A Twelve Year Old Boy Remembers the 1963 Kansas City Chiefs

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Chief's Stadium in 1963

Chief’s Stadium in 1963

Kansas City, Missouri is home to the Kansas City Chiefs. The stadium they now play in is called Arrowhead. It holds over 79,000 seats and is the place to be during the fall in Kansas City. However, it wasn’t always like this.  Let’s go back in time and look at the humble beginnings of the Chiefs..

The Kansas City Chiefs in the beginning were known as the Dallas Texans. They were part of an “upstart” league known as  the American Football League or AFL for short.

Times were tough and some of the Owners were going broke.Owners Lamar Hunt and Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders knew they had to do something. They got the Owners together and decided to make the game “more fun” for the fans. There were crazy promotions which gave away cash and gifts and tickets.

Compared to an NFL game the pass happy AFL game looked like a three ring circus. The fans loved this new version of football. The NFL saw the increasing number of fans attending AFL games and decided to do something.

The NFL fought back by putting a new team in Dallas in 1960. The NFL was pretty sure the AFL Texans wouldn’t be able to survive the competition. The Dallas Cowboys were born. They ran Lamar Hunt and the Dallas Texans out of town in 3 years. 1962 was their last year as the Texans. The Texans were also the AFL Champions in 1962 and had the AFL rushing leader in Abner Haynes.

 

1962 AFL Rushing Leader Abner Haynes

1962 AFL Rushing Leader
Abner Haynes

This writer remembers like it was yesterday when word reached Kansas City. We were  getting a professional football team!

That winter the Kansas City Star newspaper ran a promotion…name the new football team! You can rest assured  that I entered that promotion. And was I ever disappointed when my Team name wasn’t chosen.

Someone had suggested “the Chiefs” which I thought wasn’t near as cool as my name. Which by the way was the “Thunderbirds”. My older brother was in a band and their name was the Thunderbirds.

Later on I heard a rumor that the Chiefs were named after Kansas City Mayor, H. Roe Bartle. His nickname was “chief” and he was a very powerful ally to have on your side.

(1963 Chiefs. Courtesy Shark Throwback & Youtube)

Lamar Hunt liked the name and the Texans were now the Chiefs. That winter the Chiefs Players played basketball games all over greater Kansas City against anyone who wanted to play them. A lot of service groups made good money from the gate receipts of these games. I even went to one in Independence. After the game the Chiefs signed autographs until everyone had an autograph. I still have those autographs today.

All spring and summer Kansas City was anxious to see their new team play. A local Super Market named Milgrams sold tickets for $1 if you bought $5 of their food. Owner Les Milgram was one of the 1st big corporate sponsors the Chiefs had.

The Chiefs played in old Municipal Stadium where the Kansas City Athletics played. The first preseason game was against the San Diego Charges. My family and I had seats behind the 1st base dugout. When the Chargers came out of the dugout my father’s jaw dropped when he saw Ernie Ladd. My dad said he was as big as two men.

The Chiefs lost the coin flip for their very 1st game in Kansas City. Everyone was on their feat screaming when San Diego kicked off. I remember this kickoff like it was yesterday. Abner Haynes took the kickoff on the one foot line…backed up into the end zone…and took a knee! Yep!! On the Chiefs very 1st play as Chiefs they got a Safety. 2 points for the Chargers.

I can’t remember the final score but I think the Chiefs won. I was twelve years old when that game was played. 49 years later I’m writing about it.

The Chiefs became a successful franchise over the years.  With Hank Stram they had one of the most creative Head Coaches in all of football including the NFL.They have made the playoffs 14 times.  In 1967, the Kansas City Chiefs played the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl 1. The Chiefs were beaten 35-10 and became part of history.

As an old Chiefs Fan I have to interject a factoid here! The Chiefs top draft choice in 1965 was Gale Sayers. It would have been a perfect fit. “KU boy does good in KC”! Gale Sayers could have been in the Chief’s backfield in 1966. I’ve never forgiven Pappa Bear – George Halas!

Once again in 1970 the Chiefs reached the Super Bowl. In Super Bowl 4 they “rocked” the football world and beat the Minnesota Vikings.  That was the last time the Kansas City Chiefs have been to the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs have had many great players on their roster.  Here are a few of the many great players to play in a Kansas City uniform. All are Hall of Famers.

*  Len Dawson  * Joe Montana  *  Marcus Allen  *  Willie Lanier  * Buck Buchanan

* Bobby Bell  * Jan Stenerud  *  Hank Stram  *  Mike Webster

Throughout the Chiefs history they’ve had their tragedies…Mack Lee Hill, a great running back died on the operating table during knee surgery. He was so terrified of hospitals that he died from a heart attack.

*Joe Delaney, another great running back jumped into a pool of water to save some kids. Joe couldn’t swim and drowned.

*Derrick Thomas liked fast cars. On his way to the airport the weather was snowy and icy. He was in a hurry and flipped his car many times. He died shortly after the accident.

The Chiefs moved to Arrowhead Stadium in 1972. Old Municipal Stadium, that held 28,000 fans, became a Parking Lot. Opposing players agree that Arrowhead is one of the toughest stadiums in the NFL to play in.The noise created by the fans is equal to a jumbo jet taking off. And the Chiefs have no equals in the NFL when it comes to Tailgate Partying!

Game time is a “sea” of red jerseys. It’s a beautiful site to behold!

 

Harry Chiti was my Friend and Neighbor

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Harry in 1959 My Neighbor & Friend

Harry in 1959
My Neighbor & Friend

Harry Chiti was only a journeyman catcher. His statistics were unremarkable. He was big, and slow and a .240 hitter. But I loved him!

He was my neighbor in Independence Mo. We both lived on North Hocker.

One day in 1959 Harry got the word out to the neighborhood kids that he was giving away autographed baseballs. I remember my 7 year old future brother in law knocking on my door and breathlessly telling me about Harry signing autographs. We quickly hopped on our bikes and road down the hill to Harry’s house. A ride of about 12 houses.

Sure enough, there was Harry sitting on the front porch of his house surrounded by kids. My 4 year old future wife was right next to him anxiously awaiting her turn for a signed baseball. I quickly inserted myself at the front of the line. Harry told everyone not to worry. He had enough baseballs to go around. When it was finally my turn Harry gave me the most beautiful sight my eyes ever beheld. A signed Major League Baseball.

Harry handing out Autographed Baseballs. Myself, my 4 year old wife and my 7 year old brother-in-law are in this picture.

Harry handing out Autographed Baseballs.
Myself, my 4 year old wife and my 7 year old brother-in-law are in this picture.

Unknown to anyone there was a photographer from the Independence Examiner Newspaper taking pictures. A couple of days later my 4 year old future wife, my 7 year old future brother in law, and 8 year old me – made the sports page of the Kansas City Times

I still have that baseball and somewhere in my house is that newspaper clipping. I just saw it a couple of years ago.But the story doesn’t end here.

A few days later I put my ball glove on and walked down to Harry’s house and knocked on his door. His wife opened the door and gave me the nicest smile. I asked if Harry could come out and play catch. She said she didn’t know but would ask him. Much to my surprise…out came Harry with his catchers mitt and a baseball.

We started playing catch. I was in heaven. I was playing catch with a professional baseball player! Then I started showing off by trying to throw curve balls.Harry told me to quit showing off because he was tired of running after my throws.

Harry played catch maybe 5 minutes and politely ended our catch. Harry played catch with me probably a half dozen times that summer. Some days he would let me sit with him on his front porch waiting for A’s pitcher Dick Hall to pick him up for the game that night. Dick would pick him up in a light blue Ford Falcon. I would wave at both when they left.

When Harry was traded, Dick Hall bought his house. I would go down to Dick’s house and ask him to play catch. But he would tell me to go home; he didn’t have time to play catch with kids. I quit asking after a while.

Before Harry moved  my father took me to old Municipal Stadium and we watched the A’s play. Harry was the starting catcher. I used to tell Harry that he was better then Haywood Sullivan, the Athletics other catcher. I even saw Harry get a hit.
It was a shot to the outfield that should have been a double. Harry turned it into a single. I didn’t care. My friend got a hit.

Harry went to my church – St.Mary’s Catholic Church in Independence.The first time I saw him in church I almost jumped over the balcony wall to go say hi! My dad had to hold me back. I got in trouble for that.

I lost track of Harry when he moved. I grew up and he became a fond memory. Now, as an old man 52 years later, I often think about that special man. He gave me his most precious gift…his time!

Harry in 1962. He looks so much older!

Harry in 1962. He looks so much older!

He influenced me to become a catcher myself. I was a pretty good one too. I started a few games for the University of Missouri behind the plate. I played for the “old man” Coach John “Hi” Simmons. I even had a tryout with the Pittsburgh Pirates after high school.

As an old man today I can’t help but think what a rare good man I had for a friend. Harry Chiti will always be my favorite ball player of all time.

<a title=”Cheap Ball Card Store” href=”http://www.cheapballcards.com”>Mr. BallCard with love and respect April 10, 2012</a>

My Heroes have Never been Cowboys – They were Chiefs

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First Chiefs Stadium

First Chiefs Stadium

 

I grew up in greater Kansas City. Actually in Independence, Missouri. Like everyone, we were “starving” for a winner. We didn’t find victory too often with the Kansas City Athletics. They never finished higher then 7th place in the American League!

Then the Chiefs entered the scene in 1963. From the beginning you could tell they were pretty good. I was a young boy of twelve and I followed them religiously. To this day their names role of my tongue with the same reverence as if it’s still 1963.

Curtis McClinton

Curtis McClinton

eBay Stars 008

Buck Buchanan

Buck Buchanan

Names like: * Lenny “the cool” Dawson *Curtis McClinton * Bobby Bell *Buck Buchannon * Otis Taylor

Lenny the "Cool"

Lenny the “Cool”

After Super Bowel 1 Vince Lombardy made a statement to the Press. In it he stated the Chiefs were no better then a second division NFL Team. That is…the Chiefs were no better then 5th or 6th or 7th or 8th… in the 8 team NFL.

The Chiefs talked about that statement in the Press. It bothered them. And they were going to do something about it. Usher in 1969. Every piece of the talent puzzle was in place. The Chiefs went through a meat grinder of a season and either by luck or the grace of God they earned the right to play the great Minnesota Vikings.

Leading up to Super Bowel 4 the NFL biased press released an untrue story about Len Dawson. They claimed he was associated with gamblers that fixed sporting events including football. Lenny was heartbroken that he was being portrayed as “dirty”. The story was rebutted and the press backed off. To this day I think this whole story was an attempt to sidetrack the Chiefs by attacking and immobilizing their leader.

I don’t know how Dawson did it but on game day, Super Bowel 4, there wasn’t a hint of preoccupation about gambling accusations. Len Dawson and the Chiefs were ready to make history. And Boy did they!

The Chiefs took the Vikings apart, piece by piece. Great Defense and Offense. I wasn’t able to take a deep breath until the 4th Quarter.

In that quarter Otis Taylor ran a short 12 yard hook  go. The Viking “D” Back missed the tackle and Taylor ran down the right sideline for the go ahead score. The Chiefs never looked back. The Chiefs defense took over. Poor Joe Kapp, the Vikings QB! He got so beat up in that game!

This game was an historical one. This was the 2nd Super Bowl in a row the NFL lost. Parity had been established in the AFL. The American Football League had become the equal of the NFL.

To this day I’m an AFL man. If an established NFL team is playing an old AFL team I root for the AFL team. My allegiance is “still” with that group of ragged underdogs.

David took on Goliath…and kicked his butt again!!

To this day I love my Chiefs. I followed and rooted for them when they were terrible in the 80’s and early 90’s. Except for one stupid move by GM Carl Peterson the Chiefs might have been in another Super Bowl.

Nick Lowrey for Linn Elliot? Come on Carl what were you thinking?

Oh…and maybe taking Todd Blackledge instead of Dan Marino or Jim Kelly in 1983!!

 

Better “Never” then Late – I Remember Dan Devine

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devine This writer played Football at the University of Missouri from 1969 through 1972. Two of those seasons were under Dan Devine in 1969 and 1970. He was a tough coach but you didn’t mind too much because he won a lot more games then he lost. In addition to being a great Coach he also was a great recruiter.

The 1st time this writer met Coach Devine was on a campus visit the Football Coaches set up. The Ozark jet touched down at Columbia’s new Regional Airport in late fall,1968. This was my Senior year in high school and the biggest thrill in this young man’s life.

Three of the Coaching Staff met me at the airport and took this totally awed 18 year old Independence, Mo. kid to Coach Devine’s house! They took me into his house and introduced me to Coach and Mrs. Devine.

For the next hour or so Coach Devine and I played “foosball”. Being understandingly afraid to beat him; he let know that I wasn’t playing my hardest and to play harder. Even playing my best, he was the better “foosball” player.

After about 45 minutes of talking Football and playing “foosball,” Mrs. Devine brought some lemonade for us to drink. Then things got serious with Coach. He told me he really wanted me to play at Missouri and that we’d go to some Bowel Games during my career. He had this young man totally committed to Mizzou that afternoon in Columbia, Missouri.

The rest of the recruiting season was tough because I kept telling other Coaches “No” I was committed to Missouri, but it didn’t stop them from calling back and asking for me to visit their school’s campus. I must have turned down 25 or 30 schools.

6a2ace0e08e5735cb3435b39d22f059a_crop_north 1958devine Devine_Staff

Fast forward to my Freshman season at Missouri. The first thing the Freshman Coaching Staff told us was NEVER talk to Coach Devine unless he talked to you first! And they were right! Coach Devine didn’t remember our names even. We couldn’t play Varsity our Freshman year so we weren’t of any use to him.

I remember his first team meeting. The Freshman Coaches told us to be 15 minutes early and in our chairs with pencil out and notebook open. In walked Coach at “exactly” the appointed time and the meeting began. The first thing he said was: “It was better Never then Late” when coming to a meeting. Those coming late were met at the door by other Coaches and not allowed into the meeting. The penalty…running the Football Stadium’s steps.

 

Coach Devine was strict, but he also had the winningest program in the nation during the decade of the 1960’s. My Freshman year, 1969, we went to the Orange Bowel but got beat by Joe Paterno and Penn State.

Coach Devine left Missouri in 1970 to become the Head Coach at Green Bay in the NFL. Pro Football wasn’t kind to Coach Devine. He lasted a few years and was fired. He tried to replace an icon in Vince Lombardy and couldn’t do it.

From Green Bay he went Notre Dame. Replacing another icon in Ara Parsegian. This time he won a National Championship with a young man named Joe Montana.

(1969 Tiger Football Season – Complements to YouTube)

Coach Devine was probably better known as the nemises to Rudy in the movie “Rudy”. I guarantee you Coach Devine would have kept the players jerseys when they laid them on his desk. Those players giveing their jersey to Coach Devine so Rudy could play would have been kicked off the team or suspended.

This writer was so young and impressionable when he first met Dan Devine. Now as an old man he can look back and see that he was a part of a magical time at Mizzou, and Coached by one of the greatest college coaches of all time.

Written with love and respect

Mr. BallCard

Owner of<a title=”Cheap Ball Card Store” href=”http://www.cheapballcards.com”> CheapBallCards.com</a>

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Fake Autographed Cards

I recently bought some Autograph Baseball Cards. I didn’t trust the Autographs to be Real so I paid very little for them. Despite the Seller guaranteeing them to be Real. When told they were Fakes he accused me of being Stupid and didn’t know what I was talking about. I decided not to push things. I knew I would love to write a Blog about this entire ordeal. Below are the Cards I Bought. There were 8 Cards I bought for for $6.00. The Seller thought I was cheating him, but I’m pretty sure it was nothing but an act! I was lucky that the Cheater had Autographs so far off that they were easy to spot as Fakes. Professional Fakes would require a lot more talent to spot then I have. You can see for yourself how Amaturesh these Autographs are!

 

Counterfeit and Trimmed Ball Cards

I haven’t seen it all; but I’ve dealt with a lot of  Cheaters First Hand. I’ve had Cards brought to me with the Edges expertly trimmed. So subtle I couldn’t tell at first. Only when I took another card of the same year and compared…one on top of the other…was I able to determine the Card was Trimmed and therefore Worthless.

The Steve Carlton Card was the hardest to detect. You won’t be able to tell from this picture because the cut was very subtle. The other two are pretty obvious. Especially the Harry Simpson card. I went ahead and bought these cards knowing that one day I’d do a Blog on them. The Moral I’d like you to take away from these Cards is this. Always check you cards carefully before you Buy them. They could be worthless!!

A small Card Dealer sent me two 1962 Topps Cards to inspect. They were the Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris cards. He paid $75 for the Mantle and $55 for the Maris. Because the price was so cheap he suspected them of being Counterfeit! When I received the two cards I immediately noticed the Fake PSA Case they were in. Then I got a magnifying glass and looked at the photos. They had very large pixels; another clue for Fakes. Finally I looked at the Cardboard stock used. It was too thin and the color along the edges was too white for 1962 Ball Cards. When I told the small Dealer he bought forgeries…very good ones…he said he knew they had to be. He said no one sells a $1,200 Mantle Graded about 9.0 or better for $75. The same reasoning with the Maris card. It would Grade 9.0 or better and would sell between $400 and $600. He bought it for $55. I asked if he would give me the cards if I did a Blog about his Fake cards. He jumped at the deal. I hesitate to Sell these two cards for fear someone would put them on eBay at full price and cheat some innocent eBayer! Plus it would be against the Law!! Notice the Fake PSA CASE. Both sides are close but very different from the Real thing. One final bit of info. The Counterfeiter was caught and punished.