Chuck Taylor - The man behind the shoe

Chuck Taylor - The man behind the shoe

Now that summer is officially here, college football can't be far behind. The season starts September 3, which is 10 short weeks from Thursday.

Oddly enough, Thursday is the anniversary of Chuck Taylor's birth in 1901. He's the man whose name can be found on the best-selling basketball shoe in history, the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

Yes, before Air Jordans and other signature shoes came along, just about everybody had a pair of Chucks. But who was Chuck Taylor, and why should we care, especially with football season lurking?

I recently stumbled across a 2006 book about Taylor. Chuck Taylor All Star was written by Abraham Aamidor, who felt compelled to fill in the blanks about the man sometimes called "the most famous name in sports that no one knows anything about."

In the book, we learn that Taylor wore Converse All-Stars when he played basketball at Indiana's Columbus High School. They didn't look the same back then, but that soon changed. In 1921, Taylor went to work with Converse in Chicago and within a year offered design suggestions to provide more flexibility and support to the shoe.

The company adopted his suggestions, including one that a patch be added to protect the ankle. Converse put the all familiar star on the patch, and in 1932 added Chuck's name on the shoe.

Aamidor writes that Taylor got a salary from Converse, but received no commission on any of the 600 million pairs of shoes that have been sold. But as the overweight comedian says about losing money in Vegas, "I get 'em back at the buffet", Chuck Taylor got 'em back with his unlimited expense account.

According to the book, Taylor stayed in the nicest hotels and drove the fanciest cars while serving the dual role of salesman and basketball ambassador. He also kept in touch with the movers and shakers of the game. The late Dean Smith wrote the book's foreword.

In 1969, Taylor was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He died later that year, one day shy of his 68th birthday.

Take it from this Chuck, Chuck Taylor's story is interesting no matter what sport is your favorite.

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