The History Of The Game
The Tradition Continues On In 2023
Not unlike many long standing traditions, the City / County All Star Football Game started with a great idea. The brainchild of Thomas J. "Soup" Caruthers and Mike Chupich first kicked off on August 26, 1955 in Ratcliffe Stadium in Fresno. When first played, Fresno had a population of about 60,000, the newly constructed Veteran's Hospital was surrounded by open fields and the city limits of Fresno and Clovis were 12 miles apart. Now 69 years later, high school seniors continue to be honored when selected to play in what has become the longest running NCAA sanctioned high school all-star football game in California.
In 1955, the County team won the first game in a hotly contested battle and eked out a 7-6 victory, but that was just the beginning. The County set a pattern for winning that continued until 1968.
The Game has long pitted the best high school seniors against one another, but to create a more balanced roster -- the game got away from its City versus County roots and evolved into a contest that only resembled geographic rivalries. In a move to restore tradition to one of the most history-laden exhibition games in all of California, the 2011 All Star Game returned to a strictly City versus County Roster.
Sponsor and Volunteers
In those early years, even though the game gaining momentum and fans filled the seats, the sponsoring Fresno 20-30 Club was deeply in debt. A group of sports and civic-minded men approached a gentleman by the name of Loren H. McFarland, Sr. to chair the newly organized Central California All Star Football Committee. The Committee assumed the debs of the 20-30 Club and in 1959 sponsored the fifth All Star Game.
McFarland, who was a local insurance executive, businessman, civic leader and Shriner proved to be the driving force the game needed. Because of his over-abundant energy and devotion to the game, the All Star Game became a resounding success. More importantly, the original goals remain the same. First, to showcase the considerable talent oft he finest football players our high schools have to offer. Secondly, to raise money for local charities. And lastly, to provide football fans of the Valley and enjoyable summer evening of great football.
The All Star Game makes it possible for athletes who have played against each other for the past four years to play side by side, creating a shared camaraderie that has resulted in friendships -- and in some cases, life long bonds.
This same game donates thousands of dollars to local charities, the first of which was the Sequoia Council of Boys Scouts and the Bulldog Foundation. However, in 1962 the NCAA ordered the committee to drop the Bulldog Foundation as a sponsor. And in 1964 the Central California Foundation was formed, a non-profit corporation whose sole purpose was to put on the game. Then, in 1994, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fresno County became the beneficiary of the game and with that; several of its Board of Directors became involved.
The last change took place in 2001 when The Optimist Club of Great Fresno became the organizers. Since that time, The Optimist Club has been responsible for donating over $950,000 to the Boys and Girls Club. So, in addition to the opportunity provided to the players, and the entertainment the game provides to the fans, the real winners of this game are the risk youth in our community. The All-Star Game, and its sense of community, exemplify what makes our community a special place to live.
The Optimist Club and all of the All Star Game volunteers, continue to be dedicated to this game and the communities it serves. Here's hoping that the 69th City / County All Star Football Game is as successful as the great games of the past have been!