Remembering Jim Price

If my abacus is working properly, we’re talking about the fall of ’68.

Which would have been my second year of law school on the Belknap Campus.

One evening after dinner, I was shooting hoops with a classmate, on an outdoor court near the dorms. Milller Hall, maybe.

Walking toward us came heralded frosh, recruited from Male High, Henry Bacon, and another fellow, whom I assumed was a member of the Cards noteworthy freshman class, Jim Price.*

*The others in the class were Mike Lawhon, Larry Carter and Al Vilchek. Ron Thomas later transferred in, if memory serves, and became a key figure on the ’72 Final Four squad in Denny Crum’s first year. 

It was indeed Price from Indy, about whom I knew little.

They asked if they could shoot along? Duh. We didn’t play hard to get.

Then one of the Cards said, let’s play two on two. Continue reading Remembering Jim Price

Cards, CWS & the Coulda Woulda

Under the Old Normal, may it rest in peace, the first pitch of the College World Series in Omaha would be Saturday.

In a Reasonable Normal, the Louisville Cardinal Nine would be there, co-favorites, with, say, the SEC anschluss of Florida and Ole Miss, who started the abruptly cancelled season with a sizzle, and, oh, Vandy, which has driven the Cards to the Douglas County line a couple of times.

In a Perfect Normal, this would be the year.

Cards Win! Cards Win!

In ’07, Dan McDonnell led U of L to the CWS in his first season coaching at The Jim.

Finally won a game in Omaha in 2017.

Took a couple out of the loser’s bracket last season.

The Cards and McDonnell were poised. On the cusp. It was time.* Continue reading Cards, CWS & the Coulda Woulda

That Darn Cardinal/ Cowboy Connection

As the kinda sorta somewhat hopeful somewhat sad connection between the Cards and the Cowboys dawned on me, my mind wandered back to the one game in the series with Oklahoma State I do recall.

And it’s not the one that showed recently on ESPN, of which I hadn’t the slightest memory.

It’s the ’93 tussle in the tourney in Indy.

And what poured forth immediately were gleeful memories of those great trips up the I65 to watch the Cards. Going husko gordo on pastrami and latkes at Shapiro’s, savoring the Cards in action, and returning to the deli for another cholesterol-loading repast post-game.

My immediate thought of that Okie State encounter was that it might have been the day the Professor and I dined at our favorite deli thrice. For breakfast. Then searching for tickets. Then, ducats secured, lunch. Then the games. Then dinner.

But realized that was another NCAA at the RCA Dome in ’89, when U of L beat a couple of Arkansas schools in the opening rounds to advance to the Regional.

Loved those games in Indy, the scene of several fond Cardinal moments. Those Big Four doubleheaders. ’80. The Regional in ’83. Feeding my need for real hard-crusted rye bread, Nova mit schmear, and a salami omelette.*

* If you’re wondering why I’m meandering through the past here, it’s a reasonable question. Who knows when those happy days will come again? Be grateful I didn’t muse on about why they tore down RCA Dome and built Lucas Oil, which might have led to a rant about the Pontiac Dome, perhaps the ugliest edifice ever constructed by man. 

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Which brings me to offer how ironic it is that Oklahoma State, just sent to time out by the NC2A, and the University of Louisville, also facing serious sanctions, are scheduled to meet in November in one of those made for TV early season matchups. Continue reading That Darn Cardinal/ Cowboy Connection

Just A Bit More About Westley

As I was out on my morning walk the day after learning of Wes Unseld’s passing — wearing my #31 throwback — I ran into my pal Bruce, a long time Cardinal fan.

We, of course, shared our sadness about Unseld. What I found interesting is that the specific game he remembered is the one I mentioned the other day, the Cincy game when Wes got in deep foul trouble in the 1st.* Bruce remembered four fouls in the first, and reminded me how Unseld, after intermission, would guard with hands by his sides and not move, with the Cards in a zone. Then when the shot would go up over him, he’d snare every rebound.

*I find it fascinating that, as much as we both love Unseld, and were locked in during his entire career at U of L, we both independently remembered the same game, and few moments from any other. 

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I read everything I could about Unseld on the interweb, and just wanted to pass on a few tidbits gleaned from other writers’ work and observations. Continue reading Just A Bit More About Westley

Remembering My Favorite Cardinal Ever

That young Westley Unseld would eventually become heralded Wes Unseld wasn’t so obvious at the beginning of his basketball career.

The tale is told of a conversation between Wes’s brother George, a baller of no small measure who played at Kansas, and Sol Mocerf, the father of Howard, another member of the ’60-’61 Seneca Redskin Freshman team.

While waiting to take their family members home after a practice one day, George is said to have offered, that he didn’t think “Wes was going to amount to much.”

Wes Unseld has acknowledged how his career was kickstarted under the guidance of Carl Wright, the former Eastern Kentucky Maroon, who coached Wes in those formative years.

As Howard Mocerf remembers, Wright worked with the young prodigy daily during practice at a side basket in Seneca’s gym. Shooting. Rebounding. Footwork.

“He’d wrap a football chinstrap around Wes’s hands, so he’d learn to hold the ball with his fingers, not in the palm.

“Wright worked his butt off.”

Still success didn’t come immediately. Continue reading Remembering My Favorite Cardinal Ever

Fan Moments VII: John Tong

Let’s place the blame for the current state of shrieking PA announcers at the source.

Famous Philly 76er mouth at the mic, Dave Zinkoff.

“Here’s Juuuuuulius Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrving!!!!”

As Louisville Cardinal fans who have been around for awhile know, It didn’t have to be like this in this age of “Who wants a Kroger t-shirt?”, and “ThreeeeeEEEEEEEEEE!!! by Whomever.”

Once upon a time, there was John Tong, inviting the assembled to the thrill and excitement of college basketball in Freedom Hall, adding allure to games at what still stands as one of the most iconic basketball venues in all the land. Continue reading Fan Moments VII: John Tong

The Bag Man, Concession Contention, Funereal Garb & Other Memphis State Memories

So, I’m standing in line at the concession stand at Mid South.

The Cards are about to take on their biggest rival Memphis State for the ’88 Metro Conference tourney crown.*

*Yeah, I know, Cats vs. Cards, Feather vs. Fur, yada yada, yada. In my lifetime, Memphis State, whom U of L has played 125 times, has been far and away the hugest rivalry. Period.

There’s a kid about ten or eleven next to me in line dressed in all Tiger, and we’re going back and forth, having fun with it. At some point, his mother walks up, notes the conversation, immediately grabs her son by the arm, pulls him away, and as they’re walking off, yells at him, “How many times have I told you, NEVER talk to a Louisville fan.”

It was not my only set-to of the day. Continue reading The Bag Man, Concession Contention, Funereal Garb & Other Memphis State Memories

Disgrace in the Sphere of Cheer

I mean really now, what is going on in the seemingly innocent world of Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah?

First, at U of L, there is the strange and increasingly sordid saga of Todd Sharp, the self proclaimed “most successful coach in the history of dance.” He’s the former, now somewhat disgraced coach of the 148 time national champion Ladybirds.

His downfall in the Dance Team universe began with embezzlement scandals at Floyd Central HS and U of L, where he said in the WAVE interview, he was innocent, and worked 70 hours a week at his craft.

Then there was the incident at a Louisville hotel, when he accidentally shot himself with a gun he was carrying. While the U of L baseball banquet was underway nearby.

Most recently, it is reported a fellow was found dead in Sharp’s abode, a gentleman the former Dance icon had met just the night before.

So, yeah, that’s pretty juicy stuff. Continue reading Disgrace in the Sphere of Cheer

Fan Moments VI: Harry Bockman & The Schnell

Every campus has a guy.

You know, a character somewhat peripheral to school life, but who’s always around, insinuating, often annoying.

The guy who becomes a running joke of sorts.

In this day and age, he’d become a meme. In my student days, he was an annual mention in the Louisville Cardinal’s April Fools issue.

I’m talking about Harry Bockman, that guy in the Registrar’s Office. Everybody at U of L had an issue with him sooner or later.

I’ll get to his dislike for iconic football coach Howard Schnellenberger in due time, but first, the rest of his story. Continue reading Fan Moments VI: Harry Bockman & The Schnell

Fan Moments V: Early Days at Freedom Hall

I loved going to Cardinal games in the early years at Freedom Hall, where they started playing full time in ’57.

Actually I’ve loved going to Cardinal games anywhere anytime, but, you know what I mean, work with me here.

My parents got season tickets, so we weren’t beholden any longer to dad’s employer for use of his seats, as we were at the Armory.

And, during one of those seasons in the late 50s, if under a certain age, kids could get a pass to get into all the games for, like, a dollar.

For the whole season, not per game. A Knot Hole Gang kind of thing.

Or, so I recall.

My pal Larry, whose folks were also super fans and season ticket holders, and I would roam the arena. There would only be 4000 or so for those games, so we could sit most anywhere we wanted.

A lot of times, we’d sit up at the top, far away from any fans. And announce the games.* Continue reading Fan Moments V: Early Days at Freedom Hall