A Birthday Tribute to Our Brother, the ‘Other’ Jack Sparrow

by Bob Sparrow

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Jack, blowing out not quite 75 candles

A party was held in our home last week to celebrate the 75th birthday of our brother, Jack Sparrow. He is not only my brother, but my best friend and has been since right after he broke my arm. I was 12, he was 14 and like most brothers we’d have an occasional difference of opinion; fights never lasted too long as he was much bigger and stronger than me, but I was of the opinion that it ‘wasn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it was the size of the fight in the dog’. Yeah, well that philosophy didn’t work out so well on this occasion when I thought I was going to land a big ‘haymaker’ right on his chin, when he put up his arm and blocked it. My forearm hurt for several days after and when I finally went to the doctor and had it x-rayed, my arm was found to be broken. That was our last fight.

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6’4″ center at Novato High School

Later that same year, he entered high school and was a three-sport letterman for the next four years. Not just a letterman, he was good . . . real good. I idolized him, he was the best athlete I had ever seen and the great thing about it was he didn’t treat me like a ‘bothersome little brother’, he always had time to work with me to teach me to throw a baseball and football and shoot a basketball.

In his senior year he was 6’4” and 180 pounds – great size in 1959. Aside from getting good grades and being student body president, he stood out in every sport he played.  In basketball, at the center position, his turnaround jump shot from 15’ and in was an automatic. He was the top scorer and rebounder on the team and amongst the leaders in both categories in the league; he was a unanimous All-League selection. He received scholarship offers to play basketball at a number of West Coast schools.

He was the ace pitcher on the baseball team and an All-League selection, who lead his team to a league championship in his senior year. He had a great fastball and a wicked curve; he threw several one and two-hit ball games and was being talked to by major league scouts to continue his career in baseball.

Jack 3 QBs

College of Pacific quarterback

But his love was football. At quarterback he had a rifle arm, could run extremely well and was a great on-the-field leader of the team. In his four years of high school football, he lost only 4 games. Back in 1959 there was a North-South Shrine game, where top high school seniors from Northern California played against the top seniors from Southern California in the Los Angeles Coliseum in the summer following their senior year. Jack was selected to play in that game along with two other quarterbacks from the North, Daryle Lamonica, who was headed to Notre Dame and ultimately a great career with the Oakland Raiders, and Bill Munson, who was headed to Utah State and later drafted in the first round by the Rams and played 16 seasons in the NFL for various teams. Needless to say, it was a very tough competition for the starting quarterback spot. Guess who worked his ass off and was named the starting quarterback for the North? Yep, Capt. Jack; and they won the game!

I was a sophomore during Jack’s senior year and was in awe of the college football coaches and recruiters from all across the country who sat in our living room trying to convince Jack to go to their school. He ultimately chose College of Pacific in Stockton, the school his high school coach had attended and at the time, had a high-powered football program, headed by star running back Dick Bass, who went on to have an outstanding pro career with the Los Angeles Rams.

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Off Shore Bar & Grill – Lake Tahoe

Tragically, Jack broke his neck playing in a game in his junior year in college, yet remarkably came back to play in his senior year. But the neck injury came back to haunt him after his senior year, when he took the physical at the San Francisco 49ers training camp and was told that the risk of re-injuring the neck was too great for him to pursue a career in football.

Jack went on to have an outstanding career in the restaurant management business, capped by owning his own restaurant, the Off Shore Bar & Grill, on the shores of north Lake Tahoe. After he and wife, Sharon, moved to Santa Maria, he was convinced by none other than Fess Parker himself, who became a good friend, to come to work at the Fess Parker Winery, where to this day he still enjoys working part-time in the tasting room.

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Bob, Suzanne and Jack

Some 25-30 friends and family attended the party to help Jack celebrate his three-quarters of a century on the planet.  He enjoyed some good wine and a few gag gifts, but most of all he enjoyed the friends and family who had gathered on this beautiful southern California evening to wish him well.

You readers know what a awesome sister I have; I just feel so fortunate to have such great siblings – hat’s off to Mom and Dad, who at least got 2 out of 3 right!

 

27 comments on “A Birthday Tribute to Our Brother, the ‘Other’ Jack Sparrow

  1. I remember that night at YLCC when I met your brother and we spent a long time talking about Marin County sports. I know I’ve commented on this before but this is super … great article – thanks for sharing.

  2. I ran across this by accident. I remember Jack and Mo. My brother was Don Ward a classmate of Jack’s. Don passed a few years ago. I was a freshman when Mo was a Junior we played some baseball together. I used to look through my brother’s year book, and remember all the pictures signed by Jack. It seemed like he was on every other page. I also remember Sparrow Printing in Novato.

    Best regards,
    Richard “Rick” Ward
    Class of ’63

  3. Happy Birthday Jack!! I was a freshman at NHS in 1959 and was in Mr. Denegri’s Latin class with you. I’ve never forgotten how funny and genuinely nice you were to everyone, even a shy freshman girl. I’ve often wondered what happened to you and I’m glad “Moe” wrote such a great article. Thanks for all the great memories and may God continue to bless your life!

    • Thanks Sharon, glad you enjoyed the blog about Jack; my sister, Suzanne and I write a new article every Monday about travel and life’s observations; you can subscribe and have it come directly to your email if you’d like – it’s free! Hope all is well with you and thank you again for your nice comments.
      Bob (Moe!)

  4. Happy Birthday Jack Sparrow. Jim Mizell was my brother and I remember Jack and the class of 59.glad to have this blog to catch up with.

    • Thanks Phyllis, I remember Jim very well – great guy! Hope you subscribe to our blog to get it every Monday — it’s free! 🙂

  5. Thanks for you article on your brother and reminding me of his history as an athlete. Both of your brothers were like gods to us players a few years behind as both were quarterbacks at Novato High. There was no San Marin High at that time. I believe Marlin Olsen was their coach at that time.

    Speaking of football, my nephew, Nick Kristofors, was a co most most valuable player in the Marin County Athletic League with Jared Goff. Nick currently plays on the defensive line for the Fresno State Bulldogs. I hope both the best in their athletic endeavors.

    • Thanks Kris for your comments. Just a couple of corrections, I only have one brother, Jack, the ‘other’ brother you’re probably thinking of is Moe, which was my nickname as a kid. Yes, my coach was Marlin Olsen, but Jack’s was Wilbur Wood, who left NHS when that first class graduated. Thanks again, and I hope you become a regular reader of our blog.

  6. Great article Bob. Jack loved spending his 75th with great family and friends AND spending it in your backyard. Thanks for a wonderful weekend.

  7. I just had to add my two cents in that most of the girls at NHS had a crush on Jack…a real happy 75th birthday…hugs from…Liz (Chisholm)…PS…Bob was no slouch either!!

    • Always great to hear from you Liz. Your name did come up in Jack and my conversation this week end – queen of the hop!!!

  8. Excellent, Excellent article. Glad I had the chance to meet your brother – will never forget our lively golf discussion that night! Cheers to Jack and Happy Birthday!

  9. What a wonderful and well deserved tribute to Jack!
    I remember him as a really nice guy at Marion and NHS… and what an athlete.

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