Revisit: Cotton Top Adopts U of L

The observer is reminded of this story daily by the frequent visits to this site from someone in Versailles, Ky. I suspect the reader from Versailles may have a similar story, and will see fit to share it someday.

Cotton Top was 12 years old, living in a Versailles orphanage (10 miles from Lexington) when he became a University of Louisville devotee. Like the other kids there he hated the word orphanage, calling it a children’s home. A loving aunt lived in Louisville where a real home beckoned after high school.cotton_top

He took an interest in everything Louisville, even saving his small allowance for subscriptions to Louisville newspapers during football and basketball seasons.  Between Sunday school and church, he would walk to the corner drug store to get the Sunday editions. He kept meticulous scrapbooks, and faithfully tuned in the stoic George Walsh and the zany Ed Kallay when they called games on WHAS and WAVE radio. His love for U of L served as a nice escape from some of the realities surrounding him.

As a Cards’ fan in Wildcat country, Cotton Top was often a target. He would have to put up with the not-so-kind comments from fellow residents while watching U of L games on TV. There was no option but to step outside a few times to ward off the challengers.

The orphanage’s activities director (AD) even got in on the act. While riding home on the orphanage bus from a youth meeting, the AD once loudly and confidently proclaimed that the University of Louisville would never win a national basketball championship. Cotton Top would be sorry later he would lose contact with the activities director before the AD went to his eternal reward. Would loved to have reminded him of that comment.

As an adult, he would obtain a degree from U of L, even though he already had obtained a sheepskin from another state school a decade earlier.  He would marry a UK grad, and happily watch her switch her allegiance to U of L.

He would witness the U of L basketball team winning a national basketball championship in Indianapolis, and then again in Dallas six years later, this time with his 9-year-old son. He would see football become a top 10 football program and win a BCS  Bowl in Miami. He would realize the collective dream of U of L fans, witnessing ground being broken for a new basketball arena and the construction and subsequent expansion of a U of L football stadium.

Cotton Top would  see his Louisville-born son become equally, if not even more, enthusiastic in his support of U of L, as well as two grandsons wearing Cardinal gear in their first photos and two grandchildren-in-law happy in similar dress.

He recognizes that he’s over the top, knows he’s a hopeless fanatic. But he has never given a second thought to seeking a cure for his addiction. No way. Never.

*    *    *

Speaking of U of L fanatics, you will find Sonja Sykes’ early take on this year’s Kentucky Derby here.

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Charlie Springer

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

8 thoughts on “Revisit: Cotton Top Adopts U of L

  • April 14, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    great story Charlie, motivational even. had to be tough growing up over there.

  • April 14, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Site gremlins must not agree with Mom’s Derby picks….since it shows up “not found” when you click on it.

    Perfectly understandable. She often doesn’t agree with her horse racing selections herself. Especially after a race.

    • April 14, 2009 at 9:13 pm

      Angela, the link is fixed, thanks for letting me know. You could also click on the new Kentucky Derby tab at the top of the page. Thanks, too, for joining the Card Game Community.

  • April 14, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    A touching story from an obviously dyed-in-the-wool Cards fan! I enjoyed reading it. Back to the days of Peck Hickman and Charlie Tyra, huh.

    Many of us maintain strong allegiances forged during our tender years.

    • April 14, 2009 at 9:36 pm

      You got that right Jimbo.

  • April 14, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Good read, Charlie. Glad to hear you didn’t go down the path to the darkside.

  • April 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    You made the right choice when you chose to follow the CARDS…man, you were one smart kid. thanks for the story.

    • April 16, 2009 at 6:49 pm

      Linda, you have a way with words. It was one of the best decisions ever.

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