Richard “Dick” Sanders Born: Died: March 20, 2021
Graduated: Wichita North High School, 1949
Attended: Wichita State University, 1952
In the era of specialization we live in today, it would be difficult for anyone to match the versatility and athleticism of 2015 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Dick Sanders from Wichita. As more and more athletes today choose to spend their practice hours honing one sport or skill, Sanders would be an anomaly because his career was built on a foundation of diverse athleticism which lasted a lifetime.
As a senior for Wichita North High School, Sanders put that diverse athleticism into practice every day during the school year. The results speak for themselves. Although it was a time before the advent of the state high school playoff system, Sanders led both the North High football and baseball teams to state championships his senior year.
Following his successful senior campaign, Sanders chose to stay in Wichita to attend the University of Wichita, now Wichita State University, where he played quarterback and defensive back on the football team, guard on the basketball team, and short stop on the baseball team. As the starting quarterback as a junior at Wichita State, Sanders led the team in passing in 1951 while also leading the team in interceptions on the defensive side of the ball.
During the winter, Sanders moved indoor to the basketball hardwood but his talent and athleticism still showed. Playing for 1975 Kansas Sports Hall Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Ralph Miller’s first basketball team at Wichita State, Sanders averaged over four points per contest and was second on the team in shooting percentage.
Sanders’ athletic stat lines for football and basketball aren’t bad considering he would come to be known more so for his skills on the diamond rather than the gridiron or hardwood.
Following his junior baseball season in 1952, the silky-smooth shortstop Sanders was signed by the New York Yankees to a professional contract. In the Yankee organization, Sanders became familiar and acquainted with 2008 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Ralph Terry.
Over the next eight years, Sanders played professionally with the Yankee and Dodger organizations before returning to Wichita.
Despite the end of this professional career, Sanders continued to play sports and was active in the athletic community. Sanders became heavily involved in the National Baseball Congress (NBC) Tournament, inaugurated by 1975 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Raymond “Hap” Dumont. During the mid-1960s, Sanders stole the show at the NBC Tournament earning three Tournament All-America selections in 1964, 1965, and 1966. Sanders also won the Tournament Most Valuable Player Award in 1964.
As he aged, Sanders transitioned from player to other roles but was always involved in athletics. Beginning in the 1970s and continuing to the 1990s, Sanders became a highly respected football and basketball official at the high school and collegiate levels. During his officiating career, Sanders called games in the Missouri Valley Conference and the Big 8 Conference.
Sanders has lived a lifetime involved in athletics and a glance through all of the organizations and schools who have honored his career illustrates just how important Sanders’ role has been to the places he impacted. Included in his honors are inductions to the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame in 1969, the National Baseball Congress Hall of Fame in 1992, the Shocker Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995, the Kansas Collegiate Officials Hall of Fame in 1997, the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Wichita North Hall of Fame in 2008.
Today, that already lengthy list of honors grows by one as Dick Sanders is inducted to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.