By Bob Spiwak
All this took place in, I believe, 1978 — two years after the Seattle Seahawks had become an expansion team in the National Football League.
Among the big names such as Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent and coach Jack Patera was a Mexican-born, 5-foot, 8-inch, 185-pound placekicker, Efren Herrera.
The Seahawks were a “fun” team in those days, anchored by Largent’s pass receiving, Herrera’s field goal and extra point kicking, and Patera’s surprise play-calling. Herrera was the first Hawk to score 100 points in a season, won a game with a fake kick and pass reception for a touchdown and, most memorable to me, lined up for an extra point and then drop-kicked for the win. I had not seen a drop kick since high school many years before.
We had moved to a suburban Everett neighborhood which, coincidentally, housed several employees of auto dealer Holiday Oldsmobile, who became close friends.
One week we were informed that at the coming Evergreen State Fair in Monroe, daredevil Evel Knievel would be jumping over a line of cars on his motorcycle. Holiday Olds would supply the vehicles and as an added note, they were importing one of the first Subarus into the United States and asked me to drive it from Everett to Monroe — which I gladly did, taking along my young son who was a budding moto-crosser and Knievel fan.
The cars were lined up, all big Detroit iron. Then three guys emerged, hand carrying the Subaru, a tiny forerunner to what became the “Brat” model. Underpowered would be an overstatetement. Knievel made the jump, Subaru and all.
This was an election year and my lifelong buddy Maury was head of public relations for the U.S. Census Bureau. The plan for this election campaign’s public service announcements was to have them televised in bi-lingual segments, including Mr. Sulu of Star Trek and other famous people. Herrera was chosen to do the Hispanic version and we congregated at his Bellevue home with cameras, teleprompters and producers.
Also present was Herrera’s wife, Susie (I think), who was a student at University of Washington. As the shooting was going on and on, she needed a ride to the U and I volunteered to take her. In the course of driving there, I learned she had a side job selling gold jewelry. She invited me and my son to dinner to see her merchandise and have a nice meal.
When I got home I casually asked my son if he’d like to meet Efren Herrera. He about flipped when I said we were invited to dinner.
We went, of course, and along with the married couple was their nephew, Ephriam, a soccer player. We four guys shot some pool, then sat down to a fine dinner.Afterwards, Susie brought out some gold jewelry. It was all lovely with prices to match and, feeling obligated, I bought the cheapest thing she had, a gold chain. Things were a lot cheaper in 1978. We parted shortly after.
That was how I got to drive America’s first Subaru, met some celebrities, shot pool and dined with a football star and most importantly, became a hero to my son. What more could a dad expect in the course of a couple of weeks?