Hansen’s Top Teams, No. 85: Sky’s 1979 championship was fun franchise’s peak moment | Sign up

In the summer of 1978, the general manager of the Tucson Sky pro volleyball team wrote a letter to President Jimmy Carter, asking if he wanted to attend a Sky home game at Catalina High School.

To Bob Garrett’s surprise, he found an answer. One of the president’s deputy secretaries sent a letter expressing regret for Carter’s inability to attend.

He didn’t stop Garrett. He launched a “President Carter Can’t Work Tonight” campaign and had 3,176 people enrolled in the high school. Ticket buyers were given free tickets and free American flags. Every uncle named “Sam” was admitted freely.

A year later, Garrett – a marine scientist from UCLA who earned a bachelor’s degree at UA – re -wrote Carter. No answer. So Garrett created an ad “President Carter Just Might Make It Tonight”.

In addition, more than 3,000 people came. As a bonus, Sky became a powerhouse, winning the International Volleyball Association’s premier tournament in 1979. The IVA is a volleyball tournament that has been combined over three seasons, including franchises in San Diego, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Denver, Salt Lake, El Paso, Albuquerque and Phoenix.

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Sky was so popular that they drove the Triple-A Tucson Toros in 1978 and 1979.

“Bob Garrett decided,” recalls Tucson attorney Burt Kinerk, who owns a small portion of the Sky franchise. “Everyone was happy; More fun than anything. Catalina High Stadium was occupied, sold. There is one thing in life. “

Heaven was so successful – both in court and at the door – that Garrett launched the “No Charge; Pay on the way out” ad. Those, who pay between $ 2 and $ 4 for tickets, almost double the bottom line for a paid game before you enter.

Corky Simpson, a three -year Tucson Citizen sports columnist, has written extensively about Sky. Today, he says: “It’s the happiest team I’ve covered in all my years as a sports writer. Just have fun, laugh a lot. And the fans are all young, have fun ana.

The Sky franchise was founded in 1977, bought by Douglas H. Clark, a renowned Tucson lawyer who graduated from UA law school. One of the state’s top volleyball players, Clark later said the annual budget for his IVA team was about $ 175,000, with about $ 75,000 going to pro volleyball players, which was taken. all over the world. Sky ’79’s top -flight team includes players from Peru, Mexico, Europe, Canada and Scott English, who is also the top scorer at UTEP, and Amphi High School volleyball coach Anne Davenport.

People loved Tucson Sky, which won the IVA tournament in 1979.

Photos by Joe Patronite, Arizona Daily Star 1979

Big names? There are few. The IVA joined the Orange County All-Stars, a team owned by basketball teammate Wilt Chamberlain, a player whose team won the Sky in 1977 at Catalina High School in front of a crowd of 3,141.

“We’ve got some of the best volleyball players in the world, it’s just amazing,” Kinerk said this season. “It was pressing when we formed a joint venture; Four men and two women in the circle. Even though the property didn’t come, it became a charity event.

The Sky won the ’79 tournament by beating the Santa Barbara Spikers in California. But Garrett, the GM, doesn’t have a very good idea. He noted that other IVA franchises do not advertise their company in the same way that Sky does. No team has disputed the signing of, say, Coors or Bud Light as a leading sponsor.

Before the start of the ’80s, the future was clearly dark.

Santa Barbara ended the operations. San Jose then closed, followed by Albuquerque, Salt Lake City and Denver. In July, there were no players in the Sky.

“No one in the world can take on the actions of Tucson Sky,” Garrett said.

Garrett left Tucson and played pro sports. He wrote promotional jingles and songs for Ford, Toyota and Yamaha, among others. Today, he is a former man and musician for an old rock band in San Diego, the Fabulous Pelicans.

The Tucson Sky, four men and two women were on stage at all times.

Joe Patronite, Arizona Daily Star 1979

When Sky reunited in 2000 at Daisy Mae’s Steakhouse on “A” Mountain, Clark told Citizen’s Simpson: “We were almost two years ahead of time. If the lion can be held for the next two years, I believe we have won on mobile television.

Speaking of Heaven today, 42 years after the IVA collapsed, Kinerk’s voice is proud.

“I still have the IVA tournament in my husband’s yard,” she said with a laugh. “It always reminds me of how much fun we had.”

Contact athlete Greg Hansen at 520-573-4362 or ghansen@tucson.com. On Twitter: @ghansen711

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