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Sportswriters chat about Lawrence's top athletes of all time

August 19, 2009

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

Who are the 12 all-time legends of Lawrence men’s athletics? Lawrence Magazine writer Doug Vance and Lawrence Journal-World sports writer Chuck Woodling will take questions about their article on this theme that appears in the 5th anniversary edition of Lawrence Magazine (page 44). This chat is your chance to learn about their selection process and discuss which athletes you think should have made the list.

Moderator:

Good morning! This is Nathan Pettengill, editor of Lawrence Magazine.

I will be moderating today's chat featuring sports writer Doug Vance and Lawrence Journal World sports writer Chuck Woodling.

We're talking about Doug Vance's article on 12 great Lawrence men's athletics sports legends that appeared in the most recent edition of Lawrence Magazine. Doug put together this list with the help of a local panel of experts, including Chuck Woodling.

Thanks for joining us today!

Moderator:

Doug, let me start off asking you to name the 12 athletes that made your list and then to clarify the criteria you set for selecting these athletes. Tell us why, for example, Wilt Chamberlain, Jim Thorpe and Lynette Woodard are not on this list?

Moderator:

This is Doug, here. The list is: Bert Kennedy, Paul Endacott, Ralph Houk, Bill Nieder, Billy Mills, Doyle Schick, John Hadl, Steve Jeltz, Jeff Wright, Danny Manning, Keith DeLong and Lee Stevens.

Primary criteria was that they needed to attend high school in Lawrence at least one year. That's why Thorpe, Chamberlain and Woodard are not on the list.

coldplay:

I would suggest compiling a list of all Lawrence High or Free State High athletes that have ever signed NLI's to participate in a sport at a D-I school. This also should be a pre-req for being considered for inclusion on the list.

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

This is Chuck. That would be a mighty long list. Every year the Journal-World runs stories and pictures on Free State and Lawrence High athletes who sign D-1 letters of intent, and we've run a bunch of them. I agree it should be considered for inclusion on a list of Lawrence's best athletes.

Moderator:

Thanks, Chuck. Here's a question for both of you.

In order to choose 12 male athletes from the entire history of Lawrence athletics the panel had to wade through hundreds of candidates, didn’t you? Who are some of the honorable mentions who were just short of making this list?

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

This is Doug, Yes, there were many under consideration. There are 120 years of sports teams in Lawrence history so that made a lengthy list to consider. Our panel of experts gave me a lot of names. Bobby Floyd, Chris Piper, Elmer Schaake, Bucky Scribner, Wesley Walker, Ted O'Leary, Kevin Hooper and many others were among the names we reviewed. We looked at the full resume before making our final selections.
This is Chuck. We also considered Dolph Simons and his older brother John. Then there are such names as Craig White, Mike Wempe, Ken and John Wertzberger, Darryl Monroe, Kent McDonald, Gary Ray and on and on.

Moderator:

A lot of names there--and a lot from the "traditional" sports: basketball, football, baseball. I see at least one gymnast on that list. Doug, I understand you've taken some grief from your sons for not including a soccer player. But do you think this lists indicates that Lawrence has some traditional "powerhouse" sports? And if we were to do it again in 20 years, do you think we will see a greater range of sports?

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

Good question. Certainly, football, basketball and baseball have an advantage in having an avenue to achieve recognition beyond high school and college. I did look hard at all athletes from all sports, including soccer at the urging of my two sons. We just didn't see any that were more deserving than those we selected. I do believe some will emerge within the next 20 years.

Vandill:

hello, i would like to know why some of the athletes like michael cosey or adam green did not make the list. they both rushed for over 2,000 yards in the same year. both won serveral state titles in football. now i know that they may not have gone on to great careers in sports after high school but they were two of the best athletes during their days in the state.

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

This is Chuck. You're right. Cosey and Green may have been the most exciting 1-2 running back punch in Lawrence High history, but we placed an emphasis on the full body of work. Cosey was a talented ball-carrier at Missouri State, but did not play pro ball. Green played college baseball at Kansas State.

limpetlives:

Considering the size of the city and connection to KU, I have always been surprised that there have not been more "home-grown" professional athletes from Lawrence. (We all LOVE Danny Manning, but one could consider him a transplant.) It seems a very small handful of footballers and a few more baseball, but not much more. Has anyone besides Manning made it to the NBA?

Short of John Hadl has there been an all-star caliber athlete from Larryville?

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

This is Chuck. Manning is the only Lawrence high school grad ever to play in the NBA. However, former Oklahoma University standout Alvan Adams, who had a long career with the Phoenix Suns, was born in Lawrence while his parents were KU students. Hadl and Manning are the only Lawrence high school products who made all-star teams in professional sports.

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

This is Doug, I felt Manning was deserving. He did attend high school in Lawrence for just one year. But throughout college and during his professional career he always listed Lawrence as his hometown. If he claimed Lawrence as his hometown, I felt Lawrence was deserving in claiming him as a hometown product.

Moderator:

Who among the list was actually born in Lawrence?

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

This is Doug, That's something we didn't research since it was not a set criteria. I'm aware that John Hadl and Ralph Houk being born in Douglas County. Possibly some of the others.

Moderator:

How did the panel compare athletes from various eras? For example, you have Paul Endacott who seems to be one of the greatest athletes of his generation of the late 1910s and early 1920s. But, at 5 feet ten inches—and not even knowing what a slam dunk is or probably not being capable of reliably making a 3-point shot—he would probably never be able to walk onto Bill Self’s squad. So how do you compare apples and oranges in the sports world?

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

This is Doug, this always a challenge when developing these type of all-star teams. We really didn't compare our athletes in terms of their skills, but more based on what they achieved. If you look at Endacott's sports resume, he qualifies as one of the all-time great basketball players. Today's athletes are probably more skilled, bigger and stronger. That's why we based our selections on what they did throughout their career.

Practicality:

Hey guys. I might be wrong on this, but wasn't John H. Outland, namesake of the best interior lineman award for college football, from Lawrence? If so, shouldn't he have made your list?

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

This is Doug, you are correct about John Outland. I wanted to include him in the list and did a lot of research on his career. It turned out he was born in Douglas County, but attended grade school in Eudora and high school in Mitchell County. Thus, he did not meet the criteria.

coldplay:

Has there ever been a class in Lawrence history with more D-I signees than the LHS class of 1994?

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/1994/jul/13/lahm_10th_lion_to/

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

This is Doug, possibly not. That would require comparing all of the classes and I'm not aware that has been done. I know that Jason Thoren was from that class and several others who competed at the major college level in a variety of sports. It was a great class.

Moderator:

Doug, you made the final picks, but drew heavily on the recommendations and advice of a panel of local sports experts—how much of a consensus was there among the panel for, say, the top 5 names?

Chuck, what was your take on the list? What other types of lists do you think should be looked at?

Doug Vance and Chuck Woodling :

This is Doug, I think most of the panel could agree on the top five names. Maybe not in the same order. Actually, you could make a strong argument for about eight or nine of the final list to be in the top five. My top five would include Hadl, Manning, Nieder, Endacott and Mills.
This is Chuck. I'm thinking we should have a father-son or father-daughter list. For instance, Darren Green was a standout football player at Lawrence High and his son Dorian starred at Lawrence High in basketball, signing a letter of intent with Colorado State. Danny Manning's daughter Taylor is going to college on a volleyball scholarship. I'm sure there are others, but those come to mind because they're the most recent.

Moderator:

That sounds like a future Chuck Woodling article. It sounds like we'll see those lists coming up in the Lawrence Journal-World with Chuck's byline.

Doug is also working on an article for the next edition of Lawrence Magazine on the city's great women athletes. If you have any names that you think should be on that list, we'd love to hear from you. Please write to Doug at sudovan@sunflower.com or to Lawrence Magazine at lawrencemagazine@ljworld.com

Thanks for joining us in today's chat!

Comments

vegetablegirl 5 years, 4 months ago

The Wertzberger brothers were born in Lawrence. Ken is still an orthopaedic surgeon and John (who passed away three years ago) was also a great orthopaedic surgeon.

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