Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The hippification of Bob St. Clair

Bob St. Clair was one of pro football’s most-feared tackles in the 1950s and 1960s. The burly (6-foot, 9-inch, 263 pounds) St. Clair was one of the San Francisco 49ers’ most-potent weapons, blocking on both offense and defense, and led the Red and Gold by being named to nine all-NFL teams and five Pro Bowls.

St. Clair was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 for his accomplishments.

After retiring from the NFL, St. Clair got into politics, serving first as a councilmember in Daly City, then as a member of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors from 1967-1975. By all accounts, he was as nimble politically as he was on the gridiron.

A few years back, when I worked in Redwood City’s Hall of Justice as a public safety dispatcher, I would look at the pictures on the walls honoring former supervisors while on breaks. St. Clair’s photos always stood out to me, not only because he was head and shoulders above his fellow supervisors, but because of a gradual process I can only call … “hippification” while on the Board.

Over the course of six or seven years, you can watch as St. Clair transformed in official group photos from an uptight, if tall, “suit” into a ‘70s fashion disaster, complete with denim jacket, long-ish hair and tinted glasses. It’s both amusing and gratifying that San Mateo County had such “hip” (or should that be “groovy?”) representation.

Here’s the relevant pictures, taken earlier today while I was in the building for jury duty (for which I was quickly dismissed – guy was accused of stealing a Blackberry. I think the alleged thief was doing the victim a favor!). Please forgive the picture quality, as these were taken with an iPhone 3G in low light and of a framed phtograph covered by glass (hence the glare/reflections).

In 1968 (below), St. Clair (standing left) was well-groomed, wearing a smart tie and looking every bit the 1960s politician:

In 1969, St. Clair (sitting center) defied tradition with a khaki jacket, but still was conservative in his dress:

By 1970, St. Clair's hair (back row, middle) was a little shaggy, in line with the times, but still wouldn't raise many eybrows:

The same in 1971 (St. Clair in the center):

Here we go! By 1973, St. Clair (far right) looked as if he were going on safari,his open coat and lack of tie defying tradition:

Finally, by 1973, St. Clair (center) clearly doesn't give a frak about what others think. He's going to make a hole for legislation like he opened the pocket for Y.A. Tittle. Check out the hair, glasses and coat:

I met St.Clair a few times back in 2001, when I served as extra mid-week security for Candlestick Park after the terrorist attacks of that year. St. Clair, at the time a 49ers consultant, would drop in a few times a week to visit the offices and would check in with me at the gate. He seemed a really nice fellow.

And his hair was short.

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