Editor’s Note: This is the final column by sportswriter Bob Watkins, who is retiring. His column has appeared on this page since it was syndicated in 1987.
Thank you for taking time each week to turn the pages of this newspaper and visiting this space.
Gratitude, it has been said (and I agree), “is not only the greatest of virtues, but is the parent of all others.”
1. First newspaper bylined feature – on basketball player Jim Dinwiddie (UK, 1970).
2. Critics. Those who cared enough, were passionate enough and gracious enough (and not), to excoriate me and/or praise my work across four-plus decades, thank you.
3. Time (35 years doing this column). Our idea of Daylight Saving Time, an old native-American remarked: “Only a white man would believe you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket, sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.” — author unknown.
4. Glorious echoes: v “And herrrrre they come to me now!” Stretch run at Churchill Downs — Cawood Ledford. v Radio voice Claude Sullivan play-by-play of Kentucky-Seattle NCAA championship game, 1958. v Denny Crum’s anecdote about recruiting Larry Bird.
5. Sit-down visit in an office at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington. Seated behind his desk, Adolph Rupp.
6. One Shining Moment, (his) Ty Rogers (Western Kentucky) of Eddyville; National Kodak Award for column writing 1985 (mine).
7. Priceless. Visits with John Havlicek, Henry Aaron, Kelly Coleman, Steve Garvey, Bill Evans, Billy Packer and Bob Skinner.
8. Worth Repeating. “Everybody is ignorant … only on different subjects.” – Will Rogers
9. Unforgettables along my way – Bill Moyers (PBS), Frank Deford and Will Grimsley (writers), Charlie Tyra (Louisville), John Oldham (Western Kentucky) and King Kelly Coleman (first Kentucky Mr. Basketball).
HIGHS & LOWS
10. High. Serving our country, 1960-1965 (USAF).
11. High. Dr. Orlando ‘Tubby’ Smith coached Kentucky (brilliantly) to NCAA championship, 1998.
12. High. Bucket List visits to Wrigley Field and Fenway Park.
13. Low. Perfect fit notto be, Billy Donovan, basketball coach at Kentucky.
14. Low. University of Kentucky hired John Calipari.
15. High. Learned to appreciate “Never miss a good chance to shut up!” – Mark Twain.
16. High. Among the astute college basketball fans I knew along the way, Eugene Lewis, Elizabethtown.
17. High. Privileged to see a complete college basketball player Anthony Davis, 2012. Darrell Griffith and Tyler Ulis, too.
18. High. Most entertaining and best team player alltime — Larry Bird, Indiana State and Boston Celtics.
19. High. Mr. Basketball favorites: Butch Beard (1965), Mike Casey (1966).
20. High. Dear friends Dept: Rodger Bird, Frank Ramsey, Corky Withrow, Howard Crittenden and Larry Pursiful.
21. Low. Rupp’s Runts was America’s Team in March 1966. By March 19 all-white Kentucky became forever linked to Brown versus Board of Education.
22. High. Sealing my heart strings attachment to Great Britain, television series: All Creatures Great & Small (1978-1990).
23. Thankfully in this life a person or persons (angels?) came along to inspired, encouraged, press us along to be who we could be. My journey began with Sister Margaret Teresa in Corbin, then Walter Sutton in Elizabethtown and Max Heath of Shelbyville and finally one who helped keep my candle burning, Gisela Tamm Johnson, Elizabethtown.
24. High. Alma Watkins ( Mom) left for Heaven March 22, 2016. She was 96.
Allow me to leave with these ideas … v Kentucky fans who laugh a lot are healthier than those who don’t. v Louisville fans — take a 10-30 minute walk every day and while you walk, smile. It’s the ultimate antidepressant. v UK, UofL, WKU fans and all the rest — during your day try and make at least three people smile. Bonus points for making one laugh. v “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” — Abraham Lincoln
And so it went.