2018: Tom Ault, Crawford Basketball Standout

They gave Tom Ault a tremendous sendoff recently at the Rancho Santa Fe First Presbyterian Church. More than 400 persons, including many San Diego State and sports luminaries from the ‘sixties and ‘seventies, were in attendance.

Ault, 72, who passed away recently, helped create a championship legacy at Crawford High.

Ault played basketball and baseball during a dawning era at the school on 55th Street in East San Diego.  He was a starting guard on the 1962-63 basketball squad that posted a 24-6-1 record, sneaked into the San Diego Section playoffs after a rigorous Eastern League campaign, and won the championship.

Larry Blum, who set a County scoring record with 737 points that year, was Ault’s partner in the Colts’ backcourt.

“Tommy played a key role,” said Blum.  “He was the peacemaker, mediator, and really the player/coach between Coach (Jim) Sams and the team.  He was the one who kept everyone else on an even keel with each other and Coach Sams.  He had the basketball IQ before anyone ever used the term.”

Blum was the team’s star player, Ault the glue.

The Colts overcame a midseason struggle and won a league vote for a playoff berth after tying for second place with Hoover.  They advanced through the playoffs and defeated St. Augustine, 64-44, for the championmship.

Crawford’s Tom Ault (22) and Larry Blum (32) look on as teammate Dave (Granddad) Grear and Hoover’s Gilbert Hernandez scramble for loose ball. Tom Nettles (11) is interested observer. Crawford won Kiwanis Tournament championship game, 55-49.

Among those paying their respects were former Chargers Gary Garrison, Doug Wilkerson, Jack Milks, and Mario Mendez, along with ex-Aztecs Leonard Di Santi, Jim White, and Eddie Mendez, Utah footballer Dan Spinazzola, and Ault’s athletic Crawford  classmates Tom Whelan, Mike Bladow, Dave Bruen, Bill Rainey, Ron Fox, Jim Rupe, and Fritz Ziegenduss, among others.

Blum said he and Ault forged a friendship in the seventh grade at Horace Mann Junior High after Blum’s family moved from Washington state to San Diego.

The pair were united in gym class, probably, said Blum, because their names were close alphabetically.

“Our friendship lasted over six decades and to the last day thrived,” said Blum, who went on to play at the University of San Francisco and became a successful Bay Area businessman who still finds time to play pickup basketball weekly at USF.

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