Dan Berry passed recently at age 72, leaving a historic legacy at La Jolla High and of significant achievements at San Diego City College and the University of California at Berkeley.
When La Jolla met San Diego High at Scripps Field in 1961, the Vikings had not beaten the Cavemen since 1951 and were reeling from 57-0 and 59-0 knockouts in the two most recent meetings.
Berry, an all-San Diego Section first-team selection, rushed for 153 yards in 20 carries, scored a touchdown and passed for two, and charged a three-touchdown, fourth-quarter rally as the Vikings, trailing, 19-7, defeated the Cavers, 27-19.
The seaside team’s victory should have created some sports world buzz, but the game was played on Thursday night, a day earlier than usual.
Friday night was when the media spotlight was on the high schools.
The Evening Tribune did not send a reporter to the game and The San Diego Union‘s coverage of the contest was consigned to back pages of the sports section.
La Jollans were outraged.
Many of the beach community’s residents flooded the nearby office of publisher James Copley with telephone calls expressing anger that Copley’s newspapers had given their team short shrift.
Copley got the message.
An order soon came down from the fourth floor at the Union-Tribune building on Second Avenue in downtown San Diego.
Henceforth the Tribune would carry a full page of prep photo coverage plus a full page of stories and reports each Saturday on games throughout the County.
KNIGHTS THRIVE WITH DAN
Dan Berry and the Vikings had a lot to do with that emphasis on the exploits of the area’s prepsters.
Berry later led San Diego City College to a best-ever 9-1 record and come-from-behind, 28-24 victory over Orange Coast College in the 1964 San Bernardino Elks Bowl.
The 6-foot, 1-inch, 200-pounder was described by Orange Coast coach Dick Tucker as “the best junior college player in Southern California.”
Berry went on to letter at quarterback and running back for two seasons at Berkeley, and was a fifth round draft selection of the NFL Philadelphia Eagles in 1967. His career was short-circuited by injuries.
Berry’s wife, Kathy, said that on Feb. 18 a celebration of Dan’s life will be held at the family residence.