This is one of those stories that could begin by saying, "It was 1964. Gas was 30 cents a gallon, a dozen eggs cost 54 cents and Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.''
It's another way of saying it was a long time ago.
Another way of saying the same thing is to examine how long Bill Hayes has been on the job as official scorekeeper for University of San Francisco basketball games. He started in the 1964-65 season as a young man of 24 and he's still going strong 50 years later at 74.
"I don't get sick,'' said Hayes, a retired math teacher (although still active as a high school golf coach) from Pleasanton.
That's 48 full seasons of USF men's basketball, three seasons of women's games from 1982-85 when the school did not field a men's team and nine games this season with the current Dons under coach Rex Walters.
Doing the math strictly for USF home men's games over that span, including nine games thus far in 2014-15 at Memorial Gym, puts the total at 681 games worked, a figure that rises to 721 when three seasons of women's games are factored in and soars to "well over a thousand'' considering Hayes used to keep score at freshmen games that preceded the varsity and also worked occasional road games.
In all that time he missed only one game, a recent one, and it had nothing to do a bout of prostate cancer and a knee replacement, both of which he recovered from, thank you. On March 13, 2012, the Dons played Washington State in one of the minor post-season basketball tournaments, the College Basketball Invitational. WSU won 89-75.
As usual, Hayes had worked every home game in 2011-12 and he made plans for after the season before the CBI game materialized.
"My son lives in Texas and I wanted to see my grandkids,'' Hayes said. "That's the only game in 50 seasons that I've missed, which is ridiculous. I consider the streak alive.''
Since Hayes has such a long association with USF basketball, it's reasonable to ask him if he has a favorite player or a favorite coach. He's seen hundreds of the former wear the green and gold and is on his 10th coach in Walters. Starting in 1964-65, the coaches Hayes has observed up close and personal from the scorer's table were Pete Peletta, Phil Vukicevich, Bob Gaillard, Dan Belluomini, Pete Barry, Jim Brovelli, Phil Mathews, Jessie Evans, Eddie Sutton and now Walters.
"I've never had a negative occurrence with any of the coaches,'' Hayes said. "It's all been positive. They make you feel part of the team. I remember Eddie Sutton was wearing jeans with `Oklahoma State' on the side (where he coached from 1990-2006). He said, `They paid me a lot to wear these.' Rex, his knowledge of the rules is excellent.''
When it comes to his favorite players, Hayes said, "That's very difficult. My favorites are eras.''
He then proceeded to name Ollie Johnson, Joe Ellis, Mike Quick, Pete Barry, Johnny Burks, James Hardy, Winford Boynes, Chubby Cox and Ken McAlister as his favorite Dons through the years.
Of McAlister, who played from 1979-82, Hayes said, "I loved him because he always asked me about his shot, the way he went up. I liked him very much. I liked Chubby Cox very much. You can't differentiate. It's like a child. You can't name a favorite. You just enjoy them for what they bring.''
Hayes has a favored anecdote involving Hardy after he had left USF and was playing in the NBA for the New Orleans Jazz; yes, the New Orleans Jazz.
"I saw him later when he was with the Jazz and I reminded him of the game when he had nine dunks against Stanford. He said, `Well, thank you, but it was 10.' `'
Although Hayes is an institution at USF, USF is not the institution he attended. Because his stepfather was in the military, Hayes moved around a lot (and we mean a lot) and ended up attending a total of 10 high schools before spending one semester at Balboa High in San Francisco, from which he received his diploma. He bounced around a number of colleges, too, before eventually obtaining his teaching credential from San Francisco State.
Perhaps such a peripatetic upbringing helps explain the how and why of Hayes finding a comfortable seat at the scorer's table at Memorial Gym and staying there for 50 years. It began with a friend of Hayes' who kept score at USF games and asked his buddy to help him.
"Soon after that, the person who had done the books since (Bill) Russell had to go to Washington D.C. He asked me if I could do it,'' Hayes said. "I filled in and then permanently got the job. I enjoyed it. You see more of the game because you feel like you're part of it. It's something I look forward to each season - the smell of the gym. I enjoy being part of it.''
Hayes retired as a math teacher at Foothill High School in Pleasanton in 2003 but he remains the school's golf coach because he loves the game and still plays it. His best score?
"We have to go back many years,'' he said. "Age has caught up with me. I think it was a 73 or 74. That's distant history.''
However, Hayes has no plans to retire from his post as official scorekeeper for USF games. Why would he?
"I've got the best seat in the house,'' he said.
John Crumpacker spent more than three decades working at the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle. During his career he has covered the full gamut of sports from prep to professionals. Most recently, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for Cal through the end of the 2013-14 season. In addition to covering 10 Olympic Games, Crumpacker served as the beat writer for the San Francisco 49ers. He is a two-time winner of the Track & Field Writers of America annual writing award and has several APSE Top 10 writing awards.