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Beard - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Tonight's conference dinner was held at the Hotel Seelbach, setting for Tom and Daisy's wedding in The Great Gatsby. And it looks the part. The bar where I spent several hours with Andy Doolen and his friend from Clemson is even more classic than the one in the Hotel Congress.

The highlight of the evening, however, came as I first entered the hotel and was waiting to ask where the ballroom was. A spry, elderly gentleman in front of me was inquiring whether the members of this party might already have arrived at the Oak Room -- a AAA "five diamond" restaurant -- upstairs.

While the woman helping him called to ask, the young man sharing the front desk with her came over and said, "Are you the Ralph Beard?" Perceiving a muted assent, he continued.

"You were their first All-American." The gentleman casually thrust three fingers in the air.

"How do you know who I am?"

"My grandmother had a picture of you on her wall. I have twelve family members who went to UK."

"Did you go there?"

"For two years. Now I'm at UL."

Deftly avoiding the issue of this Rick Pitino-like betrayal, Beard transformed from a somewhat hunched old man into an athlete, assuming the correct defensive posture and backed up three steps.

"I can still play."

When I got back to the room a little while ago, I looked Ralph Beard up on the internet.

Looking at his picture, I had no trouble telling it was the same man.

Beard was indeed a three-time first-team All-American at the University of Kentucky, not to mention the player of the year on two Adolph Rupp-coached NCAA championship teams, the point guard on the 1948 Olympic gold medal team along with his four Kentucky teammates and a first-team All-NBA player in 1951.

That's mighty impressive.

But the best part is the sad part. 1951 was also Beard's last professional season. No, he didn't suffer a career-ending injury. He was banned from the NBA as part of a betting scandal.

Apparently that won't matter to the Kentucky faithful. The young man at the desk was about to call his grandmother with the news.

I couldn't help thinking, though, that the story seemed strangely congruent with The Great Gatsby.

Remember Nick's wonderment when Jay introduces him to the man who fixed the 1919 baseball World Series?

The fact that Pete Rose is two hours up Interstate 71 only reinforces the point.

Tags: , ,
Mode: glassy
Muse: Yellow - Okkervil River - Down The River Of Golden Dreams

5 comments or Leave a comment
From: sittinginaroom Date: February 28th, 2004 08:14 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


This has nothing whatsoever to do with anything you've posted . . . ever. But check out LJ username kaelte -- Jessica showed this to me and it's one of the best/worst things I've ever seen in my life. Finally, now that I don't feel like the worst blogger on LJ, I have become a more comfortable blogger. A small sense of false superiority goes a long way . . .
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 28th, 2004 01:44 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)


Thanks for the tip. "Quivering loins" is pretty funny.

And know, also, that my circle of blog readers has been very impressed with the quality of your entries, not to mention their, um, honesty.

John Mayer?
tommix From: tommix Date: February 28th, 2004 05:08 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Say "Hi" to Doolen for me (there's just something about Doolen that requires that you refer to him by his last name, isn't there?). Ask him if he will be at the AZQ conference this year? I'm looking forward to enormous steaks and basketball discussion.
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 15th, 2004 05:21 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

nice post

Hi there,

This is Andy Doolen's friend from Clemson, and I just wanted to let you know I liked your post.

Hope all is well and that our paths cross again sometime.

Andy told me about the MLA article in The Believer. I haven't managed to track it down yet, but I'm excited to do so.

cp (catpaul@bellsouth.net + http://furyblog.blogspot.com)
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: December 16th, 2004 05:46 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: nice post

Thanks! That was a delightful evening. I'm not going this year, alas. But I will be at the MLA, this time without a ward.

I'll be staying with a friend's mother, if you can believe that, but will be checking my e-mail regularly.
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