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TERENCE P. JEFFREY: When The 49ers Played On A High School Field

When I was a freshman and sophomore in high school, before I was old enough to drive, every weekday after football and track practice, I drove from my high school in the Sunset District to the corner of Haight and Stanyan. I was on a San Francisco city bus. street.

That corner was the closest bus stop to St. Mary's Hospital, where my father worked as a chief pathologist.

He and I commuted from there to our home in San Rafael.

The intersection of Haight and Stanyan was also the intersection of two important strands of San Francisco's 20th century popular culture.

Four blocks east was 710 Ashbury, home of the Grateful Dead in the late 1960s. Two blocks south was Kezar Stadium, embedded in a corner of Golden Gate Park.

Quesar was the home of the 49ers from its inception in 1946 until January 3, 1971, when the 49ers lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Championship Game.

This was also the stadium where my high school, St. Ignatius College Prep, played its home games under Friday night lights.

In fact, St. Ignatius and other San Francisco high schools started playing football at Quezar long before the 49ers (Grateful Dead) existed. (Related: Terrence P. Jeffrey: In case you missed it, Biden gave a truly head-scratching speech over the weekend)

Kezar was not created for professional athletes, but to serve the “youth” of San Francisco and to honor the literal 49ers.

Mary Kezar, a native of San Francisco, died in 1922. In her will, she left her $100,000 to build a monument in Golden Gate Park honoring her mother and her three uncles. However, she left it to the executor to determine the exact nature of the monument.

They decided to build a stadium.

The San Francisco Examiner reported, “Miss Kezar made a provision in her will that a monument of a type to be determined by her executors be erected in Golden Gate Park when disposing of her vast estate.'' Ta. “She saved $100,000 for it.”

“The stadium will be built in memory of Mr. Kezar's mother and uncles,” the examiner said, “early California settlers who came here from Maine during the gold rush.” Stated.

Two years later, at the urging of San Francisco Parks Commissioner William Humphrey, the Board of Supervisors agreed to move forward with the project.

“The completed building, which includes eight tennis courts, baseball and football facilities, a basketball pavilion and a handball court, will cost approximately $300,000,” Humphrey told the board.

“A third of this amount comes from a bequest made by the Kesar estate several years ago,” he said.

“If the city gives us $200,000 this year, we can move forward and deliver a completed project by the end of this year or the beginning of 1925,” Humphrey said. “The stadium alone will cost $170,000, but the seating capacity could grow to 20,000 or even 50,000. Basketball and tennis courts with changing rooms, showers and lockers will allow our youth to enjoy the sport. necessary to enjoy the stadium. “

On June 19, 1924, San Francisco's Republican mayor, James Rolfe, Jr., attended the stadium's construction commencement with his son. “At the end of his speech, Mayor Rolfe activated the steam shovel, took the first morsel from the obstructing embankment, and dumped it into a truck, which was driven away by James Rolfe III.” The San Francisco News reported.

The stadium opened in the spring of 1925, so its first event was a track meet rather than a football game. During his first weekend in May that year, the stadium hosted the Pacific Association Amateur Track Championships, pitting teams from Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley against the Olympic Club of San Francisco. Two weeks later, the city's high school held a track championship there.

And then autumn came.

On September 19, 1925, Lowell, San Francisco's oldest public high school, faced San Mateo in a football game at Quezar. “What is considered the most intense competition between the prep school eleven this weekend is Lowell vs. San Mateo, scheduled for tomorrow afternoon at Quezar Memorial Stadium,” the San Francisco Bulletin reported. San Mateo won 27-7.

The following Friday, San Francisco Technical High School, across the street from Kezar, defeated Oakland Tech 12-7 at the stadium.

A month later, Mission High School defeated St. Ignatius 7-0 at Kesar. One of the halfbacks on that St. Ignatius team was Tony Morabito. Twenty years later, he would become the founding owner of the 49ers. The team played its home games from 1946 until the 1971 championship game against Dallas at the same stadium where Morabito played in high school.

By 1975, San Francisco had received $100,000 from Mary Kezar's estate and committed an additional $200,000 to build first-class athletic facilities for the city's students. A very different public school board was born. That same year, the board threatened to cut funding for high school sports and other extracurricular activities.

But then the rock and roll community stepped in.

Promoter Bill Graham organized a benefit concert to be held at Kezar to raise money for sports and other extracurricular activities in San Francisco public schools. The concert was called “Student Need Athletics, Culture and Kicks” or “SNACK.” Among those volunteering to serve that day were Jefferson Starship, Santana, the Doobie Brothers, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and the Grateful Dead.

And, as the San Francisco Examiner reported, two days before the concert, the school board discovered a $2.1 million “surprise” it already had in its possession. “Board members had known about the additional funding for weeks but were clearly too embarrassed to admit it publicly,” the newspaper reported.

Bill Graham and his rock stars put on a concert to benefit high school sports.

It was a day when the musical tradition of Haight-Ashbury and the sporting tradition of Kezar came together.

Terrence P. Jeffrey is an investigative editor at the Daily Caller News Foundation. To learn more about Terrence P. Jeffrey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit his Creators Syndicate website at

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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