It was a voice out of the past – a very welcome one.
“This is Harry Todd,” he said.
I probably embarrassed him when I told him that I was proud of him. Not only was he a great basketball player for coach James Larmouth at Earlington High, but Harry also climbed to the highest rank a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army can reach.
But I forgot the tell him that when I asked another distinguished graduate of Earlington High if they were related, Lee T. Todd, president of the University of Kentucky, Dr. Todd claimed at least a little kinship.
Todd now lives on Lake Barkley, and he was calling to invite me to a reunion in Elizabethtown of all of Kentucky’s Mr. Basketballs, the title bestowed on the finest senior basketball player in the state each year.
Open Hall of Fame
Not only was Todd a fine player, he and Russell County’s Ralph Richardson are the only players to share the Mr. Basketball title. Todd led a move that resulted in Richardson joining him in the Dawahare’s-Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame this year.
Todd wants to see all Mr. Basketballs in the Hall of Fame and that’s why he wants to organize the group.
Todd and Richardson shared the honor in 1958, the only time that has happened. I conducted the balloting for The Courier- Journal’s All-State team then, and they were the top vote-getters, thus the Co-Mr. Basketballs.
Mr. Basketball started in 1956 when the one and only King Kelly Coleman of Wayland wore the crown.
A look back
I thought there might be some interest in going back even more years than 1956 to mention some players who would have been strong candidates. One thing is for sure: There would have been Co-Mr. Basketballs before Todd and Richardson if they were being picked in 1945. Harlan’s Wallace “Wah Wah” Jones and Male High’s Ralph Beard would have shared the crown, and there would have been no argument.
Take a look all the way back to 1940 and let me know what you think. My address is The Voice-Tribune, 130 St. Matthews Ave., Suite 300, Louisville, KY 40207.
1955: Johnny Cox, Hazard.
1954: Billy Ray Cassady, Inez.
1953: Vernon Hatton, Lafayette.
1952: A really great year. Take your pick among Howard Crittenden, Cuba; Linville Puckett, Clark County; Phil “Cookie” Grawemeyer, Manual; Jerry Bird, Corbin.
1951: Jimmy Bert Tolliver, Whitesburg; Eugene Cain, Paris.
1950: Frank Selvy, Corbin.
1949: Cliff Hagan, Owensboro.
1948: Coy Creason, Brewers; Dr. Don Miller, Carr Creek.
1947: Dr. Harold Moberly, Richmond Madison; J.M. Gipe, Owensboro; Edd DeCoursey, Wayland.
1946: Sonny Allen, Breckinridge Training.
1945: Ralph Beard, Male; Wallace Jones, Harlan.
1944: Dr. Lonnie Howerton, Olive Hill; Bob DeMoss, Dayton.
1943: Luther Risner, Hindman.
1942: Les Kitchen, Lafayette; John Oldham, Hartford.
1941: Alex Harmon, Inez.
1940: Warren Cooper, Brooksville; Bob Hilton, Ashland.
Despite what some of you may think, I really didn’t see any of the early players. I saw them all starting with Ralph and Wah in 1945.