playing sports. It was exciting back in those days.”
Terry played Little League baseball in St. Helena and youth football with St. Helena’s Carpy Gang. He also played summer youth baseball in high school.
LaVerne O’Rourke has three brothers – Keith O’Rourke, Kevin O’Rourke and Kenny O’Rourke. Their mom, Alice O’Rourke, makes her home in Lake County.