49ers Fan Celebrates Six Decades of Season Tickets with Levi’s® Stadium Fanwalk Paver
Look from coast to coast and beyond, as far as the San Francisco 49ers reach extends, and find a more dedicated fan than Hal Bartholomew.
It won’t be easy.
Bartholomew, 75, knows hard too.
A San Francisco native now living in San Jose, he has more – and longer– ties to the team, through good seasons and bad, than some of us can fathom.
As a Balboa High School football player (who played against George Seifert and Polytechnic High), he started ushering games for free at Kezar Stadium in 1956. He rattled off the names of his favorite players, singling out each member of the 49ers “Million Dollar Backfield”: Hugh McElhenny, Joe “The Jet” Perry, Y.A. Tittle and John Henry Johnson.
In ’62, after returning from the armed services, he purchased his first season tickets. “At Kezar, you could bring in a case of beer,” he said, “and they wouldn’t stop you.” Another trick: Bartholomew had more friends and family than his handful of tickets, so they’d squeeze tightly together along the wooden bench-style seats.
He moved with the team to Candlestick Park in ’71, remembering, “The seats were more comfortable than Kezar’s.” After moving to the South Bay Area, Bartholomew and his family and friends – they had as many as 19 season tickets at The ‘Stick, including in upper reserved section 16 – still traveled into the city, tailgating in the parking lot, every game until last December’s finale.
He’s the Bill Walsh of 49ers fans. His family tree still grows: His daughter was a Gold Rush cheerleader in ’85; his nephew comes from Columbus, Ohio to see games; his eight seats at Levi’s® Stadium will be divided up between his six siblings, his two sons and his cousins.
All the while, in the six decades since, Bartholomew stuck with his team.
“You couldn’t give tickets away when they were bad,” he said, “but I’ve been through the good, the bad and the ugly. I really love the 49ers.”
These days, Bartholomew enjoys his grandchildren and his pastime. The former teamster said he has been impressed with Jim Harbaugh’s affect on San Francisco but wonders whether there is enough depth in the defensive backfield. He’s tuned in.
While his stories of past eras are great, his memories are scattered. “Some come and go – you know how it is,” Bartholomew said. “You can only store so much.” There’s a loss to the Detroit Lions during his first decade as a fan that he can’t quite shake.
Thanks to wife Jane Tranchina, however, Bartholomew’s stamp on the franchise is permanent. The donor paver she purchased on his behalf will lie on Levi’s® Stadium’s Fanwalk, on the northwest plaza. It may even be installed by the time Bartholomew and Tranchina take their booked tour of the venue next month.
The brick will read:
50+ YEAR SEASON
For more information on the Levi’s® Fanwalk, head here.