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In memory: Andy Mousalimas (1924-2020)

Bay Area legend helped to launch fantasy football

Andrew Mousalimas, one of the founding fathers of fantasy football, died peacefully on May 20, 2020 at age 95.

Mousalimas didn’t invent the concept of fantasy football, but he was a charter member of the first league, and he did more than anybody to spread the game all across the planet. Most notably, he helped popularize the game by incorporating it into the King’s X bar he owned in North Oakland. People learned about the game there, and it slowly spread across the country.

Per his obituary in the East Bay Times Mousalimas made the first-ever fantasy football draft pick in 1963, choosing George Blanda of the Houston Oilers as the first selection in the GOPPPL (Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League).

Mousalimas also had the distinction of being the first fantasy owner ever to regret a draft pick. "I'll tell you how dumb we are. We picked Blanda over Jim Brown."

Mousalimas was honored online at the Toyota Hall of Fame: Legends of Fantasy Football in 2011. There’s a 3-minute video on YouTube, including an interview, summarizing his story.

And Mousalimas’ most notable accomplishments far exceed anything he did with fantasy football. He was a member of an elite commando unit in World War II, parachuting behind enemy lines in Greece. He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, D.C. in 2018.

We spoke with Mousalimas in 2012, the 50th anniversary of that first fantasy draft. "We had to do a lot of research, and that was the fun part of the draft," he recalled. "There's no fun today. In the old days you had to sit and research, because last year's stats didn't mean a thing. Street and Smith's was the only sports magazine that covered professional football, and for a while, it was just an afterthought."

Mousalimas was an early convert to pro football at a time when it was widely disparaged. College football was top dog. "You had to be a football fan to really appreciate pro football," he said, because a lot of college guys would tell you "What are you doing, going over (across the bay to San Francisco) to watch those fat guys play?"

In 1968, Mousalimas purchased the King's X tavern in Oakland, which hosted fantasy leagues, trivia contests and social games. Trivia teams from his Oakland bar challenged teams from bars across the bay in San Francisco. Those bars adopted fantasy football, and the game spread into San Francisco's financial district. From there it was carried across the country.

Per the family, Mousalimas was predeceased in death by his wife, Mary. They had four children, Sotiros, Eugenia Ahlas (George), Paula Gassoumis (Dean) and James Mousalimas (Diane Georgiou), seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Ascension Greek Orthodox Cathedral General Fund, 4700 Lincoln Avenue, Oakland, CA 94602.

The family’s obituary can be seen at Legacy.com.