Chris Strausser was my Terman and Gunn classmate, 1976 to 1982, six years, but never a teammate. I do recall the first time we invited him over, seventh grade, and we played in our game room, which featured a billiards table that converted to ping-pong, and
that he described an 8th grader Kirk Holman as a real demon in a good sense on the Pop Warner meaning youth football or midgets even gridiron.
It took Chris Strausser five of those six years to have his biological clock and growth spurt catch up to his football ambitions — he was under-sized or maybe boyish — and did not start for Gunn or Terman at quarterback until senior year, fall 1981. He overtook Nick Sturiale and held off Chris Nelson and wound up 2nd or 3rd team all-SCVAL (to Jim Harbaugh’s MVP, for crosstown rivals the Paly Vikings). In a certain way, Chris Strausser for Gunn did reach a pantheon of Santa Clara Valley and Peninsula signal-callers and pass-chuckers that would include he, Harbaugh, John Paye (Menlo, Stanford, 49ers), John Capuzelo (three five touchdowns for Carlmont versus Mills, I covered for PTT) and Ben Bennett (Peterson, Duke, WFL?), and also various Morninweg’s not far from here, Oak Grove, Montana State I think and NFL coaching.
Chris, and I can swede in a picture of the lads at my Bar Mitzvah, played for Foothill JC and Chico State, coached for San Jose State (thanks to a family connection to John Ralston — Chris’ father played for Ohio State if that explains any of this, as a DB); Colorado, Boise State and now is in Seattle with his boss Chris Peterson.
I got to this today because I am on the early shift at Peet’s the former St. Michael’s Alley, and I ran into Mac Beasley, the father of Viking stalwart Mike Beasley, a former Cougars letterman at linebacker, meaning he played for Paly with Our Boy Jim then Pac-10 football up in Pullman. I remember the name and face of Beasley but only met him in recent years because Terry My Terry (Acebo Davis) is neighbors with Mac and Alexandra, and I re-introduced myself to Mike and got some Harbaugh “the Peacock” stories from him, when he was visiting his Pop. There’s also Matt Beasley, who I admit did more for Paly hoops than I did for the championship Titans and is my fellow Jazzworker, but I never until recently connected the names. Chris Strausser has a brother named Yale not sure why, perhaps conceived while reading Walter Camp’s biography?
Randy Yale Strausser was in my brother’s class and I don’t think either of them played football, my brother stopped playing two–on-two street touch football when he was about 12, although he did row some lightweight or novice at UCSD, and has remained reasonably fit to age 54 nearly enough.
I’ve seldom seen Chris Strausser and exchanged brief stories, mostly in the wake of the tragic death of another former Gunn signal caller, Danny McCallister, class of 1980 and an Oregon Ducks letterman at DB, who died in a work-related accident in Saratoga around Halloween, 2007, now seven years ago. A bunch of us met after the Gunn-Paly hoops game in January, 2008 to discuss raising a fund in his name, and Chris wanted to participate in that, we discussed.
I will have to update to explain the Apple Cup, Washington Huskies versus Washington State Cougars, this time in Pullman, but unless there is a monsoon I am predicting Huskies 45-21. (rainscore: 23-20, visitors). I read something somewhere about the cheap proliferation of College Cups for rivalries; and yes, albeit a tangent, I inaugurated the First Annual “Kings Cup” between the bitter rivals Palo Alto Firebirds and San Jose Hawks in the United States Interregional Soccer League, the Sizzle or Sirzle.
And1: solange to former Cubberley footballer, brother of Gunn footballer — and I asked him recently, the brother, “did you ever sack Harbaugh?” and he did not, unlike Jim Yardley, have specific memory or Shieldsian fabrication of such, Matt Liddicoat, John Liddicoat’s bro; Matt died suddenly at age 56 last month but I found a photo from happier times, his undergrad work in geology at San Luis Obisbo:
continuation: I left a voice mail for Brian Tom of the Huskies pr corps and remembered mid-message that I took Sam Rothstein, 15, to watch Huskies whoop Cal 31-14 or something and took a photo of the Huskies sideline, which I presume includes Chris Strausser somewhere, unless he is in the booth, I also shot. I said to Tom o his machine: “I surreptitiously rooted for y’all versus Cal”.
And for bonus, in inimitable style here is another great Gunn quarterback, in the tradition of Strausser, McCallister, but predating them by a decade and one of only two championship years, SPAL not SCVAL, Akira Tana (Harvard, Ruth Brown, Rufus Reid) and a near-selfie at the Gunn50-50 event:
edit to add: happy Husky, 31-13.
and1: John Reid caught up to Strausser earlier in the season, regarding the Stanford game. What?! The writer for the Merc has more pull than the founder of Plastic Alto? (Actually, I left a voice mail for Reid suggesting the story; I had met Reid after seeing his bylines for years at the Gunn 50-50:
“I have a few Jim Harbaugh stories, but none that I want to share,” said Strausser, a 1982 graduate of Gunn High School in Palo Alto. “He was a competitor back then as he is now.” Chris, we can work that out later, as I resurrect or remount so to speak The Harbaugina Monologue.
and and: nearly two months later I left a second message trying to reach Chris Strausser — I had his old cell in my old phone, from his Boise days. They went to a Bowl game, as well. I said “congrats on an excellent season”. With the spotlight on Oregon (not Washington) made me wonder about something I did talk to Chris about, briefly, a benefit or fun to honor the legacy of another Gunn quarterback, Danny McCalister, who also played DB for the Ducks. And coinky, I am working on an Akira Tana matter in that he will speak on my jazz panel Sunday (1/25/15) for Palo Alto History Association.
Going for 2: I did talk to Washington Huskies Pac-12 assistant coach Chris Strausser today and will have to write a whole-cloth new account of that although I realize that my writing style is still a little Air Coryell or Martz variant even –overly complicated — and would benefit from being a wee bit more “three yards and a cloud of dust” — as E.B. White would agree, “omit needless words” — which I just realize is a Woody Hayes OSU thing although Chris corrected my memory: his dad attended and played some for Michigan his mother the recessive gene was the Buckeye, but after nearly 20 years coaching D-1 he does not think or himself as a fan of the Buckeyes but sure, admires and respects and in fact is himself –with Coach Peterson — striving for a National Championship, for the Seattle side. For his livelihood, his wife, his daughters. Chris said he played at about 5’11” 185 and I had at least enough self-control to not ask exactly how that his changed 25 years later, so I would say we are about the same size — he played receiver in the years that Sturiale was our quarterback, until senior year — although I would venture that Chris, by the nature of his work, around the gym, and athletes, and representing the Huskies, has stayed more fit that I have. Tip of the cap to ya, old classmate and friend.
He said it was okay to swede in the 1977 picture of the Terman crew, at Beth Am. He said to not embellish his achievements; I said Gunn Football tradition is under-rated and under-heralded, and ameliorating that is my goal, but I would be professional. I want to create interest in Huskies football, as well. Go. Terry and I will be in Seattle in April for her part in a group show at Wing Luke, and he said we should ring them.
But it is confusing to go from Danny Mac to Jim Yardley sacking Harbaugh, in context of Strausser, I admit.