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William "Bill" Renna ’49, June 19, 2014. He was a Bronco Hall of Fame football and baseball player. He was an outfielder for the New York Yankees, Philadelphia / Kansas City Athletics, and Boston Red Sox from 1953-1959.
Renna was born to Christina and William Renna in Hanford, Calif., on Oct. 14, 1924. He graduated from Hanford Union High School in 1942 and attended USF before joining the Marine Corps and serving in the South Pacific. Renna returned from military service to become a two-sport star at the University of Santa Clara, playing outfield for the baseball team, and both fullback and center on the football team. His play on the gridiron earned him a spot in the East-West game in 1949, drawing the attention of the Los Angeles Rams; however, he chose to stick with baseball, learning under the guidance of Santa Clara’s legendary coach, Paddy Cottrell.
“Paddy Cottrell was a bird dog [scout] for the Yankees,” Renna said in a 2008 interview. “He used to teach us everything that was taught in spring training by the Yankees.”
Bill later was inducted into the Santa Clara University Hall of Fame. He met his future wife Leronne (Roni) Richards, a student nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco, as he was finishing his college career.
Cottrell tipped Yankees scout Joe Devine to his prized outfielder who signed Renna in 1949 to a contract for $5,000. His signing paid immediate dividends, as he hit an eye-opening .385 with 21 home runs for Twin Falls in the Pioneer League. His play impressed his Twin Falls manager Charlie Metro, who was a former major leaguer himself.
“He hit like heck up there, and they called him “Bull,” because he was a big guy,” Metro said in his autobiography Safe by a Mile. “He was a delight to have on the team.”