Today we say goodbye to a true Auburn Legend, Billy Kufs. Calling hours for Bill are from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, at Pettigrass Funeral Home, 196 Genesee St., and a memorial service with reflections from Billy’s life will follow immediately.
Bill has been my friend since we were young kids and he sure had a good run! He left his mark on Auburn like none other, and provided more sports, enjoyment and laughter for all of us than just about anyone I can think of. The recent write-up in the paper after his passing was perfect and said it all. But oh boy, if the walls at the old Shortstop Tavern could talk, we’d all be in trouble! What stories they could tell!
It was a timeless tradition in Auburn during the autumn season, that every Sunday morning, the cars would line up at The Shortstop on State Street so that every guy in town — including law enforcement, doctors, lawyers, all of us — could place our football bets for the day before the games started. And what a fun place it was ... always full of characters and some excitement!
Billy’s establishment was the place to go in Auburn when it involved sports. Such famous athletes as Tony Galento, boxer; Tom Heinsohn, basketball player; Ray Nitschke, football player; Dave Cowens, basketball player; and Guy “Chip” Reese, the greatest poker player ever, all graced the Shortstop Tavern.
Bill sponsored countless softball, basketball and bowling teams, both men and women, who won several titles over the years. After a game, they all showed up at the Shortstop in uniforms that Bill bought, and they were treated quite well.
I had the good fortune to coach two of Bill’s basketball teams with many talented local athletes. One was the Shortstop Tavern and the other was the Auburn Wizards and we played in the Syracuse John Clark League.
Bill put Auburn on the basketball map as he held tournaments at both Central High, and then Mount Carmel’s gym, and at both they drew the largest basketball crowds to ever grace Auburn with over 800 fans showing up to enjoy them. Jim Boeheim played in Billy’s tournaments back then. Thanks, Bill, from all of Auburn, for all the good times! You did good!