There will be an empty place in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium tonight. Ralph Beard has died. The former University of Kentucky superstar has been a regular at U of L events ever since Tom Jurich met him. He has had an open invitation to U of L basketball since Rick Pitino became coach.
And it was while covering the Cardinals that I first met this Wildcat legend.
The headlines today all ring with the biggest news event, probably, of Beard’s life, the gambling scandal that rocked basketball in the late 1940s and early 50s.
But to me, Beard stands as one of the outstanding people I’ve met in all of sports. I never knew him not to be gracious, generous, thoughtful and honest. I’ve always thought that anyone who made a mistake in life, and after all, that includes all of us, would do well to handle it with even half the dignity of Ralph Beard.
I had the pleasure to speak with him several times, but not as much as I would have liked.
Summing up a man’s life in print is one of the difficult challenges of the job. If there are those who have memories or thoughts on Beard, those who knew him or only remember him from his playing days, you’re welcome to pass them may way at email@example.com , just please include your name and hometown.
More to come . . .