Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bob Breitbard (San Diego Legend)...

Bob Breitbard turns 90 today! Happy birthday, Bob.
Mr. Breitbard founded the San Diego Hall of Champions. The Hall is an amazing museum and "hall of fame" of San Diego sports and athletes. There are some amazing pieces of sports history. (Bob was best friends with another San Diego legend, Ted Williams.) The Breitbard Hall of Fame is a highlight of the 60,000 square foot museum. The plaques for the recipients are based on drawings by one of my favorite artists, Christopher Paluso. There is an amazing diversity of athletes and sports represented: from Archery to Wrestling; Tony Gwynn to Tony Hawk. I spend hours in the hall whenever I go to Balboa Park. Thanks to Bob for helping make San Diego America's Finest City.

I bought my first baseball cards at the San Diego Hall of Champions gift shop. A 1983 San Diego Padres team set. Turned out to be a good purchase. Thanks again, Bob.

From the Hall of Champions website:

Bob Breitbard, the founder of the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum, is a native San Diegan, and proud of it. He has been involved in the local sports scene for more than half a century–as a player, coach, team owner, builder and benefactor of institutions and organizations that have helped make San Diego a big-league sports capital that appreciates its history and honors its own.

Breitbard was a classmate of baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams at Hoover High School and has remained one of Ted’s closest friends. Bob played football at Hoover High School and San Diego State, taught and coached at Hoover, and was the Aztec’s volunteer head coach in 1945, re-establishing the football program after World War II.

He went into business and was longtime president of California Linen Supply, but sports was always his passion. In 1946, he established the Breitbard Athletic Foundation. The program continues to honor local high school, amateur and professional sports stars-our hometown heroes of the past, present and future. The Foundation developed into the San Diego Hall of Champions.

Breitbard was also one of the early members, and remains on the board of the Greater San Diego Sports Association, which has become the San Diego International Sports Council. That group of civic-minded businessman helped build San Diego Stadium, bring the Chargers and major-league Padres to town, establish and support the Holiday Bowl and other first-class sports events and facilities.

Breitbard was the driving force behind the building of the San Diego Sports Arena and the owner of it’s original tenant, the Gulls of the Western Hockey League, and later the Rockets of the National Basketball Association. He was a respected member of the Board of Governors of both leagues.

In addition to serving on many civic and charitable boards, including Sharp Hospital and the President’s Circle of the Salk Institute, Breitbard remains a patron of the arts and a champion of sports as part of San Diego’s culture. He exemplifies the philosophy that being a real contributor to the community involves giving of yourself as well as your means.

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