Younger fans in the University of Louisville fan base won’t remember Dick Fenlon, a sportswriter for The Louisville Times and The Courier-Journal. He was the U of L beat writer from 1965 to 1968 when he joined the Bingham empire and would become the Times’ columnist from 1972 to 1981.

Their loss. Dick was as good as they come, funny and positive with fascinating perspectives.

Dick Fenlon

Barbara and I were tailgating last Saturday in our assigned spot in the Green Lot before the Louisville-Marshall football game when one of the guys in parking spot next to us says, “Are you Charlie Springer, the one does Card Game?”

“Uh, yeah,” I reply, amazed that someone had recognized me.

“You may know our dad, Dick Fenlon.” Well, of course, I did, and we would spend the next half hour discussing what Dick has been up to and recalling the days of working alongside him at the CJ in the Seventies. Some of the best were his stories about Adolph Rupp and Denny Crum, usually shared over beers at a bar across the street after the last edition had gone to press. He had a way of mimicking the coaches that left us in stitches.

Unlike many of today’s edgy sports columnists, Dick had a mild, even temperament, a writer who entertained with his vast knowledge of sports and unique relationships with the people he covered. Just a very likeable person, the kind of person who made work a fun experience. He departed Louisville to be a columnist at The Columbus Dispatch in 1981 and retired in 1997. Great to get an e-mail from him this morning:

Hi, Charlie:  A coincidence that my two younger sons – who I think got hooked on U of L football back in the day of 75-cent Convenient Food Mart ducats – should end up parking next to you. Ironically, they both graduated from Ohio State University. My older daughter and son both graduated from U of L. John and James, the two you met, have had season tickets for many years and actually I have one too, paid for by them, and have been down for many games since I retired in ‘97, though not so many recently, as hauling my 81-year-old butt up the stairs is getting to be a little bit of a hassle. It’s a long haul down (to Louisville) and back from here but I enjoy their company (if not often the games in the post-Petrino era; they, alas, qualify as apparently eternal optimists, god bless them).
I have many great memories from my 19 years in Louisville. Was back for the last reunion of the Louisville Times a couple of years ago. I’ve got a million stories from then, some pretty unbelievable when I think about them now. It’s been a good run and despite the occasional bumps and bruises I wouldn’t trade my 40 years working for different newspapers for anything else I can think of now. Sad to see what the CJ has turned into now. I worked at the best of times.
Dick wrote a column on his memories of Freedom Hall in a special section of the Courier-Journal before the final game there last year.
John and James Fenlon
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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.