It seems that wherever I go, a bunch of guys corner me with oodles of questions. For instance: What were the coldest football games I have suffered through?
That’s an easy one – and it involves one of Kentucky’s most famous citizens, Albert Benjamin “Happy” Chandler, a two-time governor, a U.S. Senator and baseball commissioner who opened the door to Major League baseball to Jackie Robinson.
I was about 9 or 10 years old when Dr. B.S. Broaddus took his son, Charlie, and me to Versailles to see Irvine play the Yellollowjackets in football. Another Broaddus son was Irvine High’s quarterback, Edward John “E-Jack” Broaddus.
This was late in the season, and the weather was so cold that both teams had trouble holding onto the ball. The wind and snow were terrible and most of the fans had sense enough to go home.
But when the second half started, the Versailles players were able to hold onto the ball. Happy Chandler had sent someone to nearby stores to buy up all of the gloves in town. With gloves, the Versailles players were able to win the game.
Many years later when I met Happy, I told him that I didn’t like him, and I explained why to him and to some of his friends at a UK basketball game.
One of his friends said, “I’ll tell you one thing, it might have been Happy’s idea to get the gloves, but he didn’t pay for them!”
The Broaddus boys did all right for themselves. The quarterback became a physician who practiced in Beattyville before moving up East. Charlie went to Centre and got a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Florida. He became vice president of research and development for Procter & Gamble.
Paul “Bear” Bryant’s UK team had won the 1951 SEC championship and were to close out the season by beating Oklahoma 13-7 in the Sugar Bowl. But first the Cats had to go to Knoxville on Nov. 25.
There was immense interest in the game against Tennessee, and the Southern Railroad scheduled an excursion to take UK fans to Knoxville. One problem – and it was a big one. It snowed and never stopped snowing until after the game. Even the train had slow going on the trip to Knoxville. In our car, someone had a radio and there were a lot of UK fans who wished they could turn the train around and go back to Lexington. When we finally got to Knoxville, the Vols led 7-0 and that turned out to be the final score.
A lot of us slid down to the stadium, and when we finally got inside, our seats were covered with about six or seven inches of snow, so we stood.
On the way back to Lexington, the train ran out of food and water and there was no heat.
When we finally made it back to Lexington, so much snow had accumulated that every entrance to my dorm was blocked! A couple of drunks who had been on the train helped me pull a dorm door open.
Icy Peach Bowl
Worst of all was Atlanta on Dec. 31, 1976, when Fran Curci’s Cats beat North Carolina 21-0 in the Peach Bowl.
I had bought tickets for about 30 of my Courier-Journal friends. My wife and I and one of our daughters flew down the morning of the game. It was four or five hours until the game, and it was so cold that I had to get a hotel room for just about two hours. And I rented a car to get to the stadium.
When I took my wife and daughter to their seats, I got booed by my C-J friends because I was leaving them and going to a warm press box.
Some warm press box! It was outside. My seat was between an Atlanta writer and one from Charlotte. One of them had a half pint of bourbon that kept us from freezing.
I wrote my story and went to where I had left the rental car. Neither my wife nor daughter was very happy.
A lot of UK fans can vouch for my Tennessee and Peach Bowl stories. I still shiver when I think about them.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Earl Cox, Sports Columnist
Earl doesn¹t just write about sports legends, he counts many of them as his
friends. A member of the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, he has been writing
about sports for 60 years. Incidentally, that¹s about how long it’s been
since he¹s cleaned his desk but he knows where everything is.