Robert Louis "Bob" Valli, Oakland Tribune sports editor during a historic sports time, died Wednesday in Vancouver, Wash. He was 80.
Valli joined the Tribune sports department in 1964 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer. He became the Tribune's assistant sports editor in 1969 and then served as sports editor from 1975 until his retirement in 1993.
He was such an integral part of the Oakland sports scene that Raiders managing general partner Al Davis attended his retirement dinner. Valli covered the Raiders against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II in January 1968. Then, as sports editor, he supervised Tribune coverage of all three Raiders' Super Bowl victories after the 1976, 1980 and 1983 seasons.
He also reported on the A's moving from Kansas City in 1968, and then oversaw all six of their World Series appearances in Oakland -- 1972 to 1974 and 1988 to 1990 -- plus the Warriors' relocation from San Francisco to Oakland in 1971 and their championship run in 1975.
Scotty Stirling, director of scouting for the NBA's Sacramento Kings, was the Tribune's Raiders beat writer in 1963 before moving into the team's front office. He recommended to Tribune Sports Editor George Ross that Valli, then a Richmond Independent reporter, replace him.
"Bob was a very good newspaperman," Stirling said, "and he had a good sense of humor. But I don't know if I've ever met a gentler soul."
Tribune staffers regarded Valli as a fair-minded
"I worked for Bob for 16 years, and I couldn't ask for anyone fairer," said John Simmonds, an assistant sports editor under Valli. "He was quick with words of praise and never second-guessed a decision, even when it was warranted. Journalism has lost a great man, and I've lost a great friend."
Monte Poole, Bay Area News Group sports columnist, was working part-time in Tribune prep sports in March 1985 when Valli offered him a full-time position. Poole, 18 units shy of graduating from San Jose State that May, pondered how he could handle both responsibilities -- work and school.
"I took the job, but Bob gave me the option -- he didn't have to do that," Poole recalled. "Twenty-six years later, I've never had to look for another job. With Bob, you knew where you stood. He was a straight shooter."
Former Tribune colleague Martin Snapp noted that Valli was a stickler for proper journalism.
"The thing he hated more than phonies," Snapp said, "was sports cliches such as gridirons, hoopsters, scribes and mentors."
Valli grew up in San Francisco, graduated from UC Berkeley in 1952 and was a dedicated Cal sports fan the rest of his life.
Before coming to the Tribune, he worked for a Stockton radio station and had his own public relations business.
Valli died from complications of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.
He is survived by his wife, Linda, sons Robert, Michael and David, and grandchildren Amanda and Matthew Valli, and Jaden Sylvester and Peyton Chamroeun.
A memorial service is pending.