Anyone who has spent any time with Roger Maltbie, especially in the evening hours, already would have considered him a Hall of Famer. But the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame made it official on Monday night.
Maltbie, raconteur extraordinaire, was one of five inducted in the enshrinement banquet at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. It went largely unnoticed, however, because one of the other four inductees was Barry Bonds, who dominated media coverage of the event. Not that Maltbie minded.
"I'd like to think that I had a decent career," Maltbie said in a San Francisco Chronicle story. "But to get the call and say your name will be linked with Willie Mays, Joe Montana, Eddie DeBartolo — who's a dear friend — that's hard to imagine. It really is."
Maltbie won five tournaments on the PGA Tour, including the inaugural Memorial, beating Hale Irwin in a playoff, and since 1991 has been an on-course reporter for NBC. His most memorable victory, however, might have been in the Pleasant Valley Classic in Sutton, Mass., in 1975, after which he lost the $40,000 winner's check.
"I woke up the next morning and sat up thinking, Lord, please don't let this be me inside this headache,'" Maltbie told Bob Verdi, then of the Chicago Tribune and later a Golf World Senior Writer. "My pants were on the floor. I reached inside them. The pockets were wet and cold and empty. No check. I reached inside my wallet. No check. I reached inside my shirt. No check. I called the bar. Say, you didn't happen to find a $40,000 check last night when you were sweeping up, did you?' They didn't. I called up the tournament and asked if they could send another one. They did. Meanwhile, somebody found the check I lost in the bar in the sawdust. I told them to keep it as a souvenir. I wondered, What was I doing in the sawdust?"
This interview took place following the third round of the Masters in 1987, incidentally, when Maltbie was tied for the lead. The headline: "A Green Jacket For Roger Maltbie? You Have To Hope So."