Muhammad Ali inspired fellow University of Louisville fans

muhammed-ali-quote-on-fitness-observatoryMuhammad Ali attended many University of Louisville athletic events over the years, always a UofL fan, always an inspiration to his fellow fans.

Back in the early nineties, a standing ovation at Fairgrounds Stadium when he was introduced, 36,000 voices proclaiming “Ali! Ali! Ali!” Even Tennessee football fans that night were joining the chorus.

Ali was on the 50-yard line at the 2007 BCS Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida for the UofL-Wake Forest game. The biggest game in UofL football history, he had to be there, joining the 35,000 fans from Louisville making the trip.

When Asaad Ali, his adopted son, was playing for the UofL baseball team in 2010 and 2011, Muhammad was a frequent visitor to Jim Patterson Stadium, joining Tom Jurich in the hospitality suite, even making financial contributions to the Louisville baseball program.

Jurich issued the following statement after Ali’s death:

“All of us in the Cardinal Athletics family are deeply, deeply saddened with the passing of an absolute worldwide legend in Muhammad. While he was undoubtedly one of the greatest athletes in history, the Champ made a difference in the lives of so many around the world.

“His generosity with his time for anything we asked of him — or things he offered to do without us asking — was incredible, as was the financial commitment he and Lonnie made to our baseball program at UofL.  It was a true honor for me to know him and he will be greatly missed.  Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to Lonnie and the entire family.”

Coach Rick Pitino joined in commemorating Ali:

“All of Louisville celebrates the life of our Champion.  “He shined brightest in the ring and preached peace outside of it.  He loved babies, people and cherished his friends.  We will miss you Champ.  Rest in Peace.”

This UofL fan will never forget the time his family bumped into the Champ at a Kentucky Derby breakfast in Frankfort, Muhammad Ali pulling my 4-year-old son from my arms, lifting him high and placing a kiss on his cheek. Remember thinking, “The most famous person in the world, that man.”

Always reaching out, engaging and absorbing, Muhammad Ali making people feel better about themselves and the world.

Making it through the summer

So how do fans who spend nine to 10 months a year following University of Louisville athletics survive the next two months without UofL competition? I’m not really sure. The opening football game against Auburn in the Georgia Dome is Sept. 5.

Thanks to Dan McDonnell’s team for extending the baseball season, putting the Cardinals within one game of the College World Series. One questionable foul ball/home run away. We may never know for certain. Really makes it difficult watching the championship series with Virginia and Vanderbilt, knowing UofL should have been there.2014-15-e1419956266732

Rick Pitino’s basketball team from one missed free throw away from returning to the Final Four for the third time in the last four seasons. UofL making only six field goals in the second half, Mangok Mathiang’s second free throw attempt not even close. Pitino willing his team to another incredible finish.

Bobby Petrino delivering a 31-28 win in the first-ever football game against Notre Dame at South Bend and a 9-4 won-lost record with a trio of untested, unproven and injury-plagued quarterbacks.

Continue reading “Making it through the summer”

Awestruck Louisville bows to Florida State

All the talk about Florida State’s past successes apparently getting to some members of the University of Louisville baseball team, tripping over their shoe laces in a 13-4 loss to FSU before a record crowd of 6,138 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium.

Even the best teams have bad losses. But this was one that could haunt the Cardinals as the season winds down, needing to prove themselves worthy of a national seed in NCAA tournament play.

Fears that Kyle Funkhouser would continue to struggle in the early innings were confirmed quickly, the UofL junior walking three batters and giving up three runs in the first inning. He would give up three more in the second.

Funkhouser throwing over 40 pitches in the first inning, still not finding his form. Taking too long to get comfortable in recent games. Finally settling down in the third, he would shut down the next eight hitters. By then the tenor of the game had been firmly established.

The pre-season All-American is losing confidence and control at the wrong time, prompting some serious concern about the all-important pitching rotation in the immediate future. The inability of once-starter Anthony Kidston, who was 14-1 in his first three seasons, to find the plate this year further complicates matters.

Football keeps Jameis Winston out of baseball

Jameis Winston not available.  (Seminoles.com photo)
Jameis Winston not available for Seminoles in baseball. (Seminoles.com photo)

If anyone was expecting Jameis Winston, the Florida State quarterback and pitcher, to take part in this weekend’s series against the University of Louisville baseball team, they’re in for a disappointment.

Winston is not listed on the Florida State roster, dropping the sport after signing an NFL contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forbidding him from playing professional baseball. The contract made no mention of college baseball but Winston got the message.

As a right-handed pitcher, he appeared in 41 games during his freshman and sophomore seasons at FSU, chalking up nine saves, an earned run average of 1.94, with 52 strikeout in 60.1 innings. He had a batting average of 209 in 158 at-bats.

As much as he loves baseball, the unpredictable Winston could still show up as a spectator, however.

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If the Seminoles stick with their usual pitching rotation, UofL will see Boomer Biegalski, a 6-foot-2 righthander on the mound in the first game. Described by Baseball America as “not overpowering, Biegalski dots the corners with a low 90s fastball, mixing in a slider and change-up.” He has a 4-3 won-lost record this season and has 88 strikeouts in 76.1 innings. That compares with 82 K’s for UofL’s Brendon McKay in 64.2 innings.

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FSU is led in hitting by left fielder D. J. Stewart, a 6-foot, 230-pound junior, who was the ACC Player of the Year in 2014 with a 350 hitting average. Stewart is currently batting 333 and has 12 home runs, seven doubles, a triple, and 45 runs batted in.

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Florida State, with a 16-8 ACC mark and 36-14 overall, has scored in double figures 14 times this season, including a 24-1 win over South Florida at Tallahassee.

Kelsi Worrell hurls first pitch for UofL

Kelsi Worrell
Kelsi Worrell

Kelsi Worrell, winner of two NCAA championships for the University of Louisville in the 100-  and 200-meter butterfly swimming competition two weeks ago, prepares to throw out the opening pitch for the University of Louisville vs. Kentucky baseball game Wednesday at Jim Patterson Stadium. She threw a fast ball for a strike but the game was postponed due to another April deluge and may be rescheduled.