In Week 3 of the 1980 season, 49ers starting quarterback Steve DeBerg came down with a case of laryngitis so bad the team had to fashion an amplifier for his helmet so that he could call signals during that week's game against the New York Jets in Shea Stadium.
Bill Walsh saw it as a perfect opportunity to build the confidence of his young quarterback, a kid named Joe Montana. Walsh warned Montana that if anything were to happen to DeBerg's amplifier during the game, he would have to go into the game while it was repaired.
Sure enough, when the 49ers were in the Jets red-zone, DeBerg started pointing to his throat, the signal that the amplifier had cut out. In came Montana, who promptly ran a naked bootleg for a five-yard touchdown. After the play, DeBerg's amplifier miraculously started working again.
That amplifier contraption is one of the artifacts the 49ers recently have obtained for their hall of fame, which will be part of the new stadium. The team has all sorts of items - from the ball from Montana's first touchdown pass in 1979 to Steve Wallace's concussion-proof padding to Walsh's desk - but is looking for more.
"My dream is to take a look at every possible artifact of historical value," said former PR director Jerry Walker, who is now the team archivist. "At one point, the team thought about changing the logo, and there are some prototypes out there. That's the kind of thing we're after."
The hall of fame will be at least 15,000 square feet, and the team wants items from ticket stubs all the way up to big-ticket items like a trolley car or even perhaps a portion of the "Niner Liner" aircraft that flew Montana and teammates to their first Super Bowl in Pontiac, Mich.
The hall of fame is sure to be popular on game days. But, like recent hall of fames built in Green Bay, Foxboro, Ma. and elsewhere, the intent is to make a year-round destination, especially one for school field trips. If you have something to donate or lend, Walker can be reached through email at Jerry.Walker@49ers.com.
DeBerg's amplifier is featured at 2:25 of the the clip below:
-- Matt Barrows