MODESTO (KPIX) – You can’t make a trip to a 49ers game without seeing the slogan: “Faithful Then, Faithful Now.” It’s plastered all over billboards and t-shirts. The tagline resonates with one Northern California fan who goes all the way back to the beginning, but she’s only getting the recognition now.
It started with a tweet to 49ers linebacker Kwon Alexander – the leader of the “Hot Boyz” found out about the self-proclaimed “Hot Girlz” – Modesto’s Leslie Klinger and her 98-year-old mother Laura Crocco Shaw.
— Leslie Shaw Klinger OP (@lsk49rs) January 16, 2020
“A friend of mine told me that my mother went viral on Twitter,” said Klinger. “She has over 4,000 likes.”
When asked if she knows what going viral means, the nonagenarian replied with a chuckle: “Not really, I know I’m not sick.”
Shaw was born in 1921 and has lived in the region almost her entire life. She was 25 when the 49ers were conceived in 1946 and began playing at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium. She was hooked right away because of their head coach with the same last name.
“People were always asking if I was related to Buck Shaw,” she said. “Just in spirit.”
Shaw was a banker in the East Bay and was able to work her way up the corporate ladder when all her male colleagues left for World War II. She retired at the age of 78.
Her husband was a salesman and would always score tickets to Kezar Stadium from clients. They had two children and made family memories at Candlestick Park when the team moved south in 1970.
“I remember John Brodie throwing a 45-yard touchdown pass to Gene Washington like he could have caught it with his eye closed,” said Klinger who would have been high school age at the time. “That’s when we learned you never leave the game early.”
The fun didn’t end at the stadium either.
“We went out to dinner and celebrated,” Shaw smiled.
With the good memories come the bad, and in over 70 seasons there have been plenty of bad. But that never diminished their passion. After all, part of being a good fan is also being a cynic.
“I could always say, ‘How could you be so stupid?’” Shaw said of the lean seasons.
“We would yell at them a lot,” Klinger chimed in. “She still does that. She benches people from the couch.”
Shaw isn’t benching many players from the current team. Her favorite is George Kittle, but she still has questions about other parts of the roster.
“I’m still this way about the quarterback,” she shook her hand to express a lukewarm sentiment about Jimmy Garoppolo.
It’s a family that bleeds red and gold, except one of her grandsons who is a Raiders fan.
“He’s a wild child,” Shaw said.
The Super Bowl run has been great for the family, but winning certainly isn’t everything in the Modesto home.
“She’s 98-years-old, and even though he know the Crocco women live forever,” Klinger said grabbing her mom’s hand. “Every time I get to watch a game with her, it’s very special.”