CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's important that our state does not forget our sports heroes of the past, and it's important that we realize the legacy we have. An overlooked part of that legacy is former WVU football star Bruce Bosley.Bosley was an outstanding athlete from tiny Green Bank High School. He was a highly touted basketball star who led his school to the 1951 Class B state championship game, where Green Bank lost to Fairview from Marion County 42-40. However it was football, not basketball, where Bosley would leave his national mark.Bosley played football for the Mountaineers from 1952-55 and was a consensus All-America selection as a senior. The Mountaineers won 31 of 38 games during his time there and played Georgia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. He was not a city guy. In fact, Bosley was a product of our state's farming and agricultural community. He grew up working on a farm in Pocahontas County.Our state's new Commissioner of Agriculture, Walt Helmick, and long-time state coaches Tex Williams and Corky Griffith all insist that a legendary story about Bosley is true. When he was recruiting Bosley, WVU head football coach Art "Pappy" Lewis made a trip to Green Bank to visit with the family.As he was leaving, Lewis yelled out at Bruce, who was working the field and pushing a large plow. Lewis asked the young athlete for directions to Marlinton. Rather than take his hands off the machine, Bosley picked up the 250-pound plow, held it up in the air and swung it around to the left to point Lewis in the proper direction. It was an eye-popping feat of strength for that time.Bosley was also a star in the classroom. He was a two-time academic All-American with a degree in chemical engineering. Not satisfied with just one degree, he also earned a degree in civil engineering. He earned every collegiate honor possible and was invited to play in the College Football All-Star game, the North-South game and the Senior Bowl. He went on to be the 15th player selected in the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. The small-town boy from the Mountain State gained great fame in the Bay Area, playing offensive line for 13 years and was a four-time All-Pro.
Bosley didn't just play football in San Francisco. He also became an influential member of the community. He was a beloved civic figure and a true Renaissance Man. He was an influential fund-raiser for the arts and the San Francisco symphony. He was on the board of directors for the San Francisco Annex for the Cultural Arts and was on the mayor's committee for the city's Council for the Performing Arts. He served as a volunteer with the San Francisco Ballet and the San Francisco Film Festival. Respected by his peers in the NFL, he also served as a President of the NFL Alumni Association. When we think of retiring numbers in our state, we naturally think Jerry West, Sam Huff, Hal Greer, Hot Rod Hundley and others. It might be time for WVU to think about retiring Bosley's 77. In many ways, this farmer, athlete, scholar and man of the arts epitomizes much that is great about the people in our state. Sports editor Dave Beronio of the Valley Independent Press wrote this about Bosley:"As a newsman of more than 40 years, I have found very few Bruce Bosleys, those willing to contribute and participate during and after their days as stars. It would be difficult for me to believe that I will see his equal again in our area."That is pretty strong Bay Area praise for a one-time farm kid from Pocahontas County.Reach Frank Giardina at firstname.lastname@example.org.