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University of Kentucky materials are on ExploreUK. This item: Image 6 of The Cats' Pause, February 18, 1989.

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Image 6 of The Cats' Pause, February 18, 1989

Part of The Cats' Pause

tt7>r//ar// AS\ AjtftJ .'77//' (oats' Jj7o//ax> 81-51 UK loss to Vandy was bad. ..but it's been worse Central routed 'Cats 87-17 79 years ago Joe Dean Jr., former University of Kentucky assistant basketball coach who now is head coach at Birmingham Southern, asked a trivia" question—'Who is Central?'— while assisting UK's own Tom Hammond (BS, Ag., '67), Russell Rice Cats' Pause Columnist son of the late Wildcat backfield letterman Claude Hammond, during the regional telecast of the UK-Vanderbilt (51-81) debacle last week in Nashville. The question was pertinent because the Commodores were leading by more than 30 points at the time and in position to hand the Wildcats their worst defeat in modern history. For the record. City College of New York (CCNY) defeated UK 89-50 in the 1950 National Invitational Tournament in Madison Square Garden, worst modern-day loss by a UK team. There was much to be suspicioned about that game. The Wildcats w'cre 25-4 and taking lightly a CCNY team that was 17-5. "We weren't the least bit concerned." Wildcat All-American center Bill Spivey said years later. "We waltzed right onto the floor thinking all we had to do was show up. By halftime, we were 25 points down. We cut it to 12. but they got hot again and beat us." Three UK players from that team—Dale Barnstable, Walt Hirsch and Jim Line—and some players from CCNY later were implicated in the points-shaving scandal of that era. The Wildcats' second worst loss of modern times was a 76-41 walloping by LSU two years ago in Rupp Arena. Former Wildcat coach Joe B. Hall had the misfortune of making his debut as a TV color commentator for that game. However, the grandaddy of all UK losses was an 87-17 shellacking by Central (Centre?) 79 years ago at Danville. To clear up the confusion and to answer coach Dean's question, we'll look into a brief history of Central. The university, with a divinity school attached, was started in 1893 at Richmond by Southern Presbyterians after many Kentucky Presbyterians defected from the PCUSA and envisioned a university that would compare favorably with the Danville Seminary and Centre College, which were started during the 1890s by Louisville Presbyterians. In 1893, the College of Theology was moved to Louisville, and Louisville Presbyterian Seminary began with 31 students and a faculty of six. The Louisville seminary and the Danville seminary were merged in 1901, as were Central University and Centre College, with the combined schools taking the name of The Central University of Kentucky. The game of football started at Central in 1891, when Centre challenged Central to a game. The Central boys had a good baseball team, but knew nothing whatsoever about football. However, they were unwilling to let pass a challenge from their hated rivals from Danville. Three Richmond men who had played football taught the Central boys a few fundamentals of the game. On game day, the Central boys traveled to Nicholasville, a neutral site selected by the teams, on the recently completed R.N.I. & B. Railroad and learned the rules while on the train. Col. H.D. McClintock, who played for Central in that game, said in 1952 that Centre won by a point, but he could not remember the exact score. Central inaugurated football as a regular sport the Bill Rodes (left) and fellow footballers Wayne Plummer (next to Rodes) and Dick Barbee (far right) pose with captain W.C. Fox (center) and Shelby Post as mainstays of the 1908-09 Wildcat basketball team that finished 5-4. The following season, team captain Rodes, Barbee and Plummer did not join the team until after the fourth game, the 87-17 loss to Central. following year and was rated "Champion of Kentucky" after splitting two games with Kentucky University mow Transylvania) and defeating State College (now UK) in games at Richmond and Lexington. Central repeated as state champion in 1893, defeating Centre 20-18 in the title game at Lexington. Earlier in the season. Central had taken the measure of State College 48-12. State also lost to Centre, but closed that 5- 2-1 season with a thrilling tie game. 24-24, against Indiana in Lexington. State College defeated Central 38-10 and was state champion the following year. Central played no Kentucky teams in 1895. ranked last in the state in 1896 and was second behind Central in 1897. Central did not play State the following year, when the Immortals of 1898 gave UK its only undefeated season. Central defeated Centre 34-16 at Danville for the 1989 state championship. In the last season before the merger, the two Presbyterian institutions played a 5-5 tie in the championship game. State was leading Central 11-5 in Lexington that year when a row started and referee Wallace Muir forfeited the game to Central 6-0. Muir, who for many years practiced law in his hometown of Lexington, was a 160-pound halfback on the 1898 Central team that defeated powerful Vanderbilt 12-0 at Nashville and Centre 30-0 at Richmond. Virginia defeated Vanderbilt 18-0 at Fontaine Ferry Park in Louisville that year for the "Championship of the South." Some other players on that 1898 Central team that was undefeated and once-tied, by Newcasde Athletic Club, which fell to the Immortals 36-0, were halfback Lee Bissett, a farmer from Harrodsburg; guards Ned Booker, who kicked the points-after, and Scott Brown, 6- foot-6, 214 pounds, of Frankfort; tackles Vandyke Norman, a graduate of Male High in Louisville, and Wade Terrill, 190 pounds. Paint Lick; and ends Sam Sanders, Campbellsville, and a player named Bachman, a preacher's son from Nashville who became a U.S. Senator from Tennessee. The fullback was Keats Speed of Louisville, "140 pounds of sinew and whale bone." Harry Blanton. 135 pounds, later a dentist at Richmond, was a quarterback who was "most accurate on side kicks which made good gains as the forward pass does now." Wade Bedinger, of Anchorage, was the center. Rodney Keenon. later a notable attorney in Lexington, was one of the substitutes. Lee Bissett, in a letter written in 1960 at the age of 80, recalled that Central was not at full strength when thumped by State 60-0. in 1896. "The mainstays of the team were in Louisville attending the funeral of Vandyke Norman's sister." he said. "Both ends, a tackle and a guard were there and the other tackle was sick. Harry Blanton was at one end and I played the other. The only thing I was tharikful for was that nearly all end runs by Smith Afford went around Blanton's end. Seems like Alford made a TD nearly every time he took the ball. I have watched football all these years and I can say I think Smith Alford was the ace of halfbacks." Alford was a senior earning his fourth football letter that season. He was team captain his junior year. In addition to playing quarterback, he started the 1896 season as an assistant to coach Dudley Short and then succeeded Short in the middle of the season. The Wildcats finished 3-6. Alford died Feb. 20, 1949, at age 68 in Hushing, N.Y. His son, Oliver, a graduate of Princeton, was a UK line coach on Fred J. Murphy's staff in 1925. The basketball series started with a 15-14 Wildcat victory in January 1906 at Lexington. In two other games that month, UK won 17-15 at Danville and 22-9 at Lexington. Central won six of the next seven games before embarrassing the Wildcats 87-17 Jan. 28, 1910, at Danville. E.R. Sweedand, highly-successful football coach who was appointed UK's first athletics director and first real basketball coach a short while before that basketball season began, became ill and was hospitalized while Prof. R.E. Spahr coached the first four games, with the fourth game scheduled against Central at Danville. State was handicapped further by the tact that Capt. William "Red Doc" Rodes and two other football-playing members of the basketball team—Richard Barbee and Wayne Plummer—didn't join the team until after that game with Central. Before riding the train to Danville, the State boys defeated Kentucky Wesleyan 14-12 at Winchester in UK's first overtime game; defeated Georgetown at home 31-11 and lost to DePauw 24-11 in Lexington. (Continued on page 10)

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