Please join me today in wishing a happy 83rd birthday to former Kentucky Wildcats basketball coach Joe Beasman Hall. Coach Hall is still going strong and is always there to support our program. Remember how he enjoyed the UK2K celebration at Rupp smack in the middle of our players even though none of them were even born when he was our coach? It seemed the young guys enjoyed his being there as much as we long time fans did. This guy is really about blue and he is having fun doing it. That, in my opinion, is how it is meant to be done.
In the H-L this August, Mark Story had a great article about Joe B. In 2003, he started a series named "A Story for Every County". This one was about Harrison county, and one of Cynthiana's own was the subject. Mostly he covers Hall's life after being coach. The main thing I took away from the article is the way he is focused on living a full life and having fun while doing it. We have to have fun in life, and in our latter years seems like a perfect time to kick it up a notch. To do what we want to do when daily responsibilities subside.
Joe B still loves sports, of all kinds. I can personally relate to Mark's quote, "It's not hard to run into Hall. Just go to a sporting event somewhere in Kentucky". I will share my little encounter not even directly related to UK sports after the jump.
Back in early summer I happened to run into coach Hall at a Lexington Legends baseball game. I had never met him before, at least not close enough to speak and shake his hand. The game had already started so I was focused to the field. I heard a little commotion behind me so I turned to see what was going on. I wish you could have seen my face when my sport-of-the-day switched from minor league baseball into Wildcat basketball mode. It was coach Hall in the flesh. Instantly I imagined myself on the fast track to go shake his hand. But I resisted the blue urge, wanting to allow him to enjoy the game without tons of fans bothering his fun. So I sat still, though still trying to curb my want to.
My grandson was with us, his ball glove was lacking a foul ball. He is 6 years old, he had no idea who this guy wearing a vest with a UK logo on it really was, I didn't think. He must have felt a strong need for something "big" to remember this day. His big brown eyes got even bigger and next thing I know, he had found his way into the line of many other kids, his glove in-tow. I was having a proud Grandma blue moment because he somehow knew he should try and get his glove autographed by this gentleman wearing a blue vest a few feet away.
He returned beaming with pride, no longer caring about a baseball game. When I asked him if he knew who the nice man was, of course he knew. He acted as if he was on top of the world because a former UK coach had taken the time to make his day big. I smiled as large as Texas because I saw I was accomplishing passing on what had been passed on to me by my Grandmother, a love of blue. But that was not enough by for my inner blue ...
... I still felt the urge to feed my blue too. I squirmed and squirmed in my seat. I couldn't resist any longer. I wanted to finally meet this gentleman and shake his hand. Then I panicked. I didn't have anything UK on me, well I did, but not anything suitable for an autograph. I was wearing a UK t-shirt (it was Legends green) but that wouldn't work. I needed something to hand him. I needed it quick too. So I grabbed my ticket and jogged up the steps thinking if he didn't sign it, that would be fine. I just wanted to shake his hand and thank him for the memories.
In one split second, we were face to face. The nice lady accompanying him informed me that was all for autographs, that they wanted to let "Coach" enjoy the ball game. Of course, I was perfectly okay with it since this mirrored my initial thought anyway. After all, I had experienced my grandson "feeling" the blue. It had been a good day.
I looked at Coach and gave him a 'thank you smile' as I turned to take my seat again. Then, I heard this familiar radio voice speak so I stopped turning. Respectfully, I looked at him to listen as he said, "I'll sign it for her". It was clear, in my mind, he sensed what a UK fan I was. He may have never seen a green UK shirt or someone trying to sport Legends colors while professing she was all blue. He knew UK basketball was not just something for me to pass time in the cold winters. He was 'feeling' blue too.
I gratefully handed him my ticket and watched him while he signed it. I attentively listened as he apologized for his handwriting not meeting his own approval. I assured him it looked perfect to me as he handed the ticket back. As I shook his hand, I thanked him in words for everything. Thank you "Coach" again. It was a really good day, for all of us. I'm hoping your birthday is also a really good day.