Good Bye Mr. Wildcat

I read this article this morning and it made me sad. Legendary Kentucky manager dies

This post will not make sense to you if you are not from Kentucky. But today I am genuinely sad about the death of a man I never met.

If there was a Mount Rushmore of Kentucky basketball three of the faces would be settled. They would be Adolph Rupp, the second winningest coach of all time who put UK basketball on the map, Cawood Ledford the long-time voice of the Cats, and Bill Keightley the equipment manager since 1962. (If you want to suggest the fourth in the comments, feel free. I would vote for Dan Issel.) I am sincere when I say that I think everyone in the state knows who these three men are. Even my Granny would know them.

So now all three of these men are gone. It is, sadly, the end of an era. Arguably the best program in the history of college basketball (certainly one of only 4 in the conversation) had always had this one commonality, Mr. Wildcat, Bill Keightley.

From UK Athletics:

Having just completed his 48th season on the UK sidelines, the Wildcats’ record over the past four decades with Keightley as equipment manager is 1,113-351. During his tenure, he served under six UK head coaches — Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall, Eddie Sutton, Rick Pitino, Orlando “Tubby” Smith and Billy Gillispie. Kentucky, which has fielded 105 teams, has played 2,588; meaning Keightley played a role in 57 percent of those games. In 1997, UK honored Keightley with a retired jersey in his honor. He joins veteran broadcaster Cawood Ledford as the only non-player or coach to have a jersey retired at UK. Keightley was also among 88 Wildcat greats inducted into the charter class of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.

I thought this better than a silly April fool’s day post. And I wish it was a joke.

Here's a video from four years ago. It is sad now.