Rod Martin to be inducted in City Section Hall of Fame

Rod Martin played football for Los Angeles Hamilton High, USC, the Los Angeles Raiders and the Oakland Raiders. He became an All-Pro linebacker. Among his teammates through the years were Jack Tatum, Marcus Allen, Jim Plunkett, John Matuszak, Lester Hayes, Art Shell, Dave Dalby, Todd Christensen and Raymond Chester. It goes on and on. He played with some of the best in NFL history.

He earned his own special place in the hearts of Raider Nation by becoming the only player in NFL history to make three interceptions in a Super Bowl. It happened in 1980 against the Philadelphia Eagles and quarterback Ron Jaworski.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I just thought I needed to get one of those passes that day.”

As much joy as he remembers from winning Super Bowl XIV, another special day is happening on Sunday when he is inducted into the City Section Hall of Fame for the class of 2020-21.

“I’m very excited. I love L.A. I love everything about the place,” he said.

Don’t anyone reveal where the ceremony will take place because there might be a stampede of Raiders fans dropping by. He remembers the love from Raider fans everywhere.

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“They followed us and we were so appreciative,” he said.

If there were one player who influenced Martin during his days with the Raiders, it was Tatum, the fearless All-Pro safety known for his bone-crunching hits.
“He was my guy,” Martin said. “He was a little guy but an aggressive, hard-nosed guy. We’d go out there and talk how we had to play. I learned so much from him.”

Martin said his love was for basketball growing up but that football became his sport at Hamilton thanks to support from his high school coach, Jack Epstein. Martin became an all-conference linebacker at USC in 1976 and a 12th-round pick of the Raiders in 1977, playing until 1988. His father was a coal miner, so you know where his toughness came from.

Of his Raider days, he said, “We became a great team together. We didn’t let anyone come against us. If someone fell to the ground and wanted to jump on them, we’d get to them before they got to them.”

This Hall of Fame class was supposed to be inducted in 2020, but COVID-19 restrictions caused the City Section to wait. It’s another glittering class.

In basketball, there’s Dwayne Polee (Manual Arts) and Chris Mills (Fairfax). In football, there’s Andy Reid (Marshall) and Steve Smith (University). Rachel Robinson, a 1940 Manual Arts graduate and the widow of Jackie Robinson, will receive a lifetime achievement honor.

There’s also a Legacy Group to be inducted, including former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Paul Blair (Manual Arts).

City Section Hall of Fame class to be inducted on Sunday in Mission Hills.

(City Section)

One of the most intriguing Legacy Group stories involves Jack Lohrke, a South Gate High graduate who played major league baseball in the 1940s and ‘50s. He picked up the nickname “Lucky” because by the time he was 22, he appeared to have escaped death multiple times.

He served in World War II, fighting in the Normandy campaign and Battle of the Bulge. He was bumped from a military transport that later crashed. He left a bus when he was in the minor leagues just before it crashed off a cliff. He died in 2009 at the age of 85.

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