Aug. 2, 2002
Louisville, Ky. - When Rodney McCray was leading the University of Louisville basketball fame to three Final Fours in the early 1980s, Richie Farmer was just beginning the legendary hoops career that would make him a State Tournament icon at Clay County and an "Unforgettable" at the University of Kentucky.
But McCray and Farmer, whose backgrounds are as different as a New York strip is from Kentucky Fried Chicken, finally will catch up with each other when they're inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in ceremonies beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9, at Louisville's Executive West.
Tickets to the dinner, which donates proceeds to Kosair Charities, are $45 and can be purchased through Kosair Charities (502-637-7696).
The induction banquet also will reveal if Danny Sullivan, who won the Indy 500 in 1985, can zip to the checkered flag of his acceptance speech quicker than fellow inductee Patti Cooksey, the second-winningest female jockey in thoroughbred history, can gallop to the finish line of hers.
The Hall of Fame, which was founded in 1964 to honor athletes, coaches, officials, administrators and contributors who made significant contributions to sports in the state, is limited to either natives of Kentucky or those who made their reputations in the state.
The Class of 2002:
* Sonny Collins, who came out of Madisonville High School in 1972 as arguably the state's greatest prep running back ever. A runner with slashing power inside and the speed to go outside, he rushed for 3,835 yards to become the University of Kentucky's all-time leading rusher, setting eight school records and making the All-Southeastern Conference first team at half back in 1973, '74 and '75.
* Maurice "Mo" Moorman, who excelled as a lineman in football at the high school, college and pro levels. The Louisville businessman starred at offensive right guard for the Kansas City Chiefs when they won the 1970 Super Bowl by upsetting Minnesota. He also earned All-American mention as a tackle at Texas A& M and made Kentucky's All-State team at St. Xavier, with the Tigers winning the 1962 state championship his senior year.
*Johnny Owens, a Lexington accountant, became known as one of Kentucky's finest amateur golfer ever. His feats including winning back-to-back Men's State Amateur titles in 1963-'64, taking the 1974 British Amateur Golf Tournament and reaching the quarterfinals of the 1963 National Amateur. He also won a Southeastern Conference championship while at UK, where he was golf captain as a senior.
*Wes Strader broadcast Western Kentucky University sports and was the Hilltoppers' football and basketball play-by-play announcer for 36 seasons, a storied run that ended in 2000. He also was the long-time voice of the Kentucky state high school basketball tournament.
*Guy Strong coached basketball until he was almost 71, stepping down last year at Clark County, where his teams captured three regional titles and won 254 games in 13 years. Strong, who played on Adolph Rupp's 1951 national champions at UK, also coached high school at Male and Madison and was the first coach to win a national championship at Kentucky Wesleyan College. He also won an Ohio Valley Conference title at Eastern Kentucky and coached four years at Oklahoma State.
*Richie Farmer starred at both Clay County, where he was Kentucky's Mr. Basketball in 1988, and the University of Kentucky, where he helped spark UK's overachieving Unforgettables who lost the NCAA East Regional championship game to Duke in 1992 in arguably the greatest college game ever. One of the most popular players in the history of Kentucky's Sweet Sixteen basketball tournament, he led Clay County to three Kentucky State Tournament title games, including the 1987 championship, and was named All-State three times. Farmer also scored 51 points in Clay County's 1988 championship loss to Ballard in his high school finale.
*Rodney McCray followed his brother Scooter to U of L from their home in the New York City suburb of Mt. Vernon. Known as "Hard" for the way he played, Rodney was a freshman starter for U of L's 1980 national championship basketball team and helped lead the Cardinals to two other Final Four appearances. Known for striving at all aspects of the game and making his teammates better, McCray is one of just four U of L players to surpass both 1,000 career points (1,247) and rebounds (1,029). A member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, he played 10 seasons for four National Basketball Association teams, including Chicago when the Bulls won the 1993 NBA championship.
*Patti Cooksey, the first woman to ride in the Preakness and only the second to compete in the Kentucky Derby, overcame resistance in a male-dominated sport to become racing's all-time winningest female jockey in 1988 with 1,202 career victories. While she lost that distinction less than a week later to Julie Krone, Cooksey still holds most of records for a female rider in Kentucky, including the first to win a riding title in the state. She and the retired Krone are the only women to win more than 2,000 races.
*Danny Sullivan, a native of Louisville, earned lasting fame by winning the 1985 Indianapolis 500, one of the 17 Indy-car victories in his career. The 500 victory, along with his movie-star looks, earned Sullivan appearances on "Miami Vice" and "All My Children." In 1995, a decade after his most important victory, he still had the skills to compete against younger Indy 500 rivals, even though, at 45, he was the oldest male driver in the Memorial Day race.
The nine inductees bring the total enshrined in the Hall to 176. Their bronze plaques will be on permanent display along the corridors in Freedom Hall at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville, KY.
For further information contact: Bill Malone (502) 426-9660 or Jim Ellis (502) 583-5547