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Long Beach Century Club Announces Hall Of Fame Class

Long Beach Century Club president Ben Goldberg announced the club’s Hall of Fame honorees at a meeting last week. The Century Club Hall of Fame is Long Beach’s only sports Hall of Fame that spans all sports and schools, and has taken on an air of prestige as a result.

“We think this year’s class is a really strong group of inductees as always,” said Goldberg. “We’re inducting some people that should have been inducted already.”

This year, the Club is indeed correcting what appear to have been couple of oversights as the inductees will be Tony Hill, Glenn McDonald, Jim Knabe, and Jerry Tarkanian.

Tony Hill

“I frankly couldn’t believe that he wasn’t already in the Hall of Fame,” said former Century Club president Dan Gooch.

Hill, indeed, is one of the best football players to have ever come out of Long Beach, by any measure. Hill left Long Beach Poly having broken the records of his QB predecessor there in Gene Washington, and followed in Washington’s footsteps to Stanford, where he was also a standout receiver.

In the NFL, Hill was a three-time Pro Bowler (only Washington and Gary Garrison had more honors) while winning a Super Bowl title with the Cowboys in 1978. He racked up 479 catches for 7,988 yards and 51 touchdowns in his decade-long pro career.

Of the 60+ Poly players to make the NFL, Hill is second in yards from scrimmage behind only DeSean Jackson, and third in touchdowns behind Jackson and Washington.

Glenn McDonald

This has been the year of McDonald, as the All-American basketball player for Long Beach State had his jersey retired at the university earlier this season. McDonald is one of the best basketball in school history having helped lead the 49ers to back-to-back Sweet 16s under Tarkanian in the early 1970s.

McDonald won an NBA title with the Celtics in 1976 as part of a four-year NBA career and returned to Long Beach, where he’s been a pillar of the community ever since. He succeeded Joan Bonvicini as coach of the LBSU women’s team in 1991 and coached with the Sparks. He’s served as a mentor to dozens of Long Beach athletes since.

Jim Knaub

Knaub was a standout pole vaulter in high school and as a conference champion at Long Beach State, and was an Olympic Trials semifinalist in 1976. After a tragic car accident left him paralysed from the waist down in 1978, Knaub embarked on his second sensational athletic career as one of the best wheelchair racers in history. Knaub won the Boston Marathon five times and the Long Beach marathon several times. He held every wheelchair racing record from 5,000 meters to the marathon during the 1990s. Knaub hasn’t kept any of the medals from his career, giving them away to community kids to serve as inspiration instead.

Jerry Tarkanian

A man who needs no introduction to Long Beach sports fans, legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian is going into the Hall of Fame posthumously (Tarkanian passed away in 2015).

Tarkanian coached Long Beach State basketball for five seasons, compiling a 122-20 record that included no home losses and several deep runs in the NCAA Tournament. Tarkanian went on to fame at UNLV and is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Century Club Sports Night Banquet will be held on Jan. 28, and will honor not only the above inductees but the as-yet-to-be-named Athlete of the Year, as well as community volunteers and the city’s top high school athletes. The banquet has sold out for several years consecutively; email Sam Breuklander at sbreuklander@aol.com to reserve tickets.

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.