A Bit of Kansas City Sports History

Kauffman Stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals, was on BOOO-tiful display over All-Star Weekend two weeks ago.  Both sides of the Kansas/Missouri state line enjoyed the excitement and historic attention (40,000 fans for a Futures Game) brought by the Major League Baseball showcase.

But......the history of Kansas City Sports includes much more than baseball.  Here are 34 snippets:
  1. The 18th Sports Illustrated cover (Dec. 13, 1954) featured a KC event.  Many SI covers have touched on KC; Stengel, Chiefs, Garrett, Jackson, Super Bowl I, Hurdle, BBQ, Watson, Cone, Brett and Royals.  That 1st KC cover event?  The American Royal.  Oh, and 50+ yrs later,North Kansas City's Chappell's Restaurant and Sports Museum was listed by SI as one of the Top 10 Sports Bars in America.

  1. Casey Stengel (Central High School, KC) was born and raised in KC.  He managed the Yankees to 10 pennants and 7 World Series Championships in 12 years.
  2. Jackie Robinson played for the minor league KC Blues in 1945.  His breaking of the Major League color barrier in 1947 was one of the most important social changes of the 20th century.
  3. The KC Wizards, now Sporting Kansas City, won the 2000 Major League Soccer title and The KC Explorers of the World Team Tennis Pro League won the championship in 2010.
  4. KC golfer Tom Watson won 8 major golf championships.
  5. Two Kansas City firms, HOK Sports and Ellerbe Becket, dominated the baseball, football and arena design market for decades.
  6. 1975: Chiefs, Royals, Scouts and Kings, 4 major leagues.
  7. In 1938 Lawrin, ridden by Eddie Arcaro, won the Kentucky Derby.  Lawrin was owned by Herbert Woolf, raised and trained at Woolford Farms in Prairie Village, Kansas.  Lawrin is buried at 59 Le Mans Court, Prairie Village.
  8. The beautiful Swope Park Memorial Golf Course is the only public course in KC to have hosted a PGA Tour event.  The 1300 acre Swope Park was a gift to KC from Colonel Swope.  Swope's doctor, in a modern-day OJ Simpson-like trial, was convicted of murdering the KC benefactor.  Doctor Hyde appealed.  Twice.  And the jury deadlocked.
  9. Charles O. Finley--KC A's owner--brought Harvey, The Mechanical Ball Delivering To The Umpire Rabbit...................Charlie O. The Mule and............ The Beatles to Municipal Stadium, 22nd and Brooklyn.
  10. Tara Nott, Stilwell Kansas won a weight-lifting Gold Medal in the Sydney Olympics.  A Bulgarian had lifted more weight, but was DQ'd by a failed drug test.
  11. The New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League played in the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals.  They got their start as The Kansas City Scouts in 1974.  They moved to Denver after the 75/76 season and then onto NJ in 1982.
  12. Badminton?  The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art has three Shuttlecocks on its south lawn and one on its north lawn.  The artist meant for the museum itself, to serve as the 'net'.  (I guess I agree with those who see the St. Louis Arch as a giant croquet wicket.)
  13. Satchel Paige, the best pitcher of all time, pitched in the 1948 World Series as a 42 year-old rookie and pitched 3 shutout innings at age 59 for the Kansas City Athletics versus the Boston Red Sox.  His home still stands at 2626 E. 28th Street.  He is buried in Forest Hill Cemetery, 6901 Troost Ave.
  14. The Chiefs played in the 1st Super Bowl.  They kicked off to start the game, thus becoming the 1st team to touch the ball in a Super Bowl.................................Fletcher Smith.
  15. The NFL Pro Bowl game has not always been in Hawaii.  KC hosted it in 1974.
  16. The Chiefs played in the longest NFL game and lost to Miami..................82 minutes, 40 seconds.  They also played in the longest AFL game (as the Texans) and beat Houston.............77 minutes, 54 seconds.
  17. John Wooden won the 1st of his 10 NCAA Men's Basketball Championships at Municipal Auditorium.....................98-83 over Duke.
  18. KC has hosted 10 Final Fours.  Here are some of the winners; LaSalle, San Francisco, Wisconsin.  Some of the runner-ups; Dartmouth, Bradley, Washington State.  North Carolina beat Kansas in triple overtime in 1957.
  19. The Kansas Speedway in KC Kansas,opened in June 2001 and Jeff Gordon won the 1st NASCAR Winston Cup Series Race held there in September.
  20. Maurice Greene, KCK, held the 100 meters World Record at 9.79 seconds and won Gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
  21. Joe Delaney and Steve Palermo---Kansas City Heroes.
  22. Champions:Royals 1985.......Chiefs 1970........Runner-ups: Royals 1980....................Chiefs 1967.
  23. Tiny Archibald of the Kansas City Kings led the NBA in points, assists and minutes played in 1972-73.
  24. Rule changes came about because of Hal McRae and second base, George Brett and pine tar, Len Dawson and Ben Davidson's spear.  Be on the lookout for another rule change due to Billy Butler and The Home Run Derby selection process.
  25. Two Kansas City Hall of Fame omissions:  Otis Taylor and Frank White.
  26. The Kansas City A's, Philadelphia A's and the Oakland A's have used a white elephant as their logo.  Why?  The team was once described as being a 'white elephant' for its Philadelphia owner.  The logo was defiantly adopted as a symbolic 'up yours'
  27. KC's Sport Walk of Fame is located in the elevated plaza just north of historic Municipal Auditorium.
  28. Joe Carter lives in Leawood and is the only Major Leaguer to ever come to bat with his team trailing and hit a walk-off World Series ending homer.
  29. Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball in 1891 and then was one of the 3 founders of the very first national collegiate basketball tournament.  He, along with his friends Frank Cramer and Emil Liston, started it in KC's Municipal Auditorium.  That tourney is simply known as 'The NAIA'.
  30. Kansas City Royal switch hitting outfielder Willie Wilson, collected 100 hits batting left and 100 hits batting right during the 1980 season.
  31. Heisman trophy winner Bo Jackson led all players in the 1989 All Star Game voting.  However, the game was baseball, not football, and he played it for the Royals.  He was also named the MVP of that All-Star Game.
  32. The Negro National Baseball League was formed in KC at the YMCA, 18th & Vine.  The Kansas City Monarchs were a charter member.  That was 1920 and the Y still stands.
  33. George Toma, groundskeeper for the A's, Royals and Chiefs has overseen the field conditions for every Super Bowl.  He has also supervised during World Cup Soccer, The World Series and The Olympics.
I could have added more than 34.  But I like 34, and it seemed like a good place to stop.