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Archive for Saturday, June 9, 2001

Three men with KU ties join Hall

Falkenstien, Timmons, McCormack to join Kansas shrine today

June 9, 2001

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Max Falkenstien has broadcast Kansas University sporting events for more than half a century 55 years to be exact.

A walking encyclopedia involving Jayhawk athletics, Falkenstien is an expert on three of the six individuals who today will be inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.

Those individuals would be: former KU track coach Bob Timmons, former KU football lineman Mike McCormack and fan-favorite Falkenstien himself, who today becomes only the second broadcaster to be enshrined in the Kansas Hall.

Ceremonies begin at 1:30 p.m. today at Sterl Hall in Eisenhower Park in Abilene.

It seems only fitting to let Falkenstien describe Jayhawks Timmons and McCormack, who join Falkenstien, Judy Bell, Jeff Farrell and Linwood Sexton as today's inductees.

"A lot of people will think of Mike McCormack for his great career with the Cleveland Browns and management escapades in the NFL," Falkenstien said of the former offensive lineman who spent nine years with the Browns, blocking for fellow Pro Football Hall of Famers Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Marion Motley and protecting Hall of Fame QB Otto Graham.

McCormack also served as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Colts and Seattle Seahawks and was the Seahawks' general manager.

"When I think of Mike I think of the tremendous athletic skills he exhibited at KU," Falkenstien said. "I tend to remember the game in 1950 against Utah in Salt Lake City when Wade Stinson rushed for what was then a school-record 239 yards. Mike Mike McCormack was the guy who threw all the pancake blocks to make it possible for Wade to achieve that record."

McCormack, 71, was a three-year starter at KU from 1948 to '50 and team captain his senior year.

Of Timmons, 76, who coached KU to four national championships and 25 conference championships while developing 11 individual NCAA champs in 23 years, Falkenstien said: "Everybody thinks of Bob and Jim Ryun (miler). I do that, too, but I also think of Wes Santee and the Pachyderms Karl Salb, Steve Wilhelm and Doug Knop who went 1-2-3 at nationals two straight years under 'Timmie.'

"I think of all the titles he has won, plus the fact he's one of the great rainmakers of all time. In the 25 or so years he headed up the Kansas Relays, I'm sure it poured down rain in at least 23 of the 25 years. He should rent out his capabilities on that when he's needed."

On a serious note: "I am honored to be put into a Hall of Fame with all of these great athletes and coaches who have meant so much to the state," Falkenstien said. "It is really meaningful, particularly when all I've ever done is talk about these great people."

The only other broadcaster in the hall is former K-State announcer Dev Nelson.

"He was a very close friend of mine and represented Kansas State athetics for many years. The two of us balance each other out, you might say," Falkenstien said.

McCormack, who attended DeLaSalle High in Kansas City, now has a home in Palm Springs, Calif., and spends much of his time in Seattle where his four children and 12 grandchildren live.

Falkenstien and Timmons live in Lawrence.

"I am honored and not sure where I'd fit into any of this," Timmons said. "I look at these guys and they are all high achievers. I look at the list of those in the Kansas Hall of Fame and am amazed at the quality of those athletes from a little state like Kansas."

Timmons hopes to add to his coaching legacy in the near future. He'd like to hook on somewhere as a junior high track coach for the upcoming school year.

"I miss coaching so much. I really enjoyed coaching track at Baldwin," said Timmons, who in his career has coached track, swimming, volleyball, tennis, football, basketball and cross country. He coached volleyball at Baldwin High and track and Baldwin Junior High for several years, giving up coaching last season to be with his wife, who has been recuperating from a pair of surgeries.

"I like kids. I hope I don't ever have to slow down," added Timmons, who has been putting in 12-hour days putting down sod at Rim Rock Bridge on his Rim Rock Farm in rural Lawrence.

Of Falkenstien and McCormack, Timmons said: "Max and I were in the same pledge class at the Beta House in 1942. By then he already was a veteran announcer from his days in high school.

"He announced a number of years at the Relays. Max always used to kid me about farmers wanting to know when the Relays were scheduled. That was planting time. Mike McCormack was a great guy, wonderful personality and wonderful person."

McCormack was an imposing figure at 6-foot-4, 232 pounds.

"If you outlive your contemporaries, you start getting these honors," the modest McCormack said. "They run out of people to give them to.

"I think they are getting more credit now than they ever have," he noted of offensive linemen. "Little did any of us believe an offensive lineman would be making $4 or $5 million a year. My highest salary was $17,000."

Timmons actually will present one of the inductees today Olympic swimmer Farrell, who was coached by Timmons at Wichita East. Also set for induction today: Bell, first womom president of the U.S. Golf Assn.; and Linwood Sexton, multi-sport standout from Wichita. KU broadcaster Bob Davis of Lawrence will present Falkenstien, while former Jayhawk Galen Fiss will present McCormack.

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