2014: Coaching Legend Walt Harvey, 95

Walt Harvey, whose firm and folksy touch resonated with generations of San Diego-area athletes and future coaches, passed away Feb. 7 at age 95.

A memorial will be held at noon Saturday, Feb. 22, at La Vida Real, where Harvey resided the last several years.

La Vida Real is located at 11588 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon Ca., 92019.

Samuel Walter Harvey was born in San Diego and attended John Adams elementary, Wilson Junior High, and graduated from Hoover in 1936.

Harvey, third from left in top row, was memb er of Hoover's outstanding team in 1935.

Harvey, third from left in top row, next to Roy Engle, was member of Hoover’s outstanding team in 1935.

“He never forgot a name, a face, or a particular play in a game,” said Tom Whelan, quarterback of Crawford’s 1961 championship team .  “He was amazing.  Even when he developed health issues we got to see him and it was a special time.”

Harvey was so admired that former students and  players from La Jolla, Lincoln, and Crawford regularly joined the coach for lunch several times a year at Harvey’s retirement residence.

Harvey was a starting end on the 1935 Hoover Cardinals team coached by John Perry that won the Bay League championship, posted a 7-1-1 record, and defeated rival San Diego for the first time.

A loss to Pasadena Muir in the first round of the playoffs didn’t diminish Hoover’s only unbeaten regular season in the school’s 85-season history.

Harvey was a starting member of the 1938 San Diego State  football team that won the conference title and he was a standout in track with a best time of :09.8 for 100 yards.

Walt’s first coaching position came after World War II at Holtville, where he “coached everything and drove the school bus.”

Harvey moved to La Jolla in 1948 and became the Vikings’ head coach in 1950. His 1951 and ’52 teams were a combined 15-4 and the 1952 squad reached the semifinals of the Southern California playoffs.

A 7-6 victory over San Diego in 1951 was one of four victories by San Diego County squads in the 12 seasons Duane Maley coached at San Diego high.

Harvey’s 1953 baseball team went to the Southern California finals before bowing, 2-1, to Compton.

Harvey took over the start-up Lincoln program the following September and guided it to varsity status in 1954. Lincoln’s 1956 team was 5-2-1 and battled San Diego and Hoover for City Prep League supremacy.

Lincoln tied with Hoover and San Diego for the CPL dual-meet championship in track in 1957 and Harvey coached Lincoln’s first state track champion, Luther Hayes, who won the broad jump at Berkeley in 1957.

Harved Brad Griffith (right), one of his many players who followed career paths to coaching.  In middle is Jacinto Arce.

Harvey’s first varsity team at Lincoln in 1954 included end Brad Griffith (right), one of his many players who followed career paths to coaching. Jacinto Arce is in middle.

Harvey moved on from Lincoln and began another construction project when Crawford opened in September, 1957.

His 1961 Colts team was 8-0-2 and won the San Diego Section championship. Harvey was named he area’s Coach of the Year at the annual St. Augustine Appreciation Night.

Walt retired from coaching after the 1961 season, then returned to coach the Colts from 1966-68.

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6 Responses to 2014: Coaching Legend Walt Harvey, 95

  1. Bob "Hubba Jubba" Moss says:

    Coach Harvey was a great-great man! He will always be remembered by myself and so many of my teammates (Lincoln HS (1955-56), as one of the humane and honest coaches we ever knew. His quiet, but solid leadership was not really recognized until a dozen years later, when I exhibited fiery and loud sideline presence as an assistant football coach at Mission Bay HS. On an occasion in 1955, Lincoln lost a heartbreaker at Pt. Loma, on a controversial call on the final play of the game. While both Lincoln players and fans avidly protested the call, to no avail, Coach Harvey ever so calmly accepted the call and urged everyone else to do the same. A year later, in a memorable game against San Diego HS (in the previous first three years of LHS football, the Hornets had never scored a point against the then mighty Cavers), we scored our first points ever against them on our opening possession. On the following kickoff (as I saw from my sideline view), one of the greatest halfbacks in San Diego football history … Cleveland “Smiley Jones, recovered his own fumble on about the two yard line, but in picking up the ball allowed a knee to touch the ground (no dead ball call by the ref). Everyone on our bench immediately voiced themselves in support of the same infraction I saw. And to make things even worse, there was a game ending incident with the game clock, as we were inside the SDHS five yard line after a sensational Russ Boehmke 50-some yard pass to a fully extended in the air Len Burnett, pass with less than 5 seconds remaining o the game clock. The refs would not acknowledge our frantic pleas for a time out, and we were unable to get off a final play; and we lost the game by something like 23 to 19. This game has been branded by Rick Smith as one of the most exciting of all Hornet vs Caver football games! After another heartbreaking defeat, there was the amiable Coach Walt Harvey, with a tear in his eye, but begging his players and their fans to calm down and accept the game as it ended. Just another example pointing out the outstanding mentoring skills Coach Harvey shared with those he was able to influence. His brand of steady, mature and low key sideline demeanor is rarely seen in today’s world of sports! R.I. P. Coach Harvey, and thanks for the memories and life skills learning you provided.

    • Rick says:

      Thanks for those wonderful words about this outstanding, unassuming man. It was my pleasure, along with many of his former players from La Jolla, Lincoln, and Crawford, to have lunch once a month with Walt at his assisted living residence in El Cajon for several years. Modesty became the man. By the way, Bob, the Lincoln-San Diego score was 26-19. I think Lincoln had one more play after Burnett’s catch and Luther Hayes was stood up by the San Diego defenders at the goalline. But my recall, according to Jerry Magee’s game account in The San Diego Union, is incorrect. Jerry Magee wrote that, after Burnett’s “splendid, diving catch” of Russ Boehmke’s 36-yard pass,the Hornets had the ball on the eight-yard line. “Halfback Luther Hayes struggled five yards on the next play, but with 12 seconds remaining the Hornets couldn’t regroup fast enough for the equalizer.” Did Lincoln have time outs remaining, or did the referees look the other way. You know how I feel. I also went to Lincoln. Thanks for writing.

      • Bob "Hubba Jubba" Moss says:

        I can never post any item of length without an error or two or three. The year of the Pt. Loma game was 1955. [ed: original comment corrected]

      • Rick says:

        Final score, Point Loma 7, Lincoln 6. Even vice principal George Parry came onto the field to argue with the officials.

  2. Cluck says:

    great piece on Harvey. I didn’t know he ever coached baseball

    • Rick says:

      Walt Harvey once told me that he didn’t know much about baseball and essentially didn’t do anything more than roll out the balls and make sure there were enough bats and gloves. Of course, I didn’t believe that for a minute. He was a coach for all seasons. Eddie Olsen, who went on to a great high school and collegiate coaching career, was the team leader on that 1953 La Jolla squad, which went all the way to the finals before dropping a 3-2 or 4-3 game to Compton and drew players from as far South as Mission Beach and as far east as Bay Park and probably a couple other places. Mission Bay wasn’t built yet. Harvey coached all sports in his first job at Holtville in 1946. He even drove the school bus.

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