While Friday afternoon was reserved for the Raider Nation celebration, Friday evening it was all about the Black Hole Raider fan kickoff party at Ricky’s Sports Theatre in San Leandro. The festivities for the evening included performances by Raiderhed and Da Hazmat Boyz, special guest appearances by Raider Legends like Jim Otto, and the induction of six new honorary Blackhole Hall of Fame members.
The evening was hosted by JT the Brick, Rob Rivera aka Black Hole Rob, and Raider Mort. They each did one or more of the inductions of the six new HOF members. Among those new honorary members were four former Raiders in right tackle John Vella, linebacker Jeff Barnes, wide receiver Kenny Shedd, and tight end Jeremy Brigham. The two others are long time Raider fans and supporters, Mr C from Heaven and Johnny Guns.
John Vella was drafted by the Raiders in 1972 and held down the right tackle spot opposite Pro Football Hall of Famers Art Shell and Gene Upshaw. He was a big part of the Raiders Super Bowl winning team in 1977. He has owned the John Vella Lockeroom next door to Ricky’s for many years.
Jeff Barnes played linebacker for the Raiders for 11 years. He was a classic case of a home grown talent as he went to Hayward High then on to Chabeau College and on to Cal before being drafted by the Raiders. He would be a part of the Raider final two Super Bowl teams.
Kenny Shedd was a reserve wide receiver for the Raider for 4 years from 96 to 99 while tight end Jeremy Brigham played mostly in reserve over a 5 year span with the team from 99 to 03. Keep in mind, these awards are based almost entirely on the players’ or fans’ contributions and outreach with the fan base. Shedd and Brigham went to Northern Iowa and Washington respectively but once they became Raiders, they stayed Raiders for life. The Raider Nation and the Black Hole have proven that they will embrace a player who embraces them.
Mr C from Heaven is a Howard Cosell impersonator and he is quite good. I heard him have an entire improvised conversation as Cosell and was extremely impressed. He has spent many years raising money for the Mohammed Ali Foundation of Louisville Kentucky. I was not able to get a lot of information about Johnny Guns and was unable to stay long enough to see his induction speech. Although, I am sure his contributions were as valuable as any of the inductees.
The Kickoff party was a really great compliment to the Raider Nation Celebration. But these fans were die hards in the truest sense. All the greats were there too. Gorilla Rilla, Voodooman, Raider Senor, Shield Head(and baby shield head… I’m serious), Pirate Raider, and more. They were all there to show their undying devotion to the team for whom they bleed Silver and Black– and it was quite a party.
Heck, the food alone was worth it. The cheeseburger I had was quite possibly the best I have ever had. I am not exaggerating in the slightest either. It was a religious experience to be certain. Ricky’s is truly a mecca of the Raiders too. There is supposedly somewhere upwards of 85 TVs throughout the place. And wherever there isn’t a TV, there is Raider memorabelia. This was not my first time there but I am always impressed. They don’t call it a “Sports Theatre” for nothing. It was a the perfect setting for the fan kickoff party and a nice ending to a day of Raider love on the eve of the big “Battle of the Bay” at the coliseum vs 49ers.