Terry Monahan’s story in today’s UT-San Diego about the history of San Pasqual’s football jersey No. 86 jogged my memory.
Eighty-six has been worn by Eagles linebackers almost every year since 1977, but since 1983 in honor of a former player who passed away.
Barry McKeever, the son of a USC all-America, wore No. 86 in 1982 and ’83 for San Pasqual and when he played collegiately at Stanford.
But before there was 86 there was….
First, let me say that I followed the exploits of Barry father, Mike McKeever, and uncle Marlin in high school, me a student at Lincoln in San Diego and the McKeever twins all-stars in football and track and field at Mt. Carmel in Los Angeles.
They were all-Southern Section football picks, top college recruits, and among the best shot putters in the country.
Enrolling at USC the twins were part of a Trojans’ renaissance that saw USC bounce back from a 1-9 record in 1957 to 4-5-1 in ’58, and 8-2 in ’59.
Originally Mike McKeever was issued jersey No. 64 and Marlin was given No. 85.
Sometime later the USC publicist had an idea. He put one of the twins in No. 86 and stationed him in front of a mirror.
The reflection from the mirror was No. 68.
Who is whom? And which is which?
Nos. 68 (Mike) and No. 86 (Marlin) were the numbers the youngsters carried forward in their all-America and NFL careers (Barry told Monahan that he wanted to wear his father’s 68 but that number had been taken by Barry’s brother Mac, so Barry was given 86).
Mike’s NFL time was cut short by a tragic automobile accident. Marlin went on to play 14 seasons.