A star-studded 2020 Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame (BASHOF) class featuring Rickey Henderson, Bruce Bochy, Bryant Young, Natalie Coughlin and Paul Cayard was announced Tuesday afternoon at a news conference in Union Square.
Sunbathers idled about the bright, sunny plaza while KNBR Radio personality Brian Murphy emceed the event honoring athletes who have captivated the national imaginations and made locals proud across five decades.
Henderson, an Oakland native and Bay Area baseball icon, graduated from Oakland Tech High School in 1976, the same year he was drafted 96th overall by the Oakland Athletics. Over his 25-year career Henderson won two World Series, including a 1989 sweep of the Giants while he played for the Athletics, was the 1990 AL MVP, earned 10 All-Star appearances, stole more bases than any player in MLB history, and became a first-ballot hall of famer in 2009.
Nicknamed “Man of Steal,” he is widely regarded as the best leadoff hitter in the history of baseball.
Bruce Bochy, who retired in September after 13 seasons as the head coach for the Giants, earned immediate entry into BASHOF.
As the lynchpin of their early decade dynasty, he guided the Giants to three World Series Championships in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
Prior to that he was the 1996 National League manager of the year with the San Diego Padres, and led that team to a 1998 World Series appearance. Over 25 seasons Bochy accrued 2,003 managerial wins, which ranks 11th all-time.
Baseball was one of a diverse collection of sports represented by this years inductees.
Defensive tackle Bryant Young won Super Bowl XXIX as a rookie with the 49ers in 1995 and was only getting started.
One of the premier defensive linemen of his generation, Young was named to the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade team, twice voted first-team All-Pro, and selected to four Pro Bowls over his 14-year career in San Francisco.
After a traumatic leg injury in 1998, he returned to the field in 1999 and earned the Comeback Player of the Year Award.
National acclaim aside, within the 49ers organization, Young is a legend on and off the gridiron. He won the Len Eshmont Award, which is given annually to the 49er who displays courageous and inspirational play, eight different times.
BASHOF Board Member Carmen Policy, who was inducted three years ago for his work as a 49ers team executive in the 1980s and 90s, was thrilled to see Young get into BASHOF after narrowly missing out on enshrinement to the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this month.
“Bryant Young is such a superb human being,” Policy said. “When you see the quality of person that he is juxtaposed with his amazing ability on the field it really enlivens you.”
“He’s really a good guy who is going to finish first,” he added.
Natalie Coughlin, a Vallejo native, Cal Bear, and one of the most decorated Olympians ever, was the sole woman among the 2020 class.
As a teenager Coughlin became the first woman to swim the 100-meter backstroke in less than one minute in 2002. At the 2008 summer Olympics, Coughlin became the first U.S. female athlete to win six medals at one modern olympiad and the first ever back-to-back 100-meter women’s backstroke gold medalist.
Her 12 Olympic medals put her in a three-way tie with Jenny Thompson and Dara Torres for most all-time medals by a female swimmer.
Paul Cayard, a San Francisco native, San Francisco State University graduate and World Sailing Hall of Famer, was on hand Tuesday. He said he was honored to be included among fellow BASHOFers Willie Mays, Joe Montana and Rick Barry, who he grew up watching on TV.
Cayard took his first sail on Lake Merritt at the age of 8, and his father built his first boat in their garage in Twin Peaks where he grew up, attending Clarendon Elementary.
A seven-time world champion and two-time Olympian, in 1998 Cayard became the first American to win the Whitbread Round the World Race. That same year he was named the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year.
Cayard is now chairman of the Saint Francis Yacht Club.
“To be recognized by the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, for me as a San Franciscan in a way is the icing on the cake,” Cayard said.
The 2020 inductees will be honored at the 41st Annual BASHOF Enshrinement Banquet on May 11 at the St. Francis Hotel.