Swing and a Drive: The Murray State tradition

I am somewhat of a history buff.

No, I’m not majoring in history (I can’t force myself to read or write that much), but I still enjoy learning about the past nonetheless.

Additionally, I love sports.

Anything and everything about sports peaks my interest, whether it’s watching a game, reading a story or just talking about my favorite teams with friends.

So, I guess it would make sense that I’ve found a recent affection for sports history.

Last semester, I was given the assignment of investigating what it is that has made Kentucky, and more specifically, Murray, fall in love with basketball.

Whether or not I adequately answered the intended question remains to be seen. However, I was exposed to something that absolutely fascinated me, Murray State basketball history.

I’d always heard the tired saying of Murray State having, ‘the greatest tradition in the OVC,’ but last semester I truly learned the significance of the phrase.

When I read through the history books, I was amazed by the things I found. Names I’d never heard – Joe Fulks, Howie Crittendon, Bennie Purcell, James Singleton, Jeff Martin, Popeye Jones and Marcus Brown – jumped off the page. As I read their stories and saw their contributions to what is today, one of the top mid-major programs in the country, I was utterly floored.

As I began interviewing long-time fans and past players, the importance and history of the program in this community hit me like a semi-truck. Murray State basketball means a lot more to people than just wins and losses. It’s truly a unique basketball town, unlike any other university in the state or country. The people who have been associated with this program – players, coaches, donors, athletic directors, fans – they’ve all spent the last 87 years creating a remarkable program.

After I turned in my assignment, I knew the least I could do was share a few of these players’ stories. The average student, fan and faculty member needs to know the history behind the program they get to watch day in and day out.

For the next several weeks, I am using my column to tell the stories of these players. Though I wish I could, I won’t be able to share the entire history that is Murray State basketball. My hope is, however, that one or two of these columns will peak your interest. Just maybe, it might prompt you to dig deeper and find out just what this whole Racer basketball thing is all about.

In the meantime, get out and watch this year’s team. In 20 or 30 years, Isaiah Canaan, Ed Daniel and this entire senior class will have their very own, very large section in the basketball history books. They only have six home games left.

Story by Jonathan Ferris, Staff writer