Cover

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Praise, Title page, Frontispiece, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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Foreword

Tom Leach

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pp. xi-xiv

John Calipari refers to University of Kentucky basketball as the “gold standard” in the game. That phrase also applies to legendary voices such as Claude Sullivan, who brought the Wildcats’ games into the homes of the Big Blue Nation via the radio airwaves....

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Introduction: Memories . . . and the Wheel

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pp. 1-8

It was a warm September evening across the rolling pastures of Kentucky’s bluegrass region. In Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky, more than 60,000 fans had gathered on a pleasant Saturday evening to cheer on a scrappy University of Kentucky (UK)...

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1. Building a Life

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pp. 9-30

Claude Howard Sullivan announced his own entry to the world four days after Christmas of 1924. He was born in Winchester, Kentucky, the first child of Claude Ishmael and Ethel Mae Sullivan. As a child of the Great Depression, Claude Sullivan lacked extensive...

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2. The Best of Times

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pp. 31-46

Although broadcasting high school sports had been a pleasant and productive step in Claude Sullivan’s career, his sights were set much higher when he was twenty-two. When he settled in at WKLX, Claude was given his next great opportunity—although few would...

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3. Glory Days

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pp. 47-74

In mid-1949, Claude Sullivan was twenty-four years old. He was married and had a young son. He had climbed to the top of his profession—calling his second consecutive NCAA basketball championship game and broadcasting Paul “Bear” Bryant’s Wildcats gridiron...

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4. The Fall

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pp. 75-98

By mid-1951, the previous few years of Claude’s career had left him wondering how much better his professional life could get. A national position had not yet come his way, but the basketball and football Wildcats had reached unparalleled success; he had established the...

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5. A Return to Normalcy

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pp. 99-110

In the winter of 1953, Adolph Rupp’s Wildcats prepared to play their first game since the disappointing NCAA Tournament loss to St. John’s twenty-one months earlier. The team was anchored by Hagan, Ramsey, and Tsioropoulos, as well as by a head coach with...

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6. Kentucky Broadcaster, International Man of Mystery

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pp. 111-128

In August 1956, on his Pan American flight Claude Sullivan crossed over eastern Europe from Sweden to Helsinki, Finland. He had hoped to travel with the UK players to Helsinki as part of the 1952 Olympic Games. Those plans were canceled when St. John’s upset...

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7. Fiddlin' and Travelin'

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pp. 129-148

The 1957–1958 UK basketball team was not very highly regarded—even by its own coach. Bert Nelli and Steve Nelli recount in The Winning Tradition that when Rupp was asked about the squad before the season began, he said, “We’ve got fiddlers, that’s all. They’re pretty...

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8. When in Rome

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pp. 149-164

The 1959–1960 season was the season that Kentucky’s detractors had forecast for a long while. Johnny Cox had graduated, and the basketball team found itself relying on Billy Ray Lickert and a trio of seniors—Don Mills, Sid Cohen, and Bernie Coffman. The junior...

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9. Cotton, Bradshaw, and a "Dream Deferred"

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pp. 165-182

Following the disappointing 1961 football campaign, there were some whispers that Blanton Collier’s time in Lexington would not be long. However, in late November the University Athletic Board announced that his contract (with three years remaining) would be...

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10. Moving on Up

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pp. 183-200

As Claude Sullivan spent the winter of 1963 wondering if his big break was coming around the corner, he had plenty to occupy the cold winter weeks. Cotton Nash was back for his senior campaign, and the 1963–1964 basketball season was poised to be special...

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11. The View from on Top

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pp. 201-222

As soon as basketball was finished, Claude hurried off to the warmer climates of spring training, where the Reds were busy preparing for the 1965 season. With the team faring so well in the 1964 pennant race under Dick Sisler’s guidance, Sisler returned for a full season...

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12. Tragedy

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pp. 223-240

The 1966 season for the Cincinnati Reds was Claude’s first as the number one announcer following Waite Hoyt’s retirement in 1965. The sponsorship changed from the longtime Burger Beer to the Wiedemann Brewing Company. Waite had been very loyal to...

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13. Aftermath of a Tragedy

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pp. 241-258

Claude’s life ended suddenly in December 1967, but his peers, contemporaries, and family eventually had to move on, trying to cope with the deep void his loss left in their lives.
David and Alan had just returned home from Ann Arbor, Michigan on December 3. Shortly thereafter, on December 6, they...

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Afterword

Billy Reed

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pp. 259-264

To this day you can find old-timers such as yours truly who will insist that Claude Sullivan was such a superb radio play-by-play announcer that he could hold his own with anybody who excelled at calling a game. Yes, I’m including the likes of such golden-throated...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 265-270

My brother David and I dedicate this book to the loving memory of our parents and the untiring love they had for our family, which was always at the forefront no matter how involved our father was in his career. This book is his legacy told from the collection of his personal...

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Appendix

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pp. 271-290

The research for this book included looking through volumes of collected media guides, programs, letters, and scorecards of games that Claude Sullivan had collected beginning in 1948 (still privately held by the Sullivan family) and listening to recordings made...

Bibliography

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pp. 291-294

Index

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pp. 295-314