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UK Legend Dick Parsons Named To Hall of Fame

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Mercer County resident Dick Parsons was named to the 2023 University of Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. Parsons is one of only a few athletes who played two varsity sports, basketball and baseball, and went on to be part of the coaching staff for each.

Austin Cocanougher
Herald Contributor

Harrodsburg is home to a living University of Kentucky legend and most people don’t even realize it. For the past 13 years, UK basketball and baseball alumni Dick Parsons has called Mercer County his home. After growing up in a small coal mining town called Yancey near Harlan, Parsons got used to a certain lifestyle that he referred to as “living at the end of the road.” To Parsons this meant that he could avoid the hustle and bustle of a busy city street and focus on the little things in life, the things that mattered to him. In Yancey in the 1940s and 50s, this was playing with the coal mining squad’s baseball team, playing basketball on a dirt court, or riding the tiny trolley cart down into the narrow mine shafts at the coal camp. In Harrodsburg, this looks like planting trees, taking care of some potted plants, doing small restorations on old furniture, or landscaping his property. Although Parsons has lived a life that almost every Kentucky fan would be jealous of and has accomplished enough at the University of Kentucky to warrant a coveted spot in the UK Hall of Fame the thing that brings him peace in his retirement is simple, “He is still just living at the end of the road.”

For those that are unfamiliar with Parsons, he was a rare multi-sport athlete at the collegiate level. In the summer of 1957, Parsons joined the University of Kentucky basketball team after receiving an official scholarship offer from Coach Adolph Rupp. This offer so happened to come without Coach Rupp ever seeing Parsons, or as Coach Rupp would later refer to him as Bobby, play a single minute of high school basketball. In fact, Coach Rupp found out about Parsons through one of his friends who just so happened to see him play in a high school game. Between this report of a stellar guard being ripe for the picking and the trust Coach Rupp had in Parsons’ high school coach, Joe Gilley, Parsons was offered a scholarship to join the team.

Parsons freshman season as a Wildcat was a tremendous year. Despite freshmen being ineligible to play varsity, Parsons still contributed greatly to his team. By his account, he and his fellow classmates would scrimmage the varsity players several times a week. In these scrimmages it was not uncommon for the freshmen to hold their own and give the varsity players fits. Despite this, the varsity team ended up winning the NCAA Championship in 1958, cementing the standard that Parsons was going to be expected to live up to during his tenure as a Wildcat.

For the rest of the story, check out this week’s edition of the Harrodsburg Herald. Click here to subscribe.

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