As soon as the Cal Poly football team’s Hall of Fame Game win Saturday over Southern Utah was over, Kenny Chicoine held up a small, white banner with Sharpie ink all over it.
The banner simply read, “1960.”
Displaying the banner to a jovial crowd celebrating the Mustangs’ 18-14 comeback win, Chicoine was paying homage in his own way to the 1960 Cal Poly football team, which had 16 players, a team manager and a team booster killed in a plane crash Oct. 29, 1960 in Toledo, Ohio.
“I’ve still got it,” Chicoine said of the banner.
The 1960 football team was inducted into the Cal Poly Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday. On Saturday, Mustang Memorial Plaza was unveiled to the public for the first time and Mustang Memorial Field was dedicated at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. At halftime, hundreds of family members and friends of the crash victims were recognized as a group at midfield.
“This entire game was built off that memorial,” Chicoine said while signing a boy’s helmet after the game. “We took it upon ourselves to call each other out at halftime because we understood that we weren’t getting it done. The last thing we wanted was for them to come down and watch us lose. Like (the 1960 survivors), we established our courage, fought back and came out victorious.”
Among the 25 survivors of the crash was Don Adams, a former halfback, corner and linebacker who now lives in the Modesto area.
“It’s just very rewarding seeing people that you haven’t seen in almost 46 years,” said Adams, 71. “It’s like being home again.”
Adams attended the game with most of his family, including seven grandchildren ages 2-11 with whom he joyfully played catch on the field two hours before kickoff.
He said he wishes those who perished in the crash be remembered as “wonderful young men, some married, some not married.”
“They were wholesome, had the right attitudes, motivation, were goal-oriented and fantastic want-to-get-something-done individuals,” Adams said. “It was a good team family.”
Cal Poly head coach Rich Ellerson said although the ceremonies did not factor into his team’s game plan, his players were very much aware of the history at hand.
“The guys before the game wanted to go to the memorial,” he said. “They’re very much in touch with the team of 1960. Like all of us, when something like that’s part of you, they’re grasping to get their arms around it. They’re very reverent and mindful of their legacy.”
Located behind the south end zone, the 15,000-square-foot plaza has a bronze sculpture of a mustang surrounded by a flowerbed at its center. It features 18 copper-faced pillars, each standing the same height as its corresponding honoree.
The pillars contain a black granite plaque, all of which designed by 1992 Applied Art and Design graduate Scott Saunders, with a yearbook photo and prominently displayed uniform number.
“We’ve seen it for several months now,” Adams said. “But once you get here and get within it, the emotion is tough to describe.”
Those remembered in the plaza are Paso Robles High graduate and senior halfback Gary Van Horn, sophomore halfbacks Dean Carlson and John Bell, senior center Joe Copeland, sophomore tackle Guy Hennigan, senior fullback Ray Porras, sophomore ends Bill Stewart and Larry Austin, senior halfback Vic Hall, sophomore center Jim Ledbetter, junior halfback Marshall Kulju, senior tackle Rod Baughn, junior fullback Don O’Meara, senior end Curtis Hall, junior guard Lynn Lobaugh, sophomore quarterback Wayne Sorenson, 21-year-old team manager Wendell Miner and 61-year-old team booster Pete Bachino.