Mt. Rushmore of Louisville Sports

In the wake of Bill Russell’s passing, my current favorite sportswriter Joe Posnanski riffed in a blog about who would be on a Mt. Rushmore of American Sports? He also considered one for the city of Boston.

Russell he observed was a given for both.

Like Top 10/100/Whatever lists, such an endeavor by default always generates disagreements.

It’s why we do them, right? We all need something to disagree on, or so I’d observe.

So, as it happens I’ll steal another’s idea. Because Joe’s conjecture got me to thinking what Louisville sports figure’s faces would be carved on such an elevation? (I guess you could do one for U of L too , but that only came to mind right now as I compose.)

So here goes nothing. Well, something actually. If just to pass the time until the fall sports season kicks off.

I’m so very sure you shall free to disagree with one or some of my selections.

For me, three are No Brainers.

Muhammad Ali.

Pee Wee Reese.

Paul Hornung.

Ali, duh. Only the most famous person on earth for an extended period of time. Multi time champ. Stood up for his beliefs. A master at his chosen sport. No matter where he lived he was always from Louisville.

Reese is technically not a native Louisvillian. He was born in Meade County, moved to the city when he was eight years old. Graduated from DuPont Manual. Ten time All-Star with the Dodgers, with whom he won a couple World Series titles. And participated in several more.

Hall of Famer. Called TV national game of the week for eight years, during five of which he was straight man for Dizzy Dean.

Was by all accounts, the most decent of human beings. Stood up for Jackie Robinson, including the legendary moment when Robinson was getting booed, and Reese walked over and put his hand on his teammates shoulder. (Which I always thought should have been the statue outside Slugger Field.)

Plus, I went to HS with his daughter.

Paul Hornung. Golden Boy from Flaget HS. Only Heisman Trophy winner from a losing team, and the first to be drafted first by NFL. I helped that his school was iconic Notre Dame, though they were a horrid 2-8 the season he won. Four time champ with Green Bay Packers.

Called “the greatest player I ever coached” by Vince Lombardi. In both pro and college Hall of Fame.

Which brings me to the fourth face. Not a gimme like the others.

I’d choose Westley Unseld.

Two time state champion at Seneca HS. His presence elevated U of L hoops to a new level never before attained. All-American.

One of only two players to be named NBA MVP and Rookie of Year in same inaugural season. (The other, Wilt Chamberlain.) Naismith Hall of Fame, College Hall of Fame.

To this day, forty years after his playing days ended, he is still referenced when a big pulls the ball off the board and fires it to midcourt while still in the air.

So, yeah, Wes is my fourth face.

Others considered: Darrell Griffith. Mary T. Meagher. Tory Murden.

As for a U of L Mt. Rushmore, I’m not even going to start. Feel free to have at it in the Comment section below.

— c d kaplan


5 thoughts on “Mt. Rushmore of Louisville Sports

  1. Wes. No contest. At once powerful and quietly dignified (a Mt. Rushmore of a man, if there ever was one). He and his teammates laid the foundation for U of L basketball as we came to know it, and as we hope it will soon again be.

  2. Good choices.. I would think U of L Sports would be simple. Wes, Griff, Crum and Schnell. Maybe put Lamar in there instead of Wes since he has already been honored. At first though I had Lamar instead of Schnell, but then there could not have been a Lamar without Schnell.

  3. Same class as Wes. On the swim team, we “shared” the basketball dressing room in Crawford Gym. Actually it was a large closet off their laundry room. But we walked through their locker room. It was our brush with greatness. We opened Crawford Gym. Now
    , since razed.

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