The Campbellsville community lost a dear friend on Sunday morning, January 7, 2018. Bobby Brockman, the long-time sports editor at the Central Kentucky News-Journal, passed away in his sleep at the age of 61.
If you knew Brockman, he was the encyclopedia for all things sports. His knowledge for national, state and local sporting events was by far one of his top talents. He was also what I like to call, the “Historian for all things Campbellsville University Athletics.” Bobby was always my first call when I was stumped and needed an answer. And more times than not, he always came through with the answer I was looking for.
His storied career started 33 years ago at the CKNJ and just a few months ago on Sept. 18, 2017, Brockman published his weekly column about the many fond memories of being sports editor. It’s ironic for me to have the opportunity to share the memories we have of Bobby because my birthday, well, is on Sept. 18.
Brockman’s first day at the CKNJ was Friday, Sept. 13, 1985. He took over the sports section for long-time sports editor and then-General Manager Richard RoBards.
RoBards sent Brockman on his first assignment to Russell County High School, as the Lakes were hosting Campbellsville High. Little did he know the head coaches in those games – Dave Fryrear (CHS) and Ron Finley (Russell County) would make lasting impacts on Campbellsville University Athletics.
According to Bobby’s column, Fryrear told him after CHS took a 63-0 shellacking, “If you could write about this game, you could write about any of them.”
Fast forward about 24 years when RoBards retired from the newspaper company and found part-time work in the Campbellsville University Sports Information Department as the lead photographer and story-teller. On days like today, the wise words of both my mentors come to mind – keep it short and simple when telling your story. I am sorry Bobby and Richard, but I don’t think this one is going to be short.
It was RoBards who introduced me to Brockman one afternoon while eating lunch at Jeff’s Food Mart. Bobby was a mainstay at Jeff’s. It was almost like clockwork. Every day around 11 a.m., he would roll in and order his usual – Cajun turkey on wheat with Swiss cheese and tomato. Always tomato, never mayo! He also had a bottle of water and a bag of chips.
I’m sure he didn’t even have to place that order, as he was one of the regulars for owner, long-time CU supporter and good friend of Bobby’s, Jeff Wright.
“Bobby and I have been friends since he was in high school, and I was sports editor at the News-Journal,” stated RoBards in a text message on Sunday afternoon. “The news of his death saddens me and my entire family. To say he will be missed would be an understatement.
“His knowledge of local and national sports, events, dates, scores, player jersey numbers — everything sports — stored in his brain like a special set of encyclopedias. My heart goes out to his wife, Sonja, and his beloved daughters Rachel, Melanie and Savanna.”
Another fond memory and maybe the most fitting moment…. One of Brockman’s last assignments came on Friday night, January 5, 2018….. it was the Battle of the Birds between Taylor County and Campbellsville. The entire city and county shows up for these rivalry matchups, and I’m sure Brockman, a former Campbellsville Eagle himself, talked to half of them while sitting at his patented location under the left basket. The Eagles ended up coming from behind to pull the victory over TCHS, 66-63.
Friday night was also my first Battle of the Birds rivalry. I didn’t have plans to attend but Matt Payton, radio program director at 88.7 The Tiger, needed a troubleshooter to help a few CU broadcast students with the CHS radio call. I obliged and I am so glad I did because I wouldn’t have that last memory of talking to Bobby about the Lady Tiger wrestling NWCA National Duals Championship – which he said would be front page news this coming week.
Well, Bobby, I wish I had control over what would go on the front page of the CKNJ this week because a story on you would take precedent.
But that’s who Bobby was. He cared more about the promotion of local athletes through community sports, high school, college and local pros than he did for anything else. Sports was his passion, and it rubbed off on a community that is grieving his loss.
“Bobby was a dear friend and his stories were a joy to read,” said CU athletics supporter Rick Wilson. “Bobby was always fair in his coverage, no matter who won the game, and he put his own scope on his writing. The historical knowledge we lost this morning is devastating.
“Before the times of SIDs and sports editors at surrounding newspapers, Bobby traveled and worked so hard. I’ll always remember him sitting down to my left at the CHS gym and a revolving door of people would always stop, say hello and share a laugh. He was a great friend and will be sorely missed in our community.”
“It has been such a pleasure for me to work with Bobby for many years,” said CU Director of Athletics, Jim Hardy. “Bobby has long been the voice of central Kentucky sports. He was always so supportive and fair in the way he reported our community sports, and his influence will be felt for many years and be sorely missed. Our prayers will be with all of the Brockman family.”
Lastly, Brockman attended the University of Tennessee and was a basketball manager for coach Ray Mears. He and his college roommate, WWE star Kevin Nash, were diehard fans, and I’d like to believe Bobby’s last game he ever witnessed on this earth was the Vols’ upset over Kentucky on Saturday night at Thompson Boling Arena in Knoxville.
If there was any way to go out, I’m sure Bobby’s dream would have been a Campbellsville High School victory over rival Taylor County and a Tennessee win over Kentucky. He got exactly that.
Looking back at the column he posted a few months ago on my birthday, Sept. 18, Brockman’s last sentence read: “Who knows what year 33 at the CKNJ or thereafter holds for me, but my granddad, we grandchildren called him Pappy just like his own children did, warned me up in Spurlington in the 1960s: “Don’t get the big head boy, you can and will be replaced someday.””
Bobby, you may be replaced at the CKNJ in the coming weeks but the lasting memories and the mark you made on local sports in Campbellsville, Kentucky, will never be met again.
From all of us at Campbellsville University, and I think I can speak for the entire Campbellsville community, Rest in Peace my Brother in Christ.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced as of Sunday afternoon but once they are, CU athletics will publish.
Sports Information Director