Below is a link for you to sign a petition to encourage Jed York to keep our own Cal Bear, Bob Sarlotte, as the stadium announcer down in Levi’s Stadium.
Now if young Mr. York and his team is in a “new broom sweeps clean” mode—nothing is going to help Sarlatte. Hell, he’s already been fired.
But if Mr. York is in the mood to take the temperature of the 49er fan base, and build his product around customer satisfaction, he might be interested to hear what you think.
So why Bob Sarlatte? To San Franciscans he’s more than a professional comedian with appearances on the Letterman show, who also hosts the Guardsmen Dinner, the Bears from the 60’s lunch, S.I. fund raisers, and dozens of Cal alumni banquets.
He’s one of them. A St. Cecilia Parish guy, raised in the Sunset district, who’s father owned a Liquor Store and sent him to S.I. to play under legendary Vince Tringale while he teamed with Dan Fouts—before going to Cal.
He showed up on campus a couple of years after I did as a lineman on one of Truck Cullom’s Freshman teams.
He had followed a host of Saint Ignatius footballers to Cal.
But he was a street kid. As his major drinking playmate, Black Irishman (and not bad footballer himself back in the day( Jim Murphy says), “He’s French. Las time he picked up a check was to hand it to me to pay. We call him pterodactyl arms. Arms too short to reach for his wallet.”
Sarlatte was a redshirt lineman who spent most of his career looking out of the ear hole of his helmet after O.Z. White and (future NFLer) Sherman White had bashed his head back and forth the way divers pound abalone with a wooden hammer to make it tender enough to eat.
The rules were different back then. Concussions were a badge of honor.
Sarlatte joined the Delt House, deciding they had the best food. If John Bulushi didn’t base “Bluto” in Animal House on him he should have.
A city kid, he immediately glommed on to fellow lineman Ray Volker. Why? Because Volker was from Petaluma and Sarlatte knew that unlike City kids, country boys drove cars.
And cars meant chicks in the back seat and trips down to Jackson’s Liquors for beer. Sarlatte was no fool.
Not only was Volker the key to booze and broads, those wheels could get Sarlatte back to SF for mom’s home cooked meals.
This is a true story: He invited Ray to his house for dinner one weekend. They got on the Bay Bridge, and Sarlatte was such a City kid that he’d never entered SF from that direction.
Not knowing which off ramp to take, they drove until they saw a sign “San Francisco Zoo.” “Get us to the Zoo,” he told Ray. “I know how to get home from there!”
At an early age, Sarlatte not only had the gift of gab, he could do imitations. And with coaches Wild Bill Dutton and Cosmic Ray Willsey, Sarlotte had a lot to work with.
In the locker room and before team meetings he’d have players cracking up as he’d capture Wild Bill’s perfect stentorian timber: “Son of a Buck lad. Better that you had died in childbirth than you fumble inside of the five yard line.”
Doing Head Coach Ray Willsey calling on captains Mike McCaffrey and John McGaffie—and Sarlot’s rendition of Capin’ McCaffrey-Mcgaffie-McCraffrey Mcgaffie-MacCaffrey doesn’t play well in print, but it had us wetting our pants in the locker room.
As I said, maybe Mr. York wants to sever the SF connection now that he’s got a stadium next to Great America in Santa Clara. But if he wants to help maintain the SF connection he could do worse than reconsider the decision on Sarlatte.
You see, as Stadium announcer, Sarlatte not only announces the line ups and the National Anthem, he handles all the promos which keep the fans entertained before the game and during half time.
A former DJ and current lead singer of Buctch Wax and the Glass Packs, he not only can carry a tune, he knows every lyric from every rock ‘n roll song ever written.
Being a professional comedian and ad libber, his “on the fly” jokes and routines keep everyone entertained. Not only that, a true local, he knows what the various charities and “feel good” groups are all about. “Today’s raffle benefits the C.Y.O basketball teams,” followed by some Ad Libbed “color” that can only be told by a local guy who actually coaches those teams!
He not only knows these SF charities inside and out, he contributes to them and went to school with many on their boards of directors. That’s worth its weight in 49er Red and Gold.
Remember when the Niners had Tony Bennett sing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco?”
That showed class. It showed a tremendous respect for the history and traditions of this amazing City—one that is inextricably tied to the Niners.
Perhaps if you lend your name and let Mr. York know that Sarlatte is one of those traditions none of us wants to see “left” behind, it might cause him to re-think the value of another true San Francisco treasure.