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Chuck Taylor, All Star

The True Story of the Man behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History

Abraham Aamidor. Foreword by Dean Smith

Publication Year: 2006

His is the name on the label of the legendary Converse All-Star basketball shoe. Though the shoe has been worn by hundreds of millions, few, if any, know a thing about the man behind the name. Some even believe that there is no such person, that he is a marketer's fabrication like Betty Crocker. But "Chuck Taylor" was more than a rubber-soled, double-wall canvas-body shoe with a circular ankle patch, with a bright blue star in the middle and a signature across it. He may not have been a Michael Jordan, but Chuck Taylor did earn the right to be the face behind the most popular shoe in basketball.

For this first-ever biography, Abraham Aamidor went on a three-year quest to learn the true story of Chuck Taylor. The search took him across the country, tracking down leads, and separating truth from legend -- discovering that the truth, warts and all, was much more interesting than the myth. He found Chuck involved with "industrial league" basketball in the 1920s, working as a wartime coach with the Army Air Force, and organizing clinic after clinic. He was a true "ambassador of basketball" in Europe and South America as well as all over the United States. And he was, to be sure, a consummate marketing genius. He was elected to the Sporting Goods Hall of Fame before his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. This biography makes it clear that he belongs in both.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-x

When Abraham Aamidor called from Indiana to interview me for his new biography of Chuck Taylor, I was amazed that someone had not written one years before, because Taylor was such an important figure in America’s basketball history. Obviously, I’m extremely pleased that Abe is filling this void. ...

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pp. xi-xii

Acknowledgments are written for the people who actually help with a book, typically with no ulterior motive or expectation of any reward. Grady Lewis, Joe Dean, and John Wooden were the closest associates of Chuck Taylor I found, and each was most generous with his time. Other sources who ...

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pp. 1-11

It’s a Wednesday night, March 19, 1919, in Columbus, Indiana, a prosperous manufacturing and agricultural center of about 9,000 souls forty-five miles southeast of Indianapolis. The recent hard winter has not quite broken. Inside a two-story, red brick government building, in the high-ceilinged second-floor ...

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1. Hall of Fame

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pp. 12-31

Five aged men stood on the podium in the hotel ballroom in Springfield, Massachusetts that early spring evening in 1969. Each was dressed in a business suit, tie, and heavily lacquered leather shoes—a far cry from their usual togs on a hardwood court, where each had fought his way to recognition as a great ...

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2. Non-Skids

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pp. 32-42

Charlie Taylor, at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, was becoming a man. His great shock of thick, dark hair was combed provocatively straight back over his head, and his long jaw demanded attention. He was just nineteen when he stepped forward with firm posture and resolute gait onto the floor of the Akron ...

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3. Salesman

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pp. 43-58

Akron may have been a watershed in Chuck Taylor’s playing days. Firestone and Goodyear basketball continued to prosper, but Chuck was not part of it. After leaving the Non-Skids, he moved to Detroit and joined teams supported by first the Dodge Brothers, the famous automobile manufacturers, then ...

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4. The Invisible Pass

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pp. 59-83

The Great Depression spelled doom for some, opportunity for others. For Chuck Taylor, it was the time of his life. Marquis Converse had lost his company in 1928 after it went into receivership. The company’s failure was linked to an ill-fated effort to market an automobile tire, the “Converse Cord,” ...

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5. Special Service

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pp. 84-94

Word of Alabama’s clash with the Texas A&M Aggies in the upcoming Cotton Bowl dominated the front sports page of the Nevada State Journal on Dec. 2, 1941. But it was an item running down the left side that garnered more attention from a core group of basketball enthusiasts in Reno that day. The ...

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6. Air-Tecs

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pp. 95-108

Chuck Taylor was sitting on a narrow bench in the cavernous, tile-lined fieldhouse at Wright Field, Ohio in early December 1944, watching his “boys” go through an early evening workout and jawing with a local newspaper reporter. John Mahnken, who not long before was the 6-foot-8 starting ...

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7. World Tourney

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pp. 109-117

Pete Ankney was dumbstruck when he saw the Chicago Stadium, that holy shrine to political conventions, college commencement exercises, and basketball games for generations of Chicagoans, for the first time. Located just two miles from downtown on West Madison Street, the stadium was ...

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8. “Me”

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pp. 118-134

John Wooden sat in a cramped den in his suburban Los Angeles condominium where he has lived thirty years, in a room crowded by an old sofa and recliner, at a desk buried beneath mounds of correspondence, and just under a wall plastered with photos of all his UCLA championship ...

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9. Glory

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pp. 135-142

Chuck Taylor, then in his sixty-eighth year, received many telegrams, congratulatory letters, and goodwill calls when he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969. The letters and cards and telegrams were piled high on a circular table in the breakfast nook inside his Port ...

Appendix: The History of the Converse Rubber Shoe Company

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pp. 143-156

Notes on Research

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pp. 157-162


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pp. 163-178


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pp. 179-184

E-ISBN-13: 9780253111883
E-ISBN-10: 0253111889
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253346988

Page Count: 200
Illustrations: 13 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2006