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How Far We’ll Go In The Name of Fandom

Yesterday I was daydreaming, wondering about how far fans will go when they are in love with a team or a school?

So, I thought it would be cool and fun to see if any of the Red & Black Faithful who are the vast majority of my readers have stories have any stories?

Which I hope all will share in the Comment Section below.

I’ve got some. Mine involve Cardinal hoops, but the sport does not matter, it’s what was done in the name of loyalty.

Three here underscore how strong my love is.

To start. It would be disingenuous not to admit my entire professional career path was altered by a U of L basketball game.

Truth is I never in my callow youth contemplated adulthood. Marriage. Family. Career. Never gave ‘em much thought.

So, my senior year at U of L arrives in ‘66-’67. Vietnam is the black cloud over all of us military age. I hadn’t a clue what I was going to do after graduation. I had a humanities prof whom I really liked. So, what the hell, I signed up to take the Graduate Records, and apply for a Masters or beyond in Humanities.

Like I said, not much aforethought.

But the week of the Saturday I’m going to take them, a pal walks into the Cardinal Inn with this.

Great news, he advises, he’d scored some tickets to the Cards hoops encounter that Saturday afternoon at Cincy. In their old gym.

“I can’t go,” I immediately advise, “I got the Grad Records on Saturday.”

To which, my guys reacted as one would expect from a bunch of yahoos whose daily diet was Johnny George’s Cardinal Burger and a Milk Shake. Yes, PFunk, Fries came with that shake.

Their bullying reaction was something along the line of “You’re always telling everybody you’re U of L’s biggest fan. It’s the biggest game of the year against our arch rival. Getting seats up there has always been impossible. You’re saying the Grad Records are more important than that?”

They were . . . relentless.

Of course, I went to the game, which the Cards lost by a point.

At someone’s suggestion, when I was pondering, you know, the rest of my life, I took the Law Boards a few weeks later. Applied only to U of L Law School. Got in. And so it went.

Honest to Aunt Martha, that is all the thought I gave to my career path.

U of L hoops was more important.

* * * * *

Tale #2 is a bit harder to categorize. But just as true. Please forgive the salty details, but the tale must be rendered in full.

The ‘78-’79 b-ball campaign began with the Cards playing after midnight our time in the Seawolf Classic in Alaska. The game would be on the radio but not TV.

Those were the daze when I ran the bars. Just about every night. On the evening of one of those late tilts, I happened to make the acquaintance of a young lady somewhere. Probably Butchertown Pub or Phoenix Hill Tavern. She actually agreed to come back to my place to sample some of the herbal refreshments of the time, and whatever ensued from there.

Whatever actually did ensue. Every once in awhile, out of the blue, even a dude like me scored.

Game time was approaching as we were lolling about, savoring the hook up. (Apologies if this is all too much info, but the tale is telling.)

My mind: I’m thinking how I’m going to listen to the game? If the situation remains, we’ll surely fall asleep. I figure the only way I’ll be able to hear the game is if I drive this lady to her home in Shelby County, listening to the broadcast on the radio.

As much fun as we’d had, as attractive as this woman was, it was essentially a Hobson’s Choice.

“I’ve got to drive you home.”

“What?” She was more than a bit confused.

“Yeah,” I lied, “I got something I need to do early in the morning, so I need to take you home now.”

Which I did. Listening to my beloved Cardinals both going out and coming back.

* * * * *

The third tale is a cautionary one.

A lesson learned, a course correction.

There was a Cardinal home game. Something I never missed.

There was also a Neil Young/ Linda Ronstadt concert at Louisville Gardens. It may have been the Rust Never Sleeps Tour. Not sure.

I went to the concert. Which was a really good one.

Yet I recall thinking as my date and I floated out of the gig, “You feel too good.” My body was a smidge wobbly, my muscular coordination gelantinous.

Thus at 2d & Liberty I rear-ended a car that had already been in another accident. Police were already on the scene. A mighty “oops!” that one.

The lesson honored, after realizing nobody was hurt, nobody got busted, was this . . .

. . . Never Miss A Home U of L Game For A Concert. Or anything, really. Other than illness, or the proverbial death in the family.

A vow I’ve stuck with.

* * * * *

Looing forward to hearing below what fellow Cardinal fans have done in the name of fealty.

— c d kaplan