Interstate 275 (I-275) is an 83.71-mile-long loop in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky that forms a complete beltway around the Cincinnati, Ohio area. It is the only auxiliary Interstate that enters three states. We didn't travel on it during the trip but I thought it was an appropriate number because our trip this year took us through and around the same 3 states the highway encircles.
Travelers - Bernard, Ed, Lou & your's truly
The Year Hinkle Fieldhouse at Butler University opened.
At the time it was the largest arena in the United States Holding 15,000 fans. Currently, after undergoing multiple renovations it's capacity is only 9,000, so by today's standards it is a small venue but it is considered one of the treasures of college basketball and has been named an official U.S. Historic landmark. Hinkle Fieldhouse is the home of the Butler Bulldogs basketball team and is located in Indianapolis, Indiana which was the very first stop on our trip.
Is the number of student athletes that participate in NCAA sports, which crown 24 Champions every year. Our 2nd stop on day 1 was the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis.
As we looked for the Hall Of Champions we first entered the NCAA headquarters building which explains the quizzical looks we got from building security as we lingered in the lobby looking at college mascot logos. After figuring out we weren't crazy they directed us around the corner to the actual Hall. Once inside the hall we were greated by the awesome Flying Wedge statue which depicts a blocking tactic first used in football by Harvard in a game against Yale in 1892. If you look closely at the photo you can see the guy with the ball crouched safely in the middle of the wedge. After many players were injured during games The flying wedge was considered too dangerous and has since been outlawed on all levels of football. After waiting for me to take many photos of the statue it was on to the main floor showcasing all 24 of the current NCAA Champions and their sports along with the Hall of Honor.
Once done with the main floor we went upstairs to the interactive sports area where we came across a gym with a basketball hoop. In all honesty some of the worst jump shots taken by undefended men under the age of 80 were taken. Hopefully there's no video. Oh and a zombie hit a 444 foot home run off of me as well.
The record of the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers Mens Basketball team.
The third and last stop of day 1 was Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana. Home of the 1975-76 Indiana Hoosiers the last Mens Division 1 Basketball team to go undefeated through an entire season. (32-0) Indiana has historically been one of the best basketball programs in the country winning 5 National Championships in 4 different decades.
Before the trip we were fortunate enough get in touch with a former student of the high school where we coach in New York city who is now a manager with the Indiana football team. He took us on a tour of the football facility and got a basketball manger to give us a quick tour of he basketball facility as well.
The #1 is for THE GREATEST, Muhammed Ali.
Day 2 started in Louisville and the Muhammed Ali Center did not disappoint. We were all pleasantly surprised at how beautifully done and comprehensive it was. All 4 floors were well planned out and designed. There was literally too much information and detail for us to see and really absorb in the time that we spent there. Kudos to the Ali's hometown and foundation who have enhanced the champs legacy by providing people with a complete and interesting look at Ali's life.
The amount of money the FBI accuses Louisville Coaches, Sports Agents and athletic shoe company Adidas of illegally paying a recruit's family in exchange for him signing to play for the Louisville basketball team.
A few blocks away from the Ali center was the KFC Yum Center the spectacular looking home of the University of Louisville Cardinal Basketball Team. We expected it to be open for a tour or a look at their Hall of Fame but the arena was closed.
Fortunately the team store was open, so we could at least try and grab some Louisville Swag like the sweet lid Ed is modeling below.
The number of hits Louisville Eclipse star Pete Browning got with the bat J.A. Bud Hillerich made for him in July of 1884.
J.A. Bud Hillerich was at the Louisville Eclipse game and saw Browning break the bat he was using, Hillerich went home and made Browning a new bat. The very next day Browning got 3 hits with the bat and the legend of the Louisville Slugger was born.
Since the KFC Yum Center stop was a bust. We decided to walk back a few blocks and check out the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum. We were a little pressed for time so we couldn't take the full tour of the bat factory or the museum but we did hang around for a bit and took a look around. The place was pretty interesting.
The number of Kentucky Derby races held at Churchill Downs, the most famous Racetrack in the world.
Our 4th stop on day 2 was Historic racetrack Churchill Downs home of the Kentucky Derby. The Derby which has been called the Greatest two minutes in sports has been in existence since 1875. Bernard who often gets teased because of his love of Horse Racing a sport whose popularity has waned over the years was particularly excited to see the track and get to bet races at the fabled Racetrack.
I haven't seen many Racetracks but Churchill downs definitely was nicer than most of the places I have seen. It was a chilly day and all of the areas of the track weren't operational but after seeing most of it I can imagine how exciting a place it must be in full effect.
The Projected low temperature in Cincinnati, Ohio on the night of November 10th.
22 was probably the official slogan for this trip because our 5th and final stop on day 2 was a night football game at the University of Cincinnati. The reason the number was so significant was that as a group we usually take into account what the weather will be in November so we usually plan to go somewhere thats going to be warm. This year Bernard who does all the detailed planning for these trips, was dreading sitting in the cold to watch the game so much that he became obsessed with the weather forecast in Ohio and drove us crazy by sending us weather updates day and night leading up to the trip.
On the night of the game we all realized that even though Bernard might actually be crazy he was right to be concerned because it was cold as hell! Before heading to the stadium we stopped in the parking garage and put on extra layers to try and deal with the cold. Bernard even broke out the biggest pair of gloves I've ever seen a grown man wear!
As we set out to pick up our tickets at someplace called the Lindner building the cold was only made worse by the fact that despite Bernard having a map we got lost walking around campus looking for it. My guess is that Bernard couldn't open the map with those humongous fluffy gloves on. Luckily a campus worker with a golf cart was nice enough to drive us to the building so we could pick up our tickets without catching hypothermia.
If University of Cincinnati sports has any identity at all it is pretty much known as a Basketball school, they have multiple NCAA Final Four appearances and have produced notable players throughout the years. They even won back to back National Championships in 1961 & 1962
Conversely the University of Cincinnati's only real sustained periods of success in football came under Coaches Brian Kelly and Butch Jones from 2008 thru 2011 when both coaches won 2 Big East titles apiece and Kelly lead the team to two major Bowls and a top 10 finish in 2009.
Nippert Stadium is named after James Gamble Nippert the grandson of James Gamble the inventor of Ivory Soap and Co-Founder of Procter & Gamble, A famous American corporation best known for producing cleaning agents and personal hygiene products. James Gamble-Nippert played football for Cincinnati in 1922 & 1923. During a game in the 1923 season he was stepped on with a spiked cleat and suffered a gash on his leg. The initial injury wasn't considered serious at the time but later became infected. James Gamble-Nippert died from sepsis related to his injury on Christmas day in 1923 just a couple of months later. In his honor his grandfather provided the $250,000 needed to complete renovation of the stadium under the condition that a Medical Dispensary be built as part of the main bowl to "insure that expert and immediate attention be given to any student injured on the football field" The stadium has been known as Nippert stadium since 1924.
After getting escorted to the Lindner Building we got our tickets and entered the stadium. As the guys made their way to the seats I started my customary walk around the stadium to take photos of the teams going through pre-game warmups.
After that I set out in search of 2 things, Hot Chocolate (because it was cold) and a concession stand that served Chicken (because I don't eat red meat that often) Unfortunately Chicken to my surprise had not been readily available in the Midwest stadiums and arena's we visited on this trip. Most of the places we go have chicken fingers or grilled chicken options available but in the midwest its Burgers and Bratz. who knew?
My food and hot beverage pursuits notwithstanding I took the time to walk the stadium and observed that even though you can tell the stadium is old they've made some additions to try and modernize it with structures and amenities built around and connected to the inner bowl. The one thing that stood out to me is the concourses aren't really decorated, the walls are just plain grey concrete. After walking around the stadium twice I gave in and grabbed a burger and a hot chocolate and made my way to our seats. which were very good on the lower level at the end of the Bearcat bench.
The game itself was decent, both Temple and Cincinnati are mediocre middle of the pack teams in the American Conference and Temple was clearly the better team getting the best of play for most of the game. Cincinnati made a brief comeback in the second half and then temple pulled away in the third quarter.
As I stated earlier our main concern at the beginning of this trip was how we would deal with the weather on this specific night. During the 2 days leading up to this game we joked about the cold and the number 22 randomly made its way into almost every conversation. It was exactly 22 degrees at gametime the wind was blowing and the sun had gone down hours ago so the actual temperature felt like it was in the teens when we got to our seats. Before the game we had all agreed that if it was a blowout we would leave early. Well it was so cold that in the first quarter Bernard declared the game a blowout after Temple kicked a field goal to go up 3-0 in the first quarter! We all laughed but I'm not quite sure Bernard was joking. At Halftime we made a Bee-line for the hot chocolate station but at that point nothing could keep us warm, not the multiple layers of hoodies & jackets we were wearing, nor the multiple cups of hot chocolate we were drinking, and most importantly not even the spectacle of the oversized industrial strength giant fluffy glove/mittens Bernard was wearing could keep the cold away! Shit Ed and I were shivering like drug addicts while we were drinking hot chocolate! so when the third quarter began we were pretty much done but I think even though we were almost frozen none of us wanted to be the one to give in first because men are just stupid that way. Eventually Temple took over the game and after they scored on a 98 yard kickoff return to take a 28-14 lead Bernard jumped up and pointed at the exit with his big assed glove/mittens and it seemed as if about half the stadium saw the damn gloves and obeyed their command! Most of the fans rushed to the exits and we just followed like frozen zombies. None of us complained though because we had braved the cold until the middle of the third quarter and the actual game was not what we were going to remember about his night. we would only remember two things,
Bernard's big assed gloves.....
and the Number