Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Bob Giron, A Good Man by George Devine, Jr.

Marty–Here’s something I wrote about a long-time friend of mine who died yesterday. Bob Giron worked as our equipment manager at USF for over 36 years, and his career in the Army I think went back to when Ike suited up for West Point. But he’s one of those characters you meet around sports who brought a timeless quality to every conversation and delivered genuine warmth with every handshake!

George Devine, Jr.

George thanks for the thoughtful article about a good man in the world, not just the world of sports.

MartyOne of the heavyweights in University of San Francisco Athletics History left us on Wednesday, Bob Giron, served as the equipment manager for Dons’ Athletics for over 36 years. I got the chance to know Bobby during my freshman year on the Hilltop, and I spent the next 18 years of my life finding excuses to visit his office in the basement of War Memorial Gymnasium. Bobby may not have held the fancy degrees and academic pedigrees most the faculty at USF boasted of, but Professor Giron’s classes on sports, military history, food, officiating, and just about anything else kept generations of his “students” captivated.

Bobby would always make you feel like a VIP when you sat down in his office, or should I say “museum.” The History of USF Athletics jumped off the walls of his caged in quarters. Pictures of Bill Russel, Bill Cartwright, Mary Hile, and those great Dons’ soccer teams dominated the scene. Throw in a few snapshots of people like Bill Cosby, Bob Knight, and countless other celebrities, and you’d feel like you were in some fancy downtown restaurant, the sort of “must visit” place for the name crowd. And all of those folks, both famous and very every day found a friend and a cheerleader in Bobby Giron!

Bobby once introduced me to one of my other heroes, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach Bob Knight, then of Indiana. But as he often did, in a Casey Stengel-like way, Bobby would sometimes “forget” the names of people he knew for years, or even saw every day. So when the moment of truth arrived at the Oakland Coliseum, Bobby introduced me to Coach Knight as Joe Dolan. And when Coach Knight extended his hand and answered “Nice to meet you Dolan.”, who was I to correct either of them?

Bobby’s tales of life in the Army could have fortified an batallion of scriptwriters for a show like M*A*S*H. He’d share tales about how guys who couldn’t hit water if they fired a rifle at the ocean would earn the “expert” classification just before they’d retire. Of course, they’d get a boost from the senior NCO at the range, a guy who always took pride in the friends he met along the way. And how the Army stocked just about every type of conceivable item from toilet paper in all thicknesses and colors, to mega, larger than Costco-sized bottles of asprin, to gym socks in warehouses at the Presidio. Bobby once said, “If they make it, the Army has it, and a guy like me can get it.” He’d make Radar and Klinger proud.

And former Dons’ basketball legend and coach Mary Hile-Nepfel would treat all of us in her team’s traveling party every year to the story of how Bobby fouled her out of a loss at home to Hawaii. The way Mary tells the story, only one of the assigned officials made it to the game, and as they say on Broadway, “The show must go on!” So on it went, with Bobby donning a zebra shirt as a last-minute fill in. And one of those blows into his trusty whistle sent the Hilltop’s all-time leading scorer to the bench, an early exit! But when Mary usually got to this point of the story, her face started to cringe as if she was getting mad, but then all of a sudden a smile would overwhelm Mary’s anger and laughter would surround the dinner table. Mary, trying as hard as she could, just couldn’t stay mad at Bobby for fouling her out!

I miss Bobby now, but I’ll miss him more come basketball season. I’ll miss how he used to punch me in the shoulder while I broadcast games from courtside. I’ll miss how he’d show off the Duke media guide, and beam with pride talking about Coach K. I’ll miss how he also shared his love for his family, and how proud he was of all his children, and grandchildren. I used to love how much Bobby would talk about how much his son Jimmy had accomplished as an NCAA basketball official. And he’d extend that affection to the many other officials he’d nurtured along the way.

Bobby, thanks for the memories, thanks for letting me eat half of your sandwich a couple of times, thanks for a pair of black socks when I forgot mine before a broadcast, thanks for being my friend!

George Devine, Jr, San Francisco ’92


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