For Dwight Clark, it all started with a phone call that wasn’t even intended for him in the first place. More than 30 years later, the former 49er is one of four new inductees into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, which celebrated its 2011 class on Monday at the Westin St. Francis Hotel.
Clark, a nine-year veteran receiver best known for his part of “The Catch” in the 1982 NFC Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys, was born in North Carolina and played college football at Clemson. Clark roomed with Clemson quarterback Steve Fuller and took a call from Bill Walsh who was looking for Fuller.
Clark caught Walsh’s eye during a workout intended to evaluate Fuller and so impressed Walsh that he made Clark a 10th-round selection in the 1979 NFL draft.
“I brought my golf clubs out with me,” Clark recalled Monday night. “I figured after I got cut, I’ll drive down and play Pebble Beach and then go back home to North Carolina.”
By the time Clark played his last game for the 49ers after the 1987 season, he had collected two Super Bowl rings, two Pro Bowl selections, 6,750 yards receiving and 48 touchdowns.
“It’s all kind of surreal,” Clark said. “But it is really very special, especially with all of the 49ers who have already been inducted here. It’s an honor to be here with them.”
Fellow 49ers alum George Seifert, a San Francisco native, was also inducted Monday. Seifert was faced with the unenviable task of replacing the legendary Bill Walsh and did so with two Super Bowl championships in eight years as coach in San Francisco.
Seifert went on to coach the Carolina Panthers for three seasons and finished with a career 114-62 regular-season record and 10-5 mark in the postseason in the NFL as a coach.
Former 49ers executives Carmen Policy and Eddie DeBartolo Jr. were both in attendance for Monday’s ceremony.
Representing golf in this year’s class of inductees was Sandy Tatum, born Frank Donovan Tatum Jr. in 1920, who has been a fixture in golf dating back to his days at Stanford in the 1940s. Tatum was part of back-to-back NCAA champions in 1941-42 for the Cardinal and won the individual NCAA championship in 1942. After earning his law degree at Stanford and gaining admittance to the bar in 1950, Tatum went on to serve as president of the United States Golf Association.
“I’ve know Sandy since 1968,” said Tom Watson, a 2001 inductee and winner of eight majors on the PGA Tour. “He was my amateur partner at Pebble Beach for 17 years. He has a great passion for the game of golf, even greater than my own.”
Also inducted from the game of golf was Santa Cruz native and San Jose State alum Juli Inkster, who turned pro in 1983. Inkster has collected 31 victories on the LPGA Tour. An inductee into the World Golf Hall of Fame, Inkster is serving as this year’s captain for the United States in the Solheim Cup.