Kentucky Dateline Articles
- Footnotes in History -

While searching through old microfilm looking for information on past Kentucky games, it's hard to not be distracted by all the other tidbits of information which catch your eye, both inside and outside sports. Often there are some interesting bits of information which do relate to UK basketball in some way or things which are not well known but turn out to be significant in some way.

I try to note this type of infomation when I see it, and have taken a few of them and written them up as posts to Cat-Chat to provide a different dimension to the topics (and to help pass away the dog days of summer.) Below I've taken some of these posts and put them together in one place and with some additional links and graphics. Some of the information is interesting, some important points in history (whether it was known at the time or not) and some is just goofy. Hope you enjoy them.

Dateline February 14, 1908 - Skating through History

As part of going through old microfilm looking for UK boxscores, sometimes you run across things which just tease you. Especially the early part of the century where information is hard to find (if it's even there) and doesn't give a lot of detail. It seems newspapers during those times were formatted a lot differently than they are today or even as they were in the decades to follow.

For example, instead of lengthy articles, the newspapers seemed to be composed of mainly short one or two paragraph snippets about various topics scattered across the page. To make things even more frustrating when trying to locate specific items, the topics were not really organized into identifiable sections as you see today's newspapers. So it wouldn't be surprising to find mention of a basketball game located just about anywhere. Next to a marriage annoucement, details of a farm accident or a recipe for an ointment, it doesn't seem to matter where it went.

Anyway, below is a small article I happened to run across while glancing through some microfilm looking for UK games in 1908. From the Friday February 14, 1908 Lexington Leader:

A couple notes from this.

1.) As you might have guessed, there is no official record of such a game played on February 17 in the UK record book. [and no record of State College (UK) playing the high school that year] So if it was played, it would be one which has not been reported to date.

2.) Unfortunately from looking at the Monday & Tuesday papers (the day of and day after the game was supposed to be held), there is no mention of it (if it was played at all) at least in the Leader.

3.) Playing on skating rinks apparently wasn't an unheard of thing. Judging from the advertisements of the time, it seems skating was a pretty popular past-time in Kentucky at the turn of the century and it would seem a skating rink would be an ideal place to hold a basketball game, given the crude state of gymnasiums at the time. [I did a quick web search on the history of roller skating and it claims the first practical roller skate was developed by someone in Massachusetts in 1863 and over the next 20 years, it became popular in the US]

Centre College around that time used to play at a place called the Danville Rink. Advertisements for the Rink would mention the game time, and then say that you could skate before and after the contest. And I recently found from a Vanderbilt list that one of Vanderbilt's early gymnasiums (the Hippodrome in Nashville) where they played in the 1930's and early 1940's, was also a roller rink.

FWIW, in the same paper was an advertisement for the Mammoth in Lexington which gives some more information.

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Dateline January 30, 1917 - The Goat-Boy Strikes !

There's really no good reason to post this story about UK's game against Rose Polytechnic, but hopefully some will enjoy it. The game was unimportant and a blow-out. But I thought I'd mention it anyway because it does strike some interesting visual images and I think is the best I've seen at commenting on the rough play during those times.

Here's the link to the game,

First of all, the beat writer (Tom Underwood) that wrote the game # is one of the more entertaining UK beatwriters I've seen coming out of the Lexington Herald. If you like the style of this story, I'd suggest reading all his stories from that year. (Be sure to check out future Western coach Ed Diddle's tactics during free throws while he played for Centre a few games prior to this game)

The story also makes any interesting reference to the style of play the Rose squad employed. Back then, most teams kept at least one player back to defend the goal, the back guard. UK even had a player (Ellis Johnson) win all-american honors for his ability to play this position [it couldn't have been for his scoring, he averaged 3.3 ppg in his career] Sometimes the back guard would sneak up near half-court and pop a long shot (the courts were generally much smaller than they are today) but generally stayed back and weren't much of an offensive threat. The Roses instead brought a new method of attack which Underwood thought novel enough to comment on. They brought all five guys onto the offensive end at the same time ! Underwood writes:

I found that interesting to see how thoroughly unimpressed Underwood was with this tactic, which although it would take at least another decade (not sure exactly when things changed significantly) would overtake offensive philosophy.

Finally, the story goes into some detail about the rough nature of the game at that time. The goat reference if priceless IMO. I have to wonder what constituted a foul back then ? Incidentally, the referee for that game, was Robert Hinton, coach of the Georgetown team (who had played and beat Rose Poly the night before in a rough game). It sounds strange today but at least at that time, it was not unusual that a coach of another team would be called to referee a game. For example, when Centre and UK played, the Georgetown coach would often officiate. When UK and Georgetown played, the Centre coach would be called to duty. I've seen where former UK coaches would come back the next year and officiate a game, likewise former UK players would be called on to toot the whistle. John DeMoisey (former UK All-American) seems to have been an official for many years after he left UK and called many UK games. (Of course more recently, George Conley (father of UK player Larry) used to officiate games Kentucky played in during the 60's, but that's not quite the same.)

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Dateline January 1918 - Old Man Winter 1, Wildcats 0 or The Curse of the Miami Big Reds

Sometimes things just aren't meant to be. At the beginning of the 1918 season, Kentucky was scheduled to travel by train to Miami (OH) University for a game. They never made it however. Here is the story as published in the Kentucky Kernal, 1/17/1918

The game was never rescheduled for that year. They did play however, the following year. Here is the pregame for that which talks about more hardships in getting these two schools together.

Published 3/16/1919 in the Kentucky Kernal

As is turned out, the game wasn't worth the wait for the Wildcats. They were swamped 38-14. :-(

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Dateline February 26, 1922 - A Fork in the Road

From the February 26, 1922 Lexington Herald:

I found this article interesting on a number of levels. For one, the article doesn't mention this but Kentucky was already part of the SIAA (which later became the Southern Conference which later split into the SEC and ACC) at the time. If UK had joined this midwest conference, the entire backdrop would have changed from a Southern university to a midwestern one. I wonder how things would have played out in this scenario in terms of UK building its basketball legacy. This conference would have gone up against the well established Western Conference (which later became known as the Big Ten).

I also found it very interesting and even prophetic Rockne's quotes about how people view teams which don't subject themselves to the rules and regulations of a governing body, seeing how Notre Dame has been one of the biggest holdouts in terms of joining a conference (and remains so today wrt football).

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Dateline February 9, 1923 - Stung by Cupid's Arrow

published in February 9, 1923 Kentucky Kernal

FWIW, Fest, who was the team captain, stayed on for the remainder of the year. Married life must have been good for him as he had two of his best games of his career, 17 points against Tennessee (likely his career high) a day after the above article was published and 14 against Sewanee in the season finale.

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Dateline January 1926 - Scouting Goes High Tech

from the Kentucky Kernal in late January


Dateline February 4, 1926 - A Surprise at the Door

On February 4, 1926 was played one of the most unexpected games in UK's history when the Washington & Lee basketball squad (coming all the way from Lexington, Virginia) showed up in the morning at the Athletic Director's door and claimed they had a game against UK that evening. This was news to UK and they had to scramble to put together the match in time. UK went on to win the game. Here is the boxscore.

Below is the game # as written in the Lexington Herald.

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Dateline February 14, 1938 - A Shot from Above

Many I'm sure are familiar with the movie Field of Dreams, where Kevin Costner hears the voice "Build it, and they will come." But did you know that Kentucky has a similar type of story in it's vast history ?

Joe Hagan
The year was 1938 and Kentucky was hosting a very strong Marquette team. The game came down to the wire and with the score tied and in the waning moments, Joseph "Red" Hagan let loose a 48-foot shot which gave UK the win. This was the game where the Governor of the State, A.B. "Happy" Chandler bounded out of the stands after the victory was sealed and drove a nail in the spot where the shot was taken. Apparently Hagan shot the ball out of divine inspiration. The following from the Lexington Herald:

One important thing to note about this shot was that Hagan shot it with plenty of time left on the clock for Marquette to come back and tie the game (unlike, for example Vernon Hatton's shot vs. Temple where he had no choice but to shoot because the time was nearly out.) With his taking such an improbable shot and giving Marquette a chance to score, the odds were running heavily toward him being the goat. In fact, even though Hagan made the shot, Marquette did have multiple chances to at least tie the score, but they failed on each occassion. You can read more about that game at the following link:

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Dateline March 4, 1938 - The Greenies Strike

Ran across a game # from the late 1930's that I found interesting. This UK squad was undefeated in the conference, although they did lose a few out of conference games.

What I found interesting was not so much the game itself but a paragraph deep in the text.

For those who didn't catch it, that tournament UK missed was the inagural National Invitational Tournament, which predated the NCAA tournament by one year. In those early days, the field consisted of 2 local New York teams, 2 Eastern teams and 2 from the Midwest or Far West. That particular field included NYU and Long Island, Temple and Bradley (presumably this counted as an Eastern team ?) along with Oklahoma A & M and Colorado. Temple won that tournament.

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Dateline January 21, 1939 - A Familiar Face Returns

With the impending arrival of Rick Pitino in Lexington to coach a game against the Big Blue and all the hub-bub that's going to (and already has) create. Some may not know that this is NOT the first time a former head coach at UK came back to coach against his former team. It's happened before.

John Mauer
John Mauer, the successful coach before Rupp, left UK and went to Miami of Ohio where he coached until he took the job at Tennessee where he had some tense battles with Kentucky and Adolph Rupp. Mauer later coached at Florida also.

So I thought it appropriate to mention what happened when Mauer returned to Lexington for the first time. Here's some snippets from the (admittedly tame) pre-game story by the Lexington Herald's Ed Ashford:

Perhaps a bad omen, but Kentucky played poorly that game and Tennessee was able to escape with an upset on UK's homecourt. Here's the boxscore and game writeup.

In fact, of the first 15 games played between Mauer and Rupp, Mauer held his own with a 7-8 record. This included two UK losses in the SEC tournament championship game. I wouldn't like to see how UK fans would handle a similar scenario with "Traitor" Rick ?

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Dateline January 7, 1940 - Donkey Basketball at its finest

From the January 7, 1940 Lexington Herald

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Dateline - March 14, 1942 - A Game Played for a Cause

March 1942, the United States was getting back on its feet and preparing for a long war, having just weathered a surprise attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor a few months before and declaring war on enemies on each side. To help with the effort, a game was scheduled between Kentucky and the Great Lakes Naval Station in Louisville to raise funds for the Navy Relief Society.

Lee Huber
Kentucky, along with most every school, ended up playing a number of military bases during this time period. But this was no ordinary military base. The Naval Station, based outside Chicago on Lake Michigan, boasted an impressive athletic tradition, which included some historic football teams.


The teams put together by the Naval Station during the second world war was literally a who's who of former college basketball players prior to the war. The team UK faced in 1942 had no less than six former All-Americans, including Lee Huber who had been an All-American at Kentucky under coach Adolph Rupp. The others were "Junie" Andres and Bill Menke (Indiana U), Frank Baumholtz (Ohio U), Bob Calihan (Detroit) and Dick Klein (Northwestern)

Also on that team was Forrest (Forddy) Anderson of Stanford who went on to be a well-respected coach at Bradley and Michigan State.

UK facing 6 players who held All-American status may well be a record. One team which may give them a run for their money is the Great Lakes team of the following year.

That team again featured Dick Klein but also had former All-Americans Ed Riska (Notre Dame) Bob Davies (Seton Hall) George "the blind bomber" Glamack (North Carolina), Forrest Sprowl (Purdue) and Gilbert Huffman (Tennessee).

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Dateline - January 24, 1943 - Recruiting them Young

Warning: This message only has a very slight link to UK. It talks about former Notre Dame coach Elmer Ripley and some of his players (which included ND player Billy Hassett) and was IMO quite an amazing story. I ran across this article, and having recently written the series history between Notre Dame and UK recognized the names.

As an aside, Hassett played for Ripley when Notre Dame played UK in 1946

and earlier played against UK while Clem Crowe was the coach at Notre Dame.

If you read the series history, you might remember that after George Keogan died in the early 1940's, Notre Dame went through a string of coaches.

Anyway, this article doesn't deal with Notre Dame or UK at all, but with what happened prior to that when Hassett and Ripley were at Georgetown in Washington DC. From the Lexington Herald-Leader in 1943.

A couple things I found noteworthy, beyond the main fact that these schoolboys ended up playing for and succeeding with Ripley.

FWIW, I sent that article to a guy who runs a very good historical website devoted to Georgetown and he wasn't aware of the story, even though he's written a short (but interesting) history of the Georgetown program.


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Dateline January 1, 1945 - Quizzing the Kitty

from the Lexington Herald, January 1, 1945 while UK was in New York City playing Clair Bee's Long Island Blackbirds after winning a squeaker over Temple in Philadelphia a few nights before and Wyoming before that (in Buffalo NY of all places).

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Dateline February 28, 1947 - Sometimes you have to leave some behind

from the February 28, 1947 Louisville Courier Journal:

Postscript - Kentucky went on to win the SEC Tournament that year by beating Auburn (84-18), Georgia Tech (75-53) and Tulane (55-38)., despite Alex Groza being less than effective with a lame back. Kentucky went on to participate in the NIT that year, but Brannum was again missing from the traveling squad as he had decided to transfer to Michigan State. The following year, Brannum and the Spartans nearly upset Kentucky's Fabulous Five in a packed Jenison Fieldhouse. Brannum went on to play six years in the NBA.

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Dateline December 30, 1950 - In Remembrance of a (Chump)ion

In December of 1950, the Herald ran a short article talking a little bit about this inglorious season in UK history. (along with a team photo which I haven't seen anywhere else)

So in the name of remembering the good with the bad when it comes to UK's history, here's the article.

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Dateline March 21, 1952 - Pulling Back the Welcome Mat

Some may have seen that in the 1952 NCAA Tournament, No. 1 ranked Kentucky got beat by No. 10 St. John's in Raleigh, at the North Carolina State's Reynolds Coliseum.

This was a huge upset, as earlier in the year, Kentucky hosted St. Johns in Lexington and won the game convincingly 81-40.

According to Tev Laudemann's book, The Rupp Years

Solly Walker
Some may question why the teams were staying in a dormitory in the first place. As it turns out, there's a story behind that. Lexington Herald editor Ed Ashford mentioned it in his Saturday morning March 22 column, "It Says Here--."

Ashford wrote:

While there had been a few times before 1952 when NCAA regionals were held in the South, this was the first time they hosted black players, among them Solly Walker of St. John's and Jesse Arnelle of Penn State. (Arnelle would score 25 points against UK in the earlier round game and would in later years earn All-American honors.)

In McGuire's book, Frank McGuire - The Life and Times of a Legend, it mentions a part of this episode in history although it doesn't mention the dormitories at all (which actually leads to questions whether the black players even stayed in the dormitories or not). [I should mention that McGuire's recollections don't always square with other information I find from other sources.]

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Dateline December 12, 1953 - Somethin' Just ain't Right

It looked like just your typical thrashing of the Xavier Musketeers by the Kentucky Wildcats. Frank Ramsey scored 27 points and Kentucky won the game going away 81-66.

Typical except for one detail which postponed the game for a number of minutes. According to Ed Ashford's column in the Lexington Herald-Leader:

Cincinnati Gardens

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Dateline March 19, 1966 - Not a whole lot new under the sun

Included in the aftermath of UK's loss to Texas Western in the 1966 National Championship game, Lexington Herald Sports Editor Billy Thompson wrote a couple of snippets in his 'Pressbox Pickups' column concerning the earlier game with Duke.

You can file these under 'these sound familiar, haven't I seen these recently ?' So much for originality !

From the March 20th, 1966 Lexington Herald.

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Page written by Jon Scott January 26, 2004