It was disappointing to learn that the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s American Legion team has decided to fold. It has had a tremendous tradition well-established by the coaches and players.
The A’s team was one of the strongest programs in the state for two decades. The A’s organization was an extension of the Blue Springs High School baseball team and allowed the Wildcats to become a baseball power for more than 20 years coached by Brad Mayfield, Marc Hines and Tim McElligott.
The players were coached by great baseball people who taught them how to play together as a team. Manager Mike Rooney, longtime assistants Tom Bush and Jack Gillis and coach/trainer Phil Caldarella also taught the players the right way to play the game. I have known these guys for decades. They were old school, but they loved the kids and the game of baseball.
The lure of competition teams with 10 sets of uniforms, which travel all over the country to play and who offer a chance to get a college scholarship or make it to the majors, have all but eliminated American Legion teams. These teams tend to emphasize individualized stars and minimize team.
Another longtime A’s coach and former head coach of Truman High School baseball was Clyde Kubli. Coach Kubli was at Truman when the program first started and became the legendary head coach that led the Patriots to a state championship and made the program one of the best of its time in the state of Missouri. He was also one of the assistant coaches at one time for the American Legion team of Independence.
Players from Truman, William Chrisman and St. Mary’s were allowed to play for that Legion program. I was fortunate to have played on the team for three years. Coach Kubli was also my seventh grade PE teacher at South Secondary before it became Truman High School. He was one of my greatest motivators I saw during my days as player and coach. He knew the game of baseball inside and out.
We had great Legion teams coached by Kubli. We always played the best teams, and he expected us to give them all we could on every pitch. A coaching quality I learned from Kubli was to have fun when you played. He was fun to play for, and you always knew if you did the right things, he would be the first person to have your back on and off the field.
Even though he was the Truman coach, he treated the Chrisman and St. Mary’s players the same. His amazing record at Truman and American Legion baseball can be found in the record books, but the real story is how many kids from Independence and Blue Springs he helped to become good players and even better people in life.
I have been contacted by some former Truman players to start a movement to have the baseball field at Truman High School named after Coach Kubli. I am not a Truman graduate, but I am sure my former American Legion teammates from Chrisman and many other Independence residents would agree to honor this man who has done so much for so many and has been a key part of Eastern Jackson County baseball for over 60 years.
Hopefully, we can introduce the idea without stepping on anyone’s toes in the Independence School District. Time moves rapidly, change occurs and life moves on. I hope the Truman graduates will continue to pursue the cause.
The Independence School District named the football field after Norman James and the William Chrisman track after Bill Summa. Perhaps it is time to honor one of the greatest coaches in Truman High School sports history.
• The quote of the week comes from former college basketball coach Jim Valvano and reminds me of Coach Kubli: "When I played sports, my parents never once said to me, ‘Did you win?’ They’d say, ’Did you have fun?’ Winning the game was important, but not nearly as important as giving yourself a chance to win – playing as hard as you could and enjoying yourself. The joy of the sport. That’s what it is all about." That was Coach Kubli every day on the baseball field.
– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, "Off the Wall with Tim Crone," on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.