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There were a couple of big stories in the June 16, 1977 sports section of The Hermiston (Ore.) Herald.

One of them detailed the exploits of a former Hermiston resident who caught Bill Walton's jersey after the Portland Trail Blazer star threw it into the stands at Memorial Coliseum to celebrate winning the NBA championship.

The main story and banner headline, however, was reserved for a 29-year-old fellow, Bob Beers, who had just been hired from Montana to be the new head football coach at Hermiston High School.

That bit of old news came rushing back to me last week when Rocky Mountain College announced the selection of Bob's son, Bobby, to be its new athletics director.

I was in my first full year as the sports editor for The Herald, the town's weekly newspaper, in 1977. The Hermiston Bulldogs were our Grizzlies or Bobcats, so Bob's hiring was indeed important news in the small, sports-crazy community located in the northeastern corner of the state.

The story and headline reporting that Bob would be coming from Butte Central to be Hermiston's new coach was written by me. That made it impossible - nearly 32 years later - not to marvel for a moment at the symmetry while giving Bobby, his 35-year-old son, similar attention as Rocky's new AD.

When I first crossed paths with a member of the Beers family, Bob was looking forward to moving back to his home state of Oregon from Montana, where he started his coaching career after performing as an All-America linebacker for the Grizzlies in the late 1960s.

I worked with Bob for just a couple of years in Hermiston, but we have remained friends ever since. We haven't seen a lot of each other over the years, but for good reason.

Since those Hermiston days, Bob has gone on to coach at several high schools in Oregon. He has served stints as an assistant coach at the University of Montana and as head coach at Western Montana College and with the Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League.

There were also his globe-trotting years as an assistant with the Frankfurt (Germany) Galaxy and the Amsterdam Admirals of the old World League of American Football, before settling in as a college scout for the NFL's Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions and now the Houston Texans.

Bob, who still lives in Oregon, has always been an easy man to like with his cooperative, wise-cracking nature. He sometimes displayed a fiery sideline demeanor in the heat of battle, and had a constant affinity for practical jokes.

On one occasion, Bob phoned in an anonymous news "tip" to The Herald and actually sent me off to a dark, empty gym to interview a foreign soccer star that supposedly was in town to give a clinic. He laughed about that for years.

There also was the time when Bob invited me to his house in southern Oregon for a salmon dinner - which was spoiled when he mistakenly locked the oven (and fish) in self-cleaning mode.

I always enjoyed the chaos that surrounded Bob, but also was aware he seemed to be ready for every challenge.

I am not as familiar with Bobby, but he has a background that nearly mirrors his father's, and may have inherited his best trait: determination.

Bobby, who was a Hall of Fame wide receiver at Western, has coached football at the high school, college and professional level. He has spent the past six years as a college scout for the Broncos, while also making his home in Billings.

He has no previous AD experience, but as he sat in his new office last week, Bobby said he was excited to be at Rocky and eager to learn. He said he is looking forward to providing leadership, and hitting the ground running when he officially begins work later this month.

And if he turns out to be anything like his dad, Rocky has found a very good man.

Contact Bill Bighaus at bbighaus@billingsgazette.com or 657-1394

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