Last Sunday, I asked some people with notable ties to University of Kentucky sports to share their memories of the first time they ever saw the Cats play in person.
I also invited readers to reply with their own stories of the first UK game they witnessed.
The readers came through.
From a guy who sat in front of a live bulldog at his first Kentucky football game; a fan whose first Kentucky basketball game was "stall ball" with Digger Phelps; a man whose first UK game involved Pete Maravich and Pete Rose; to a fan who first saw the Cats play in person in the Orange Bowl Stadium in Miami, we got some good ones.
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A live bulldog
Moe Fields, 76, of Lexington was a teenager in Harlan County when his high school football coach brought him to Stoll Field for the first time to see the Wildcats.
"I was 15 in 1949 when Harold Shrout, my football coach at Cumberland High School, brought me to see UK and Georgia play.
"It was exciting to watch Babe Parilli play quarterback. I couldn't believe the precision and ball faking that guy could do. And he threw that ball on a line, just bullets.
"Kentucky won 25-0. But what I really remember, we got to our seats and everyone was standing up. I heard a funny noise and I turned around and this Georgia couple behind us had brought a real, live bulldog to the game. It looked just like the one Georgia has for a mascot on the field.
"He just laid at their feet, eating ice, throughout the game. It obviously wasn't his first game. But to this day, I wonder how they got that dog into the stadium."
Digger's deep freeze
Ken Howlett, 45, of Auburn (Logan County) was supposed to see his first Kentucky game in 1981 against Vanderbilt in Rupp Arena. "However, I didn't make a good enough grade on something and my Dad decided I didn't get to go," he says. "I was crushed."
(Note to parents: He does report that his grades subsequently got better.)
So Howlett's first Kentucky basketball game turned out to be during the next season in Freedom Hall against Notre Dame and Digger Phelps.
"Digger, overmatched, slowed the game waaaaaay down," Howlett says. "UK prevailed in overtime, 34-28. As Phelps walked off the floor, cups, popcorn and ice rained down on him. It was really a sight.
"At the time, I sort of felt cheated. But, over the years, that was a pretty memorable game to have seen for your first one."
The 'Chris Doering Game'
The first UK football game William Downey, 24, of Lexington remembers seeing in person saw the Cats pick off seven Florida passes in 1993.
Yet Bill Curry's men somehow lost — 24-20 on a last-second Florida touchdown pass.
"At the end of the game, after the first pass attempt to Doering was incomplete, one of my father's friends kept yelling over and over, 'They are going to run the same play! They are going to run the same play!'
"I don't know if they ran the same play, but they did connect for a score and ruin what might have been our best chance at beating Florida in the past 20 years."
One ticket, two Petes
Back in the days of Dan Issel, Chesley Dunn and his girlfriend (and present wife), Debbie Sandifer, were students at Hopkinsville Community College. Through the college, they got tickets to see UK play basketball for the very first time. Even better, the opponent was Pete Maravich and LSU.
"I'll never forget, Maravich shooting one deep in the corner and Larry Steele diving on him and knocking him out of bounds. Didn't matter. Nothing but net.
"Pistol Pete was the best player I'd ever seen. If they'd had a three-point shot then, he'd have scored 90, 100 points that day.
"One other thing stands out: Pete Rose was in attendance and was introduced before the game."
There is cryingin (UK) football
Darrell Cartmill of Ironton, Ohio, works as a pharmacist in Ashland, Ky. In 1970 he was a 9-year-old seeing his first UK football game live in old Stoll Field against Vanderbilt.
"UK jumped out to a lead that they held till halftime. But as the second half wore on, UK began to wilt and gradually lost the lead and ultimately the game (18-17).
"As UK fell behind and was on the verge of losing, I began to cry. My Dad said he would not take me again if that was how I was going to act in losing.
"To make it worse, the lady next to us scolded my Dad, saying, 'Let that boy cry if he wants to.'"
Deceived byClaude Sullivan?
When Jack Avery of Prospect, Ky., was a boy in Louisville in the late 1950s, his dad owned a West End saloon. On Dec. 30, 1959, Jack popped into his dad's place, asked for some money to buy basketball tickets. He then took the city bus system to Freedom Hall to see Adolph Rupp's defending NCAA champions play Illinois for his first Kentucky hoops game.
"I remember being somewhat let down. As a kid, I was a devoted follower of Claude Sullivan's radio calls. I came in expecting to see the Cats pour in a ton of the "30- to 35-footers" that he used to call on the radio.
"I was disappointed to see UK defeating the Illini (76-75) primarily with a flood of layups."
Cats give Miami a Bird
Gabe Balasquide of Lexington grew up in Miami, Fla. Though he had no family tie to Kentucky, he became a UK sports fan after becoming intrigued by Wildcats quarterback Babe Parilli at the 1950 Orange Bowl.
On Oct. 30, 1959, the Cats came to Balasquide, with Blanton Collier bringing his football team south to face the Miami Hurricanes.
"Before the game, the Miami media described the Cats as 'the best 1-5 team in the country.' Miami was a decent team in 1959 and entered the game as a heavy favorite.
"But UK won the game 22-3 on two long TD runs from Calvin Bird. The Miami Herald had a headline the next day, 'The Cats turned a Bird loose.'
"... What a thrill for me to finally see my beloved Cats whip Miami. I sat in the end zone, but I will never forget the thrill."