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Pleasanton Preps: Remembering 'Dr. B' George Baljevich, a legend in Tri-Valley local sports

Former TV30 commentator was a friend, mentor, teacher and colleague to so many

George "Dr. B" Baljevich (center) was a mainstay for years on Tri-Valley Community Television's local sports coverage. Here he's shown at a past game several years ago with his former co-host Ian Bartholomew (right) and late former Pleasanton mayor Jerry Thorne. (Photo by Dennis Miller)

As I sat down to write this Saturday morning, I stared at my computer screen not knowing where to start.

George "Dr. B" Baljevich was such an iconic figure in Pleasanton that locally he was every bit as well-known as John Madden. So, writing about Dr. B, who passed away at the age of 84 on Thursday (May 12) was a daunting task.

Then it came to me -- head to downtown Pleasanton, where Baljevich was often seen. And the location to start was obvious: Vic's All Star Kitchen, a well-known breakfast and lunch spot where he had a menu item named after him.

As I enjoyed my "Dr. B" omelet -- Linguisa and cheese -- thoughts and memories came flooding back to me. I started telling stories to my wife, then to Vic's owner Laura Castro, who stopped by to talk about Dr. B.

In so many ways, Dr. B, who used the nickname because his last name was too tough to pronounce for some, was Pleasanton. He was always around town and was quick to visit with anyone that approached, treating each person as a longtime friend.

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You recognized George instantly when you walked into a local dining establishment or coffee shop. You also saw George driving that red Volkswagen around town.

He was so many different things to people (friend, mentor, former teacher and colleague) that if you talk to 10 people, you'll likely get 10 different stories relating to 10 different topics.

Dr. B wasn't just a sports personality. He was there to help others with life issues as well. There are many stories as to how he helped people through tough times. George was instrumental in so many people's lives, and it has been awesome to hear some of these stories.

For me, it was friend, mentor and colleague, and being friends with George was easily the most important.

Here is one example of the type of person George was. When my dad was sick -- he passed away in August 2021 -- he spent some time in the Pleasanton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. George would regularly stop by to say hi. He didn't know my dad, but they both knew of each other and when George was visiting other residents of the center, he would make a point of stopping by to check on my dad.

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It meant a lot to both my parents and me.

I challenge anyone to find someone that has a bad opinion of George.

You won't. It's impossible.

You couldn't run into George without getting a smile on your face.

Since his passing I have been thinking of all the great memories but have also cherished reading all the posts on social media recounting the memories of others.

There were stories about his teaching days, coaching and media personality, but mostly it was just about how great a person George was.

Outside of being a friend, my memories were founded by the time we spent as colleagues.

Pleasanton Weekly columnist Dennis Miller (left) and George "Dr. B" Baljevich years ago on an episode of "Tri-Valley Sports Final." (Photo courtesy Ian Bartholomew)

For a few years it was an honor to sit alongside George and Ian Bartholomew on "Tri-Valley Sports Final" on local TV 30. The fun we had filming the series about local sports -- largely high school, with youth sports thrown in during the summer months -- is something I will never forget.

If the outtakes ever surfaced from all the shows we taped, it would sell enough copies to finance the current version of the show. Every show drove us to tears while filming from laughing so hard.

Many a Friday afternoon I would walk out to the car with pains from laughing and I couldn't wait to get back to the newspaper office to share the stories with my co-workers.

Every show we would try to intentionally make each other laugh while filming, and we would usually come up with a word we had to find a way to get into the show.

When that word was uttered, "cut" was usually called out by the director as the laughing got to be too much.

Several times my family and friends had viewing parties to watch the show so I could tell the behind the scenes stories of the taping.

It was the beginning of Sports Final and was easily the glory years of the program. Along with George's baby, "Let's Talk Sports," those were the two go to shows for the local sports community. We started getting visitors that would show up just to watch the taping. I know the staff in the control room looked forward to the entertainment each week.

At times my kids would come down and each time they did, George would give them a sports trading card -- one of his trademarks - along with a story about the athlete.

Initially I thought my kids came down to see their dad tape a TV show, but then realized they wanted to see George and get a card.

He meant that much to people, young and old.

I departed from the show a year after I left the daily newspaper business and much the same as newspaper coverage, local sports coverage took a hit.

After George was unbelievably shown the door by the station and "Let's Talk Sports" was taken off the air, the personality of the station went with him.

That's because George was the personality of Tri-Valley Community Television.

Those close to George knew how much losing the show meant. It devastated him.

While Bartholomew is probably the hardest working man I have known and has fought to keep high school and local sports in the news, you lose an asset like Dr. B, and you are going to lose a lot of life from the station.

Other than an occasional local high school football game, brilliantly announced by Bartholomew, I never watch Channel 30 anymore.

You can't replace a personality like Dr. B.

George "Dr. B" Baljevich (left) on the set of his former TV30 show, "Let's Talk Sports." (Photo courtesy Ian Bartholomew)

People have mentioned to me several times that George's legacy needs to be remembered by cementing a tribute to the man.

Some have suggested naming a street or a sports facility after him. I am working with the Alameda County Fair to have a race named in honor of George, as he often interviewed me at the track each year when the fair came to town.

But the one thought I had is one that will likely never come to fruition. I told my wife that they should name the Museum on Main after George. Simply, George was a museum when it came to sports knowledge, and he was regularly seen on Main Street. And he certainly is a treasured memory of Pleasanton.

A perfect match, but one that will never happen.

I would love to see one of the First Saturdays on Main Street declared "Dr. B Day," including a banner hanging from the Pleasanton arch.

For those who had the privilege to have our lives enriched by knowing George, we don't need a monument to remember Dr. B -- our memories will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

But he deserves, and honestly is owed by the city of Pleasanton, a tribute.

And when our time on Earth ends, we will look forward to reconnecting with Dr. B and the regular laughs will return, instead of just the memories.

Godspeed George and until we meet again.

Services for Dr. B are set for Saturday, May 28 at 10 a.m. at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Pleasanton. For those that attend the service, there will be a celebration of life immediately following. Details will be released at the service.

Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his Pleasanton Preps column, email [email protected]

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Pleasanton Preps: Remembering 'Dr. B' George Baljevich, a legend in Tri-Valley local sports

Former TV30 commentator was a friend, mentor, teacher and colleague to so many

by Dennis Miller / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, May 15, 2022, 6:21 am
Updated: Sun, May 15, 2022, 12:40 pm

As I sat down to write this Saturday morning, I stared at my computer screen not knowing where to start.

George "Dr. B" Baljevich was such an iconic figure in Pleasanton that locally he was every bit as well-known as John Madden. So, writing about Dr. B, who passed away at the age of 84 on Thursday (May 12) was a daunting task.

Then it came to me -- head to downtown Pleasanton, where Baljevich was often seen. And the location to start was obvious: Vic's All Star Kitchen, a well-known breakfast and lunch spot where he had a menu item named after him.

As I enjoyed my "Dr. B" omelet -- Linguisa and cheese -- thoughts and memories came flooding back to me. I started telling stories to my wife, then to Vic's owner Laura Castro, who stopped by to talk about Dr. B.

In so many ways, Dr. B, who used the nickname because his last name was too tough to pronounce for some, was Pleasanton. He was always around town and was quick to visit with anyone that approached, treating each person as a longtime friend.

You recognized George instantly when you walked into a local dining establishment or coffee shop. You also saw George driving that red Volkswagen around town.

He was so many different things to people (friend, mentor, former teacher and colleague) that if you talk to 10 people, you'll likely get 10 different stories relating to 10 different topics.

Dr. B wasn't just a sports personality. He was there to help others with life issues as well. There are many stories as to how he helped people through tough times. George was instrumental in so many people's lives, and it has been awesome to hear some of these stories.

For me, it was friend, mentor and colleague, and being friends with George was easily the most important.

Here is one example of the type of person George was. When my dad was sick -- he passed away in August 2021 -- he spent some time in the Pleasanton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. George would regularly stop by to say hi. He didn't know my dad, but they both knew of each other and when George was visiting other residents of the center, he would make a point of stopping by to check on my dad.

It meant a lot to both my parents and me.

I challenge anyone to find someone that has a bad opinion of George.

You won't. It's impossible.

You couldn't run into George without getting a smile on your face.

Since his passing I have been thinking of all the great memories but have also cherished reading all the posts on social media recounting the memories of others.

There were stories about his teaching days, coaching and media personality, but mostly it was just about how great a person George was.

Outside of being a friend, my memories were founded by the time we spent as colleagues.

For a few years it was an honor to sit alongside George and Ian Bartholomew on "Tri-Valley Sports Final" on local TV 30. The fun we had filming the series about local sports -- largely high school, with youth sports thrown in during the summer months -- is something I will never forget.

If the outtakes ever surfaced from all the shows we taped, it would sell enough copies to finance the current version of the show. Every show drove us to tears while filming from laughing so hard.

Many a Friday afternoon I would walk out to the car with pains from laughing and I couldn't wait to get back to the newspaper office to share the stories with my co-workers.

Every show we would try to intentionally make each other laugh while filming, and we would usually come up with a word we had to find a way to get into the show.

When that word was uttered, "cut" was usually called out by the director as the laughing got to be too much.

Several times my family and friends had viewing parties to watch the show so I could tell the behind the scenes stories of the taping.

It was the beginning of Sports Final and was easily the glory years of the program. Along with George's baby, "Let's Talk Sports," those were the two go to shows for the local sports community. We started getting visitors that would show up just to watch the taping. I know the staff in the control room looked forward to the entertainment each week.

At times my kids would come down and each time they did, George would give them a sports trading card -- one of his trademarks - along with a story about the athlete.

Initially I thought my kids came down to see their dad tape a TV show, but then realized they wanted to see George and get a card.

He meant that much to people, young and old.

I departed from the show a year after I left the daily newspaper business and much the same as newspaper coverage, local sports coverage took a hit.

After George was unbelievably shown the door by the station and "Let's Talk Sports" was taken off the air, the personality of the station went with him.

That's because George was the personality of Tri-Valley Community Television.

Those close to George knew how much losing the show meant. It devastated him.

While Bartholomew is probably the hardest working man I have known and has fought to keep high school and local sports in the news, you lose an asset like Dr. B, and you are going to lose a lot of life from the station.

Other than an occasional local high school football game, brilliantly announced by Bartholomew, I never watch Channel 30 anymore.

You can't replace a personality like Dr. B.

People have mentioned to me several times that George's legacy needs to be remembered by cementing a tribute to the man.

Some have suggested naming a street or a sports facility after him. I am working with the Alameda County Fair to have a race named in honor of George, as he often interviewed me at the track each year when the fair came to town.

But the one thought I had is one that will likely never come to fruition. I told my wife that they should name the Museum on Main after George. Simply, George was a museum when it came to sports knowledge, and he was regularly seen on Main Street. And he certainly is a treasured memory of Pleasanton.

A perfect match, but one that will never happen.

I would love to see one of the First Saturdays on Main Street declared "Dr. B Day," including a banner hanging from the Pleasanton arch.

For those who had the privilege to have our lives enriched by knowing George, we don't need a monument to remember Dr. B -- our memories will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

But he deserves, and honestly is owed by the city of Pleasanton, a tribute.

And when our time on Earth ends, we will look forward to reconnecting with Dr. B and the regular laughs will return, instead of just the memories.

Godspeed George and until we meet again.

Services for Dr. B are set for Saturday, May 28 at 10 a.m. at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Pleasanton. For those that attend the service, there will be a celebration of life immediately following. Details will be released at the service.

Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his Pleasanton Preps column, email [email protected]

Comments

Mr. Julius
Registered user
Downtown
on May 15, 2022 at 1:03 pm
Mr. Julius, Downtown
Registered user
on May 15, 2022 at 1:03 pm

I only met Dr. B a few times, once outside the library, and we spoke for at least half an hour. I worked for a short time in sports, and we traded stories. He invited me to come look at his sports memorabilia. I missed an opportunity, and Covid didn't help. As we spoke, at least two young people excitedly waved at him.

I've heard wonderful stories of his compassion.


Cortland67
Registered user
Highland Oaks
on May 15, 2022 at 1:08 pm
Cortland67, Highland Oaks
Registered user
on May 15, 2022 at 1:08 pm

Dennis, very well written tribute. Thanks


Jim L.
Registered user
another community
on May 15, 2022 at 1:11 pm
Jim L., another community
Registered user
on May 15, 2022 at 1:11 pm

Sad - Dr.B is truly an iconic legend. Great article, Dennis. We always looked so forward to the "Tri-Valley Sports Final" and "Let's Talk Sports" done so well and such a great service to the community. Great announcing was done on local football games, also. So great to watch. Definitely, a cemented tribute is obviously warranted. It is so cool he visited soccer icon Harry Miller in his latter year. Dr. B caps would be great, too, maybe with a Pleasanton heart logo or ?


Lahommed
Registered user
Dublin
on May 15, 2022 at 1:29 pm
Lahommed, Dublin
Registered user
on May 15, 2022 at 1:29 pm

The world could use many more like Dr.B Rest in peace Sir!


Michael Drush
Registered user
Foothill High School
on May 15, 2022 at 6:18 pm
Michael Drush, Foothill High School
Registered user
on May 15, 2022 at 6:18 pm

Dr. B , A great man and he always recognized me when I chatted with him. I was not in sports, not popular or the class validictorian.

but I attended high school where he taught. And he remembered me , my brother and sister. Then over the last 40 yrs I'd see him from time to time.

Here's what he taught me.

I don't know how much money he had, or how many homes he owned and couldn't tell you if he sported fancy clothes or jewelry.

I just remember how he treated me. Therefore the man's got my love and respect..
Dr. B must have been a rush fan because there's a song ( the garden ) and it proclaims all things remembered after one passes boils down to how you treated others.
RIP
Best regards, Michael Drush


[email protected]
Registered user
Birdland
on May 15, 2022 at 7:59 pm
[email protected], Birdland
Registered user
on May 15, 2022 at 7:59 pm

Loved watching Dr. B on Tri Valley Sports. He was knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He once wrote a poem he recited on air about my daughter, Hope, an Amador Don cross country runner and her friend and opponent from Granada, Colleen McCandles. It was very touching and I have saved a copy of it until today. I was fortunate to meet Dr. B on a couple of occassions and he shared some of his personal memories regarding his coaching career. He is a fixture in our community and he will be missed terribly.


Longtime Resident
Registered user
Harvest Park Middle School
on May 15, 2022 at 10:47 pm
Longtime Resident, Harvest Park Middle School
Registered user
on May 15, 2022 at 10:47 pm

Everyone who went to Foothill had to pass through Dr. B's economics class! I had the fortune also of learning to operate a camera for his live call-in show "Let's Talk Sports". Ian Bartholomew directed the show during those years and Darla Stevens was the TV30 head back then.

I still carry with me Dr. B's sign-off phrase as a principle to live by: "Hope for the best and expect the worst." He was one of the best teachers I had. I will always hope he's in a better place. Rest in peace, Dr. B.


Cana
Registered user
Foothill Place
on May 16, 2022 at 1:53 pm
Cana, Foothill Place
Registered user
on May 16, 2022 at 1:53 pm

I was a student of Dr. B at FHS in the Early 90s. He was the first person I met who was a “Dr.” but not a medical doctor. I remember how he would joke about being Dr.—even other teachers would joke about it—and him saying that I’d he could get his doctorate then anyone could. I now have a doctorate and I’m grateful to Dr. B for opening that realm of possibilities for me.


tigergin
Registered user
Downtown
on May 16, 2022 at 4:02 pm
tigergin, Downtown
Registered user
on May 16, 2022 at 4:02 pm

Both of my kids attended Foothill High School, and both had classes with Dr B.
Dr B was a favorite, I enjoyed visiting with him on open
house nights and for many many more years here in town.
You never knew where Dr B would pop up and it was always a pleasure to say hi and
chat for a few moments.
Truely a Pleasanton icon who will be sorely missed.


Kathryn Selway
Registered user
Mohr Park
on May 16, 2022 at 5:48 pm
Kathryn Selway, Mohr Park
Registered user
on May 16, 2022 at 5:48 pm

My husband, Bill Selway came from a family of 7 boys, all played sports in the 60's in Richmond, Ca.
When we moved to Pleasanton in the 80's, we would run into Dr. B. He remembered each of them and their individual accomplishments, which is a great surprise, but is typically Dr .B. On one occasion he was at our home for a fundraiser and my mother was watching a football game in her yellow plastic curlers and bathrobe, while the party was going on around her. Dr. B struck up a conversation with her about the game and they had a rousing discussion. Dr. B asked her for her "Football Picks". He told her to watch his next TV program as he was going to include them under the title of "Grammie Stein's Picks". She punched him in the arm and said it wasn't nice to tease and old lady!! He laughed quite hard at that, but on his next program he did exactly what he promised!! He will be missed and I agree with Dennis, there should be a permanent tribute to him. My recommendation would be a statue at one of the Sport Venues he loved so much.


Marc Ackerman
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 11, 2022 at 3:44 pm
Marc Ackerman, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 11, 2022 at 3:44 pm

I was browsing and came across the news of Dr. B’s passing.
It struck me, so I created an account just to comment this one time.

I remember Dr.B. I went to Foothill, class of 88, and had him as a teacher a couple times. He was a very kind and funny man, from my perspective as a 16 yr old stoner/barely making it student.

I remember how he would fill the whole blackboard up with notes, that we were supposed to copy. Sometimes that was the extent of the class. He would let me sleep in class, after I took down the notes. But one time when I was sleeping, he led the whole class outside before the bell, and when the period bell went off I was alone inside the room. He was at the door laughing with a couple other students. I wasnt embarrassed. It was funny. That’s how I remember him.

I also remember getting the baseball and football cards in my notebook. You would have to keep a notebook full of his endless blackboard notes. It was a big part of your grade. If you did well on that task, he would slip cards into your notebook.
Dr B was very approachable and gave me his time when I had questions. For a sorry student like myself, his style was encouraging and effective. I actually did well in his classes, getting B’s of course. His teaching style reminds me of some of the more effective professors I’ve encountered in university.
He was accessible, efficient, smart, funny, and caring as a teacher. He was every bit as good a teacher as he was a man.

Lastly, I want to mention the one time I saw Dr B go through a visibly rough moment.
It was a Black Monday, 1987. The stock market took a 30% hit.
As students, we had no idea what was going on. But Dr. B was obviously devastated. He was as down as I’d ever seen him. He didn’t even want to talk to us that day. He mentioned what was going on, and that was it.
A couple weeks later, when he had gotten a hold of himself, he led us through the entire explanation and causes of the crash.


Marc Ackerman
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 11, 2022 at 3:46 pm
Marc Ackerman, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 11, 2022 at 3:46 pm

P.S.
Dr. b always remembered me and my sister Julie.
If I saw him downtown or at a game, he would always ask about her.
Dr B loved what he did, and he impacted so many people in Pleasanton.
I’m happy to have known him.
God bless and RIP, DrB


Marc Ackerman
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jun 11, 2022 at 4:53 pm
Marc Ackerman, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jun 11, 2022 at 4:53 pm

P.S.S.
I don’t even live in CA anymore, though I do travel to Pleasanton and the Bay Area fairly regularly for business.
But I still go downtown when I’m there, visit old friends, sometimes I even walk the football and baseball fields at Foothill and Amador.
Growing up in Pleasanton in the 80s was a gift. I never understood that when I was young, but now I do.
I always thought the cops were after me, and there was nothing there for me.
Even though my life was better than 99% of the rest of the worlds, Ifelt held down.
That’s just youth and immaturity, though.
I’m raising my kids in Grants Pass Oregon, now. And there is a resemblance of PTown here. Its a small valley town, just like PTown was in the 80s. It has a blend of rural/suburb people and lifestyles that I remember from my youth. The community is close, and the schools are well run.
I guess I’m hoping that I can recreate a sort of PTown experience for my kids.
We do have a couple borderline iconic educators/sports people here as well…..
But nobody like Dr B.


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