Bill Richardson, the original media voice of the Chiefs as a longtime reporter for The Kansas City Star, died on Thursday. He was 91.
The Chiefs played their last season as the Dallas Texans in 1962. When the team arrived in Kansas City and became the Chiefs, Richardson was assigned to the beat. He remained The Star’s primary beat reporter until 1978 and continued to cover the Chiefs on a part-time basis for the next 16 years.
Richardson had spent more than a decade in Kansas City before he covered the Chiefs. His first day on the job was March 15, 1951. He arrived two days earlier and was taken to the NAIA men’s basketball tournament at Municipal Auditorium, where he began a long-time relationship with the annual event.
But Richardson was best known for his Chiefs’ coverage, which included both of the franchise’s Super Bowl appearances.
He got the assignment somewhat by default.
“They told me I was going to do it,” Richardson said in a 2014 interview. “Colleges were big. Guys covering MU, KU and K-State didn’t want to give up their beats to cover an unknown pro team.”
Richardson soon developed a solid working relationship with owner Lamar Hunt, coach Hank Stram and the players.
“I could do anything,” Richardson said. “I could go into the (training camp) dorms and interview people. If they were taking a nap, I’d wake them up.”
He even floated a loan … to Hunt, at the airport in Oakland.
“He (Hunt) had a habit of not carrying any money,” Richardson said. “I happened to be walking through the airport and he says, ‘Bill, can you loan me 50 cents so I can buy a milkshake? Here I am trying to make it to payday, and one of the richest men in the world is borrowing 50 cents from me.”
Randy Covitz, who retired from full-time sportswriting in 2015 after a 30-plus-year career at The Star, recalls asking Richardson to read through his stories before he filed them to his editors. Richardson always obliged.
“He had an eagle eye,” Covitz said. “And he could write the best 10-inch story, on anything. Nothing was too little or too big for him.”
Affectionately known to younger co-workers as “Dad,” Richardson also was a big fan at heart who loved, in his words, “collecting teams.”
He was still in good health at the start of the 2016 football season and attended Kansas’ first two games of the year, against Rhode Island and Ohio, because those were teams he had never seen play, said his wife, Mamie.
Bill celebrated his 91st birthday on July 20 and was “feeling great,” she said. But he recently was diagnosed with lung cancer, and it spread quickly.
There will be a memorial service at 2 p.m. on Oct. 29 at Shawnee Presbyterian Church, 6837 Nieman Road.