Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Franklin Mieuli 1920-2010

Franklin Mieuli, the San Jose native who became a fixture in Bay Area sports, died this week at the age of 89. Mieuli is best known as the owner of the San Francisco Warriors, who later became the Golden State Warriors when they moved to Oakland. He is pictured here in the center, sitting between coach Al Attles and his best player, Rick Barry. The Warriors have only won one N.B.A. title since moving here from Philadelphia back in the 1960s, and Rick Barry is the only player on that 1974-75 roster who has been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Mieuli was known as an eccentric, fond of his loud slacks and his deerstalker cap. He told a story on himself of having the steering wheel of a car fall off and driving from San Jose to San Francisco using a pair of pliers to steer. He made the decision to trade away Wilt Chamberlain from the Warriors line-up because he felt the San Francisco fan base never warmed to the superstar. He was enamored of Barry when the young star was still in college, and made drafting Barry a prime directive. Mieuli was heartbroken when the upstart A.B.A. stole his budding superstar from him, though Barry returned to the Warriors after a few of the A.B.A. teams were merged into the N.B.A. in the early 1970s. While there are many stories of his odd behavior to be told, it was beloved Bay Area sportscaster Hank Greenwald who said of him, "There is no one in this world who puts more effort into being underestimated."

The New York Times thought enough of Mr. Mieuli to print his obituary. The Associated Press did not think him worthy. Shame on the Associated Press.

Best wishes to the friends and family of Franklin Mieuli, from a fan.

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