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Big Blue Nation from Coast to Coast (Part III): San Francisco


3-gogglin’ fans at Zekes Sports Bar in San Francisco

Our third addition of profiles of UK fan groups around the country is the group that meets at Zeke’s Sports Bar in San Francisco to watch every Cats game. If you missed either of the two previous installments, give them a click below:

Ohio UK Convention– Franklin, OH (Part I)
The Pony Inn– Chicago, Ill (Part II)

Today’s submission comes from Ash Mason in San Francisco:

I am originally from Paintsville KY, and also lived in Danville, Lexington and Florence each for a time. However, I relocated for a job promotion four years ago to the Bay Area here in California. Much to my surprise, there was a solid group of what I now call my “Kentucky West Coast family” here. Our club president, Tom Pasco, is from Murray, KY (Go Racers!), and we have folks from all over the Commonwealth. We gather at Zeke’s Bar and Grill in San Francisco, 3rd and Brannan Streets, near AT&T Park (SF Giants). We’re there for ALL mens basketball games and usually draw a regular season crowd averaging 30 people/game, to as many as 55-60 last year for the UK/UNC game -which tipped off at 9am PT no less! Our SEC and NCAA Tournament games completely pack the place and it seems blue-clad people come out of nowhere and into Zeke’s. In recent years people have been turned away at the door due to capacity.
The local UK alumni chapter has been heading to Zeke’s since the night Walter McCarty, Jeff Brassow, et al, came from 31 points down to beat LSU in 1994. Mercer County native and photographer Billy Douglas is credited with “discovering” Zeke’s that miraculous night. We also catch nearly all football games, however with a smaller turnout, and occasionally UK Hoops womens games if the satellites cooperate.
There are numerous UK posters and banners adorning the walls. As you might imagine, the mere sight befuddles the average San Francisco city sports bar crowd when they walk in Zeke’s door. Kentucky? Really?!? What the…?? A couple of the things of which we are most proud include an engraved plaque given to the chapter by the UKAA, celebrating then-15 years of Kentucky sports at Zeke’s, and a Maker’s Mark bourbon barrel lid, engraved with many of our names.
The folks at Zeke’s always take special care of us, opening early when needed, and turning the remotes and their 15 TV’s over to us at game time. They also permit us to hold special events such as a yearly “Wildcat Potluck”, where everyone brings their own versions of country ham/biscuits/cheese grits/”Derby” pie, etc, an event always with a stellar turnout. I annually call Purnell’s Old Folks sausage in Shelby County and buy a case of sausage patties, which I had shipped to my office and later fried up over 2 hours! This year on 2/18/12, we celebrated 18 years of UK basketball at Zeke’s with our annual potluck and a packed house.

We also love to host fellow Kentuckians when they’re in the area for business or vacations. I know when my family/friends visit from KY, the Golden Gate Bridge and cable cars are on the agenda, but so is a stop at Zeke’s to take in a game telecast in our fun atmosphere. We truly ARE the Big Blue Nation (West Coast chapter). GO CATS!


Honorable Mention Shout-out: the Knoxville UK Alumni Group, pictured below.

That marks the end of the BBN from C2C segment. The response from various groups have been overwhelming, and unfortunately I’m not able to include every entry, but we still love you all. One place that we didn’t profile, but needs no introduction to KSR fans, is Jack Dempsey’s in NYC. I hope to see many of ya’ll there this November when the Cats face Maryland in Brooklyn.

Article written by John Wilmhoff

Former beer vendor, college mascot and ESPN editor. This spring, you can also find me blogging about the Reds on Follow me on Twitter: @JohnWilmhoff

9 Comments for Big Blue Nation from Coast to Coast (Part III): San Francisco

  1. ElmerFudd
    2:12 pm July 31, 2012 Permalink

    I am glad to see that Lamb knows how to throw up the goggles.

  2. Ramsey
    2:13 pm July 31, 2012 Permalink

    San Francisco and Chic-Fil-A do not go together. I’ll let you figure out why.

  3. San Francisco Treat
    2:18 pm July 31, 2012 Permalink

    2. Why don’t you take your intolerance somewhere else? We have have the same rights to cheer for UK as any of you people!

  4. SugarPantsRobinson
    2:21 pm July 31, 2012 Permalink

    3. Well look at me. Ain’t I just 2 much.

  5. Rockfield, KY
    3:11 pm July 31, 2012 Permalink

    I need to find some CATS fans here in Chattanooga, TN. I see a lot of stickers and license plates, but don’t know where they watch gamess.

  6. Northern VA Cat
    3:37 pm July 31, 2012 Permalink

    Ah, I wish Grevey’s would’ve been featured for the DC alumni association. Kevin Grevey even kicks it with BBN to watch the games, the entire bar is a sea of blue from John Wall to wall.

  7. dick gosinia
    3:38 pm July 31, 2012 Permalink

    John – these stories are GREAT and make me even prouder of the BBN. I think folks like to read about them. I wish you would post all of them that you received from time to time when it is slow just so we can read about Cat fans in other parts of the country!

  8. Brent Alton Nally
    4:02 pm July 31, 2012 Permalink

    I also moved out to the Bay Area over 4 years ago and am a UK alum. I just took my sister (who is in nursing school at UK right now) to Zeke’s last week and she was impressed with all the UK decor. I take all my Kentucky friends to Zeke’s when they visit me in NorCal. There is also a UK restaurant in Japan I have seen pictures of and read about as well. UK is everywhere!

  9. CaliUKfan
    4:38 pm July 31, 2012 Permalink

    Way to go Bay Area! I look forward to catching a game at Zeke’s next time i’m home.