As I sat down to write this Saturday morning, I stared at my computer screen not knowing where to start.
George “Dr. B” Baljevich was an iconic Pleasanton man who locally he was better known as John Madden. So, writing about Dr. B, who died at the age of 84 on Thursday (May 12) was a difficult task.
Then came me – to downtown Pleasanton, where Baljevich is always seen. And obviously the location to start: Vic’s All Star Kitchen, a famous breakfast and lunch where he has something on the menu named after him.
As I enjoyed my “Dr. B” omelet – Linguisa and cheese – thoughts and memories came back to me. I started talking to my wife, then to Vic’s owner Laura Castro, who stopped by to talk about Dr. B.
In many ways, Drs. B, who used the nickname because his last name was too difficult to pronounce for others, was Pleasanton. He was always around town and was quick to visit anyone who came, treating everyone like a long -time friend.
You immediately recognize George when you enter a local dining establishment or coffee shop. You also see George driving that red Volkswagen around town.
He has so many different things about people (friend, teacher, former teacher and colleague) that if you talk to 10 people, you will probably get 10 different stories related to 10 different topics.
Dr. B is not just a sports personality. He is there to help others with life issues as well. There are many stories of how he helped people through difficult times. George has been an instrument in many people’s lives, and it’s great to hear some of these stories.
To me, it was friend, teacher and companion, and being friends with George was the most important thing.
Here is an example of the type of person George is. When my father fell ill – he died in August 2021 – he spent time at the Pleasanton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. George would always stop to say hello. He didn’t know my dad, but they both knew each other and when George visited the other residents of the center, he would come over to check on my dad.
It meant so much for my parents and me.
I challenge anyone to find someone who has a bad opinion of George.
You are not. Impossible.
You can’t meet George without a smile on your face.
Since her passing, I have been thinking of all the wonderful memories but I also love reading all the social media posts that recount the memories of others.
There are stories about his days of teaching, teaching and media personality, but it’s mostly about how good a man George is.
Aside from being friends, my memories of the time we were together were established.
For a few years it was an honor to sit down with George and Ian Bartholomew at the “Tri-Valley Sports Final” on local TV 30. The fun we had was filming the series about local games-mostly in high school, with youth games thrown in at the time. the summer months-something I will never forget.
If the outtakes come out of all the movies we’ve taped, it could sell enough copies to fund the current version of the movie. Each show brought us to tears while filming out of laughter.
Many Friday afternoons I get out of the car bursting with laughter and I can’t wait to go back to the newspaper office to share the stories with my co -workers.
Every show we try to intentionally make each other laugh while filming, and we often make up a word that we have to find a way to get into the show.
When that word is uttered, “cut off” is often what the director calls because the laughter can be excessive.
Many times my family and friends watch parties to watch the show so I can tell behind the scenes taping stories.
This was the beginning of the Sports Final and quickly the glory years of the program. With George’s son, “Let’s Talk Sports,” they both go to shows for the local sports community. We started having guests show up just to watch the taping. I know the control room staff looks forward to entertainment every week.
Sometimes my kids come down and every time they do, George gives them a sports trading card – one of his trademarks – with the story about the athlete.
At first I thought my kids were coming down to watch their dad taping a TV movie, but realized they wanted to see George and get a card.
He was very important to people, young and old.
I left the show a year after I left the day-to-day newspaper business and similar to newspaper coverage, local sports coverage was hit.
After George was unbelievably shown on the station at the door and “Let’s Talk Sports” was taken on the air, the personality of the station accompanied him.
That’s because George is the personality of Tri-Valley Community Television.
George’s relatives know what it means to miss the show. It destroyed him.
While Bartholomew is probably the most hard-working man I know and has fought to keep high school and local news games afloat, you’ve lost an asset like Dr. B, and you will lose many lives from the station.
Other than an occasional high school football game, well informed by Bartholomew, I no longer watch Channel 30.
You can’t replace a personality like Dr. B.
People have told me many times that George’s legacy should be remembered by cementing a tribute to that man.
Some suggest naming a street or sports facility next to him. I work at the Alameda County Fair to have a race named in honor of George, because he always interviews me on the track every year when the fair comes to town.
But the one I think is the one that is unlikely to ever materialize. I told my wife they would name the Main Museum after George. Simply put, George is a museum when it comes to sports knowledge, and he is often to be found on Main Street. And he is indeed a precious memory of Pleasanton.
Perfect match, but never happens.
I’d love to see one on the First Saturday on Main Street declared “Dr. B Day,” including a flag hanging over the Pleasanton arch.
For those who have been privileged to improve our lives by getting to know George, we no longer need a monument to remember Dr. B – our memories will stay with us for the rest of our lives.
But he deserves, and truly owes the city of Pleasanton, a tribute.
And when our time on Earth is over, we can expect to be reconnected with Dr. B and return to regular laughter, instead of just memories.
Godspeed George and until we meet again.
Services for Drs. B is scheduled for Saturday, May 28 at 10 a.m. in St. Louis. Augustine Catholic Church in Pleasanton. For those who attend the service, there will be a celebration of life immediately afterwards. Details will be released to the service.
Editor’s note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his Pleasanton Preps column, email [email protected]