ALAMEDA — His passion for the Oakland Raiders stretched back to Ken Stabler, George Blanda and the glory days of the 1970s.
It even led his friends to call him "Raider Joe" when they gathered in the pre-dawn darkness outside McAfee Coliseum for a tail-gate party before the silver-and-black took to the field.
Now his fellow fans are mourning George Marceline, who died Saturday morning after a hit-and-run driver struck him as he walked along Shore Line Drive.
"He was such a dear, dear friend," said Virginia Savella Harper, who would often meet Marceline in the parking lot for a pre-game party. "He was so kind. He was like a dad to me."
Investigators are still piecing together what led up to the collision that claimed the life of the 72-year-old Marceline.
According to witnesses, a green 1997 Jeep Cherokee hopped a curb about 5:30 a.m. and continued traveling, hitting light poles and stop signs and causing at least one pedestrian to jump out of the way, fearing for her safety.
Police officers found the body of Marceline — who had been taking his regular morning walk — lying in the 2000 block of the Shore Line Drive.
The SUV was parked across from the nearby AMF Bowling Center and facing the direction from which it had been traveling.
Suspect Dionisio Roxas Molina, 36, was still in the driver's seat, police said.
Molina did not appear drunk and claimed that he had no memory of what happened, Alameda police traffic Sgt. Ted Horlbeck said.
Molina remained in Alameda Hospital on Tuesday afternoon.
"He was admitted due to his odd behavior," Horlbeck said today. "He showed signs of possibly being under the influence of a controlled substance. But he's also undergoing neurological tests because he says he has no memory of the accident."
An autopsy Monday indicated that Marceline died of blunt force trauma, according to the Alameda County coroner's office.
Investigators impounded the SUV and plan to check if a mechanical problem may have contributed to the collision, Horlbeck said.
Both Molina and Marceline live near the accident scene.
Molina works for a medical office in downtown Oakland, police records show. He is expected to face felony hit-and-run and other charges.
Survivors of Marceline, who lived alone and was retired, include a son who lives in the Sacramento area, Harper said.
Other details about him, such as where he once worked, were not available.
Harper said Marceline would often car-pool to Oakland Raiders games with her brothers.
They would meet at 2 a.m. and set up their tail-gate party under the McAfee Coliseum sign, cooking and getting things ready for the fans who would arrive later.
At Christmas time, Marceline would distribute Raiders-themed gifts to his friends at the gatherings.
"He was a Raiders Santa Claus," Harper said. "Hundreds of people knew him. I cannot tell you how much he's going to be missed."
Reach Peter Hegarty at email@example.com or 510-748-1654.