Kentucky Sports Timeline
July 15, 1858, Louisville’s earliest box scores appeared in the Louisville Daily Democrat. The “Louisville Base Ball Club” played on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The paper noted the club wore uniforms of blue cottonade pants, white flamed shirts with blue piping, dark blue caps and leather belts.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell
July 19, 1865, Louisville hosted the first baseball game west of the Alleghenies played under standard rules. The Louisville Grays hosted and defeated the Nashville Cumberlands. When Louisville businessman Walter Haldeman and others formed the National League in 1876, this Louisville club was a charter member. The Grays finished fifth in 1876 and in 1877, led the league in the final weeks of the season, losing to the Boston Red Caps in the last game. Later it was discovered that gamblers had paid four Louisville players to lose games in 1877 so that Boston would win the championship. Baseball’s first major scandal led to the demise of the Grays, and the four were players banned for life.
September 28, 1875, the Red Mile ran their first race, named the Lexington Stakes, where a small crowd witnessed Odd Fellow cross the finish line first. Today the Red Mile host the Kentucky Futurity, one leg in the Triple Crown of Harness Racing for Trotters. The track is the second-oldest harness racing track globally and the oldest horse racing track in Lexington. This historical track is one mile and made of red clay.
April 9, 1880, the first organized football game played in Kentucky was played when Kentucky University (now Transylvania University) beat Centre College 13 ¾ – 0 in a cow pasture. There were fifteen players on each team and when a player was injured and removed, he could not re-enter the game. Concrete stands were added in 1916, creating UK’s first football stadium, Stoll Field.
November 12, 1881, the University of Kentucky played their first football game. The school was known as A&M College, Kentucky State College and/or State University of Kentucky. Kentucky won 7 1/4 to 1. The game of football resembled more of a rugby form and the scoring procedure is still unclear. Though football came to Kentucky in 1881, it quickly vanished after the three-game season. UK finished 1-2 in the inaugural campaign, but the lid was shut on UK football for the next nine seasons.
May 2, 1882, Louis Rogers “Pete” Browning, a lifelong resident of Louisville, made his Major League Baseball debut for the Louisville Eclipse. Pete was one of baseball’s pioneers, a genuine pre-modern national star and one of the sport’s most enduring and intriguing figures. A skilled marbles player and figure skater, Browning was a talented baseball player from the start. He was one of the sport’s most accomplished batters of the 1880s. A three-time batting champion, Pete finished among the top three hitters in the league in each of his first seven years. Twice in the decade, he hit for the cycle in 1886, and again in 1889. He also led the league in hits, total bases and on-base percentage in 1885. Nicknamed the “Louisville Slugger,” he was enormously attentive to the bats he used and was the first player to have them custom-made, establishing a practice among hitters which continues to the present. Pete’s 44-year life spanned from 1861–1905.
May 9, 1888, Tony “Icebox” Chamberlin became the first and only switch pitcher to win a game. It was during Louisville Colonel’s win over Kansas City 18-6.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell
September 27, 1892, the first Eclipse Baseball Park in Louisville caught fire. The team built seats and a new fence within 48 hours so that the scheduled games would not be interrupted.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell
October 9, 1893, the Kentucky Futurity, one of the Commonwealth’s oldest and richest horse races debut at The Red Mile. The crowd watched the shiny black colt Oro Wilkes score a grueling five-heat victory for driver J.A. Goldsmith. Oro Wilkes’s fastest Futurity heat was 2:14 ½, and the purse for the inaugural was only $11,880. The Kentucky Futurity, which dates back 121 years, is the oldest harness horse race of any importance. By contrast, the Hambletonian only goes back 88 years.
July 18, 1897, Honus Wagner began his illustrious major league career, in Louisville for the Colonels.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell
August 12, 1899, fire swept through the second Eclipse Park in Louisville. It was said to have started by a lightning strike.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell
September 2, 1899, the last major league baseball game for Louisville and Kentucky took place at Eclipse Park. Louisville beat Washington 25-4.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell
February 6, 1903, the Kentucky Wildcats played their first basketball game as State College against Georgetown College. The halftime score was 7-1 in favor of Georgetown who went on to win 15-6. The game was held in the Kentucky’s State College Gymnasium.
“A setting for the game will mark the beginning of a new era for the gridiron sport in this vicinity,” the newspaper wrote. “College football is coming into its own in Louisville. For the first time in the short history of athletic games at the local institution the students have been aroused to the pitch that can come only with time. The university has found itself, and a loyal body of hundreds of student supporters will cheer the Cardinals this afternoon in their efforts to defeat the Wildcats.”
March 4, 1916, Kentucky played their last basketball game in Woodland Park Auditorium. The Cats, coached by James Park, lost on their Senior Day game to Marietta 23-27. Kentucky played 22 games in Woodland, located on East High Street and Kentucky Avenue over three years with a 15-7 record.
November 30, 1916, the Kentucky Wildcats tied the Tennesse Volunteers in one of college football’s major upsets. The Volunteers going into the last game of the season were unbeaten and had only given up 13 points in two games the entire season. Tennesse hosted at Waite Field.
August 17, 1920, Raymond Johnson Chapman from Beaver Dam passed away after being hit by a pitch while batting in a Major League Baseball (MLB) game. He remains the only player to die from an injury received during an MLB game. During a dark, rainy afternoon, at Yankee’s Polo Grounds, the Cleveland Indians played the Yankees. In the first pitch of the fifth inning, a loud crack was heard and the ball trickled toward the mound. The Yankee pitcher quickly fielded it and tossed it to first base for what he thought was routine out. However, Chapman had sunk to a knee in the batter’s box, his eyes closed and his mouth open. They carried him off the field and he died 12 hours later after surgery. Raymond married before the start of the season to Kathleen Daly. She was pregnant when he died. Before the season started, he had hinted this would be his last season. The Indians won the game and the World Series later that year.
November 20, 1922, in the early morning hours, the third Eclipse Park burned to the ground.
Baseball In Louisville by Anne Jewell
On October 4, 1924, Male High’s football team was in Chicago to play Austin High School in the first football game in a brand new lakefront sports facility named Grant Park Municipal Stadium. Male defeated Austin by a score of 26-0. A little over a year later, Grant Park Municipal Stadium was renamed Soldier Field.
Cats Conquer Centre With Ease, 45 to 25: Lexington, KY Jan. 21 – Playing listlessly but outclassing their opponents, the University of Kentucky basketball team tonight easily defeated Centre College’s quintette, 45 to 25. Centre was no match for the smoothly functioning Wildcat five, which while far off on its basket-shooting, never was pushed after the first quarter of the contest. Centre drew first blood when O’Neil was successful in shooting a foul but State soon was out front by 11 to 2. Centre rallied here and sinking the majority of its tries for field goals gained a total of ten points. The Blue and White tossers then began taking a more accurate aim and were out front, 23 to 17, at the half. Mohney registered two fouls for the first points in the second half and from that point on, the game was one-sided. Centre never being able to penetrate close to the basket. State ran in a string of subs late in the game and they succeeded in holding Centre’s scoring to a minimum. State missed may shots for field goals and displayed but little of the form exhibited against Georgia Tech last Saturday night. Centre, although held to fewer scoring chances than the Blue and White, took advantage of most of its opportunities.
September 14, 1931, the first night baseball game in Kentucky took place at Parkway Field in Louisville. The traveling “House of David” team from Michigan brought their portable lighting system to town for a game against the Louisville All-Stars. Fleming County native, “King” Benjamin Purnell started the House of David team. Seven thousand paid patrons came for the triple attraction night: the star-studded players, the incandescent lights and the presence of Grover Cleveland Alexander, one of baseball’s immortals.
December 23, 1931, Kentucky basketball team hosted Berea in Alumni Gymnasium for the fifth time. The Cats won 52-27. John DeMoisey #00 from Walton, was high scorer with 16 points. His jersey is retired. Kentucky played Berea nine times, all in Lexington. The average margin of defeat was 26 points and the last time they played in 1939, Kentucky won by 50.
September 28, 1941, just days after playing in the U.S. Women’s Amateur tournament, Marion Miley was murdered in an apartment at Lexington Country Club. Miley was 27 years old. Her mother, Elsa Miley, 50, was mortally wounded. In an era of great amateurs, Miley had established a period of her own. She died in the most horrific crime in the game’s history.
December 6, 1947, the Kentucky Football Wildcats met the Villanova Wildcats in Cleveland Stadium to play the one and only Great Lakes Bowl. Kentucky was in its second season Under Coach Bear Bryant. Bryant’s cats were 7-3 going into the game with losses to AL, TN and Ole Miss. The two teams scored ten points in the first three quarters and 28 points in the fourth quarter. Kentucky won 24-14. George Blanda scored the first points of the game with a 27-yard field goal.
March 23, 1948, Adolph Rupp coached the Fabulous Five for University of Kentucky’s first basketball NCAA Championship by beating Baylor University 58-42 in New York City. Eight teams participated in the tournament and Wildcat Alex Groza was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Watch a Video
March 26, 1949, in Seattle, Coach Rupp won his 2nd NCAA title. Paced by Alex Groza’s 25 points and a defense that limited the Aggies to a mere nine field goals, the Wildcats were crowned NCAA Champions for the second straight year. Groza, a unanimous selection as the “Player of the Tournament,” scored more than twice as many points as any other player. A&M’s Jack Shelton was the game’s only other player to score in double figures. He finished with 12 points.
January 2, 1950, Santa Clara defeated UK, 21-13 in Miami, Florida. The Wildcats finished 9-3 under Bear Bryant. The Broncos, now an NCAA Division II program, won the 1937 and 1938 Sugar Bowls as well.
February 25, 1950, Kentucky played their last game in Alumni Gymnasium. They were victorious over Vandy 70-66, overcoming a 29-41 first half, in the season closer. Kentucky’s Alumni Coliseum record was 249-24, the first game played in 1924. Alumni held 2,800, and was the fourth home for Kentucky basketball. The Coliseum saw five head coaches. Rupp lead the transition from Alumni to Memorial.
January 1, 1951, the Kentucky Wildcats, led by Coach Bear Bryant, beat the Oklahoma Sooners 13-7 in the 17th Sugar Bowl, considered one of the biggest upsets in college football. The game pitted Big Seven champion Oklahoma (ranked #1 in the Associated Press poll) against the Southeastern Conference champion Kentucky (ranked #7). Oklahoma’s regular season record was 10-0; Kentucky’s was 10-1. Oklahoma averaged 34.5 points per game and entered the game with a 31-game winning streak. Only one team had scored more than twice in a game against Kentucky that season. Walt Yowarsky was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. His position was defensive tackle and recovered a fumble on the Oklahoma 22-yard line, leading to Kentucky’s first score: for a 7-0 Kentucky lead at the end of the first quarter. He had played less than 5 minutes on defense during the regular season.
March 27, 1951, wins his 3rd NCAA title in Minneapolis. Bill Spivey scored 22 points and an ailing Cliff Hagan sparked the Wildcats to their third NCAA title. With a squad consisting of only six healthy players – Walt Hirsch was ineligible and an infected throat plagued Hagan – the Wildcats hardly looked like championship material as Kansas State broke out to a 20-12 lead. It was then that Rupp inserted the ailing Hagan. It was a move that may have proved the difference as the sophomore forward sparked a rally that saw UK cut the Kansas State lead to 29-27 at the half. Led by Hagan and Spivey, who dominated the boards, UK outscored Kansas State 41-29 in the second half to complete the come-from-behind victory. Most Outstanding Player: Bill Spivey – scored a game-high 22 points on nine field goals and four free throws.
December 5, 1953, Cawood Leford calls his first basketball game against Temple. Cawood’s only radio experience prior to getting the job calling UK games for WLEX were his two-years spent calling high school basketball and football games for WHLN in Harlan.
February 4, 1954, Paul William “Bear” Bryant resigned as the head football coach at the University of Kentucky, after signing a twelve-year contract a month earlier. He attributed his decision to the highly competitive nature between himself and Coach Rupp. Both men wanted top billing for their program. When Bryant signed his new contract, he believed that Rupp would soon retire. When Rupp signed a ten-year extension, Bryant resigned. Coach Bryant enjoyed an impressive 60-23-5 record while coaching the Wildcats, including 3-1 in bowl games. (Great Lakes ’48, Orange ’50, Sugar ’51 and Cotton ’52)
October 3, 1954, Barney Frazier caught a state record 36 lbs. 4 ozs. sturgeon in Lake Cumberland. Mr. Frazier is from Corbin.
July 9, 1955, David L. Hayes from Leitchfield caught an all-tackle world record 11 lbs. 15 ozs. smallmouth bass in Dale Hallow Lake, Phillip’s Bend area. He used a pearl-colored Bomber 600 lure. David reeled in the 27-inch long small-mouth-bass from the Kentucky side of the lake. The Dale Hollow State Resort Park Marina renamed their boat ramp the David L. Hayes Boat Ramp to commemorate this legendary catch. The sign marking the ramp includes a life-sized image of the record fish.
March 22, 1958, Rupp’s Fiddling Five basketball team won the school’s 4th NCAA Tournament beating Seattle 84-72. Temple and Kansas St. also completed the final four in Freedom Hall. The NCAA tournament involved 24 schools. It would be Rupp’s last championship team.
On September 5, 1960, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., won his Olympic light-heavyweight gold medal in Rome. Despite being only 18, he won all four of his fights easily. In the final, he defeated three-time European champion, Zbigniew Pietrzykowski. Clay, cherished his gold medal from the 1960 Olympics so much that he wore it all the time, even while sleeping. The Ali/Gold medal story is of great mystery to this day. Some say he lost it but Ali and his brother tell another story. One day, sickened by a horrific bout of racism he encountered after a meal in Louisville, the 18-year-old champion stood on the Second Street Bridge and threw the medal into the Ohio River.
October 29, 1960, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., makes his professional debut in his hometown of Louisville. He won a six-round unanimous decision over Tunney Hunsaker, whose day job was police chief of Fayetteville, West Virginia.
December 27, 1960, Cassius Clay fights Herb Siler in Miami Beach (Fla.) Auditorium. Siler became Clay’s first knockout victim, going down in the fourth round of a scheduled eight-round fight. Twelve years later, Siler was convicted of manslaughter and served a seven-year prison sentence. He died in 2001 in Miami.
January 17, 1961, Clay fights Tony Esperti in Miami Beach Auditorium. On his 19th birthday, Clay knocked out Esperti in the third round of a scheduled eight-round fight. Esperti, nicknamed “Big Tony,” was an infamous character around Miami Beach. When his boxing career ended, Esperti found himself in trouble often. According to TheMiami Herald in 1967, Esperti was arrested 11 times for assault and battery and each time the victims declined to press charges. On October 31, 1967, at a restaurant in North Bay Village, Fla., Esperti was arrested for allegedly gunning down Thomas “The Enforcer” Altamura, a reputed mobster. According to newspaper reports, Altamura was waiting to be seated at the restaurant when Esperti allegedly walked up and shot him to death. Esperti died in 2002 at the age of 72.
February 7, 1961, Clay fights Jimmy Robinson in Miami Beach Convention Hall. Clay was supposed to fight Willie Guelat on the undercard of the light-heavyweight title fight between Harold Johnson and Jesse Bowdry, but Guelat failed to show up. Clay knocked out Guelat’s replacement, Robinson, in 94 seconds.
February 21, 1961, Clay fights Donnie Fleeman in Miami Beach Auditorium. Clay won by technical knockout in the seventh round of a scheduled eight-round fight. Fleeman, Clay’s first true opponent, was a tough Texan, but he couldn’t cope with Clay’s speed. Fleeman plodded forward, and Clay picked him off at will. The fight took seven rounds mainly because Clay decided that seven was enough. Fleeman, 28,retired after the fight.
April 19, 1961, Clay fights in his hometown for the first time professionally against LaMar Clark. Clay knocked out Clark, a former chicken farmer from Utah who had won 44 consecutive fights by KO, in the second round of a scheduled 10-round fight. Clay destroyed Clark, breaking his nose in the process. Clark, 27, retired after the fight.
April 19, 1961, Louisville native Jimmy Ellis won his first professional fight with a third-round knockout. A sparring partner of Muhammad Ali, Ellis went on to win the World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight championship. To unify the heavyweight title, he faced World Boxing Council champion “Smokin” Joe Frazier on February 16, 1970; Frazier knocked Ellis out in the fifth round.
June 26, 1961, Clay fights Kolo “Duke” Sabedong in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Clay, fighting for the first time in Las Vegas, the new mecca of boxing, won a 10-round unanimous decision against Sabedong, a strapping 6-6 Hawaiian. Sabedong, 31, started out fighting dirty and hit Clay below the belt to try to provoke an upset. But he lacked the speed and skill to bother Clay, who blamed his sluggish showing on trainer Angelo Dundee’s decision to fly them to Las Vegas rather than take the train. Sabedong died in 2008 at the age of 78.
July 22, 1961, Clay fights Alonzo Johnson in Freedom Hall State Fairground. Johnson was the first nationally ranked fighter to get in the ring with Clay. He was a seasoned veteran but had no real punching power. Johnson gave Clay a tough fight on a sweltering summer night. The bout went the distance, with Clay winning a unanimous decision. One judge, however, scored it 48-47 for Clay, who was booed by the hometown fans for the first time for his less-than-inspired performance.
October 7, 1961, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., fought his 9th match in his professional career at his home base, the Freedom Hall State Fairground in Louisville. The 19-year-old Clay weighed 188 lbs. and fought against 26-year-old Alex Meteff from Argentina. Alex was a promising heavyweight contender known for his body attacks, but he was no match for Clay. The “Louisville Lip” must have taken to heart the booing from his previous fight because he brutally pounded Miteff, knocking him out in the sixth round. Miteff retired after losing his next fight.
November 29, 1961, Clay fights Willi Besmanoff in Freedom Hall State Fairgrounds. Besmanoff, 29, was a German who had fought the likes of Sonny Liston, George Chuvalo, Zora Folley and Archie Moore before Clay. Before the fight, Clay told a TV interviewer, “I’m embarrassed to get in the ring with this unrated duck. I’m ready for top contenders like Floyd Patterson and Sonny Liston. Besmanoff must fall in seven!” Besmanoff was insulted and came right out after Clay. But Clay toyed with him for six rounds, then KO’d him in the seventh, determined to make good on his prediction.
February 10, 1962, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., fights Sonny Banks in Madison Square Garden, his first fight in the venue. Before the fight, Clay said, “The man must fall in the round I call. In fact, Banks must fall in four.” But Banks, 21, became the first to put Clay on the canvas when he knocked him down in the first round. Banks went down in Round 2, then took a beating from Clay before the fight was stopped early in the fourth round. Three years later, Banks died from injuries suffered in a nine-round bout vs. Leotis Martin.
March 28, 1962, Clay fights Don Warner in Miami Beach Convention Hall. Warner was a two-handed puncher who had a good record of wins inside the distance. “He was a tough left-hooker from Philadelphia,” said Dundee, Ali’s trainer. Clay said Warner, 22, would go down in the fifth round. But he sent a bloodied Warner through the ropes in Round 4. Asked why he had taken Warner in the fourth when he had predicted the fifth, Clay said he had to deduct a round because Warner neglected to shake hands at the weigh-in.
April 13, 1962, Clay fights George Logan in Los Angeles Sports Arena. Logan threw a lot of left hooks, most of which missed, while Clay’s quick hands opened cuts over Logan’s eyes. The referee stopped it in the fourth round. But more significant for Clay was his chance meeting with budding photojournalist Howard Bingham, and the two formed a lifelong friendship.
May 19, 1962 Cassius Clay fights an undefeated Billy Daniels in St. Nicholas Arena in New York. Daniels, from New York, was 6-4 and an Air Force veteran. He was a good boxer with decent punching power and came into the fight undefeated and rated 10th in the world heavyweight rankings by Ring Magazine. He was featured on the cover with Clay as two young unbeaten contenders. Daniels was cut in the second round, and that caused the fight to be stopped in the seventh.
July 20, 1962, Clay fights Alejandro Lavorante in Los Angeles Sports Arena. Lavorante was another Argentine fighter who was discovered by Jack Dempsey. He was Hollywood handsome with a great knockout punch. But Clay knocked out Lavorante in the fifth round. In his next fight two months later vs. John Riggins (not the football player), Lavorante was KO’d in the sixth round, fell into a coma and died from his injuries 19 months later at age 27.
November 19, 1962, Clay fights Archie Moore in Los Angeles Sports Arena. Moore was one of the greatest light heavyweights and most prolific fighters of all time (219 professional fights). But he was 45 when he fought Clay. Clay knocked him down three times in the fourth round and won by TKO in the fourth. Moore’s next fight was his last, and it was against wrestler Mike DiBiase in Phoenix. Moore beat up on DiBiase and won by TKO in the third round, ending his 27-year career with a victory.
January 24, 1963, Cassius Clay fights Charley Powell in Civic Arena in Pittsburgh. Powell was a former pro football player and the brother of American Football League receiving great Art Powell. Charley Powell was bigger than Clay and not intimidated by him. Powell started strong and caught Clay with a few body punches, but he soon realized the deceptiveness of Clay’s strength. Clay KO’d Powell at the end of Round 3, again finishing an opponent in the round he had predicted. At this point, Clay had predicted knockouts in 13 of his 14 KO victories.
March 13, 1963, Clay fights Doug Jones in Madison Square Garden. Before a sold-out Garden crowd (the first sellout there since Rocky Marciano vs. Joe Louis in 1951), Jones hurt Clay early and often, staggering him in the first round. By the middle rounds, Clay, realizing he was in a real fight, started using his powerful jab. While the ringside judges gave Clay a narrow victory, the crowd thought Jones had won and booed Clay unmercifully. The disputed bout was named Fight of the Year for 1963 by Ring Magazine.
June 18, 1963, Clay fights Henry Cooper in Wembley Stadium. Cooper, 29, was a top fighter in Europe and had a powerful left hook. But he was a big underdog against young and brash Clay and was outweighed by 21 pounds. Cooper came out strong and bloodied Clay’s nose in the first round. But by the third round, Clay had opened a bad gash over Cooper’s left eye. Instead of finishing him, though, Clay danced around and taunted Cooper. Late in the fourth round, Cooper connected with a left hook that floored and hurt Clay. He got up as the round ended. Clay then opened the gash further in the fifth round, and the fight was stopped. Clay’s fifth-round KO prediction came true.
February 25, 1964, Clay fights Sonny Liston in Miami Beach Convention Hall. Finally, Clay was fighting for the world heavyweight title in one of the most anticipated bouts of that era. Liston had won his title by knocking out champion Floyd Patterson in the first round. Clay came in as a 7-1 underdog, yet taunted Liston before the fight, repeatedly calling the ex-convict, who had alleged ties to organized crime, a “big, ugly bear.” From the start, Clay’s speed, quickness and movement made Liston’s heavy punches look slow. Clay complained that his eyes were burning after the fourth round, and he couldn’t see. Dundee rinsed his eyes out with a sponge and pushed him out for the fifth. Clay stayed away from Liston in the fifth, and by the sixth round his vision had cleared. He began connecting on combinations at will, and at the end of the sixth round Liston said he couldn’t continue, complaining of a shoulder injury. Clay ran around the ring shouting, “I am the greatest!” and “I shook up the world!” The next day, Clay changed his name to Cassius X, and then Muhammad Ali.
May 25, 1965, Ali fights Sonny Liston again in St. Dominic’s Hall, in Lewiston, Maine. Because of the way the first fight ended, boxing authorities order a rematch in remote Lewiston. Only 2,434 fans were present, the lowest attendance ever for a heavyweight title fight. The end of the fight remains one of the most controversial in boxing history. Halfway through the first round, Liston fell to the canvas in what many have argued was not a legitimate knockdown. Ali did not retreat to his corner, but stood over Liston, yelling at him, “Get up and fight, sucker!” The photo that captured that moment became one of the most famous in all of sports. Referee Jersey Joe Walcott, a former heavyweight champion, appeared confused, and 20 seconds passed. By then Liston had gotten up and resumed boxing. But Nat Fleischer, publisher of The Ring, alerted Walcott that Liston had been down more than the requisite 10 seconds, and Walcott stopped the fight, giving Ali a first-round knockout. Some claimed that Liston had bet against himself and took a dive because he owed money to the Mafia. Liston said years later in an interview that he feared for his safety from Nation of Islam extremists who supported Ali.
November 22, 1965, Ali fights Floyd Patterson in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Patterson, on the comeback trail after two losses to Liston, said in a pre-fight interview, “This fight is a crusade to reclaim the title from the Black Muslims. As a Catholic, I am fighting Clay (he persisted in calling Ali by his birth name) as a patriotic duty. I am going to return the crown to America.” Ali toyed with Patterson throughout the fight before winning on a 12th-round TKO.
March 29, 1966, Ali fights George Chuvalo at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Chuvalo, a Canadian, is widely regarded as having the best chin in boxing history, having never been knocked down in 93 fights. This fight would have been for Ali’s world title, but boxing politics caused it to be called “a heavyweight showdown.” The fight went the distance, with Ali winning a unanimous decision. “He’s the toughest guy I ever fought,” Ali said afterward. Dundee said of Chuvalo: “He never stopped coming on. You’ve got to admire a man like that.”
May 21, 1966, Ali fights Henry Cooper at the Arsenal Football Stadium in London. After the controversial first fight, the second was for the world title, but it was fairly anticlimactic. Cooper, who had a tendency to suffer cuts, succumbed again to his weakness, and a bad cut over his left eye stopped the fight after six rounds.
August 6, 1966, Ali fights Brian London at Earls Court Arena in London. London, known as the “Blackpool Tower,” was a mediocre boxer who had been beaten by Cooper three times before he fought Ali. Ingemar Johansson had said London would have struggled to beat his sister. Ali toyed with him for a couple rounds before knocking him unconscious in the third round at Dundee’s insistence.
September 10, 1966, Ali fights Karl Mildenberger at Wald Stadium in Frankfurt, West Germany. Ali continued his European tour. He was tired and stressed by a return to the USA to continue his fight against the military draft and was nowhere near his best. He cut Mildenberger in the fourth and dropped him in the fifth, but the German rallied to cause Ali discomfort as the champion worked to finish off the fight. In the 12th round, with Mildenberger on the ropes, referee Teddy Waltham stopped the fight. Ali must have been grateful. At the airport the next day, Waltham’s fee of 1,000 pounds was stolen. When Ali heard, he gave Waltham the money from his own pocket.
November 14, 1966, Ali fights Cleveland “Big Cat” Williams in the Houston Astrodome. Williams, 33, once a formidable fighter, was worn out by this time. He had been shot in the stomach by a police officer, attacked by a girlfriend with a meat cleaver and gone toe-to-toe twice with Liston, being KO’d early in both fights. Ali became concerned that Williams might be badly hurt if the bout went on too long. An indoor-record 35,460 saw Ali, in his own words, “the night I was at my best.” Howard Cosell told boxing writer Thomas Hauser, “The greatest Ali ever was as a fighter was against Williams. That night, he was the most devastating fighter who ever lived.” He also did the “Ali Shuffle” for the first time as a pro before knocking out Williams in the third round.
February 6, 1967, Ali fights Ernie Terrell in the Houston Astrodome. Before a record indoor fight crowd of 37,212, Terrell, who held the World Boxing Association belt, insisted on calling Ali by his old name, Cassius Clay. Big mistake. Ali broke a bone under Terrell’s left eye early on and damaged his retina. By the middle rounds Terrell flinched every time Ali drew back his fist. Ali carried him through all 15 rounds, taunting him with every punch by saying, “What’s my name, Uncle Tom? What’s my name?” The fight was described by sports writer Tex Maule as “a wonderful demonstration of boxing skill and a barbarous display of cruelty.”
March 22, 1967, Ali fights Zora Folley in Madison Square Garden. Just before the fight, Ali lost his appeal against his 1-A classification for the draft and was ordered to appear in Louisville on April 11 for induction into the U.S. Army. In the first heavyweight title fight in the Garden in 15 years, Ali dropped Folley in the fourth round, then knocked out the 35-year-old in the seventh round with a quick right. This would be Ali’s last fight for three-and-a-half years.
April 9, 1967, Gay Brewer wins a green jacket by one stroke over lifelong friend Bobby Nichols. It was the first live television broadcast of a golf tournament from the United States to Europe. Brewer called winning the Masters “the biggest thrill I’ve had in golf.” In the 1966 Masters, Gay bogeyed the final hole to finish in a three-way tie after regulation play but ended up finishing third to Jack Nicklaus, following an 18-hole playoff. The Masters is Gay’s only major win.
On September 29th, 1967, Kentucky football player Greg Page died at the age of nineteen. The next day, Kentucky would play Ole Miss, where his teammate and friend, Nate Northington, became the first black player to play a Kentucky football game and an SEC football game. Greg and Nate helped tear down racial barriers in the mid-20th century and both are referred to as trailblazers by friends, associates and press.
January 27, 1968, at the time, it was believed that Rupp became college basketball’s all-time winningest coach when the Wildcats overcame a record-setting 52 points by LSU’s Pete Maravich to defeat the Tigers, 121-95. Years later, it was discovered that he had achieved that feat on Feb. 18, 1967, with a 103-74 win over Mississippi State.
Ron King’s 44 points for Central in the state finals set a record, eclipsing the previous championship game mark of 41 points set by Owensboro’s Cliff Hagan in 1949. Clay County’s Richie Farmer eclipsed King’s mark when he scored 51 points, in a losing cause, against Ballard in the 1988 finals. After Kentucky high school sports was integrated in 1956-57, Central’s Robert Graves became the first black coach to win the Sweet Sixteen. The total attendance, 138,035, was a record that stood until 140,266 saw the 1987 state tourney in Rupp Arena.
June 13, 1970, A.E. Sellers of Louisville, set a state fishing record by catching a 7 lbs. 10 ozs. Kentucky Bass. The Kentucky Bass, also known as a Spotted Bass, is the Kentucky State Fish. In Kentucky, adult spotted bass are commonly 8 to 15 inches in length, weighing 2 lbs and 8 ozs. Mr. Sellers caught the bass in a farm pond. It’s believed that the fish got trapped in the pond by receding floodwaters, where it grew to such enormous size.
October 26, 1970, Ali returns from a three and a half year absence to fight Jerry Quarry in Atlanta. Quarry was a tough heavyweight who was perfectly capable of winning the heavyweight title that was held by Joe Frazier. He was not intimidated by Ali, but when he suffered a deep cut over his left eye that his corner was unable to close, referee Tony Perez called it after the third round. Quarry, bitterly disappointed, got off his chair and moved toward Ali, but he was stopped by Ali’s cornerman, Bundini Brown.
December 1, 1970, Tom Payne plays his first game for the Kentucky Wildcats under Coach Rupp. Rupp signed Tom Payne, an athletic 7′-2″ center out of Louisville. This ended the all-white Kentucky basketball teams forever and marked a new era with black Kentucky basketball legends.
December 7, 1970, Ali fights Oscar Bonavena in Madison Square Garden. Ali needed a court order to allow him to fight in New York. His opponent was the rugged Argentine known for not listening to his trainers (Gil Clancy for this fight). Ali had predicted a ninth-round KO and tagged Bonavena on cue, but when he moved in for the finish, Bonavena threw a desperate left hook that shook Ali. “I was numb all over,” Ali later admitted. By the 15th round, with both men exhausted, Ali threw a heavy left hook that knocked down Bonavena, then dropped him twice more for the KO. Afterward, Ali shouted: “I want Joe Frazier,” and one of the great rivalries in sports was born.
March 8, 1971, Ali fights an undefeated Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden. This was a landmark bout, not only for its promotion as “The Fight of the Century,” but also for the purse of $5 million, which was unheard of at the time. The boxers were to split it. Ali called Frazier an Uncle Tom and suggested that any black person who supported Frazier instead of him was a traitor to his race. Frazier fumed and trained like never before. Frazier won the early rounds and was relentless throughout, winning a unanimous decision in one of the fiercest fights of all time while handing Ali his first loss.
July 26, 1971, Ali fights Jimmy Ellis in the Houston Astrodome. A month before the bout, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Ali’s draft conviction and quashed his five-year prison sentence. Ellis was a sparring partner who had fought more than 1,000 rounds against Ali. He even had Dundee in his corner with Ali’s blessing. But Ali stung Ellis with a straight right in the fourth round and treated the rest of the fight as if it were a sparring session, and the referee stopped the fight in the 12th round after Ali threw another hard right, sending Ellis into the ropes.
November 17, 1971, Ali fights Buster Mathis in the Houston Astrodome. Mathis came in at 256 pounds and was overweight, while Ali was the heaviest he’d ever been. It has been said that Ali took it easy on Mathis, hardly training for the fight, which went the distance. Ali was criticized by some for not finishing Mathis. But he said he would not hurt a man just for the benefit of the writers. “I gotta sleep at night,” Ali said.
December 26, 1971, Ali fights Juergen Blin in the Hallenstadion Arena in Zurich. Blin was a former butcher from Hamburg. He might have been able to cut meat, but he couldn’t cut it in the ring with Ali, who clinched and stuck to the ropes until the seventh round, when he dropped Blin. The German got up, but his corner threw in the towel.
April 1, 1972, Ali fights Mac Foster in Tokyo. This was the first major prizefight held in Asia. Foster, like Ellis, was a former Ali sparring partner. Ali weighed in at 226, 1 pound under his heaviest to date. Ali won the 15-rounder but in disappointing fashion. Many doubted he would find the form needed to regain the title.
May 1, 1972, Ali fights George Chuvalo at Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver in British Columbia. In his second fight against the Canadian, Ali hit Chuvalo at will, but the bout still went 12 rounds. Ali was loathe to hurt fighters that he could beat easily. So it was with Chuvalo.
June 27, 1972, Ali fights Jerry Quarry again, this time in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Ali had little trouble in his second go-around with Quarry. By the fifth round he was entertaining the crowd, telling the ringside media, “This is an easy way to make a living.” In Round 6, Ali decided to try to close him out, but Quarry remained on his feet. The fight ended early in the seventh round after Ali, seeing that Quarry had nothing left, asked the referee to stop the fight.
July 19, 1972, Ali fights Alvin “Blue” Lewis in Dublin. Ali got a guaranteed $200,000 to fight Lewis, an ex-convict from Detroit. He gave Ali trouble early, but Ali knocked down Lewis in the middle rounds. Ali ended it in the 11th after telling Dundee he desperately had to urinate. But after the fight, it took 25 minutes before Ali could get to a bathroom.
September 20, 1972, Muhammad Ali’s 40th fight was against Floyd Patterson in Madison Square Garden. The rematch drew 17,000 and Patterson, who had lost to Ellis during Ali’s exile, looked better early on than he had in years. But Ali opened a cut on Patterson’s eyelid, and the fight was stopped in the seventh round despite Patterson’s protests.
November 21, 1972, Ali fights Bob Foster at the Sahara Tahoe Hotel, in Stateline, Nevada. Ali was more than 40 pounds heavier than his opponent, who was really a light heavyweight. This fight took place in a nightclub where fans sat around dinner tables. Ali toyed with Foster until the fifth round, the one in which he had predicted victory. Foster survived four knockdowns and opened up the first cut on Ali in the ring. But Ali knocked down Foster two more times before getting an eighth-round stoppage.
February 14, 1973, Ali fights Joe Bugner in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Bugner, the British champion, was big, strong and a skilled technician in the ring. He and Ali fought 12 slow rounds, and Ali never was able to put him away before winning a unanimous decision. The flashiest thing in the ring that night was Ali’s robe, which was given to him by Elvis Presley.
March 17, 1973, Shawnee beat Male 81-68 to win the 56th Kentucky High School Basket Tournament in front of 124,954 in Louisville’s Freedom Hall. One of the story lines was the lack of support from Shawnee’s administrators.
March 31, 1973, Ali fights Ken Norton in the San Diego Sports Arena. Norton came in largely unknown, having earned $300 in his previous fight, but he was about to change history. The former Joe Frazier sparring partner was trained by Frazier’s trainer, Eddie Futch. Norton nailed Ali with a straight right in the second round and broke his jaw. Dundee asked Ali to stop, but he fought for another 10 rounds, losing on a split decision. Immediately after the fight, Ali had surgery on his jaw. The doctor who wired it said, “I can’t fathom how he could go the whole fight like that.”
September 10, 1973, Ali fights Ken Norton for the second time at The Forum in Inglewood, CA. The fight was promoted as “The Revenge: Battle of Broken Jaw.” Ali said of Norton: “I took a nobody and created a monster. Now I have to punish him bad.” Ali, who never lost a rematch to someone who had beaten him, was able to overcome Norton’s awkward style and win the 12th and final round to take the decision.
September 15, 1973, the first football game was played in Commonwealth Stadium with a brand new head coach Fran Curci. The Wildcats defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 31-26. Fran Curci coached future NFL players such as Sonny Collins, Warren Bryant and Doug Kotar during the 1973 season.
October 20, 1973 Ali fights Rudi Lubbers at the Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia. Ali, looking ahead to a rematch with Frazier, easily dispatched the Dutchman in 12 rounds. A crowd of 35,000 watched the bout, and 10,000 showed up at an exhibition Ali gave in the country.
January 28, 1974, Ali fights Joe Frazier in Madison Square Garden. The fight was spiced up by a wrestling match between the two during a pre-fight interview with Howard Cosell. Frazier attacked his opponent after Ali called him ignorant, and both men were fined $5,000. But Ali dominated the less-than-thrilling rematch and outpunched Frazier, winning the decision.
October 30, 1974, Ali fights an undefeated George Foreman in Mai 20 Stadium, Kinshasa, Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The Rumble in the Jungle” was one of Ali’s greatest moments. It’s where “rope-a-dope” made its way into America’s lexicon. Many thought Ali, at 32, was a fading star and that powerful Foreman would have his way with “The Greatest.” But they underestimated Ali’s skills. Ali leaned on the ropes and let Foreman punch himself out, which he did by the end of the seventh round. In Round 8, Ali dropped Foreman with a pair of combinations, the final right hand sending the exhausted champion to the canvas. Foreman didn’t get up in time, and Ali was again world heavyweight champion.
March 24, 1975, Ali fights Chuck Wepner in Richfield Coliseum in Ohio. Wepner was known as “The Bayonne Bleeder,” and the New Jersey native’s full-time job was liquor salesman. After Wepner stepped on Ali’s foot and knocked him down with a blow to the chest in the ninth round, Ali came back and opened cuts over Wepner’s eyes and broke his nose. With 19 seconds left in the fight, Ali knocked down Wepner for the first time in his career, and the fight was stopped. Actor Sylvester Stallone, watching on closed-circuit TV, was inspired to write the script for Rocky, based on Wepner’s challenge.
May 16, 1975, Ali fights Ron Lyle in the Las Vegas Convention Center. Lyle was a powerful opponent who had learned to box in prison. Ali fell behind early but finished strongly, nailing Lyle with a straight right in the 11th round, dazing the big challenger. Ali then punished Lyle until the referee stopped the fight.
June 30, 1975, Ali fights Joe Bugner at Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A $2 million purse lured Ali to only his second fight in a Muslim country. The rematch with Bugner didn’t generate much hype, so Ali was persuaded to say this might be his last fight to drum up interest. Ali danced around the ring most of the fight, throwing combinations every so often, and won the 15-round decision with ease.
On October 1, 1975, the second rematch with Frazier was called the “Thrilla in Manila.” Part of the pre-fight hype included Ali calling Frazier a gorilla. Ali won when Frazier is unable to come out for the 15th and final round. The temperature approached 100 degrees and Ali describes the fight as the closest he had come to death.
February 20, 1976, Ali fights Jean-Pierre Coopman at Roberto Clemente Coliseum in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Ali’s best friend, Howard Bingham, said this about Coopman, a Belgian: “By all accounts he was a very nice man. He just couldn’t fight.” At the news conference to announce the fight, Coopman was so pleased to meet his hero he kept trying to kiss him. “Get this guy away from me,” Ali said. Coopman’s American manager, George Kanter, trying to sell the fight, found a voodoo witch doctor whom he claimed would help Coopman win. Coopman believed in witches and was happy to be put into a deep hole and have water poured over him. He drank champagne in his locker room before the fight. Ali toyed with him until the fifth round, then dropped him.
April 30, 1976, Ali fights Jimmy Young at Capital Centre in Landover, MD. Ali was the heaviest he’d ever been and produced what many thought was the worst performance of his career, but Young only wanted to survive. The fight went 15 rounds, and Ali won by unanimous decision.
May 24, 1976, Ali fights Richard Dunn at the Olympic Hall in Munich, West Germany. Ali’s skills were waning, and Dunn fought hard. But Ali knocked him down five times in five rounds before the fight was called. Dunn was the last fighter Ali would knock down. After the fight, Ali donated his gloves to a British boxer who had lost his eye. Inside the gloves it was written: “Ali wins” in “round one” and “round five” in the other.
September 28, 1976, Muhammad Ali earned $6 million to fight Ken Norton for the third time in Yankee Stadium. Ali knew it would be difficult, and it was. Norton was well ahead after seven rounds, but Ali fought back and pulled even by the 14th round. However, Norton’s corner thought he was ahead and they told him to stay out of trouble. Ali won the 15th round and the fight.
November 27, 1976, Rupp Arena was home for the first time to the University of Kentucky basketball team. Wisconsin rolled into town and got beat 72-64. Kentucky was ranked #6. Rick Robey was the high scorer for the Cats with 13, followed by the Goose with 12. 23,266 saw Coach Joe B. Hall get his first win in Rupp, but the snack stands ran out of hot dogs by halftime. The exhibition game against Marathon Oil, played five days earlier, was the last game in Memorial Coliseum.
December 31, 1976, Kentucky beat North Carolina, 21-0, in its first bowl trip in 24 years to finish 9-3. UK held UNC to 108 yards of total offense and Rod Stewart scored all three touchdowns for the Cats in the second half.
May 16, 1977, Ali fights Alfredo Evangelista at the Capital Centre in Landover, MD. Evangelista had no business being in the ring with Ali, even with the champ’s eroded skills. Ali won easily, with the fight going the full 15 rounds. Afterward, he talked openly about retirement.
On September 29, 1977, Muhammad Ali fought Earnie Shavers in Madison Square Garden. Shavers came in with 54 wins and idolized Ali. By the end of the 12th round, Ali was ahead, eight rounds to four. Shavers rocked Ali with big punches in the 13th and 14th rounds, but Ali stole the 15th and the fight. Afterward, Teddy Brenner, who had booked Ali at the Garden for years, told the 35-year-old that he would no longer put on his fights. Ferdie Pacheco, Ali’s doctor, said the fighter showed signs of kidney damage and that he should stop fighting.
February 15, 1978, Muhammad Ali, 36, loses his Heavyweight title by split decision after 15 rounds to Leon Spinks. The 25-year-old pulled off one of the great upsets in boxing after only seven professional fights and a Gold Medal. Ali had beaten all the other Olympic gold medalists of his era, and he expected to trounce Spinks. But Ali trained very little for the fight and lay on the ropes as Spinks built a lead. For the first time, however, Ali could not rally and lost a split decision in Vegas.
March 27, 1978, Joe B. Hall led the Kentucky Wildcats over Duke to win their 5th National Championship in St. Louis’s Checkerdome. Those who witnessed it call Jack Given’s 41 point game, one of the finest college basketball history performances. The Cats went 30-2 for the season and won the SEC Tournament.
September 15, 1978, Muhammad Ali still 36 gets the heavyweight title back by beating Leon Spinks in a 15-round unanimous decision. Ali was the first fighter to reign as champion three times. He then retires for the first of two times.
March 16, 1979, the Board of Control of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association met at the Hyatt Regency, Lexington. The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by President Jack Burkich. All Board members were present. Commissioner Tom Mills, Assistant Commissioners Louis Stout and Billy V. Wise were present. Conley Manning was present representing the State Department of Education and Darrell Wells represented the State School Boards Association. The invocation was given by Glendon Ravenscraft.
March 24, 1980, the Louisville Cardinals won their first NCAA national championship with a 59–54 victory over the UCLA Bruins at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis. Denny Crum’s team, led by Darrell Griffith, aka “Dr. Dunkenstein,” was the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Coach Larry Brown and Kiki Vandeweghe gave a valiant effort. The Bruins would later forfeit their season’s standings after players representing the school were declared ineligible by the NCAA. Structurally speaking, this was the first tournament of the modern era. For the first time: 1) an unlimited number of at-large teams could come from any conference. 2) the bracket was seeded to make each region as evenly competitive as possible. Previously, geographic considerations had trumped this. 3) All teams were seeded solely based on the subjective judgment of the committee.
October 2, 1980, Muhammad Ali, at the age of 38, attempts a comeback in a title fight against Larry Holmes, a former Ali sparring partner. Ali’s trainer stops the fight after ten rounds, marking the only time that Ali lost by anything other than a decision.
September 5, 1981, Kentucky’s Greg Long put on a defensive clinic, tying a school record with three interceptions and setting a school record with 155 interception return yards, in a 28-6 Wildcats victory over North Texas.
December 11, 1981, Muhammad Ali’s final fight is a 10-round unanimous decision loss to Trevor Berbick. It took place before 10,000 fans at the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre in Nassau, Bahamas. Ali was attempting his second comeback from retirement. There was tremendous chaos surrounding the fight, but when it finally happened, Berbick ended Ali’s great career with a unanimous decision. Berbick, who briefly held the WBC title in 1986, was murdered in Jamaica in 2006.
August 1, 1982, Happy Chandler was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Though he served just one six-year term as commissioner, he oversaw significant changes in the game. He succeeded Kennesaw Mountain Landis as baseball’s second commissioner in 1945. Governor Chandler became a leading candidate for the job after advocating for the continuation of play during World War II. During the 1947 World Series, Chandler moved the two alternate umpires in each crew from the sidelines to the foul lines, a positioning that is still used today.
August 12, 1984, Pee Wee Reese, from Ekron, was inducted in Baseball’s Hall Of Fame. His primary team was the Brooklyn Dodgers, playing shortstop. His most significant action on a baseball field may have been before a game. In 1947, the Dodgers visited Cincinnati, and the fans and opposing players were getting on rookie Jackie Robinson. Reese calmly walked over to Robinson, put his arm around his teammate’s shoulder, and chatted. The gesture was a critical moment in both Robinson’s career and for African Americans’ being accepted in baseball and American society. Earlier, Reese had refused to sign a petition circulating among Dodger teammates concerning Robinson’s participation. Jackie’s widow, Rachel Robinson, said, “I thought it was a very supportive gesture, and very instinctive on Pee Wee’s part. You shouldn’t forget that Pee Wee was the captain, and he led the way. Pee Wee was more than a friend. Pee Wee was a good man.”
September 1, 1984, Mississippi Valley State passes for Division I-AA record 536 yards and nine touchdowns in 86-0 win over Kentucky State. Jerry Rice catches 17 passes for 294 yards and five touchdowns.
December 11, 1985, Roger Foster set a Kentucky record by catching a 58 lbs. 4 ozs. Striped Bass (rockfish) Lake Cumberland. The fifth-largest inland striper certified for Hall of Fame world records. It weighed nine pounds less than the world record yielded by the Colorado River in Arizona.
March 31, 1986, Louisville Cardinals won their 2nd NCAA Championship defeating Duke in Dallas, Texas. Coach Denny Crum also wins his second title by winning 72-69 over Coach K. Pervis Ellison was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and Johnny Dawkins scored the most points during the tournament. The 1986 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament was the first tournament to use a shot clock set at 45 seconds. It was moved to 35 seconds beginning in 1994 and 30 seconds in the 2016 NCAA Men’s Tournament. The 1986 tournament was also the last not to feature the three-point shot.
January 25, 1987, Phil Simms, from Springfield, and the NY Giants beat Denver in Super Bowl XXI, 39-20. Simms had one of the Super Bowl’s finest performances, to win his first ring. He completed 22 of 25 passes (2 drops) for 268 yards, setting Super Bowl records for consecutive completions (10), accuracy (88%) and passer rating (150.9). Besides, he threw three touchdown passes and his passer rating set an NFL postseason record. “This might be the best game a quarterback has ever played,” Giants coach Bill Parcells later said. Two of the most famous plays from the game were the flea-flicker to McConkey and McConkey’s touchdown pass off of the fingertips of Giant’s tight end, Mark Bavaro. Simms was named MVP. The Kentucky native was the first sports figure to use the phrase “I’m going to Disney World!” following a championship victory.
December 28, 1993, Schnellenberger’s Louisville Cardinals beat Michigan State 18-7 in the 35th Liberty Bowl. The 1993 team was the first to reach a bowl game since the program’s Fiesta Bowl win in 1991. Following the Liberty Bowl in 93, Louisville didn’t make another bowl game appearance until 1998 under John L. Smith.
December 31, 1993, Kentucky plays in Atlanta’s Peach Bowl. Marty Moore’s interception in the waning minutes might have won it for UK had it not been knocked loose and recovered by Clemson, which subsequently scored and came out ahead in a 14-13 decision. UK’s year ended at 6-6 under Bill Curry.
September 3, 1994, in a game that had been wanted by both fan bases for several decades, the Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals squared off on the gridiron for the first time in 70 years to renew the state’s most heated rivalry. A then Commonwealth Stadium record crowd of 59,162 watched as Kentucky won their only game of the season. The single victory came on a late game-winning touchdown run by backup quarterback Antonio O’Ferral.
April 1, 1996, Tony Delk tied a championship game record with seven 3-pointers and the Wildcats withstood a late Orangemen rally to win UK’s sixth national title before a capacity crowd of 19,229 in the Continental Airlines Arena at the Meadowlands. Delk, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, canned seven of 12 3-pointers to lead the Cats with 24 points. Kentucky strung together 25 consecutive wins, including a 16-0 mark in Southeastern Conference play, midway through the 1995-96 season and rolled to its sixth national championship and the first under head coach Rick Pitino. The dynamic duo of Tony Delk (17.8 ppg) and Antoine Walker (15.2 ppg) led the Wildcats’ team dubbed “The Untouchables” by Pitino.
August 4, 1996, James Paul David Bunning, from Southgate, was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jim Bunning, Bill Foster, Ned Hanlon and Earl Weaver made up the 58th induction class in Hall of Fame history. Jim Bunning was a tough right-handed sidearm pitcher during his 17-year big league career, but the consistency was what he craved, once stating, “I am most proud of the fact I went through nearly 11 years without missing a start. They wrote my name down, and I went to the post.” Bunning won 224 games, an eight-time All-Star, one 20-win season, but would win 19 games four times and one perfect game. Besides throwing no-hitters in the American and National leagues, Bunning was also the second pitcher behind Hall of Famer Cy Young to win 100 games and collect 1,000 strikeouts in both circuits. When Bunning retired, he was second on the all-time strikeouts list to Walter Johnson with 2,855.
August 30, 1997, the Wildcats didn’t take long to get off to a great start in the Hal Mumme Era, labeled as “Air Raid.” UK tied a school record with 21 first-quarter points in a 38-24 defeat of intrastate rival Louisville. Sophomore quarterback Tim Couch set a then-school records for completions (36) and passing yards (398). It was the 500th victory in program history and the first game that Tom Leach was the Voice of the Wildcats.
March 30, 1998, the Kentucky Wildcats win their 7th NCAA National Championship in the Alamodome. Tubby Smith’s Cats beat S.C. State, St. Louis, UCLA, Duke, Stanford (OT) and the Utah Utes 78-69. Jeff Sheppard was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Kentucky came back from double-digit deficits in each of its last three games in the tournament, including a 17-point second-half comeback against Duke. This lead to the school’s fans dubbing the team the “Comeback Cats.”
September 5, 1998, the Wildcats put on quite possibly their most extraordinary offensive performance in school history. They traveled to Louisville to take on the Cardinals in their first game ever played at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Junior quarterback Tim Couch set or tied then-school records for most total offense (498 yards), most passing yards (498) and most touchdown passes (7). Kentucky set a then-school records for most total offense (801 yards), most first downs (37), and most passing yards (571). Kentucky won 68-34.
January 1, 1999, Kentucky and Tim Couch travel to Tampa for the Out Back Bowl. The Wildcats’ most-recent New Year’s Day Bowl didn’t go as well as their first two in the ‘50s; UK led 14-3 after one quarter of play but ultimately fell 26-14 to Penn State, and finished 7-5 under Coach Hal Mumme.
August 28, 1999, Bruce W. Midkiff from Owensboro caught a world record 104 lbs. Blue Catfish in the Ohio River near Cannelton Dam Tailwaters. This beat the previous state record, set the same day below the same dam. He caught it on a live skipjack. The day he caught the record fish, he took it to the Game Warden station in McLean Co. to get it officially weighed. They told him to put on hats and shirts with tackle manufactures on it and they would pay him for the advertising rights and might display the fish in tanks at different stores. He declined all offers and released the fish at the Owensboro boat ramp.
September 4, 1999, Kentucky opened up their newly renovated and expanded Commonwealth Stadium, with a then-record crowd of 70,692. Kentucky defeated Louisville 56-28. Quarterback Dusty Bonner tied a school record with 74 offensive plays and passed for 446 yards in his first career start.
December 29, 1999, UK makes their first appearance in Nashville’s Music City Bowl. The Cats lost All-America tight end James Whalen to a dislocated elbow in the first quarter and eventually the game, 20-13, to Syracuse. UK was 6-6 overall under Hal Mumme.
November 15, 2001, displaying a toughness and single-minded determination Western Kentucky stunned No. 4 Kentucky 64-52. The unranked Hilltoppers held the Wildcats to 33 percent shooting from the field, forcing 20 turnovers and winning the battle of the boards 40-38.
December 28, 2002, the hype leading up to the annual state grudge match between Kentucky and Louisville centered around two former Cats who had traded in their blue and white for Cardinal red and black. When the dust settled in front of 20,061 fans at Freedom Hall, Rick Pitino and Marvin Stone looked like they may have made the right choice in jumping ship. Louisville upset the 14th ranked Cats 63 -81.
August 30, 2003, Eric Shelton rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns to lead Louisville to a 40-24 win over Kentucky in the opener for both teams. It was the sixth win for Louisville in ten meetings since the teams renewed their rivalry in 1994. The Cardinals won four of the last five against Kentucky, including the last three on Kentucky’s home field.
September 5, 2004, Bobby Petrino hosted Rich Brooks in front of 42,681 fans. In a drab offensive effort, UK failed to cross mid-field in the entire first half. Given another chance to score a late TD with the outcome already decided, U of L took a knee. “I just thought I’d give Kentucky what they wanted,” Bobby Petrino jibed. Louisville wins 28 – 0.
December 31, 2004, Louisville defeats Boise State in the the Liberty Bowl in Memphis 44-40. In the highest scoring Liberty Bowl ever, it was a defensive play by Louisville that ended Boise State’s 22-game winning streak.
July 11, 2006, Dan Uggla, a Louisville native, played 2nd base as a reserve in Major League Baseball’s 77th All-Star game. In all, 32 players were selected to each League’s team, not including players who decline to play due to injuries or personal reasons. Dan represented the Marlins from the National League. Uggla also finished third in the 2006 National League Rookie of the Year voting.
December 29, 2006, Kentucky returns to the Music City Bowl in Nashville and beats Clemson 28-20 in the first ever sell-out for the bowl game, 68,024. It was Kentucky’s first bowl win since 1984 and left it with an 8-5 record, which is the second-most wins for a UK team in the past 29 seasons.
January 2, 2007, Louisville wins the 73rd Orange Bowl by beating Wake Forest 24013. The Cardinals averaged 39 points and ranked second in the nation in total offense this season, but fell behind 13-10 in the final period before their offense went into high gear. Touchdown drives of 81 and 71 yards on consecutive possessions sealed their first win in a major bowl since the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.
February 7, 2007, Louisville’s home floor at Freedom Hall was officially named “Denny Crum Court.” When the Cardinals basketball teams moved to the downtown KFC Yum! Center in 2010, the name “Denny Crum Court” was retained in the new facility.
October 13, 2007, Kentucky upsets LSU in triple OT. Andre Woodson hit Steve Johnson with a seven-yard touchdown pass in the third overtime to put Kentucky ahead. On a fourth-and-two play from the Wildcats’ 17-yard line on the ensuing LSU possession, UK linebacker Braxton Kelley stopped Tigers running back Charles Scott one yard short of a first down to end the game.
December 31, 2007, Kentucky beats Florida State in the 10th edition of the Music City Bowl. Thirty-six Florida State players were suspended before the game due to an academic scandal, helping UK come out ahead 35-28 and lifting it to another 8-5 season under Rich Brooks.
September 21, 2008, Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville hosted 37th Ryder Cup. Kentuckians Kenny Perry and J.B. Holmes were team members. The U.S. led from start to finish winning 16½-11½ and regaining the Cup after three consecutive European victories. For the first time since 1995, the opening matches featured foursomes.
January 2, 2009, Kentucky beats East Carolina in the 50th Liberty Bowl in Memphis 25-19 for Coach Brooks. The win lifted Kentucky’s record to 7-6 and gave it bowl wins in three consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.
March 17, 2009, the Kentucky Wildcats returned to Memorial Coliseum to play in the first round of the N.I.T. Coach Gillispie led the Cats to victory over UNLV 70-60. The last time Kentucky played in Memorial was in 1976. Gillispie’s one game in Memorial put him in the elite company to have coached the Cats in the Coliseum; Rupp and Hall being the others. It was Gillispie’s last game coached in Kentucky. The team won one more N.I.T. game and lost in the quarterfinals.
September 19, 2009, Rich Brooks beat Steve Kragthorpe’s Cardinals in the 22nd Governor’s Cup 31-27. This was the third year in a row Brooks beat Kragthorpe. Kentucky was impressive on special teams with 254 kickoff return yards (second-most in school history), capped off by Derrick Locke’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It would be the last year both head coaches would coach in the state of Kentucky.
September 20, 2009, Lexingtonian Tyson Gay, at the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix, ran the second-fastest men’s 100 m on record, winning in 9.69 seconds, matching Usain Bolt’s winning time at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The current men’s world record is 9.58 seconds, set by Jamaica’s Usain Bolt in 2009. Tyson is wearing black in the middle of the track.
December 21, 2009, in Rupp Arena, the Kentucky men’s basketball team became the first college basketball program to win 2000 games. They beat the Drexel Dragons 88-44. This was John Calipari’s first season.
September 4, 2010, the 23rd Governor’s Cup was held in Louisville. Kentucky won 23-16. The 2010 game was the inaugural year for the Howard Schnellenberger Award. The award is given to the Most Valuable Player of the game. Coach Schnellenberger played under Bear Bryant for Kentucky and was Louisville’s head coach when the modern football rivalry began in 1994.
September 25, 2010, the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games were held in Lexington. This was the first time the games were held outside Europe. It was also the first time the entire event was held at one site.
December 21, 2010, the Louisville Cardinals used a fourth quarter field goal to drop the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles in the 2010 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, 31-28. It was the third edition of the new bowl series.
January 8, 2011, Kentucky travels to Birmingham, AL for the BBVA Bowl. Pittsburgh defeated UK, 27-10, in the only bowl game that UK reached under head coach Joker Phillips. The Wildcats ended the year 6-7, their only bowl season that has ended with a sub-.500 record.
September 1, 2011, instant racing debuts at Kentucky Downs.
September 17, 2011, Louisville beats Kentucky in Lexington 24-17 to win the 24th Governor’s Cup. It was the 3rd game of the season for both teams and a match between Joker Phillips and Charlie Strong. Louisville goes on to lose in the Belk Bowl against NC State with a young Teddy Bridgewater.
September 2, 2012, Kentucky losses to the 25th ranked Louisville Cardinals in Louisville. It was Joker vs. Charlie but Credit sophomore Teddy Bridgewater for getting things going. This would be Joker’s last year as UK’s head coach.
January 2, 2013, Louisville scored one of their greatest victories in their football history, stunning fourth-ranked Florida 33-23, in the 79th Allstate Sugar Bowl in a 2/3-filled Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
September 1, 2014, the Cardinals host Miami (FL) for the season opener. The team was lead by head coach Bobby Petrino, who began his second stint with the Louisville Football Program, after eight years away. Cardinals win 31-13
March 7, 2015, Kentucky plays the last basketball game of the regular season, beating Florida 67-50. This team tied the 2011-12 team for the most wins in men’s Division 1 history. The Cats ended the regular season with a perfect 31-0 record, followed by the SEC Tournament Championship and a run to the Final Four.
September 24, 2017, Louisville native Justin Thomas became the FedEx Cup champion taking home $10 million. This capped off an incredible year for Justin who won five PGA Tour events, including the PGA Championship, his maiden Major Championship.
December 29, 2017, Kentucky returns to the Music City Bowl for the 5th time. Star UK running back Benny Snell was ejected early in the second quarter of what finished as a 24-23 decision in favor of Northwestern.
January 1, 2019, Kentucky travels to Orlando for the Citrus Bowl. Kentucky defeated Penn State, 27-24, to complete a 10-3 campaign, its best season since 1977. Defensive standout Josh Allen three months later was selected with the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL Draft.
November 30, 2019, Lynn Bowden rushed for 284 yards, an SEC single-game record by a quarterback and a career-high four touchdowns to lead Kentucky’s school-record 517-yard ground performance that blew out rival Louisville 45-13 in the Governor’s Cup showdown.
September 26, 2020, Kentucky opens their 2020 football season with a loss in Auburn 29-13 with horrible officiating, a consensus by both sides. Auburn decided to have 20% capacity at the game, with the students being treated to priority seating. According to an official release, 20% capacity at Jordan-Hare Stadium will be roughly 17,500 fans in attendance.