Previously, I looked through video at some of the classic sports moments in the city’s history; today I continue that look.
The most iconic baseball team in the city shared its name with the first professional basketball team, the Louisville Colonels basketball squad suited up in 1947 for the Professional Basketball League of America.
It wasn’t until a team sprang up with that same name but this time including the entire commonwealth that basketball really found a professional footing in the city; that is with the American Basketball Association’s Kentucky Colonels, a team who first took the court in 1967.
The Colonels would become the most successful team in the ABA. The following video is from the 1975 ABA Championship game in which the Colonels square off with their long time rivals, The Indiana Pacers.
At the same time hockey has had a surprisingly rich history in this heartland city beginning in 1948 with the Louisville Blades.
Following the Blades were several others including the 50’s Shooting Stars and Rebels, the 90’s IceHawks, and of course the Riverfrogs who played their first season in 1995.
Most recent after the Frogs left was the Louisville Panthers who called Freedom Hall home between 1999-2001.
Back to the baseball front, a Louisville Colonels team of some sort played in the city off and on until 1972.
It wasn’t until ten years later that the Triple A affiliate to the St. Louis Cardinals would move to the city; this resulted in the Louisville Redbirds- a minor league team who would go on to act as the triple-A team for not just the Cardinals but the Reds and Brewers as well.
After moving fields in 1998, the Redbirds’ changed their name to reflect a new attitude and the Riverbats (later to be known simply as the Bats) were born.
Meanwhile, the Denny Crum led University of Louisville men’s basketball team claimed their first NCAA championship in 1980.
In days past the Cards were dominant in the NIT tournament prior to the NCAA tourney but ’80 marked their first championship in the “modern era."
The Cards followed that up with their second championship in '86.
Finally, as soccer steadily gained an audience in the U.S. the Derby City got several of their own semi-pro teams, beginning in 1984 with the Louisville Thunder. Currently two teams call Louisville home, the River City Rovers and the Louisville Lightning; perhaps a nod to their predecessor.
A few years later in 1988 the semi-pro football team, Louisville Bulls commenced. The Bulls still routinely suit up.
Elsewhere professional wrestling was having a direct impact on the sports community in the city, as it had for years.
Individuals like Jerry “The King” Lawler and “Macho Man” Randy Savage were no strangers to the city but in 1997 this bond was proven unquestionable with the building of Ohio Valley Wrestling, a Promotion which acted as a “farm system” for the World Wrestling Federation.
This list is incredibly incomplete. I mean, I’ve only covered a few occasions but this was meant to be nothing more than a sports nostalgia trip. And, I hope that it recalled some good memories.
Image courtesy of KET