By LARRY VAUGHT
When former Kentucky baseball coach Keith Madison first saw the bobblehead of him that was unveiled at Kentucky Proud Park Thursday he laughed … and laughed some more.
“And then, I felt honored that UK Athletics would choose to remember me,” Madison said Thursday.
Madison’s bobblehead will be on permanent display at the UK’s new baseball facility and bobbleheads for the nine other UK Athletics Hall of Famers with baseball ties will be added later. They are Jeff Abbott, Collin Cowgill, Dom Fucci, Andy Green, Jim Host, Ellis Johnson, Jeff Keener, Terry Shumpert and Brandon Webb.
“It’s a humbling feeling. Mitch (Barnhart) and Nick (Mingione) have gone out of their way to make me fell like a part of the ‘family.’ It’s pretty special,” Madison, who won 723 games in his 25-year coaching career at UK that started in 1979.
Madison had 85 players either drafted or sign professional baseball contract and 14 of those players reached the major league level. Madison, the fifth winningest coach in SEC history, helped produce nine All-Americans and 44 all-SEC selections. His 1988 team gave UK its first NCAA Tournament berth in 38 years.
Madison is a regular at Kentucky baseball now and often provides analysis on the UK radio broadcasts.
“I absolutely love coming to the ballpark. I thought i would be sad that I couldn’t watch games at The Cliff (UK’s previous stadium), but Kentucky Proud Park is such a fabulous place. I haven’t missed The Cliff as much as I thought I would,” Madison said.
“It’s fun to talk baseball with Darrin Headrick and Dick Gabriel and Doug Flynn (on the radio). Doug and I were teammates in the minors so that makes it even more fun. I also enjoy talking to the fans and basically everyone who loves baseball.”
No one, though, lives baseball quite like Madison always has and my guess is that fans enjoy talking to this personable former UK coach way, way more than he does talking to them.