New Inductees for ECHS Athletic Hall of Fame

New inductees to the El Cerrito High Athletic Hall of Fame include El Cerrito's mayor, a Richmond city councilman and several other outstanding former Gaucho athletes. It's the third class since the Hall began in 2009.

The roster of honored athletes in the El Cerrito High Athletic Hall of Fame has received a new class of inductees that includes El Cerrito Mayor Bill Jones, Richmond City Councilman Nat Bates and a lot more women than ever before.

This year's group of inducted athletes – honored at a celebration at the school gym on Nov. 4 – also is the largest of the three classes that have been added to the Hall of Fame since it began in 2009, according Larry Quirico, former baseball coach and athletic director who has been the chief organizer for the Hall of Fame.

It includes 23 players and three teams:

  • 1983 Baseball Team, State Champion & 8th District Region of the U.S.
  • 1983 Football Team, #2 in East Bay & N.C.S. Division 1
  • 1971 440 Relay Team, State Champion, 41.1

Also inducted was former baseball coach Dennis Abel and ECHS athletics sponsor/supporter Scotty Stirling, who served as general manager of the Oakland Raiders, Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks.

The origin of the Athletic Hall of Fame began 2007 or 2008 when former Principal Vincent Rhea suggested that one be established for the high school, said Quirico, who retired from ECHS in 2001 after teaching and coaching for 31 years. He then became a head coach at Contra Costa College, followed a head coach position at Diablo Valley College, from which he retired in 2009.

It began in 2009 with the first class covering the years from the first graduating class of 1944 through 1969. No girls were inducted, reflecting the lack of interscholastic teams for girls of that era, Quirico said.

The next class in 2010 expanded the eligibiity period by 10 years, making it 1944-1979, and had two women among the 17 individual athletes honored.

This year's class – chosen from the graduating classes of 1944-89 – quadrupled the number of women to eight, including Lisa Leal, class of 1980, who was listed for five sports: basketball, volleyball, softball, track and cross-country, more than any other person since the Hall began.

Mayor Jones, class of 1968, was listed for baseball, basketball and bootball, and Councilman Bates, class of 1950, was named for basketball and baseball.

Quirico named three athletes from this year's class that he regarded as "outstanding beyond the norm," led by James "Pops" Mitchell, class of 1984, who excelled in both football and baseball, who played on seven championship teams and who was chosen for seven all-league teams and two all-state baseball teams as well as the most valuable player of the year in football and baseball in the East Bay and an all-state junior player of the year.

Also extraordinary was Mitchell's classmate, Brian Nichols, who racked up similar honors in baseball and basketball, including all-state basketball and an all-state freshman player of the year, Quirico said.

Todd Spencer in the class of 1980, the third player singled out by Quirico, excelled in basketball and football, named an All-American by Parade magazine for football in his senior year and played for the Pittsburg Steelers in his professional career. He also set the school record for yards gained in one season, 1500 in 1978, and was named to all-Northern California teams in both of his sports. 

Many of the inductees are featured along with school athletic memorabilia in the large display case outside the school gym. 

The honorees are chosen by three committees – divided up by era – whose total membership is about 30 people, mostly coaches, Quirico said.

Below is a list of this year's class. Lists of the two earlier classes are attached to this article.

El Cerrito High School Athletic Hall-of-Fame

Athletes 1944 – 1989   2012 Class

  • Nat Bates, 1950, Baseball, Basketball
  • Bill Jones, 1968, Baseball, Basketball, Football
  • Bill Hardin, 1974, Baseball, Basketball
  • Daryle Morgan, 1976, Basketball, Track
  • Ron Harper, 1978, Basketball, Baseball
  • Ken Harris, 1978, Baseball, Football
  • Lisa Leal, 1980, Basketball, Volleyball, Softball, Track, X-Country
  • Todd Spencer, 1980, Football, Baseball
  • Mary Gaffield, 1981, X-Country, Track
  • Dawn Furseth, 1982, Tennis, Softball
  • Rod Jones, 1982, Football, Wrestling
  • Nathan Redditt, 1983, Football
  • Anthony Robinson, 1983, Basketball
  • James “Pops” Mitchell, 1984, Football, Baseball
  • Brian Nichols, 1984, Baseball, Basketball
  • Steve Pearse, 1984, Baseball
  • Antoine Pickett, 1984, Football, Baseball
  • Steve Walker, 1984, Football, Soccer, Baseball
  • Cynthia Jackson, 1985, Basketball, Volleyball, Softball
  • Lisa Nakamura, 1987, Basketball, Volleyball
  • Linda Schultz, 1987, Basketball, Softball, Tennis
  • Lauren Strickland, 1987, Basketball, Track
  • Erika Hardwick, 1989, Basketball, Volleyball
  • Dennis Abel, Coach Baseball
  • Scotty Stirling, Sponsor & Supporter of ECHS Athletics
  • 1983 Baseball Team, State Champion & 8th District Region of the U.S.
  • 1983 Football Team, #2 in East Bay & N.C.S. Division 1
  • 1971 440 Relay Team, State Champion, 41.1

Also receiving special mention were 21 queens chosen for the El Cerrito Relays – a once famous Northern California track meet organized by legendary ECHS coach Hal Roach between 1950 and 1971.


Phil M November 12, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Congratulations to all the athletes. I am so glad we are able to honor you for your dedication while going to school. ________________________________________ Find a Career College near you, www.americolleges.com
David November 13, 2012 at 06:24 AM
A great event with a large crowd honoring all those ECHS athletes. Thanks to all who put it together


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