Step into Jed York's office at 4949 Centennial Boulevard and you'll find a framed dollar bill on the wall. The dollar was the first he ever made while working for his grandfather's company, The DeBartolo Corporation, and is an homage to his grandfather, an immigrant's son who became a construction tycoon and who also kept the first dollar he ever earned. In fact, most conversations with the young 49ers owner touch on Edward DeBartolo, Sr.
York clearly reveres his grandfather, who passed away in 1994, is inspired by him and is driven by the man's accomplishments. York notes that the team's practice facility is named after his grandmother, Marie P. DeBartolo, and that he wanted something that honored his grandfather. Hence the newly created Edward DeBartolo Sr. 49ers Hall of Fame. "In talking to my parents and my uncle, we thought this was a good idea," York said. "My grandfather is why my family was able to buy the 49ers. Without my grandfather, none of this would be possible."
Here's the inaugural list of 49ers in the team's HOF. All of them either have had their jersey numbers retired or are in the Pro Football HOF:
John Henry Johnson
Bob St. Clair
If your favorite 49er is not on the list, you'll have an opportunity to do something about it. Every year, the team will enshrine at least two new members to the team's HOF. A selection committee, which will include a member of the media, will winnow down a list of possible inductees, and fans will be able to vote on the most deserving members. Independent of that, the team also will select non-players to the list, such as former owner Tony Morabito, former personnel guru John McVay and Franklin Mieuli, who owns a stake in the club.
The inaugural inductee already has been decided and will be announced soon. York declined to reveal the inductee's identity to me, but I think I have a pretty good idea who it is. Can you guess?
-- Matt Barrows