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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Cawood Ledford was more than UK’s Voice

Certainly we all know Cawood Ledford for his 40 years of service calling Kentucky basketball games.  But people may or may not know that Ledford also called many games for CBS Radio, which included Final Fours and Kentucky Colonels games for the ABA.  But for this week’s purposes, lets not forget that Ledford also was a yearly announcer for the Kentucky Derby.  I actually found 16 different Derby calls from Cawood, including 3 of Triple Crown winners and spanned 20 years.  So enjoy some of the great calls from outside of Kentucky basketball from Kentucky’s greatest announcer:


1977-Seattle Slew


1961-Carry Back

1964-Northern Dancer

1965-Lucky Debonair

1966-Kauai King

1967-Proud Clarion

1969-Majestic Prince

1970-Dust Commander

1972-Riva Ridge


1975-Foolish Pleasure

1976-Bold Forbes

1979-Spectacular Bid

1981-Pleasant Colony

Article written by Bryan the Intern

30 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Cawood Ledford was more than UK’s Voice

  1. Kemp's Pawn & Lube
    9:14 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    If I could have Cawood reading Wendell Berry books on CD, I think that would have been the best thing the bluegrass could offered to the world.

    9:25 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    BTI is forgiven for all his previously bad post for this classic.

  3. UKBlue1!
    9:27 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Great memories of Cawood play calling on the Radio. Listened to him a lot, in the days before espn and all of the games being on tv. UK fans should feel lucky, we are now honored to have another great announcer in Tom Leach. RIP Cawood.

  4. Rick in TX
    9:29 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    I could listen to Cawood read the phone book.

    Go ahead and post (if you can) weekly playbacks of UK games that Cawood broadcast.

  5. UK55
    9:40 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    The best announcer period. The blue & white check on the UK uniforms is in tribute to Secretariat. EXCELLENT post BTI!

  6. Axe Cop
    9:44 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Great post, BTI. I’ll check these out when I get home.

  7. Al/in/Indy
    9:44 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    While stationed at McConnell AF in Kansas in the mid-70s I would drive 30 miles in all kinds of weather to listen to Cawood on WHAS on my car’s radio. Even with the static signal fading in and out you always felt you were sitting front row at the games. God Bless Cawood Ledford!

  8. NostraDanis
    9:52 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Favorite KSR post of all-time.

  9. Tom Blevins
    9:53 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Cawood was magic. in the day when some Kentucky games were only available by radio, he allowed you to see the game through his eyes and his voice. Those who have heard him call Kentucky basketball games know what I mean. From all I know about him, he was even a better person than he was an announcer. When he retired, I remember then senior Richie Farmer’s words of tribute, “…when I was a little boy, Cawood Ledford was my hero. Today after knowing him for four years, he still is.” At the time, I thought that was the nicest thing I had ever heard anybody say about someone. And I couldn’t think of anyone who deserved it more than Cawood.

  10. bung
    9:54 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    how bout Cawood in that 66 game when Bob Tallent dropped in 28 on Notre Dame…

  11. DB11
    10:02 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    BTI aside from Matt you write the best posts on the website. Cheers to you.

  12. mlvei
    10:03 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    I remember when I was a student going to Memorial Coliseum to see Issel and Pratt play, the student section always cheered out “Hello, Cawood” to Mr. Ledford when he entered to take his seat on the floor. The students did the same for Coach Rupp, but for some reason it always seemed the fans felt more affection for Cawood Ledford than anyone else. I also remember his last broadcast, at the end of the Laettner shot, Cawood being just as professional and even tempered as during every other broadcast. And, I will always say nothing but good things about Coach K’s understanding and insight to comment so graciously to Cawood at the end of that magnificent game and upon Cawood’s retirement.

    • Dr. Tom
      10:11 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

      I am certainly not a fan of Coach K but that gesture of him that night was a great display of sportsmanship. Even though I was crushed by the defeat that act of kindness toward Cawood softened the hurt just a bit.

    • tom
      10:15 am May 2, 2014 Permalink


  13. Dr. Tom
    10:05 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    I can remember as a kid listening to Cawood do the UK radio games and hearing him mentioning Cotton Nash’s name. BTI you killed this one…..great post!!

  14. mlvei
    10:11 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    One other Cawood memory. I’ll never forget his broadcast of a 1975 game at Tuscaloosa against a very good Leon Douglas lead team with an absolutely raucous crowd. In an important, close, and tense contest as Kevin Grevey was shooting free throws, Cawood dramatically stated “This is no place for the faint hearted” which, in eight words, summed up the entire contest. Cawood need not editorialize any more than what he said then and I remember his words and inflections to this day!

  15. tom
    10:13 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    BRAVO BTI! This site covers today’s news well but doesn’t cash in enough on Kentucky’s rich sports heritage. But today, my friend, YOU NAILED IT! Thank you.

  16. ushouldno
    10:19 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Cawood introduced me to UK basketball in 1961. The product was great but without that great voice I would not have been hooked.

  17. Vin S.
    10:22 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    This was back when a high quality sounding voice and acute broadcasting skills were required before they would let you say one word on the air. Now though, any damn thing goes. Case in point, Dave Baker, Jeff Piecoro, Dave Neal (SEC), Jeff Brantley (REDS), and even Tom Leach. All of which would be better suited WRITING about sports than broadcasting sports.

    I miss Caywood and those of his ilk.

  18. jorge
    10:31 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    I learn American Government from Lemondo to take my test…

  19. Stevie Ray
    10:32 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Cawood was simply the best ever. He used an economy of words that today’s announcers should study.

  20. Greg
    10:49 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Cawood had a great radio voice and a great love of all things Bluegrass but he was also always perfectly prepared so his dialog never seemed forced. It always seemed to me that Cawood’s call, whether basketball, football, or horse racing was an organic part of the event.

    • Scout
      6:37 pm May 2, 2014 Permalink

      I love your last phrase: ‘an organic part of the event.” So perfect.

  21. UKBoo
    11:11 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    There have only been two people who left me totally speechless when I first met them. I am talking stumbling and bumbling and can’t spit a thing out that made any sense so I just stood there. One was Sir Paul McCartney and the other was Cawood Ledford. There have only been two people, where I felt humbled in their company, that treated me as if I were their long lost friend. One was Sir Paul McCartney and the other was Cawood Ledford.

  22. serdi
    11:14 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    If you ever do the old game tapes please do some from 1966-1970 when he had no color guy. He just did the broadcasts all by himself. He had a guy name Jack Cook that would come in and do the half time stats and interview somebody so Cawood could go out and smoke a cigarette or two.
    God bless Cawood Ledford.

  23. brian
    11:34 am May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Great post BTI, thanks for taking to time to put it together.

  24. lexslamman
    12:07 pm May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Cawood was the best. Takes me back to my childhood.

  25. John Calipari's Amazing One and Done Flying Circus
    4:41 pm May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Beal with a fifteen footer….beauty!

  26. JackyBlue
    6:36 pm May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Wow! That’s great stuff! Thanks!

  27. Scout
    6:40 pm May 2, 2014 Permalink

    Cawood was one of the most humble people I’ve ever met and a true workman. He was not enamored with himself but rather his work. His voice was velvet.