To the Editor:
I heard mention of Cawood Ledford earlier this week and it got me to reflecting on how important he and the University of Kentucky basketball team were to me and my friends when we were young.
It was our habit to gather at a place with at least minimal WHAS reception well before game time, and when his electric voice came on with the introduction it created intense excitement. I well remember how he would often say the play was going from left to right on our radio dial. I don’t think we really enjoyed the games, unless we were ahead by 25 or 30 points, because tight games created so much tension, anxiety, and so many racing pulses. A rare loss caused deep depression.
Everyone had a favorite player. I think of Cox, Crigler, Smith, Hatton, Hagan, Ramsey, and many others. Some even went back to Beard, Groza, and those biggerthan life heroes. I’m not sure that we even knew that UK had an educational side; it was just a basketball team. It was too far away, geographically and financially, for us to consider ever enrolling, so the question wasn’t relevant.
I got to Berea College eventually and was able to hitchhike the 40 miles to Memorial Coliseum, carefully making a map to get me out of the biggest city I had ever seen, and actually got to see a game — UK vs. St Johns. I was surprised and puzzled that it didn’t have anything like the excitement generated by Cawood Ledford and my imagination.
Cawood is long gone, as are many of those who sweated out those games, and I wonder if others may have had similar feelings. I also wonder if any athletic team or announcer ever had the allegiance they created. I doubt it.