From left to right: Warren Spahn,Tony Lema, Casey Stengul, Yogi Berra, and Chris Cannizaro – first guy from San Leandro to make Big Leagues. Thanks for the photo Jon Simonian.
Tony Lema – San Leandro Golf Athlete
View Tribute to “Champagne Tony”
Tony Lema was one of golf’s best and most colorful pros of the 1960’s before his tragic death in 1966. “Champagne” Tony played in four Masters Tournaments, including the thrilling 1963 tournament where he dueled the legendary Jack Nicklaus down to the last hole.
The opening line of a Sports Illustrated story on Tony Lema in 1995 said it all,
“The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews and “Champagne” Tony Lema from the streets of Oakland made for a most improbable pairing at the British Open in 1964.”
There are few “rags to riches” golf stories that can match that of “Champagne” Tony. He learned the game of golf as a caddie and player on the links of Oakland’s Lake Chabot Municipal Golf Course. He learned the game of life on the streets of East Oakland, growing up on 92nd and 105th avenues “on the other side of the tracks,” as Tony once described his home on 92nd Ave next to the train tracks. Read More