Bob Breitbard, the founder of the San Diego Hall of Champions sports museum, has passed away at the age of 91. He was involved in the local sports scene for more than 50 years as a player, coach, team owner, builder and benefactor of institutions and organizations that have helped make San Diego a big-league sports capital that appreciates its history and honors its own.
Breitbard was a classmate of baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams at Hoover High School and remained close friends with Ted throughout their lives. Bob played football at Hoover High School and San Diego State, taught and coached at Hoover, and was the Aztec’s volunteer head coach in 1945, re-establishing the football program after World War II.
He went into business and was longtime president of California Linen Supply but sports was always his passion. In 1946, he established the Breitbard Athletic Foundation. The program continues to honor local high school, amateur and professional sports stars-our hometown heroes of the past, present and future. The Foundation developed into the San Diego Hall of Champions and has honored tens of thousands of athletes throughout the years.
Breitbard was also one of the early board members of the Greater San Diego Sports Association, which become the San Diego International Sports Council and today is known as the San Diego Sports Commission. The group of civic-minded businessman helped build San Diego Stadium, bring the Chargers and major-league Padres to town, establish and support the Holiday Bowl and other first-class sports events and facilities.
Breitbard was the driving force behind the building of the San Diego Sports Arena and the owner of its original tenant, the Gulls of the Western Hockey League, and later the Rockets of the National Basketball Association. He was a respected member of the Board of Governors of both leagues.
In addition to serving on many civic and charitable boards, including Sharp Hospital and the President’s Circle of the Salk Institute, Breitbard was a patron of the arts and a champion of sports as part of San Diego’s culture. He exemplified the philosophy that being a real contributor to the community involves giving of yourself as well as your means.