There is an old saying by the folks who have lived in Midland, Texas for many years that goes like this….“You can take the boy out of West Texas…..but you can’t take West Teas out of the boy.”….which conjures up a story that Bone Daddy has shared with me on many occasions from his time growing up in Midland with the West Texas legend known simply as Wahoo….who was just recently inducted into the Midland Sports Hall of Fame….and if you have ever read any of my stories about West Texas….ya’ll know the folks out West have taken sports very seriously for a long time. It turns out that Wahoo was one of BD’s childhood heroes….that is up until he graduated from Midland High School in 1956….and decided to attend the University of Oklahoma on a football scholarship….even though many of West Texas’ best athletes chose to attend OU instead of heading southeast to the University of Texas….cuz the fact remains that many who chose OU did so because the campus at Norman, Oklahoma was a whole lot more like Midland, where they came from…..for it was flat, arid, spacious and not real big……whereas the campus at the University of Texas at Austin was very large and expansive….which had grown well beyond its original 40 Acres across many square miles of what is known as the Texas Hill Country…..where there was a total enrollment of dang near 60,000 students enrolled in UT’s undergraduate schools, graduate schools and law school.
Wrestling – 1983 – Special – Interview With Chief Wahoo McDaniel & Rick Flair Before Their Charlotte Coliseum Match
. DOG ASIDE: There simply ain’t nuthin that I claim about Oklahoma….cuz the fact of the matter is that there may not be more fierce rivals….not just in sports….but in all aspects of HUMAN existence out in that neck of the woods….than the rivalry between West Texans and the Okie’s. But let’s make sure we understand each other….when I am talking about West Texas in my stories….I just consider that most of Oklahoma is really just part of West Texas in most regards. So this is my emphatic statement that I ain’t claiming any love or even like for any Okie. I am simply saying…..except for our differences…..we are an awful lot alike….and I’ll say this about that…when it comes to someone from either West Texas or Oklahoma were to ever tell you something you could pretty well bet that they were telling you the truth…..and if they shake your hand on it….you can dang near bet your life on it……cuz these folks word and a handshake are better than having a legal contract….dang near….but I still ain’t claiming NO Okie.
Pro Wrestling – 1974 – NWA Indian Strap Match Manny “Raging Bull” Fernandez Vs “Chief Wahoo” McDaniel
When Bone Daddy was in the 4th grade…..Wahoo was playing sports at Midland High School…..and to say he was the talk of District 2AAAA out in West Texas….which was absolutely without question considered the best football and baseball district in the whole State of Texas at that time…..cuz we’re talking historical teams came out of District 2AAAA…..like Mo Jo itself at Odessa Permian….Odessa High….Abilene High….Abilene Cooper….San Angelo Central….Midland High….Midland Lee….Big Springs High. It was the place known as the “hotbed of high school football”…..and every “tobaki spittin’….hoss ridin’…pistol packin’ hombre and all their lil fillies”…..would close up shop on Friday nights…..cuz that was game night and the focus of life in each and every West Texas community.
Pro Wrestling & NFL & NCAAF – 1989 Highlights The Career And Legend Of Chief Wahoo McDaniel
When BD was growing up…..the best player of them all in Midland and the whole of District 2AAAA was a native American Indian boy named Wahoo McDaniel. You gotta understand that BD has never really ever forgiven Wahoo for going to OU instead of becoming a Longhorn over the years….but also he has never stopped liking that Indian boy who grew up in Midland.
The fact was that many of the boys that BD grew up with….including many of his teammates in junior high and high school….chose to go to Oklahoma University….all the while that BD’s heart bled burnt orange….the color of the University of Texas. By the way, did all ya’ll know the reason that God chose burnt orange as the colors of sunset….cuz He wanted everyone to know….that at the end of the day…..the sun always sets over The University of Texas.
Living across the street from Midland Memorial Stadium in the mid-1950’s….Bone Daddy just couldn’t help but be drawn to the cheers of the crowds who attended games being played under the bright lights of Memorial Stadium….as these lights during gametime were always beaming directly into the living room at the front of BD’s house. The noise emanating from the stadium would rise and fall based on what was happening on the field of play…..while the school bands were playing music to get you up off your “baby got back” and inspire you to participate in the event….for it was the cheers of the fans that created the greatest pulling / drawing force to BD….like a magnet with a nail….as BD could see from afar and hear all that each game encompassed from his living room window….heck, he could almost be a part of the game….kinda like listening to Kern Tipps bring the SWC game of the week on radio….whereby just sitting on the front porch and listening to the sounds emanating from the stadium was exciting enough…. but in true “Sportsphile in the making” tradition….Bone Daddy just had to go over to be in the crowd at the stadium.
Pro Wrestling – 1985 – Special – Magnum T A On Chief Wahoo McDaniel
Memorial Stadium hosted any and all high school football and baseball games….be it varsity or junior varsity….or be it white high school (Midland High) or the black high school (Carver High)….that is until integration happened in the 1960’s.
On game nights before BD could even think about heading over to Memorial Stadium to watch whichever game was being played that night….he first had to eat everything on his plate including the slimy okra….the asparagus….and the brussel sprouts before he could be excused from the dinner table….so, he became good at “choking down” those things that were typically green in color on his plate fast….almost in gulps without chewing…..cuz once his plate was clean….he could be excused from the table allowing him to move on to getting his evening chores and daily school homework completed. Three of Pops (BD’s Dad) rules that he required of Los Tres Hermanos (Lil Wally, Bone Daddy and Runt)….”one – finish your plate….two finish your homework….and three – finish you chores before you go anywhere”. Bone Daddy‘s intentions were to have as much time as possible left in that particular night’s game being played….when he was hopping over the fences at the stadium to see what was left of the game.
Pro Wrestling – 1985 – Ric Flair Vs. Wahoo McDaniel Match At The Charolette Coliseum
And from all the tales of games and players who took the field at Midland Memorial Stadium….no athlete was more revered or liked when playing on the fields of play than Edward “Wahoo” McDaniel. BD says he could tell when Wahoo made a big play….whether as a bruising fullback on offense or as a crunching linebacker on defense for the Midland High Bulldog football team….as all the way from his kitchen table while having dinner….BD says he didn’t even have to speculate on who made the play….cuz the crowd in attendance would holler out all in unison WAHOO…. WAHOO….WAHOO….and as each chant came and went….the legend of Wahoo McDaniel was growing on the field….and blowing throughout the winds of West Texas like being cast from a giant cheerleader’s megaphone.
Pro Wrestling – 1985 – Special – Chief Wahoo McDaniel Unmasks The Super Destroyer
On weekends, BD would wait outside the Midland High School locker room after the games….just to see Wahoo McDaniel….and have a chance to be close enough to his hero to say “Howdy WAHOO”….for that’s when the big massive Indian boy would come over and put his big ole hand on BD’s head….and while rubbing it he would say….”How ya doin kid? Did you get your homework done in time to see much of the game? Did ya see that hit I put on Love?….as in Odessa Permian’s heralded running back, Mike Love. Although Wahoo was only 17 years old at the time….he was well on his way to becoming a true legend in West Texas….and held a special place in BD’s heart as a local hero.
Edward “Wahoo” McDaniel was a Choctaw-Chickasaw Native American born in the small town of Bernice, Oklahoma….as the son of an oil patch welder….who earned his nickname because his father, Hugh….was known as Big Wahoo….a man who followed the oil booms….moving his family to Midland in the late 1940’s.
His legend began to foster itself when he played youth baseball….but it was on the football field where it started to take on a life of its own. Wahoo played for the Midland High Bulldogs in the mid-1950’s….as a bruising fullback and linebacker for the Bulldog teams that were one of the few squads to challenge the “famous Abilene High streak” teams of that era. Teams schemed to stop Wahoo….but most didn’t….as even against Abilene High in 1954….Wahoo still found a way to gain more than 100 yards on offense….had 12 tackles on defense with one pass interception….not a bad game for a two-way player against the best team in the State of Texas…..as Abilene still won the game.
Wahoo achieved national fame as an eight year American Football League player…..playing for the Houston Oilers (1960), the Denver Broncos (1961 – 1963), the New York Jets (1964 – 1967) and Miami Dolphins (1968). Then he gained even greater notoriety on a national scale as the professional wrestler known as Chief Wahoo….who held the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship a record-tying five times by the time his professional career was over. But he was a legend in West Texas long before he even went to college….along with being Bone Daddy’s sports hero growing while growing up in Midland, Texas…. as Wahoo was definitely one of the very best athletes to ever come out of Midland High School…albeit there were many good and bad stories about this Chickasha Indian boy. Wahoo’s daughter Nicky Rowe was quoted as saying about her Dad…..“He was a wild, crazy Indian who was bigger than life. He was just amazing.” McDaniel, whose real name was Ed, was a linebacker who returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown against Iowa State in 1958. He played in the AFL or NFL from 1960-69, with the Dolphins, Jets, Cowboys and Broncos….and then he continued a pro wrestling career that continued into the 1990’s. “I was a football player first and foremost, who entered wrestling to supplement my income,” McDaniel once said. “For six months out of the year, I was a football player and for the other six months I wrestled.”
NFL – 1964 – Highlights – NY Jets LB Wahoo McDaniel Intercepts Colts QB Johnny Unitas
McDaniel was a two-way star for the Bulldogs….who grabbed headlines nearly every time he played. Many who played against him during his time in high school….would say that when he would come through the line while carrying the ball….he’d give out a loud “war hoop” as he was about to slam into an oncoming tackler…..as his Coach at MHS, Tugboat Jones would say….”Anybody who knows anything about football in West Texas….knows about Wahoo McDaniel….he is absolutel a legend around these parts.” Coach Tugboat Jones’s daughter Tina….was the first girl that Bone Daddy ever traded discs with…..so even his sweethearts from his early years had ties to sport….which was evidence of a true Sportsphile in the making.
Pro Wrestling – 1986 – Special – WWE Superstar Billy Graham On Chief Wahoo McDaniel
The hardest part in assessing the legend of Wahoo McDaniel’s life….was to figure out what was fact and what was fiction….from the time McDaniel roamed the playing fields of Midland Memorial Stadium….both in football and baseball….who as a young boy….Wahoo’s exploits in Little League while playing for the Central Little League Cubs coached by George H. Bush (41st President of the USA) and in Pony League baseball….however, it was in Pop Warner and Jr. High football….where Wahoo was already being talked about in every barber shop in Midland, TX. By the time he had finished his junior year at Midland High School….he had every college recruiter in the country wanting that Choctaw-Chicasaw Indian boy from West Texas to come play for their school.
That’s about the time that the soon to be legendary Coach of the Oklahoma Sooners….Bud Wilkerson….started knocking at Wahoo’s door. And since this was the time when the famous coach from that school North of the Red River was amassing a win streak of 47 consecutive games in a row….and there wasn’t hardly any young high school football star who didn’t already know that by going to play for Bud Wilkinson was how one could put themselves in the national spotlight immediately. McDaniel’s college career was somewhat marred by injuries early on…..but by his senior year he was one of the top players on the Oklahoma team despite being caught drinking after games and skipping classes. Still, at the end of his senior year, he was drafted as a linebacker by the AFL’s Houston Oilers and traded a year later to the Denver Broncos….where he played until he was traded to the New York Jets in 1964…..where he became a star. He was a crowd favorite and made 23 tackles in a single game against his former Denver Broncos. He was then picked by the Miami Dolphins in the 1966 American Football League expansion draft, as the team’s major name player. During the 1968 season….he knocked out two police officers in an altercation and was traded to the San Diego Chargers. Wahoo never played a game for San Diego….and that’s when he started wrestling full-time.
Pro Wrestling – 1982 – NWA Heavyweight Title Fight – Abdul The Butcher Vs Chief Wahoo McDaniel
Wahoo was athletically gifted….but more so like many of the characters who came out of West Texas….he was a great self promoter….both in football and in wrestling….and had a reputation for doing some pretty wild things that normal folks would never do….some of which got him in trouble. To those who knew him well….they say he touched more lives than he could count…..and even a decade after his death….he is still talked about with reverence….as all agree that he was an original which is another common trait of West Texas boys….whose legend was incubated in Midland.
He was respected by other wrestlers and football players for his toughness and his physical style of play….and then there were his crazy antics outside of the ring. The respect as a legitimate athlete made it easy for him to go to different territories and be successful as a professional wrestler….which was something that all the many young baby faces in the game had trouble doing. He wrestled all the great names of his time….Dory Funk, Boris Malenko, Cowboy Bill Watts, Dr. Jerry Graham, Waldo von Eric, Ivan Koloff, Johnny Valentine, Ric Flair, Superstar Billy Graham, Harley Race, Giant Baba, Tully Blanchard, Antonio Inoki, Jumbo Tsuruta, Nick Bockwinkel, Georgeous George, Roddy Piper, Abdullah the Butcher, Sgt Slaughter, Rickie Steamboat, Magnum TA, Nikita Koloff, Curt Henning and Tatanka….just to name a few.
Pro Wrestling – 1983 – NWA Heavyweight Title Match – Ric Flair Vs Chief Wahoo McDaniel
Although his playing ability in football was often overshadowed by his wild lifestyle….both Joe Namath and Larry Czonka….who played with Wahoo early in their careers….both printed stories about him in their autobiographies. Along that same line….Len Dawsen has been quoted as saying “The hardest hit I ever received on a football field was by Wahoo McDaniel….he was the toughest son of (a gun) that I ever knew….and also…if you could believe this….at the very same time he was one of the nicest people you could ever run across”…..says longtime friend and former professional wrestling legend Dory Funk….
”Everybody loved to wrestle with him in the ring….and he was a box office attraction who had sellout crowds.” Funk said….”you were going to make money in the ring with Wahoo.” In 1995, Wahoo was also inducted into the WCW Wrestling Hall of Fame….but the events of this past weekend when Wahoo was inducted into the Midland Sports Hall of Fame….that was the stimulus for me writing this tribute to Wahoo McDaniel….a true West Texas legend….and childhood hero of Bone Daddy’s. The events surrounding Edward “Wahoo” McDaniel’s induction into the Midland Sports Hall of Fame….was a chance for those who didn’t know him to find out who he was….and for those who did know him….to remember some old stories of times gone by…..but most of all….it was a chance for his hometown to honor him after all these years. All I can say for BD and me is thanks for the memories WAHOO…. WAHOO…. WAHOO!!!!…..for you were an integral part in the development of what I have called the world’s first accredited Sportphile….to which he gives you credit for helping to create enthusiasm for playing sports….while aspiring to be competing for Midland High School in football, basketball and baseball from 1961 to 1965, just like his childhood hero Edward “Wahoo” McDaniel.
Pro Wrestling – 1975 To 1989 – Special – The Historic Rivalry Between Ric Flair Vs Chief Wahoo McDaniel