To be the community’s most caring and dedicated non-profit committed to celebrating sports greatness while inspiring youth sports participation throughout under-served communities in the Bay Area.
The goal of the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame is two-fold: To enshrine the great athletes of the Bay Area and to help kids play sports.
The Bay Area Sport Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that began in 1979 with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s Sports Committee and Lou Spadia, former president of the San Francisco 49ers. Spadia had long dreamed of a Hall of Fame to honor the Bay Area’s athletic legends. Along with Chamber President Bill Dauer, Spadia founded the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, and began a multiple-decade success story.
Two experiences in Spadia’s career had given him the idea for how the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame should operate. First, in the late ‘60s, Spadia had helped establish the Mayor’s Youth Fund, which used one-third of the receipts from an annual series of San Francisco 49ers pre-season games to help fund youth sports, including a new pool at Hunter’s Point. Second, Spadia was also well aware of the inside scramble for the National Football Hall of Fame site. The problem was solved when the Timken Roller Bearing Company of Canton, Ohio agreed to subsidize the hall “forever.”
And so, as president of BASHOF, Spadia argued against a local museum. The costs of acquiring or constructing a building, plus permanent staffing and maintenance, would thwart BASHOF from its goal of helping kids play sports. He also noted that the gloves and spikes of Joe DiMaggio and Willie Mays were already in Cooperstown; the prized memorabilia of others would likely be in national halls. Spadia proposed that the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame would create a youth fund to generate grants for youth sports programs, a plan borrowed from the idea he had originated for the Mayor’s Youth Fund. The Chamber directors and committee agreed, and thus was born, “The Hall Without a Hall,” a slogan that has been copied around the nation.
The first Enshrinement Banquet was held in 1980 and honored Bay Area sports legends Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Hank Luisetti, Ernie Nevers and Bill Russell. The banquet generated enough funds to provide $5,000 grants each for badly needed athletic equipment for the Police Activities Leagues of Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose. Today, 32 years later, the BASHOF Youth Fund has given more than 3 million dollars to over 500 youth organizations in the Bay Area. Funds are raised with three annual events: the Enshrinement Banquet in the spring at the Westin St. Francis, Golf Tournament in October at the Olympic Club, and the KNBR Sports Auction in late November/early December. The Youth Fund distributes sports-equipment grants to qualified 501(c)(3) youth organizations in the eleven Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano and Sonoma.
With the continuing support of the Bay Area corporate community, foundations, and individuals, BASHOF and the Youth Fund will continue to grow and support the future leaders of our area.