Agostini: Valley fans invade Berkeley on Saturdays

December 5, 2008 

It's about 8 a.m. on another football Saturday at Berkeley, and Jeff Moye unloads the pickup.

Mary Sue, his wife and former high school sweetheart, displays the blue and gold decorations. Jeff and friends unfurl the awnings. The Bloody Marys are swirling in the blender, the keynote sound of another day-long football celebation at Cal.

Says Jeff, "It's kind of a production."

This is not your Grade A card-table-chips-and-dip tailgate.

No, we're talking about a five-star football reunion with all the fixings. Come Saturday morning for the regular-season finale against Washington,

the Moyes and Company will reconvene near the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Channing Way -- about a block below Memorial Stadium -- where they've partied for each home game since 1980.

Jeff, 52, the Central Catholic graduate and hard-hitting defensive back on Cal's Pacific-8 co-champion team in 1975. Mary Sue, wearing eyeblack and the No. 16 jersey worn by both Jeff and son Justin Moye, a linebacker for Cal from 2004 through '07.

A Golden Bear couple.

Says Mary Sue, "It used to be pretty manageable."

Fact is, the Moyes, Ripon residents, enjoy the production too much to stop. Their party has grown into a nerve center for fans and friends and a must-go for everyone from former football stars to the Cal Band (more on the band later).

The menu Saturday calls for cioppino, two barbecued turkeys, shrimp and tri-tip. Mary Sue already has cooked the beans. They do not plan for quiet and intimate gatherings. More than 100 crowded around their patch of lawn two weeks ago before and after the Golden Bears' victory over Stanford.

"Half of Modesto has been there over the years," Jeff said. "They know the spot."

"The spot" is the front lawn of Delta Kappa Rho fraternity near the Piedmont roundabout. The Moyes have tailgated there for 18 years, and now their party has spilled over to the Acacia fraternity house next door. The family negotiates each year for its appointed place, a valuable plot of land especially since Cal football has spiked in popularity this decade.

A Cal official reported that more than 600 season tickets are sold each year to customers from the Modesto area. Counting single-game tickets, it's estimated that more than 1,000 fans from the valley attend each game in Strawberry Canyon.

And the Moyes swear most of them gravitate to their party each week.

"If you're from Modesto and you know us and you love Cal, you're welcome to drop by," Jeff says. "We love to do it. I don't take a lot of time off. It can be expensive at times, but that's our vacation money."

Jeff, a sales supervisor for a plaster company, reserves the right to do some business on game days. He entertains current and future customers and, occasionally, converts them.

"Sometimes they see what college football is all about," he said. "I've hooked a lot of customers who used to go to 49er and Raider games and now they love college football and all the excitement."

The parties have mushroomed since Central Catholic graduates J.D. Cafaro, Byron Storer and Justin Moye have dotted Cal rosters the last seven years. Meanwhile, offensive lineman Dominic Galas, another Central graduate, redshirts as a true freshman this season.

The tailgates peaked, however, during Justin's seasons on the field. He'd been weaned on Cal football and, for him to don the same uniform as his father three decades before, certified all family passion.

"What made it better is that we shared it with friends and family," Jeff said. "It went by like a quick dream."

Though Justin has graduated, the party lives on. A rainstorm chased everyone toward higher ground for the Oregon game last month, but that didn't dampen the turnout:

Steve Levy, the Cal quarterback from New Jersey who saved the 2005 Big Game for the Bears,

Andrew Dignan, the Central and Cal graduate better known for his inspiring rehab from a football injury in 1999 that paralyzed his legs and impaired his arms. He expects to pass the bar next spring.

Bob Follett, the father of Cal's gung-ho senior linebacker Zack Follett, one of Justin's former teammates. The Folletts are Moye party regulars.

Even a Cal coach occasionally says hello after a game. And so does a portion of the Cal Band, which closes nearly every Moye party. It's a tradeoff: Soft drinks and Mary Sue's beans for a few songs.

Sure enough, though small rivers flooded the storm drains on Piedmont about two hours after the end of the Oregon game, here came about 20 Cal Band members stepping over the puddles. Bunched together under the awnings, they belted out the Cal fight song, "Big C."

Summarized Jeff Moye, "Priceless."

Bee sports columnist Ron Agostini can be

reached at www.modbee.com or 578-2302.

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