By Jeff Noble / Staff Writer
Much has been said about the rich history and tradition of sports in Corbin. So much that a Kentucky author decided last year to write a book about the town, and the people who played the games, both home and away.
The book is written, and “The Boys From Corbin — America’s Greatest Little Sports Town,” will be coming out with a major book signing in Corbin on Saturday, April 13.
Big on names from a storied past, and big on research, author Gary P. West filled the Corbin Kiwanis Club on what’s to come during their weekly meeting Wednesday.
“It’s been proofed (proofread). It’s gone to the publisher, and it’s waiting to be printed. In fact, the publisher, Charles Thurmond, is right here with us. We’ll announce where the book signing will be held in Corbin, but if I had my druthers, I’d rather have the signing at Edwards Gym,” he said.
West — a Bowling Green writer and former newspaperman who had worked with sports at Western Kentucky University and with tourism in Bowling Green and Warren County — told the audience several of the people who played a prominent role in Corbin’s sports past glories were planning to attend the book signing this spring.
“The Selvy Family — Frank, Marvin, Curly, Edd and David, Roy Kidd, David Miller. Yogi Meadors, the son of legend Ted Meadors. David and Mel Chandler, Ed Smith, and Rodger, Calvin and Jerry Bird, and hopefully, Steve Bird. Those are just a few of who will be here.”
When he introduced West, emcee and Corbin High standout Bob Terrell added, “Rodger has made such an impact on so many lives in Corbin. That’s one reason why Gary wrote the book.”
West recalled his first contact with the former University of Kentucky football great from 1963-1965, who is one of the charter class members of the UK Athletics Hall of Fame.
“My first contact with Corbin was in 1962, at Western Kentucky. When I transferred to UK, I became friends with Rodger Bird. About seven years ago, I spoke to Rodger when I spoke to the Rotary Club in Henderson, where Rodger lived. I told him I wanted to write a book about Rodger and his brothers. Rodger said, ‘No, I don’t think so. No, probably not.’ But a year later, he told me, ‘I talked to Calvin and Jerry. We want to include the Selvys and Nick Denes and everybody else in Corbin.’”
Rodger Bird was there at Wednesday’s meeting, and spoke with West, along with other Kiwanis members afterward.
“It means so much to the average player to play on great teams. We had good coaches, good kids, and a lot of support from the community. The Bird boys sort of followed each other. And the coaches and townspeople supported each other. If you grow up with these kids and you have the same interests, the townspeople supported them, then and now,” Rodger Bird noted.
Telling those at the meeting held at David’s Steakhouse, West stated he did his homework to make his new book special, as well as to do the town proud.
“I’ve researched and know a lot about Corbin sports, and as a high school player coming out of town, Calvin Bird was the best there was. Folks, we’re talking about legends in this state and in the nation coming from this town. And I’m just scratching the surface. I was acquaintances with them then, and I’m friends with them now. And you put all these people in the book now. Wow! The book has been life-altering for me. I’ve renewed friendships with people from Corbin.”
While the book signing date has been set for April 13, West said the actual location and time will be announced later. But he added motel rooms could be at a premium on that second Saturday in April.
“We had 20 rooms blocked for this event, and now the Hampton Inn here’s sold out.”
For Rodger Bird, the event will be more than a signing. It will be a homecoming, as he hopes it will for many others who will make their way back to the city where the cheering seemed to never stop.
“I’m always looking forward to seeing the old home place, and old friends. And I’m not getting younger.”
“There are unbelievable stories of the odds families had to face in those days. It’s not just a sports book. It’s about a community and how families banded together. That’s what it’s all about,” West said.