Kansas City Sports Mount Rushmore
When I think of Kansas City sports, I think of George Brett. The current Royals Vice President of Operations was inducted into the Hall of Fame after a long and dominant carrer, which include him winning a batting title in three different decades. One of four members of the 3,000 hit, 300 home run and .300 batting average club, Brett has been involved with the Royals for the last 44 years. Leading the Royals to their first World Series, and five years later to their first World Series victory, Brett is not only the greatest third baseman the Royals have ever seen, but one of the greatest third basemen in baseball history.
Okay, I lied. When I think of Kansas City sports, I think of Len Dawson. Mostly because for my entire childhood he was the sports anchor on channel 9. He didn’t gain his fame next to weatherman Brian Busby or even with Mitch Holthus calling Chiefs games, this Hall of Fame quarterback played in the first ever Super Bowl. In between cig breaks, he went on to become Super Bowl IV champion and was named the games Most Valuable Player. The greatest quaterback in Chiefs history, and the only one to win a Super Bowl makes him a KC legend, but much like Brett, Dawson has been more than just a legendary player. Becoming not only the voice of the Chiefs, but providing analysis on all KC sports for years, has endured Dawson to fans decades long after his playing career was over.
Before winning any of his eight major championships (6th all time), or being the number one golfer in the world for five consecutive years (1978–1982), Tom Watson was honing his craft at Pembroke-Country Day School (Pembroke Hill), playing his home course at the Kansas City Country Club, and winning four Missouri State Amateur championships. Much like the two men above, Tom Watson is still activate in Kansas City, designing the courses at the National Golf Club of Kansas City in Parkville, Shadow Glen in Olathe and the Loch Llyod Country Club in Cass County. He also famously resigned from Kansas City Country Club protesting its exclusion of Jews and other minorities. He currently resides on a ranch outside of town, spending his time shooting guns and riding horses.
George Brett, Len Dawson and Tom Watson are as firmly etched on the Kansas City Sports Mount Rushmore as Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln are on the one in South Dakota. The fourth face on the mountain is where it gets tricky. Buck O’Neil comes to mind as a great emissary to not only the game of baseball but the city of Kansas City. He left behind quite the legacy, helping found the Negro League Baseball Muesem, earning a Presidental Medal of Freedom, and the red seat bearing his name in Kaufmann Stadium, goes to the person most exemplifying his spirit. The thing is, he wasn’t that great of a player, batting .288 over 10 years.
Who else? We have the other Negro League great Satchel Paige, arguably the greatest pitcher of all time. Sure he played for the Monarchs and lived, died, and is buried in Kansas City but he’s not inherently a Kansas Citian, he wasn’t seen around town or involved in too much locally. Derrick Thomas is considered one of the best pass rushers of all time but is he worthy of being on the Kansas City Mount Rushmore? He doesn’t stick out like Brett, Dawson and Watson did.
Lamar Hunt is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, National Soccer Hall of Fame and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Hunt has numerous accomplishments including founding and owning the Chiefs, Wizards (now Sporting KC) and creating Oceans and Worlds of Fun. So he clearly had a heavy hand in not only Kansas City, but one on the American sports scene. The dude coined the NFL Championship game the “Super Bowl”. Hunt wasn’t an athlete though, and in an arbitary rule I just made up, only athletes will get etched in stone.
In 20 years, hopefully Jack Sock will stick out as the fourth. The gold medalist and current world number 18 on the Association of Tennis Professionals is only 24. The up and comer went 80–0 during his career at Blue Valley North winning four consecutive state titles. Maybe Matt Besler. A Blue Valley Northwest grad who has played professional soccer in KC since 2009 is a regular on the United States National Team and is a well known Chiefs and Royals fan.
Neither of them are there yet though. Not close. The thing is, we don’t have four stars. Four faces to represent this city’s athletic history. No one deserves to be next to George Brett, Len Dawson or Tom Watson.
Alex Gordon, Bubba Starling, Jack Sock, Matt Besler, do something. Get out there and become a legend.