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Friday, April 16, 2010

Mayer

Kansas multis plentiful

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Lots of attention is flowing toward Conner Teahan as the 6-foot-5 Kansas University basketball reserve tries to make the football team as a quarterback, a position where he earned district honors at Kansas City’s Rockhurst High.

Not likely he’ll make the final cut for the top three, but you have to admire his self-confidence. His challenge should be much more palatable in the lower-key, profanity-banned atmosphere of coach Turner Gill than it would have been during the blue-light specials under fiery Mark Mangino.

But even if the scholarly Teahan somehow should become the No. 1 quarterback, then earn a starting spot on next season’s KU basketball team, he’d still be far in arrears of numerous earlier Jayhawk multi-sportsters. I can’t cite all the masters of versatility, but one of the first all-league, All-America Jayhawks was Dutch Lonborg in football, basketball and baseball around 1920. You have to go a long way to top Jim Bausch in the early 1930s — all-everything footballer, a basketballer under Phog Allen and a superior trackman. Oh, yes, Jim also won the Olympic Games decathlon title in 1932.

Pete Mehringer was a football great, played as a pro and won an Olympic gold medal in wrestling in and around 1931-33.

When seasons didn’t overlap so much, KU had two-sport stars running out its ears in the 1930s and early 1940s. The first to come to mind are All-Americans Ray Evans and Otto Schnellbacher in football and basketball. Yet there were some wondrous others of their caliber.

Solid sources still contend that Ralph Miller of Chanute was the greatest all-around athlete ever turned out in Kansas high schools — all-state in football, basketball, track (hurdler) and golf for starters. Some think Parsons’ Dale Hall, later at West Point, was Ralph’s equal, but I’m sticking with Miller.

At Kansas, despite a horrible knee injury, Ralph sparkled in football when KU was pretty bad, then was a brilliant basketball player when KU made the NCAA finals in 1940. Not a bad coach, either, at Wichita, Iowa and Oregon State.

Along came Charlie Hoag, 1950-52 football-basketball whiz and an Olympic cage gold medalist. Got a third letter as a discus thrower. Army transfer Gil Reich, football All-American and 1953 basketball starter, is the greatest one-year (1952-53) producer in KU history. At the same time, Hal Patterson starred in football and basketball, lettered in baseball, then became a Canadian football hall-of-famer.

Such guys had a lot of multi-sport comrades. Gale Sayers, the football great, also lettered in track. (Don’t forget Charlie Moffett, football, basketball, baseball.) Probably the last Jayhawk to start in three categories — football, basketball, baseball — is Steve Renko, middle ’60s.

Kurt Knoff was a footballer, baseball pitcher and played some basketball at the Jayhawk JV level in the early 1970s. I think Renko was the last three-sport starter, though.

The odds of Conner Teahan making much of a mark in football and basketball combined are long. But his attempt to cut it two ways does serve to remind us just how many truly all-around athletes Kansas University followers have been able to observe, enjoy and admire.

Specialization and obscene amounts of money have tainted the scene for fans who appreciate all-around excellence more than brilliant one-trick ponies.

Comments

KEITHMILES05 12 years, 3 months ago

Mr. Mayer: Do you REALLY think he'd earn a starting spot on the BB team?

Stop it before I die from laughter.

zoohawk 12 years, 3 months ago

Nolan Cromwell ... the Ransom Rambling QB and world-class hurdler.

KU1992 12 years, 3 months ago

god that advertisement is horrible! It about gave me a seizure

TxJyHwk 12 years, 3 months ago

That's why I modify my window size and move the scrollbar around so that I can see the text of the article without having to see the ads that have too much "activity"

Chris Shaw 12 years, 3 months ago

If you want to see the best Multi-Sportster in the State of Kansas at the moment in the High School ranks, go down the road to Gardner-Edgerton and watch Bubba Starling QB the football team, throw down alley-oop reverse dunks, and throw somewhere in the 90's in baseball. Kid is unreal!

Jeremy LeMaster 12 years, 3 months ago

Talking about pure athletes in the state of Kansas currently. Brett LeMaster at Wichita Collegiate is the best all around athlete I have seen in Kansas in a long time. Kid can flat out fly on the football field as a WR / CB / Punt Return / Kick Return for the 3A state champions. He was a starting Guard / Forward for the 3A state Basketball champions. He is also a big part of the Golf team and expects to win something like his 7th state championship in all.

jaybate 12 years, 3 months ago

Best dual sporter?

Wilt Chamberlain. Center. Basketball. High jumper. Track. Probably could have been the greatest decathlete ever.

Worst?

Vernon Vanoy. In perhaps the zenith of sports specialization, Vanoy, a marginal big in hoops, was recruited by Franklin "Pepper" Rogers to stand in front of the uprights on long field goals attempts and try to jump up and block anything low. KC Chief Coach Hank Stram tried the same tactic briefly with Morris Stroud at the professional level. Were coaches in the late sixties/early seventies smoking as much pot as the players?

irishaas 12 years, 3 months ago

im glad someone recognized wilt. stories in his biography also depict he was pretty good at shot put. he left ku with the high jump record - using the scissor technique at that. no one even knows what he could have done now...

Ten Yeahs 12 years, 3 months ago

Anyone remember Mario Kinsey? If'n you don't it's understandable. His short time at KU wasn't particularly memorable.

Jeremy LeMaster 12 years, 3 months ago

I remember him... and I laughed when I read the comment!

ABeesus 12 years, 3 months ago

Loved the article; thanks Mr Mayer!

I was once told that Nolan Cromwell was at one point, the national decathlon record holder for 16 years old and younger.

Can anyone verify or deny for me?
Thanks in advance if you will do so!

I was also told that as a freshman, Chamberlain ran a quarter mile fitness test for Dr. Allen, as did all the players for him. In high top b ball shoes on a cinder track [that means he had terrible traction, he'd be losing significant ground w/ ea stride], having never run such a race, he ran it in 51 seconds.

Years after KU, he bench pressed 600 lbs.
I lost money betting that one wasn't true years ago.

Has there ever been a greater athlete?

Dr. Robert s. Mosser 12 years, 3 months ago

Wilt scored points in the NCAA Track and Field National in both high jump and the shot putt. Doubt the story about running for Phog. Phog was forced into retirement because of age and never coached Wilt. Remember Dick Harp.

Docnchg

ShockNAwe 12 years, 3 months ago

Dave Robisch lettered in baseball. 6' 9" left-handed pitcher. Our version of Randy Johnson..

jaybate 12 years, 3 months ago

ShockNAwe,

Uh, 3 years.

Uh, wow.

Uh, BFD.

Uh, ok?

:-)

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