Over the past couple of months I’ve researched the history of Louisville sports. Mostly from a personal curiosity I went in simply wanting to know what sports landscape led us collectively to where we are. Around the world sport tells so much about the people of an area at a time.
I looked into the individuals, the landmarks, the games and events- the times.
And, what I was left with was a cacophony of tales and stories dating back more than a hundred years. Taking those stories and tales and taking some time to mess around the internet I’ve compiled a very incomplete but none the less starting point featuring the film and video of sports in the city of Louisville.
In 1875 the state of Kentucky was already known for horses and horse racing and without question this was made clear when the inaugural Kentucky Derby occurred under the tutelage of Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr. the race quickly proved its significance to not just the area but to the world as a whole, as the preeminent event for the sport of kings.
And of course, the event told the stories of many legends.
Only a year later the sport of baseball became a staple in the city when the Louisville Grays joined the National League, but the Grays didn’t really “stick” and it wasn’t until 1882 when Louisville would get a lasting professional baseball team with the Eclipse.
However the team became a real notable force in 1884 after their name was changed to the Colonels. Now, finding video of this legendary team was difficult, I did however find a piece of radio broadcast that I paired with pictures of the team to create a slideshow video of sorts.
One of the early stars of that team was Pete “The Gladiator” Browning. It has been reported that he was the first man to swing a Louisville Slugger bat.
Meanwhile, football has always been a passion for the city of Louisville. In fact Louisville was one of the early cities to have an NFL franchise with the Louisville Brecks, a team which began in 1921. A team named after the street their home stadium was built on.
While the Brecks were for the most part unsuccessful in the NFL they set a professional football standard for the city. Throughout the following decades several professional and semi-professional teams would call the city home. Among these the Tanks, Raiders and even a football version of the Louisville Colonels, however in recent memory I know I remember with fondness the arena football team, Louisville Fire.
In part two I’ll take a look at hockey, more modern baseball teams, and of course basketball.
Image courtesy of Ebbets.com
Thanks to the following sources for the Louisville Colonels Clip: