Bill Werndl and Joe Vallee, the authors of “No Curveballs: My Greatest Sports Stories Never Told,” were interviewed by JerseyMan Magazine contributor Kurt Smith for the publication’s October issue.
JerseyMan Magazine is founded by Ken Dunek. Ken, a former Philadelphia Eagles tight end during their 1980 Super Bowl season, went on to win two championships as a member of the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL, who are also featured on “No Curveballs.”
The October edition of JerseyMan Magazine is on sale now, and you can read an excerpt of the interview below:
If you’re an older Philadelphia sports fan, you would enjoy talking sports with Bill Werndl.
Werndl’s been there: he was the first ever sports producer at Channel 6, a long time spotter for local and national football broadcasts, a co-host of Eagles pre and post-game shows on WYSP, and a panelist on several networks. In 30-plus years in Philly, he’s seen a lot of things.
His coming book, No Curveballs, is the story of a life inside the Philly sports scene, covering the city’s best-known names…Chamberlain, Bednarik, Vermeil, Schmidt and Shero to name just a few. In it he shares behind the scenes stories of Philly legends, and his sometimes surprising takes on events in the city’s sports history.
Recently JerseyMan caught up with Werndl (above left) and co-author Joe Vallee (above right) to chat about No Curveballs. If you want to learn more, check out the website www.nocurveballs.com.
What made you decide to write a book?
Bill Werndl: Bill White, Al Meltzer, my wife, my daughter…there were so many people that said, you’ve got a lot of great stories, you’ve had such a diversified career.
I’ve seen it all, and I’ve run into so many great people. I’ve lived the dream for over 50 years.
Your first ever interview was with Wilt Chamberlain?
Bill: This man had just signed the biggest contract in sports history, I think for $250,000 a year. I was nervous, and he could tell, and he put his arm around me and said, “young fella, don’t worry about a thing.” It was a thrill of a lifetime, because I remember listening on the radio as a kid when he scored 100 points. He was very gracious.
There wasn’t a greater basketball player than Wilt. It’s a shame they don’t have more video of him. Jordan was a great player, I’m not disputing that, but Wilt changed the way the game was played!
People who remember Wilt’s departure from Philadelphia might be surprised at what happened.
Joe Vallee: A lot of issues came into play with Wilt. According to the book, Wilt put them in a position where they had to trade him. His father had some health issues, he went to California to smooth things over and apparently a lot changed when he came back.
One of the funniest chapters in the book is the Chuck Bednarik chapter. You asked him to demonstrate the Frank Gifford tackle on you?
Bill: I was in the newsroom at Channel 6, he’s standing there, and I said, ‘Chuck, can you demonstrate that hit on Gifford?’ He gave me a little love tap, a forearm shiver. I was like 155 pounds, and I thought his forearm was going through my chest! He gave me that shot and said ‘that’s how I hit Gifford. And I meant it.’
Chuck was a character. I was bold back then, I’m still bold to a certain extent, but Joe has calmed me down a little bit.
You can read the rest of the interview on JerseyMan’s website here.