This day 80 years ago, The Greatest was born.
No, not Muhammed Ali. The greatest University of Louisville fan.
If you’ve frequented this blog, you’re probably familiar with The Observer’s story. Growing up in Versailles, Kentucky, during the 1940’s and 50’s was the perfect opportunity to become a fan of the prominent, local basketball program nearby. He chose a different path, however, becoming a fan of the team 60 miles to the west via radio broadcasts he was able to pick up in the Methodist Childrens’ Home.
From those early days, he would devotedly follow the Cards for over the next seven decades. He would report on UofL in many forms and fashions, including for Louisville Magazine, the Louisville Times and the Courier Journal and numerous other mediums.
He was in attendance for all of the UofL basketball national championships under the late, Hall of Fame Coach Denny Crum and even took me as a nine-year-old fan to Reunion Arena in Dallas in 1986. One of his favorite stories to tell was how proud he was that I was on his shoulders at a UofL football game as a wee little toddler to show my appreciation, yet complete lack of self-awareness, I proceeded to clock him in the face with his own binoculars.
Countless games at Cardinal Stadium and Freedom Hall. Being able to attend the game with him when UofL beat #1 Syracuse following the passing of a dear friend’s father was extra special. Road trips for NCAA tournament games. Memories of the coldest I have ever been in person sitting on the frozen concrete of the Liberty Bowl in Memphis warm the heart.
The meeting of countless UofL legends: Crum, Griff, Schnellenberger, Jurich, too many to name, autographs galore, all facilitated by sharing his love for UofL with me, set the stage for memories that many would kill for. Generational love of a shared passion passed down from father to son, priceless.
I even eventually earned my Master’s degree from UofL, a big part of that desire just wanting to have that frame on my wall to make him proud.
Happy 80th birthday to you Dad, Charlie Springer, The Observer, the greatest UofL fan ever, the greatest earthly father ever, as I try to keep the tears from dripping into my keyboard to short circuit this post.
Love always your loving son,