Basketball: Monty 450, Nibs 449

With Cal’s 85-57 defeat of Oregon State, Mike Montgomery earned his 450th victory at Stanford (393) or Cal (57), giving him more Bay Area Division I men’s basketball wins than any coach in history.

Clarence “Nibs” Price set the standard for more than 56 years, winning 449 games at Cal over 30 seasons from 1924-25 through 1953-54 before turning over the reins to Pete Newell.

Born in 1890, Price played baseball at Cal and graduated from the school in 1914. As basketball coach he won six Pacific Coast Conference titles and directed the Bears to a fourth-place finish in the 1946 NCAA tournament.

He also succeeded the legendary Andy Smith as Cal’s football coach in 1926, compiling a five-season record of 27-17-3, including a trip to the Rose Bowl after the ’28 season.

Think about it: He was head coach for football and basketball simultaneously for five seasons. (Try that Monty!) Then, after resigning his football position in 1930, he stayed on as an assistant for the school’s next four football coaches while continuing to coach basketball for 24 more years.

But for all Price achieved in life — and it was a lot — he was immortalized in a unique way by the unintentional, unfortunate . . . and undeniably hilarious headline that accompanied his 1968 obituary in the Oakland Tribune.

The Trib was an afternoon paper in those days and when the news arrived on a Saturday morning that Price had died, the sports desk moved quickly to assemble a story.

One staff member wrote the story, another pulled a photo and rushed it to the composing room, and a third created the headline.

On the day before the Raiders played the Packers in Super Bowl II, the Tribune story on the Cal coach was topped by this headline:

Death Calls Nibs Price

And beneath it, a photo of Price . . . on the phone.

No disrespect was intended, then or now. It was a colossal mistake, but it was funny. Wherever he is, let’s hope Nibs gets a chuckle over it, too.

Jeff Faraudo

  • H8sRed

    JF, Is it safe to say you were not one of those staff members?

  • Jeff Faraudo

    Very funny. No, I wasn’t working at the Trib in 1968.

  • milo

    Great story JF.