Just look at this picture for a minute.
That's Steve Pecher, former St. Louis Steamer and longtime nemesis of the Wichita Wings. He helped spark the most devastating loss in Wings history. The Steamers remained Wichita's most hated rival throughout the 1980s, and Pecher was there the whole time. He always got rough defending our beloved Andy Chapman, and he once went into the stands to take a swing at a Wings fan.
Look at this picture again. Let's face it. Steve Pecher was a prick.
After interviewing Pecher last week for our Wings documentary (by the way, he's a bigger guy than I thought), I stated on Twitter that when it came to Wichita sports villains, Pecher was No. 1.
Nobody argued with that - the Wings remain the city's only major league franchise, after all - but I do think it's worth considering who his competition might be.
None. Wichita has always been a minor league city, and any opposing player who was a major league prospect wasn't around long enough to really remember.
None. (See baseball.)
None. Never forget, this is a town that let a Division I football program slip away forever.
Now we're talking.
The first guy who comes to my mind is Ben Jacobson, a Northern Iowa guard who always seemed to break the heart of some pretty good Wichita State teams with moments like this.
But that could be because I covered the Shockers throughout Jacobson's career. Cases could reasonably be made for a lot of Shocker conference opponents: Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati), Larry Bird (Indiana State), Hersey Hawkins (Bradley), Doug McDermott (Creighton) - guys like that.
Tulsa coach Nolan Richardson, with his flashy outfits and loose tongue, was great fun for WSU fans to cheer against in the early '80s. But he's remembered mainly for his 17-year run at Arkansas that followed.
The strongest case for Wichita's top basketball villain is probably Greg Dreiling.
First of all, he went to Kapaun Mount Carmel. If there's one thing I know about Kapaun, it's that everyone considers the Crusaders a rival.
Secondly, he was 7-foot-1. As Wilt Chamberlain famously said, nobody cheers for Goliath.
Third, he committed a cardinal sin in the minds of many. He transferred from Wichita State to play for the University of Kansas.
However ... there are plenty of Kapaun and KU fans in Wichita who are perfectly fine with Dreiling, who went on to be a journeyman in the NBA. Besides, Dreiling never owned the sports villain role the way Steve Pecher did. And still does.
You may be happy to learn that Pecher was not a prick when we interviewed him in St. Louis. Yes, he was cocky when talking about the rivalry with the Wings, but it was in a humorous kind of way. He was an absolutely gracious host, and he's grateful that we're preserving a piece of sports history in which he was heavily involved.
We need villains in sports. We also need villains in movies. So to that I say, thank heaven for Steve Pecher.