How little Eddie became a diehard Louisville fan

By Ed Peak

As I leaned back in a chair on my deck on a beautiful spring day during this Covid-19 pandemic, I glanced toward a University of Louisville flag my wife hung in the yard. There is no doubt when you pass this house, it bleeds Cardinal Red.

My editor Charlie Springer suggested a post a while back on how I got to be a Cardinal fan. Full disclosure here and some background is needed. As a reporter and journalist I try to be honest and balanced (Fox News like). If the Cardinals play poorly. I report it. If they do extraordinary things, I report it. I’m a fan of good stories. But every journalist will tell you that.

How did I get to be a Louisville follower? I go back to the basketball season in 1968 when Wes Unseld was a senior for coach Peck Hickman. A local television station had a special on Louisville playing Houston and Elvin Hayes in the NCAA Tournament.

The special finished with an airplane leaving Standiford Field with the plea, “Please come back home Cards with two wins. Please Cardinals, please.” That stuck with me. The Cardinals lost to the Cougars but that’s how I began following UofL as a 15-year-old.

I started attending Louisville football games at the old Cardinal Stadium. I’d go to Convenient Food Mart and get a $1 ticket. I did the same for basketball. Just think, $1. I’d take the bus from my home and walk from Crittenden Drive to the stadium or Freedom Hall.

One game when the Cardinals played rival Cincinnati I had to sit on the steps in an aisle about halfway to the top of Freedom Hall. It was more than a sellout. There were no seats, plus the Cards lost by a point. Tough night.

Unseld, Beard, Holden, Grosso bring back great UofL basketball memories. Football’s Gatti, Welch, Boggess played for coach Frank Camp who did a masterful job with very limited resources.

I later attended UofL after graduating from Waggener High School and a couple years at Jefferson Community College. I worked in the Courier-Journal Sports Department which seemed to have a lot more Kentucky fans than Cardinals. But it was the state newspaper and its leader Earl Cox, from Irvine, wanted a well-rounded sports section.

The CJ officially didn’t tolerate cheerleaders, so I wasn’t wearing UofL hats or sweatshirts around Fifth and Broadway. I had to stick up for the Cardinals in a fair and balanced way.

Dana Evans back when basketball returns to Louisville

Dana Evans flirted with the idea of moving on to the WNBA but in the end her heart belonged to the University of Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).
Dana Evans was sixth on her team one year, conference player of the year the next season (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

All that speed, all those points, and, yes, those distinctive and adorable eye lashes, she’s coming back to the University of Louisville women’s basketball team.

Dana Evans, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, announced Wednesday that she will be back for her senior season. That’s apparently after seriously considering putting her name in the draft for the Women’s National Basketball Association.

That’s assuming, of course, the dreadful COVID-19 scourge will have finally subsided by next October. One can only hope and pray, and maintain social distancing.

Dana’s trademark eye lashes endear her to UofL fans (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Whether she would have drafted into the WNBA at only 5 feet, 6 inches is debatable. What’s not debatable is that she will continue to be a major force for UofL. She led the team in scoring this past season, averaging 18 points while making 4.3 assists per game. She made 90 three-pointers in 30 games.

Other honors included All-ACC First team, All-ACC Academic Team and All-ACC Tournament Team. She was also named Associated Press Second Team All-American, USBWA Second Team All-American.

Dana wrote on her social media accounts:

“In my first three years at Louisville, we have accomplished a lot. Three ACC championships, an ACC Tournament Championship and a trip to the 2018 Final Four. It has been three of the best years of my life.
 
“After this season came to an abrupt halt, I had many discussions with my family, Coach Walz and the coaching staff about my future. I have decided that the best thing for me is to return to Louisville for my senior season.
 
“My first three years have helped prepare me for what I believe will be an extremely special senior year and I can’t wait to play in front of the best fans in the country next season.

Welcome relief for UofL women’s basketball fans needing good news.

Times that try men’s souls

The last thing anyone expected in March was an out-of-control virus that would be wreaking havoc on our lives and livelihoods. Instead of University of Louisville basketball, one is keeping with updates on infections and deaths and the latest restrictions on individual movement.

Charlie Springer during happier times at Jim Patterson Stadium (Barbara Springer photo).

The numbers keep going up and up, with no relief in sight. Doubling every other day it seems. The only positive coming from China, which claims the new cases are slowing down. Problem is the chicoms have little credibility, having tried to conceal the danger until it was wildly out of control.

So one waits. Waits for what? No solutions coming soon. One is left to wonder about the chances of contracting the virus. To wonder if one may have already been infected. To see when local testing will be available. To wonder when one will be able to see family, friends and loved ones again without threatening them or ourselves.

Someone at the Centers for Disease Control stated that if you’re not overacting to the threat, you’re probably not preparing enough. So one washes one’s hands several times a day, wears gloves on trips to Kroger or to Walgreen’s or any other shopping trips. Spraying bleach on door knobs, sinks, other surfaces, hoping it’s just in time, not too late.

Each day pretty much the same. No NCAA basketball tournament action to distract from the daily doom and gloom. The simulations on YouTube of computerized games just a depressing reminder of what we’re really missing. No quick trips out to Jim Patterson Stadium to see a UofL baseball team that ranked No. 1 in most of the pre-season polls. Just left to anticipate someday going out to Cardinal Stadium or down to the KFC Yum! Center.

No going to church services on Sunday, doing high fives with fellow UofL fans, no taunting of people who follow Kentucky. No ability to worship or pray collectively. Avoiding other religious services, including funerals … or visitation services for that matter.

Waiting for grandson Koby, a college junior, to arrive from Florida, having to leave his dormitory at Florida Gulf Coast University and his job with Sprint.  The school and the company each forced to take actions to protect the individuals, the people they come into contact with, along with the institution and the business.

Hoping son Steve and his family four hours away in Murray are doing okay. Giving thanks that he has gotten over two bouts with the flu. Regretting not being able to make the trip, with all the differences in ages and the warnings about small and large group gatherings.

Thankful for a spouse who is good at dealing with a wide variety of different challenges, willing to make sacrifices and puts family first. Her being a great cook and a rabid UofL fan are qualities that make her even more loved and indispensable.

Challenging times, one never knows what to expect next. Some day this particular challenge will be another one of those events that altered the course of humanity. Hopefully, it will make us stronger and better prepared for what is coming our way.

For now, we have our hands full just getting through this one.

Louisville fans help Jock Sutherland celebrate 92nd birthday

Jock Sutherland with Winnie, one of his “wiener dogs,” while enjoying cards from UofL fans. Photo courtesy of his wife, Phyllis
Sutherland.

Some great news to share in the midst of some challenging times.

Jock Sutherland was up and at ’em Saturday morning, celebrating his 92nd birthday  at 234 Fairway Drive West in Nicholasville.  His wife Phyllis greeting him with happy birthday wishes.

She also presented him with a stack of birthday cards from University of Louisville fans, courtesy of fans who visit Card Game and the Cardinal Authority fan site. Later in the day Jock will partake of an Oreo ice cream birthday cake, his favorite dessert.

“Good morning, Mr. Springer. Just wanted to let you know Jock got 40 birthday cards for his birthday today,” said Phyllis in a text message. “He will have a grand old time reading them, seeing who they are from. He will read them over and over. Thanks for your help in getting the cards sent to him. Many blessings.”

Jock was also greeted on his special day to the yelping and pitter patter of their three dachshunds, Bobbie, Buddy and Winnie. “Winnie has been giving him lots of kisses today,” she noted. “She wants to wear her little dresses with ruffles. I put down two or three dresses and she takes the one she wants.

“They are spoiled rotten, including Jock.”

Jock, as most of you know, is the former color analyst on University of Louisville basketball games with Van Vance. They worked together on WHAS radio from 1980 to 2001.

“We’re shooting for 100 for Jock,” she said. “We still have the mailman to come today. He keeps looking at the cards this morning. He’s enjoying them.”

Thanks to everyone who helped make this Saturday a special day.

With fans gone, NCAA tournament would be next to go

The madness, the idiocy and the panic accompanying the worldwide phenomenon of the COVID-19 virus has mushroomed. A menace threatening not only the economy but the well-being of institutions, organizations and individuals.

With no idea of how serious and how long the threat will continue to disrupt everyday normalcy and routines. Public concern is ramped up on an ever-escalating basis by the mainstream news media and, often, by politicians with questionable intentions. The media fanning the flames,  a health care analyst on ABC News describing the virus as the perfect killing machine for the elderly. 

Just a few days ago one was scoffing at the idea of possibly prohibiting spectators at college athletic events or other sporting events. Doubtful that the original suggestion was rational or even serious, but committees have ways of drifting into controversial conclusions. 

Right on cue, a group labeled as the COVID-19 Advisory Panel on Wednesday issued a recommendation to the NCAA to limit attendance at championship events, including the NCAA basketball tournaments, to only essential staff and limited family members.

At the same time government leaders and officials at federal medical and health institutions are advising that the risk of contracting the coronavirus is low for the average citizen. Elaborate instructions on how to further protect oneself from the virus are easily available from many different sources.

Apparently, there is little faith in the American public’s ability to follow the guidelines. There is a plethora of state and local officials, along with other civic, athletic and private organizations, some seemingly wanting to outdo each other. 

Contradictory at times, with the Kentucky Governor urging religious leaders across the commonwealth to cancel church services this weekend. At the same time, delaying any decision on colleges and universities and public school systems throughout the state.

The NCAA initially banning fans from attending the 67-game tournament. The inevitable next step would be a cancellation of the entire classic. With the fears and actions of decision-makers doubling down from one day to the next, who would be surprised? Any day now.

In the current atmosphere, the inevitable perception will be that there’s no better way of protecting the well-being of coaches, student-athletes and their families.