Tag Archives: Louisville Cardinals

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

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

Fan Moments IV: Smackdown in Stokely, Sorta

Verbal provocateur that I would consider myself, I’ve never been a street fightin’ man.

Most certainly not now that I’m firmly embedded in my dotage, nor in my youth, frankly, have I ever been inclined toward fisticuffs of the physical variety.*

*As if there is any other manner of fisticuffs.

Truth be told, I came close to being in a fight only once in my life. Ironically, my propensity for using language as an attack tool played a role.

In English class my junior of high school, we were discussing something or another. And apparently I was more than a bit too critical of a fellow student, whose name was Frank, if I recall.

So much so, that Miss Miles held me after class for a moment and admonished me not to be so openly sarcastic in the future about another student’s opinion as I had been.

I walked out of the classroom, and the next thing I realized, I was laying on the floor, having been thrown across the hall against the lockers. Frank was, shall I say, displeased with how I had commented on class input.

He was ready to get it on right there, between 2d and 3d period. I had the wherewithal to suggest we meet after school instead to settle the matter. To which fortunately he assented. Continue reading Fan Moments IV: Smackdown in Stokely, Sorta

Cardinal Fan Moments III: Unknown Musician

Here are excerpts from a winter 2005 piece I wrote after interviewing a fabled character from the greatest decade of Cardinal hoops, ’75-’86, a decade so abundant, the Cards cranked it to 11. Like, 10 years +1, get it?

(So I guess you could say I’m sorta plagiarizing myself.)

Intro:

This would be the not so incredible but smile-inducing, true tale from those days of yesteryear when fandom was less scripted, more fun and wackoids ruled Freedom Hall. Fostered by the hard fact that Louisville’s Cardinals were the mack daddies of the college hoops universe.

So thank the bleak February heavens for Charlie Gabriel, with whom I had arranged an appointment for coffee. The married, fortysomething father, computer network consultant/job hunter living in Clifton, the brother of a broadcaster on the — egads! — UK radio network, was sunshine on a cloudy day.

In that magical season 25 years ago – a season when the Cards ruled with a thumbless power forward whose prosthesis was once retrieved from the garbage; during a campaign when U of L freaked out foes by setting up plays in pig Latin; when the Cards were champs so fresh that only a new gimme-some-skin five up high would do, Charlie Gabriel was also a pivotal player.

Ready or not, here comes the gory details of the origins, not only of the Unknown Musician, but of the C-A-R-D-S cheer and the roles of Earl Cox, “Wild” Bill Hagy and the pep band from Cincy. Continue reading Cardinal Fan Moments III: Unknown Musician

NoA: Grim Reaper at the Door???

You know the 2A, like a bill collector with bad BO, is going to drop in for a not so social visit, but it’s always bracing when you hear the knock on the door.

So the long expected, but far from eagerly anticipated Notice of Allegations against U of L dropped like a shroud on a gorgeous spring Monday.

What I’d love to do is invoke the old saw about UNLV, that the NCAA is so mad at Tark the Shark, they put Eastern Idaho State (Or some equivalent non-power school) on five years probation.

So I wish I could be saying this: The 2A is so pissed at Louisville, it’s threatening Iona with the death penalty.

But no, so anyway . . . Continue reading NoA: Grim Reaper at the Door???

Cardinal Fan Hoops Memories II: The Cardinal Meter

We’ve all got our own superstitions, our own manner of coping when our favorite team is playing. Especially when a game isn’t going well.

Here’s the tale of one of mine that’s worked pretty well at some critical times.

In the early 70s, there was a Missouri Valley away game against Wichita State I watched with friends, all Cardinal faithful, but not my usual gang.

The Cards were behind at the half. During that intermission, we filled our plates and cups, returning to the TV room for second half action.

The Shockers made a run out of the break, took the lead and pulled away a bit. The room turned tense, uncomfortable.

During the first timeout, our host realized that not all of us were sitting in the same seat as in the 1st half. Also somebody had turned off a lamp to avoid some glare on the screen.

He immediately implored, no demanded, we move to our original places, and that the light be turned back on.

Being Cardinal acolytes all, we realized the importance of doing our part, providing 110% spirit force to best help will U of L to victory. It worked. We moved to our original seating. Light on. Louisville came back, prevailed 91-84.

Like the diehards of every team and school, we have our quirky manner of dealing with such situations. Mojos. Talismans. Magic trinkets. Victory garb. Chants. Invocations. Continue reading Cardinal Fan Hoops Memories II: The Cardinal Meter

Cardinal Fan’s Hoops Moments I: The Carbondale Escort & Francisco on Fashion

A quick explanation here at the starting line.

This series won’t really be about great or even gruesome incidents on the hardwood. Though such might creep into the dialog from time to time.

What it shall be about are those peripheral memories diehards cherish.

The term fan comes from fanatic, you know, indicating excessive and unabated zeal. The Latin derivation also includes a nod to divine inspiration.

Which any Cardinal fan should agree with, having experienced a moment when Wes Unseld would snatch the ball off the boards, turn in mid air and hurl it overhanded to Butch Beard at midcourt before landing. It’s a unique, oft mentioned talent that remains the gold standard still, decades after Westley’s retirement.

This series will be about memories, scenarios apart from action on the court. Stuff we remember, and rehash often, fostered by our fandom.

 * * * * *

Francisco Garcia and Taquan Dean were a match. Continue reading Cardinal Fan’s Hoops Moments I: The Carbondale Escort & Francisco on Fashion