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American Football League
ON-FIELD OFFICIALS

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             Just is it did in many other innovative ways, the American Football League had a unique take on the uniforms of referees, umpires, linesmen, field judges and back judges.  With their red-orange stripes, black collars and cuffs, and AFL logos on their shirt fronts, sleeves and caps, they were not only more colorful, but easier to see than those of the other league.  This page is to recognize an important but seldom credited part of the game: the American Football League's on-field officials.

             In his book COLORS, Jim Finks Jr., son of the Hall-of-Famer, shows the original uniform of AFL official Jack Reader, who was a Back Judge in both the first and third World Championship games, and who was in an iconic Sports Illustrated photo, signaling touchdown after Matt Snell's 4-yard plunge against the Colts.  Finks sent us the images below, of Reader's original uniform.  I hope to add below the name of every man who officiated in the American Football League, the genesis of modern Professional Football.  I am indebted to Albert Klumpp for the major portion of this list, and to Dave Owczarzak, a.k.a. AFL collector bflodave.  If anyone has 1960 and 1961 records of AFL officials, please help me complete the list.  Thanks, too, to Jim Tunney, former NFL supervisor of officials, who provided contact information.

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Walt Fitzgerald, Referee ~ 1965

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Bob Austin:Supervisor of AFL Officials 1960-1965

Mel Hein: Supervisor of AFL Officials 1966-1969

  College Position Years No.
James Barnhill: Marquette R 60-65 15
Bob Baur: Ohio FJ 63-69 58
Peppy Blount: Texas LJ 66-67 64
Harold Bourne: Missouri R 60-64 12
Gilbert Castree: Virginia U 60-64 24
Al Conway: William Jewell U 69 27
Art Demmas: Vanderbilt U 68-69 78
Clyde Devine: Oregon St U 60-68 20
Ben Dreith: Colorado St FJ, R 60-69 53, 12
Ray Dodez: Wooster LJ, HL 68-69 74
Dick Eichhorst: Missouri BJ 68-69 44
George Ellis: Akron -- 63-64 9, 44
Bob Finley: SMU U, R 60-69 22, 14
Walt Fitzgerald: Boston College R 61-69 18
John Fouch: USC BJ 66-69 45, 34
Kenny Gallagher: Oklahoma St BJ 61-68 36, 46
Hugh Gamber: Dubuque BJ, FJ 60-69 33, 70
Fritz Graf: Case Western Reserve FJ 1960 55
Gerald Hart: West Point; Kansas LJ 68-69 62
Al Huetter: Columbia U 61-68 52, 28
Elvin Hutchison: Whittier HL 60-69 32, 33
Hunter Jackson: East Tennessee St LJ, BJ 66-69 49
Harry Kessel: Ohio HL 63-69 34
Bill Kestermeier: Rose Poly Inst BJ 69 43
Frank Kirkland: Cal-Santa Barbara FJ 63-69 53
Joe Kraus: Hobart HL 60-62 34
Cal Lepore: Alabama LJ, HL 66-69 32
Charles Liley Denver FJ 60 52
Pat Mallette: Nebraska FJ 69 52
Bo McAllister: Oklahoma St HL 60-67 35
John McDonough: Stanford R 60-69 11
George McGuane: Holy Cross -- 61-64 54
Jack McLain Northern Arizona R 60 14
Carl Mellinger: NJ St Teachers LJ 66 61
Leo Miles: Virginia St HL 69 35
Tommy Miller: Milligan College LJ 68-69 67
John Morrow:

Texas A&M

R

60-62

16

Charlie Musser: North Carolina St FJ 65-69 55
George Parker St. Louis BJ 60 40
Walt Parker: North Texas St U 60-69 25
Jack Reader: Holy Cross BJ, R 60-69 42
Bob Rice: Denison U BJ 69 48
Frank Rustich: Canisius FJ 61-68 14, 51
James Ryan   FJ 60 50
Al Sabato: Cincinnati, Xavier HL 60-69 30
Amby Schindler: USC BJ 60-62 43
John Steffen: Minnesota LJ 68-69 61
William Stein: Georgia Tech -- 61-62 27
Bill Summers: Notre Dame LJ, FJ 67-69 57
Paul Trepinski: Toledo U 63-69 22
Price Truitt North Texas St FJ 60 54
Dick Ulrich Grinnell HL 60 54
Jack Vest: East Tennessee St R 65-69 15
Tony Veteri: none HL 61-69 26, 36
Aaron Wade: Los Angeles St LJ 66-69 65
Bob Whetstone: Ohio St BJ 65-68 40
Bob Wortman: Findlay FJ 65-67, 69 54
Bill Wright: High Point LJ 68-69 68
George Young: Georgia U 60-69 26, 23

Compiled by Albert Klumpp

SOURCES: 1960 AFL Game Program - Oilers at Texans 9/2/60;  1961 AFL Game Program - Broncos at Titans 9/24/61; The Sporting News annual Official AFL Guides, 1962-1969. 

NOTES: Position listings provided only in 1960 Program and 1966-1969 Guides; uniform numbers provided only on 1960 and 1961 Programs and 1966-1969 Guides; colleges not provided in 1960 Program.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: 1960 list provided by AFL fan Jim Fulton; 1961 list provided by memorabilia dealer Jack Wallin (
'hull9howe999' on e-bay).

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        The nine men highlighted in the above list officiated in the American Football League for the entire ten years of its existence, 1960 through 1969.  They were: Ben Dreith (FJ, R); Bob Finley (U, R); Hugh Gamber (BJ, FJ); Elvin Hutchison (HL); John McDonough (R); Walt Parker (U); Jack Reader (BJ, R); Al Sabato (HL) and George Young (U).  Imagine the stories these men could tell about the AFL!
 

I have created a page about AFL officials, on Wikipedia Click here to see it.  See individual official's pages there, to read more tidbits like those below.

 Jim Tunney received an offer from the AFL to be a referee in 1960, but chose to go to the NFL as a field judge. 
Years before Pete Gogolak, Fritz Graf was the first "jumper" from the AFL to the NFL.  He was in the AFL in 1960, officiated its first Championship, then went to the NFL in 1961.
Jack Reader, who died in 2008, was a ten-year AFL official who worked the league's first game (Broncos-Patriots) on September 9, 1960 and the first Super Bowl.
Bob Wortman was the first man to officiate both a Super Bowl and an NCAA basketball championship.
Frank Rustich was an AFL line judge and also a boxing referee who officiated at the 1973 Ken Norton-Muhammad Ali Heavyweight Boxing Championship.

AFL Referee 1961 - 1969
#18 ~ Walt Fitzgerald

          The article below is from a 1970 Buffalo Bills game program.  It lists all Professional Football officials who worked games in 1970.  Former American Football League officials' names are highlighted.  Uniform numbers and positions listed in this table may have changed from those in effect while in the AFL.  The photo is of Frank Rustich, an AFL line judge in an AFL uniform, number 51.  Some of the officials wore different numbers after the merger.  The above list shows only the numbers they wore in the American Football League.
           There were 34 on-field officials in the AFL in 1969.  Interestingly, 32 of them, from an "inferior league", were good enough to continue to officiate after the merger.  One of them was Cal Lepore, now known as "the father of instant replay".  He also promulgated the use of replay to review the accuracy of on-field calls, for the evaluation of officials' performance.  Another important link from the American Football League to today's Professional Football.

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2009 "Legacy" cap,
no longer available.

Original AFL Official's cap,
image courtesy of Scott Davis.
More
RED than ORANGE, wasn't it?

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Last revision: 13 July 2013 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio, nospam.RemembertheAFL@aol.com
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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