Hornets Helmet Awards And Reviews World Football League

June 24, 2002
By Larry Weisman

Summer Reunions

Richie Franklin is like the kid in The Sixth Sense with one key difference: he sees dead leagues.

The WHA, the ABA, the USFL, all remain alive to Franklin, a 41-year-old production worker in Stephens City, VA. He says he's just "trapped in the '70's with a part of my childhood." But all of the leagues that have come and gone, it is the World Football League (1974-1975) and especially the Charlotte Hornets of the short-lived circuit that intrigue him.

Franklin listened to their games on the radio, eventually put up a web site dedicated to the team and has organized a reunion scheduled for Charlotte from July 19-21. He tracked down more then 40 former players, coaches and administrators, and at least a dozen committed to the meet-and-greet affair, among them quarterback Tom Sherman, running back Bob "Harpo" Gladieux and coaches Bill Parilli and Bob Gibson.

"Some people don't believe this is happening," says Franklin, who often must convince the players he contacts that he's not a prankster. "A couple of them thought it was a joke. When they actually went to the web site, they wanted to get involved."

Franklin continues to scavenge sports' dustbin for artifacts of leagues gone by.

"It's the hunt for memorabilia - tapes of games from the radio or TV," he says. "It was just the good old days, and there was a lot of sports on AM radio. I wish I'd had a tape recorder and the common sense to record these games. Because people want them."