September 26, 2011

Bill Cullum, Larry Ramirez, John Tronson, '83 Softball Team - 2012 Hall of Fame Inductees

   Northridge, Calif. – Two former outstanding Matador student-athletes, one former Matador head coach, and one NCAA championship team have been voted into the Cal State Northridge Hall of Fame.

   This outstanding group will be formally inducted during Hall of Fame ceremonies on February 19, 2012 at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel in Woodland Hills.

   The two former student-athletes are Larry Ramirez (baseball, 1969-70) and John Tronson (soccer, 1984-86).

   The former head coach is Bill Cullum (men’s golf, 1965-86).

   The 1983 Matador softball team, national champions in ’83, will also be inducted.

   “It’s a great day for Cal State Northridge Athletics when we have a chance to honor those great student-athletes, coaches and teams who are deserving of the Matador Hall of Fame,” said CSUN Athletic Director Rick Mazzuto. “The Hall of Fame committee was overwhelmed with an elite group of outstanding candidates this year. This year’s inductees left the University with unforgettable memories of their triumphs and hard work.”

   Cullum, Ramirez, Tronson and the 1983 softball team will join the other 105 members of the Cal State Northridge Hall of Fame team.

   The Matador Hall of Fame was established in 1981 to recognize the men, women, and Matador teams who distinguished themselves in athletics, either by sport or by meritorious efforts on behalf of athletics while an undergraduate or in years after leaving the University.

   Bill Cullum coached the Matadors men’s golf team from 1965 to 1986. During that time, CSUN won three NCAA Division II golf championships and finished second nationally twice.

   Under Cullum, the Matadors won eight California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championships from 1969-to-1977.

   For his winning efforts, Cullum was named NCAA College Division Coach of the Year in 1969 and District-8 Coach of the Year twice (1970, 1971).

   In 1989, Cullum was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame.

   Current CSUN head coach Jim Bracken played under Cullum from 1978-80.

   “Bill had a passion for the game and helped a lot of kids develop personally as well as professionally,” said Bracken, who has been CSUN’s head men’s golf coach since 1986. “Bill had a tremendous care for his players and his teams. Bill coached 30 All-Americans and had individual national champions so his record speaks for itself. His teams dominated and were consistently among the elite teams nationally during his coaching tenure. He’s in the National Golf Coaches Hall of Fame and now takes his rightful place in the Cal State Northridge Hall of Fame.”

   Cullum passed away on July 12, 2003.

   Larry Ramirez was a standout pitcher who chalked up a 20-8 record in two seasons (1969-70). After all these years, Ramirez’ name is still etched into several categories in the Matador baseball record book. His career ERA of 1.99 is second all-time in school history. His 1.84 ERA in 1969 ranks sixth all-time for a single season.

   “I was fortunate to go to CSUN because it was a time when there wasn’t much opportunity for minority athletes to go to school and get an education,” remembers Ramirez. “I was fortunate to have people and coaches that knew how to handle me. Later on, when I became an associate professor at CSUN, I was hired in the counseling center until 1981 to pursue a career as a forensic psychotherapist and I’ve been doing it ever since. We started off as a bunch of guys from a bunch of different backgrounds. It was not much for us to have a big argument about the Vietnam War then go out and beat Arizona State and USC. If you look at the guys and what they’ve done since then, you see a lot of independent characters. We created friendships through adversity that have lasted a lifetime.”

   In 1970, Ramirez helped pitched the Matadors to the NCAA Division II national championship and the NCAA West Regional title under then head coach Bob Hiegert. Ramirez recorded victories in the regional and national championship series in 1970. His win at the 1970 College World Series was a complete game, allowing just six hits while striking out ten. The Matadors won six games at the College World Series in Springfield, Missouri, including a 2-1 decision over Nicholls State in the championship game.

   “Larry distinguished himself as a leader, fierce competitor and a great teammate,” said then head coach Bob Hiegert. “His leadership, tenacity, competitiveness and desire to be a champion raised the playing ability of his teammates.”

   Following his graduation, Ramirez was later hired as an assistant professor at Cal State Northridge. Under his direction, Ramirez was responsible for helping start the Native American Studies Department.

   Ramirez was inducted into the Native American Hall of Fame in 2003 in Oklahoma City. 

   Irv Zakheim was a teammate of Ramirez. “I’ve always admired Larry for his great attitude and work ethic on the field,” said Zakheim. “But I probably admired Larry even more off the field for what he had to endure as a minority athlete in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. He was a leader for all minorities and was not afraid to speak out for what he believed in.”   

   John Tronson gained fame at Cal State Northridge as one of the top soccer players in school history. Tronson played for the Matadors from 1984-86 and even after all these years, his name is still etched in the school record book. Tronson ranks third all-time in school history with career goals (43), career points (109) and single season goals (20 in 1984), eighth all-time in career assists (23), and ninth in single season goals (15, 1985 season) and single season assists (10 in 1984).                                  

   “One thing that is great about soccer is that there are eleven guys out there and it is a team sport,” said Tronson. “I am being inducted (to the CSUN Hall of Fame) because I got a lot of credit for scoring a lot of goals but I was under no impression that I was better than any player on the team. That has been a huge asset in my career now.”

   In addition to winning All-America honors, Tronson was the California Collegiate Athletic Association MVP in 1984 and 1985, and a member of three league championship teams from 1984-86.

   In three seasons as a Matador soccer player, Tronson played in 66 games, including five NCAA playoff games.

   “John Tronson was one of the dominant forwards to ever play at Cal State Northridge,” said current CSUN men’s head coach Terry Davila. “John had a great passion for the game and his teammates loved him. He was probably the best overall athlete to come out of Cal State Northridge. He played at a time before the Los Angeles Galaxy and this was the place to be in the San Fernando Valley. If you played soccer in the Valley, you knew John Tronson. People idolized him.”

   The 1983 Matador softball team became the pioneer and foundation for other great softball teams at Cal State Northridge. The ’83 team captured the first of three straight NCAA Division II championships. In the championship game, the Matadors defeated Sam Houston State, 1-0.

   The Matadors finished the season with a 35-20-2 record and tied for the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship at 10-6. That team was loaded with outstanding players, six of whom gained all-CCAA league honors. The team featured an All-American pitcher, Kathy Slaten, who also gained all-region honors.

   “Every team takes on its own personality and this team knew it had something special from the get go,” said then head coach Gary Torgeson. “With good depth and quality pitching, this team had the firepower and determination to win it all. And when the smoke cleared after many hard games, we won a national championship. We are honored to be recognized by the Cal State Northridge Athletics Hall of Fame and look forward to a wonderful celebration and reunion at the ceremony.”

   During the 1983 season, the Matadors participated in the longest game in school history (21 innings vs Cal State Dominguez Hills on April 23, 1983). 

   This year’s Hall of Fame members were selected from a large group of well-qualified candidates. Members of the Hall of Fame nominating and selection committee included Rick Mazzuto (CSUN Athletics Director), Janet Pinneau (Associate Athletics Director/SWA), Tom Ford (Associate Athletic Director/External Relations), Bob Vazquez (Assistant Athletic Director, Media Relations), Bonnie Murphy (Head Coach, Women’s Golf), Jim Bracken (Head Coach, Men’s Golf), Gray Mounger (Assistant Vice-President, Alumni Relations), Mark Cooley (former Matador basketball player, longtime Matador supporter, Hall of Fame member), Dennis DeYoung (alumnus), Jim Gorman (long time athletics supporter), and William Watkins (Vice-President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students).     

 

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