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RIP, Dale Messer, 86: He Rocketed From Lemoore to Fresno State to 49ers
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By News
Published 1 month ago on
March 1, 2024

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Dale Messer, one of nine names hung inside Valley Children’s Stadium as a retired jersey in the Fresno State football program, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 86.

Messer, who wore No. 21 for the Bulldogs, was a two-time All-America selection at running back and had a five-year NFL career with San Francisco as a halfback, receiver, and defensive back for the 49ers.

Fresno State News

Messer was the first Bulldog in Fresno State football history to have his jersey retired.

Messer, a 1961 graduate of Fresno State, was a 170-pounder from Lemoore who had 9.9 (100 yards) speed as a halfback. He not only carried the ball, but he punted and handled placekicking chores as well.

A three-time all-conference pick, Messer led the Bulldogs in rushing (811 yards), receiving (30 catches), scoring (108 points), punt returns and kickoff returns his senior year. He also returned three passing interceptions for 28 yards, punted for a 34.6 average, and was 3-for-6 in the passing department with two touchdowns.

Messer’s rushing total was even more impressive when you consider that as a team Fresno State ranked third in the nation in passing offense (1,947 yards).

Two-Time All-American at Fresno State

A two-time All-America selection, Messer played in the East-West Shrine game in San Francisco and was a three-time All-Coast honoree. He later played for the San Francisco 49ers (1961-65) after rushing for nearly 2,000 yards, scoring 31 touchdowns and leading Fresno State to three-straight conference titles.

“It is a sad day to lose such a great Bulldog and a great representative of the Fresno State football program,” said head football coach Jeff Tedford. “Dale embodied everything that is Fresno State Football, and his accomplishments and legacy will be remembered in our program forever.”

State Champion Hurdler at Lemoore High School

Messer, a native of Lemoore, had his No. 12 jersey retired at Lemoore High in 2007.  He was also a state champion high hurdler while he competed for Lemoore in 1956. Messer was considered one of the finest athletes ever produced in the San Joaquin Valley.

In 1969, Messer was inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Hall of Fame at College of the Sequoias, where his jersey has also been retired.

Messer resided in Fresno since his playing days. His No. 21 jersey has come out of retirement just once at Fresno State to Ryan Mathews in 2007.

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