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Cal Football

Pappy's Boys Running Out the Clock

June 10, 2021

Pappy’s Boys, an organization created 34 years ago to support the Cal football program and by extension, the university itself, is in its final days. It has been quite a ride.

The “Pappy” in the title is, of course, Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf, who as head coach of the Bears from 1947 through 1956, directed the most successful decade in their colorful history. The “Boys” are his former players and supporters who have carried on his legacy. But boys become men, get older and inevitably leave us. 

“The time for folding up the Pappy’s Boys tent was fast approaching, said Tuck Coop (’67), current Chairman of Pappy’s Boys and former Executive Director of the Cal Alumni Association “It has been a wonderful organization and we wanted to have as many members as possible be able to celebrate all that we’ve accomplished with one final banquet. 

“With each passing month we were losing members and it just made sense to bring this storied chapter to a close and so, per our bylaws, the players voted to dissolve the organization. The love that the players have for their coach, for each other, for the Cal football program and for the University has been extraordinary.  It’s been a hell of a ride!”

In the 31 years between Waldorf’s retirement as head coach and the founding of Pappy’s Boys, his players were in casual contact with one another, but the group meetings were irregular. In 1987, six years after Pappy’s death, a group of his former players decided to form an organization that would enable them to better stay in touch, rekindle friendships, perpetuate Waldorf’s legacy and assist the university and the football program.

They have done pretty well on all counts.

The first official Pappy’s Boys banquet was held on Sept. 9, 1988, with an attendance of 170. Since then the attendance at the dinners surged. The late Jack Vohs. who was in charge of 16 straight banquets starting in 1998, estimated a combined total attendance of 3,000 members, wives and guests.

But Pappy Boys has been more than eating and drinking. The contributions include financial support for the football program to fund volunteer assistant coaches and air transportation to aid recruiting. Some members provided housing assistance for assistant coaches in the complex Bay Area real estate market, 

Cal Athletics
Pappy (back row, second from right) and his staff

Members, Ed Bartlett. Stu McKee and Paul Larson, headed up a Kids to Campus program that brought young people from the Oakland Boys and Girls Club and schools from the Central Valley to the campus, for many of the guests it was their first visit to any university. 

More visible contributions are some significant campus landmarks: the giant statue of the Bear near the stadium, the statue of Pappy in faculty glade, and a bench halfway up a staircase on the west side of the stadium. 

Perhaps the organization’s most impressive ongoing accomplishment is the Pappy Waldorf Endowment Fund Scholarship. Begun in 1993, the fund pays for a grant for a team member selected by the coaching staff “for leadership both on and off the field.” The 22 recipients have included Todd Steussie, Kyle Bollerm, Keenan Allen, Jared Goff and current quarterback Chase Garbers.

Pappy’s Boys has some final goals. A total of 27 scholarships (there are four two-time winners) have been funded at a cost of more than $450,000. At the same time, the endowment held by the Regents is about $1.1 million. In order for an endowment to be considered fully funded forever, the University requires at least $1.2 million. 

In order to reach that, Pappy’s Boys is “passing the helmet” if you will, and asking its members to make one final contribution. Given the “Boys”’ history, that should be no problem, and the scholarship will serve as an annual reminder of what Waldorf and Pappy’s Boys meant to the University.

Cal Athletics
Pappy’s Boys is responsible for the giant Bears statue near the stadium.

Former winner Chris Manderino (2005), who has been instrumental in rallying fellow recipients to help the scholarship endure, is making an effort to start an organization similar to Pappy’s Boys with alums who, like himself, played for Jeff Tedford. Much as Pappy did, Tedford took a team that was at the bottom and instantly made it successful.

Plans for the final Pappy’s Boys banquet to be held at the Claremont Hotel on the eve of the USC game are well underway, and it should be quite a show. It has been in the works for 34 years.

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Discussion from...

Pappy's Boys Running Out the Clock

1,710 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 7 days ago by gagemail
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Very heart warming!
Thanks to Pappy's Boys, and thanks for the article!!! I hope it gets more press in the wider Bay Area. I'm sure it will.
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This almost makes me cry. What an amazing group of men. Their legacy is beyond epic. To think that there will be no more Pappy's Boys is just beyond me. They have meant so much to Cal Football and to the university.

So many stories around his players, and the man himself. But the one that always brings a smile to my face is the story(s) of the "Smokers" he had with the Cal Band. Pappy loved Cal Band, and would get together with members of the band once a week during the football season to smoke cigars and talk football.

When I was in high school, I met Pappy at Memorial Stadium and had a chance to talk with him briefly. Just a great guy......everything you would think we would be from what you've read and seen in pictures.

I was coached, in freshman football, by Brian Yaich at Miramonte. He too is getting up there in years and I have heard his health is not really great right now. I didn't know he was one of Pappy's boys until well past my high school years. I can honestly say that although I don't have close relationships with any of the men who played in that special time, each time one passes I feel a special sadness. Just thinking about the loss of Pappy's Boys will be a heavy loss in my memory of past joy.
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Very nice article.
For the record, and as TomBear notes, the very first Cal students to "play" for Lynn "Pappy" Waldorf was the Cal Band. They welcomed and played for him as he got off the train in Berkeley. As documented by numerous oral histories, Pappy considered the Cal Band as important as his players.

Go Bears!!
Cal Band Great!!!
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When I was a kid growing up in Berkeley, Pappy and Louise lived on Grizzly Peak, a block from our house. My Dad and Pappy were good friends and after most games my parents went over to the Waldorf's to discuss the outcome. During my childhood, my Dad tutored a number of Cal football players under Pappy, so they were around our house a lot. Paul Larson played jacks with me on the kitchen floor. Jere Brooks is another we knew well and I remember fondly. I read this article with a bit of sadness, but it also brought back a flood of good
memories of Pappy and Louise and Pappy's Boys. Thanks to all Pappy's Boys for the good works you've done for the community, the campus and the men who were lucky enough to be in the presence of Pappy Waldorf.
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