Bill Grigsby statue dedicated, blessed in Parkville

Father Richard Rocha stands in a huddle with Fran Grigsby — the Princess of Parkville — and one of the Grigsby daughters, reading the inscription on the just blessed statue of the late Bill Grigsby — the Prince of Parkville. (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

PARKVILLE — Nicknames for the late Bill Grigsby are alphabetically linked to Kansas City royalty: The Baron of the Benton Curve, Captain of the Crossroads, Nobleman of the Northland and one inscribed on a recently dedicated statue of him, the Prince of Parkville.

Grigsby had a long career in sports broadcasting, beginning as the play-by-play voice of the Joplin Miners minor league baseball team in the late 1950s. His alma mater, the University of Kansas, hired him as a broadcaster for their football and basketball games in 1957. It was during his time at KU that he broadcast the first nationally televised NCAA Final Four game. The Jayhawks lost that game to the North Carolina Tar Heels in triple overtime. In 1959, he was hired by the Kansas City Athletics (now the Oakland A’s) as a member of their broadcasting team.

He became the broadcasting voice of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963, a role he played for 63 years, until he retired in 2009. Grigsby died in 2011 of prostate cancer, at the age of 89.

Known for his trademark, still oft-repeated line, “It’s a bea-youuu-tiful day for Chief’s football,” and later for other Grigsby-isms, including advertising for Price Chopper grocery stores, “Prrrice Choppah,” he was an iconic figure to multiple generations of Kansas Citians and Chiefs fans across the country.

He also worked in management and in broadcasting for the Kansas City Scouts NHL hockey team, and did a brief stint as a wrestling promoter. He authored two books, Grigs! A beauuutiful Life (2004) and Don’t Spit in the Wastebasket (2005), a collection of his sports memories.

Kansas-born Grigsby served three years in the U.S. Army Air Forces as a cryptographer during WWII, and after his discharge, took a job with the Joplin, Mo., newspaper, the Joplin Globe. Two years later he was hired by the A’s, and the rest you might say, is historrrrry.

When he settled in Kansas City, Grigsby purchased a house on the outskirts of Parkville, and quickly fell in love with the town. The story goes that he loved Parkville so much he petitioned the Parkville City Council to annex the land his home was on. He promoted his hometown, suggested improvements and became known as the “Prince of Parkville.”

The life-size brass statue of Grigsby, donated to the City of Parkville by the National Golf Club of Kansas City thanks to a grassroots effort by several Parkville business owners, was dedicated and blessed June 22. Originally erected at the Golf Club, it now stands in Pocket Park in historic downtown Parkville. Bill Grigsby was a member of St. Therese Catholic parish in Parkville, so Father Richard Rocha, Catholic chaplain for the Kansas City Chiefs, dedicated and blessed the statue.

The event was kicked off by Parkville mayor Nan Johnston and emceed by Mitch Holtus, the current “voice of the Chiefs.”

Former Kansas City Chiefs, including Len Dawson, Ken (Fuzzy) Kremer, Ted McKnight, Deron Cherry, Shawn Barber, Trent Bryant, Tim Grunhard and Bobby Bell, were present to share memories of Grigsby, some colorful, some downright hilarious. Fran Grigsby, his wife of 62 years, accompanied by one of their two daughters (they also have three sons), were also there to honor “Grigs” and enjoy the stories.

Bill Grigsby received several honors during his lifetime, including induction into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame in 1991, induction into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1994; a Parkville community baseball field was named Grigsby Field in 2002, and the statue was erected in 2007. Following his death, Grigsby’s love for and promotion of Parkville led the Main Street Parkville Association to initiate the Bill Grigsby Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates Bill Grigsby, the dedication and love he showed for the city and his many contributions to it.

The award is presented annually to recognize and honor an individual who best exemplifies the qualities demonstrated by Bill Grigsby: community leadership, volunteerism, commitment, dependability, positive attitude and the ability to work with a variety of individuals and community organizations.

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Friday
September 22, 2017
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph