July 11, 2015

By Fred Liggett

On January 25, 2015, a night of memorable images, speeches and quotes began at the University Plaza Hotel as the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame welcomed its newest class of inductees in a ceremony held in Springfield, Missouri. The 2015 class included St. Louis Cardinals great Chris Carpenter, KC Royals Billy Butler, KC Chiefs alum Nick Lowery, Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden and two-way Mizzou Football standout Andy Russell. Among the honorees was the 1969 Missouri football team, which included Lee’s Summit native Steve Kenemore.

Almost 60 players from the 1969 Missouri Tigers football team turned out for the occasion. The team finished the 1969 season nine to one; their only loss was to Colorado. Missouri beat three Top 20 teams, beat rival Kansas 69-21 in the annual “Border War” and finished sixth in the final Associated Press poll after a 10-3 loss to Penn State in the Orange Bowl.

Kenemore, a Lee’s Summit High School graduate, started his career at Mizzou as a runningback before finishing up as a wide receiver. Steve played in 10 games each of the three seasons he played at Missouri from 1967-69. Kenemore is now a partner in the Cadre Financial Group located on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri.

Kenemore became aware of the Hall of Fame honor when Mizzou football team captain Nip Wisenfels sent out an e-mail to the entire team. Missouri Sports Hall of Fame thought that the 1969 Missouri football team was one of the best teams under former coach Dan Devine. In addition to Steve Kenemore, team members included All-American’s Roger Wehrli, Terry McMillan and Mel Gray, all who went on to NFL careers. More e-mails followed about getting together as a team along with their spouses. Coach Devine “built a team atmosphere that bleeds into a family situation” according to Kenemore. Kenemore adds, “it’s too bad that Coaches Dan Devine and Al Onofrio are not around to see this”.

The day before the big event, the Missouri Sports HOF takes everyone through the facility. For Kenemore it was a fun experience to take the tour along with KC Sports stars such as KC Royals Billy Butler and KC Chiefs alum Nick Lowery. It was a “great experience” for Kenemore due to not having seen many of his Missouri Tigers teammates since the last time they played together. The HOF event was memorable for Steve because he had his daughter and son-in-law attend with him.

Not many people know that this is the second time for Steve Kenemore to be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of fame. A softball team Kenemore played on called Mid City Oil, out of Jefferson City, was inducted after winning seven state championships in a row.

Kenemore now, on occasion, is referred to as a Hall of Famer. He feels it is a “product of opportunity” and that he was “at the right place at the right time”. Kenemore feels it helped him a lot to have people in his life that encouraged and supported him. One of those people was KC Chiefs Hall of Famer Bobby Bell Sr. While in High School, Bell would come over to snap the ball to Kenemore when he practiced his punting. His parents worked all the time as they raised four kids, including Steve. Kenemore was lucky to have help from outstanding coaches such as Walt Hicklin while in High School. Kenemore praises many of his high school teachers who allowed him time to get caught up on his studies while he pursued his athletic endeavors.

Kenemore wanted to get to the next level, so on Saturdays he would get up, stretch and run the stadium steps for an hour and a half. Steve would do this every week in hopes to making that next step. During this time Steve feels “Lee’s Summit was a great place for family” and a great place to raise your kids and be in the community. Examples of this is how family friends from the Bank of Lee’s Summit would stop in Columbia and visit Steve. Another one is when the Brockman family from Lee’s Summit High would visit him at Mizzou and buy him breakfast and spend time to encourage him.

Kenemore feels Missouri Football is doing great now in the SEC and under the guidance of Coach Gary Pinkel. Steve feels Coach Pinkel has developed a system where players know what to do, stating that “Pinkel recruits to that system”. Guys buy into what it takes to be successful. Kenemore adds that he goes down to Columbia with other alumni each spring to visit with the current coaching staff. The alumni players are treated to dinner and get to go into the press box. While Kenemore enjoys these yearly visits to the Mizzou press box, it is nice that his hard work, persistence and extra effort has landed him in a spot where people can visit him every day: the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.