Warrior old-timers know what the name Peterson has meant to Crescent City sports history. All summer long baseball is being played at Peterson Park, a local sports facility named for former Del Norte Warrior standout Rocky Peterson, who had his athletic career cut short when he died on the Battleship Arizona during the Pearl Harbor attack in December of 1941. The youngest brother of Rocky also contributed a lot to local sports history. Lyle “Bunky” Peterson, a 1952 graduate, left his mark on the local baseball and basketball arenas.
My first experience with Bunky goes back to my eighth grade year at Crescent Elk. We had a basketball team that was coached by Ed Fraser. Ed had recently retired after a 20-year tour as the head coach at Del Norte High School. The starting five on that team consisted of four eighth-graders and one seventh-grader. The lone seventh-grader was Bunky Peterson. Bunky was the point guard on that team and really helped us be successful.
We lost two games that year. One was to a very good Eureka junior high team and one to a team made up of senior boy athletes from the high school who whooped us bad. We had beaten teams of freshman, sophomore, and junior teams as well as defeating the high school lightweight basketball team. It was a fun group that included John Frazer, Arnie Lopez, Dennis Boyd, Jordon Kekry, Leon Morgan and me.
When Bunky entered high school as a freshman he joined the football program and played as a quarterback during his freshman and sophomore years. After his sophomore year he decided he didn’t care for football and spent the rest of his high school career on the basketball court and baseball field. In basketball he was a four-year starter, two on the lightweights and two on the varsity. In baseball he was part of two Warrior championship teams.
After graduation Bunky went on to have a successful career playing baseball for the old Crescent City Merchants team that played for several years in the old Redwood league. While Bunky played somewhat in the shadows of his older brother Rocky, he was very proud of what Rocky was able to accomplish in his shortened life.
Warrior fans were saddened when Bunky passed away about a year ago. He was living in the Grants Pass area and had been running a used car business.
This was something I an sure he was good at, as he always liked to tell stories and shoot the bull.
Dick Trone writes on his reflections and the history of Del Norte High Warrior sports. Trone, who played football for the Warriors and graduated in 1951, had an illustrious career on the gridiron at Humboldt State University. Trone was head football coach at Del Norte High for a number of years before retiring.