Moscone, Jon: Moscone basketball


Jon Moscone: The stories of when George was a kid are mostly from two or three sources whether it’s John Burton or Cappy Lavin, but you can extrapolate what life must have been like for him and for his friends. It was a neighborhood city, and my guess is that what we grew up in when we were young wasn’t unlike what he grew up in in the sense that you really traverse the city. You went places. You played basketball in Visitation Valley. You went over down to the Marina. It was all accessible, it was completely diverse, and it was a neighborhood kind of situation. That could very well have been how George modeled our experience of the city as children. He would want to go somewhere and he’d take us, and we’d be wondering “Where are we?” And that’s not the world that we grew up in. Most people in San Francisco grew up in their neighborhoods. A lot of my friends grew up in Pacific-Heights. They didn’t really go outside of the Pacific-Heights experience. George wasn’t like that. He loved the whole deal of it. In fact the more urban the setting, the more he was attracted to it. To him basketball was his connector; it’s how he connected with people whom he didn’t know because you could pick up a basketball game with people you didn’t know, didn’t really have to know them, and it’s kinda the great equalizer. People play basketball. Doesn’t matter what social status you were, economic status, anything. And that’s how he spoke. And my guess is that’s how he learned to speak as a kid. He spoke through basketball which was just like a non-verbal language that he was able to talk to a lot of people. And that was what built I think – if I were to extrapolate the stories I’ve heard – in George a sense of confidence and ease with people he didn’t know, and who would be considered other. And yet on the basketball court you’re all kinda working as a team. You’re working against another team, but you’re all kinda doing it for fun, so it wasn’t life and death. So I think that must have informed George as he grew up both as a politician and just as a man because I think the politician of George Moscone was also the man of George Moscone; I think they were the same person. They weren’t two different people. There wasn’t a public version of him and a private version of him. It was pretty much him.


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The Moscone oral history interviews are part of the George Moscone Collection, MSS 328.

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Holt-Atherton Special Collections and Archives, University of the Pacific Library

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