- Gerry Calvert
- Hometown (Last School)
- Maysville, KY (High)
- 1954-55, 1955-56, 1956-57
- September 19, 1935
Gerry Lynn Calvert was born September 19, 1935, in Decatur, Illinois. The Calvert family later moved to Maysville when he was 10 years old. Calvert was the key man in Maysville High School’s attack and was believed to be the best player ever to represent the Black and Gold. He had exceptional speed and aggressiveness that made him an excellent driver in fast-break basketball. Calvert possessed a good set shot and was also an outstanding defensive man. He averaged about 20 points a game as a senior in high school and was named to the All-State team two years in a row.
His services were sought after by 31 colleges. Initially, Calvert had committed to play for Louisville but after Kentucky offered him a scholarship just a few weeks before school started, he changed course and accepted UK’s offer on August 24, 1953. He left Maysville, September 13, 1953, to begin his career at UK.
As a freshman, Calvert averaged 9.4 points per game on an undefeated freshman team.
As a sophomore, Calvert was one of the fastest guards on the squad. He was only 5-11 but overcame that handicap with a sheer desire to play and by being extremely aggressive on defense. He seemed destined to provide the defending national champions with plenty of help in his initial season on the varsity. The Maysville product was a driving type player who shot with exceptional accuracy from the outside. Calvert suffered a broken finger on his right hand shortly before the season opened which hindered him during the early portion of the campaign. Calvert blossomed into a real standout during the latter stages of his sophomore year, turning in a pair of top-notch performances in the NCAA Tournament, including a 19-point outburst in Kentucky’s final game. Calvert tallied 59 points his sophomore season. He was also the regular centerfielder on the Wildcat baseball team.
During his junior season, Calvert played in all 22 games, scoring 11.2 points per game. He, along with Vernon Hatton, was considered one of the best guard tandems in the nation. He led the UK baseball team with 14 RBIs and hit two homeruns. He batted .288.
As a senior, Calvert, the floor general and sparkplug, was named honorary co-captain along with Ed Beck. He was second on the team in scoring with 427 points on the year, a 15.2 per game average. He scored a career high 29 points against Loyola on January 7, 1957. Calvert was awarded the Jerome A. Lederer “Most Valuable Player” trophy as voted on by his teammates. He was also selected to participate in the East-West All-Star game.
Calvert was drafted with the 73rd overall pick in the 10th Round of the 1957 NBA Draft by Philadelphia. I believe he was traded by Philadelphia to St. Louis, but I could not find a record of this transaction. I did find a transaction indicating he was traded by the St. Louis Hawks to the Cincinnati Royals on August 5, 1958.
He was cut by the Cincinnati Royals in September of 1958, but by then Calvert had begun coaching basketball at several Kentucky high schools including Nicholas County High School (1957-58), Carlisle High School (1958-59), Millersburg Military Institute (1959-60) and Fern Creek High School (1961-1963).
Dividing his time between teaching at Fern Creek High School and going to law school, Calvert graduated from the University of Louisville Louis C. Brandeis Law School in 1965. He practiced law in Lexington for 56 years.
Calvert was also a member of the Sigma Chi fraterity.
The Kentucky Kernel wrote of Calvert during his senior season:
Though Gerry stands only 5-11, he is a real giant of a ball player, as well as a personality. He has lettered twice in basketball and twice in baseball for the University. Last year he played in all 26 games the Cats played and ended with an 11.2 scoring average, fourth best on the whole team.
“That team my sophomore year was the best I’ve played on. It had the most fight because of Billy Evans, the best player I’ve ever played with,” says Gerry. “(Guy) Rodgers of Temple is the best I’ve ever played against.” In talking of the teams, Gerry said that he would not talk about this year’s edition in comparison with the other two he has been on because it is too early in the year.
Gerry made All-State twice while playing high school ball for Maysville. The redhead did not come to the state tournament during his high school career.
Concerning the future, Gerry has little doubt about what he wants. “I’d like to give high school coaching a try, but I don’t want any of this college business, it’s too rough a sport when you lose.” The physical education major was sure about pro ball. “No, I don’t want any or that either.”
“What has given me the most pleasure during my college career?”, he repeated to a question. “That’s easy. I’ve had two real thrills. The win over Temple this year and my first and really biggest, starting against Marquette and Penn State in the 1954-55 NCAA Tourney”.
Like the other Cats, Gerry was disappointed about getting beat by St. Louis. “The loss hurt, but I think we’ll learn by our mistakes we made. That was the toughest loss I’ve ever had to take.”
Though Gerry will not be on the 1957-58 Wildcats he had this to say about some of the boys who will be. “Hatton and Cox will be two of the greatest players this school will see, you can’t deny them. Kentucky will have a solid club next year provided they don’t let down.”
Gerry is a real pepper-pot of energy. Always on the go regardless of whether he is on the floor or just moving around. You can’t be around him very long without feeling that he is a team man, always ready to give the ball to someone else if it means two points. Kentucky has 22 more games this year. Calvert will be in each one of them, barring injury, and Calvert will get the job done, well done.
From the Courier-Journal, February 16, 1972:
Adolph Rupp stood in the middle of the Memorial Coliseum basketball court; his team seated around him in a circle.
He held a basketball in his hands as he talked to his squad. He said he needed another starting guard and couldn’t quite make up his mind whom to choose.
He called off the names of four certain starters to take their places on the court for some offensive work. Just then the ‘ball rolled out of his hands and bounced down the court. One of the players jumped up from the ‘circle, dashed after the ball and threw it back to Rupp.
“Well, here’s a boy who wants to play. Get out there with the other four,” Rupp said.
That’s how red-haired Gerry Calvert got his chance to play at the University of Kentucky, stepping into the lineup for crippled UK in the 1955 NCAA regional tournament at Evanston, Ill.
Now, two seasons later, there was no doubt where Calvert fitted into Rupp’s scheme. Calvert was UK’s go-go guard. He made the team run. A 5-foot-11 bundle of energy, he buzzed up and down the court relentlessly.
The rest of the players had to run their hearts out or they would’ve looked rather silly chasing him up and down the court. Calvert was the main reason Rupp had one of the finest fast-break teams in UK history in the 1956-57 season.
The story has been widely told that Calvert went to UK without a scholarship. That’s not true, but UK almost missed him and the University of Louisville had him and let him get away.
Calvert was a Courier-Journal All-State player for Earle Jones as a senior at Maysville, Ky., in 1953. A good long shooter, with the quick burst of speed needed to get in for layups, Calvert drew the attention of chief U of L recruiter John Dromo.
Calvert had always wanted to attend UK. His ambition was to “be another Ralph Beard.” But UK didn’t offer him a scholarship; U of L did. He signed with U of L.
Calvert made the Kentucky High School All-Stars in ’53 for a second game that summer against Indiana’s best. He hadn’t played in an earlier game when the Kentucky Stars, coached by Western Kentucky’s Ed Diddle, lost at Indianapolis. Bruce Hale of Indianapolis got the idea of staging a second game—in Louisville.
Calvert was one of five new players chosen. U of L head coach Bernard (Peck) Hickman and his assistant, John Dromo, were picked as the new all-star coaches. But the Kentucky Stars lost again and Calvert didn’t play enough to break a good sweat.
Calvery was disappointed and a little mad when he went home. About three weeks before school started, UK offered him a scholarship. He accepted.
“If they (Hickman and Dromo) had played me more in the all-star game, I would’ve gone to U of L,” he said later. “l would’ve felt obligated.”
As a sophomore in 1954-55, Calvert was handicapped by a broken finger and wore a cast for several games. He played in about two-thirds of UK’s games as a reserve until Rupp game him a chance in the NCAA. He scored eight points the first night of the NCAA regional against Marquette and came back with 19 the next night against Penn State. Rupp knew he had found a player.
As a junior Calvert started all of UK’s 26 games and averaged 11.2 points.
So he was confident that his senior year would be his best, and he was equally convinced that Kentucky has a team good enough to win the national championship.
Calvert was the only senior in the lineup with which UK opened the 1956-57 season. At the other guard was a 6-3 junior, Vernon Hatton, of Lexington. At the forwards were 6-4 sophomore Johnny Cox, Hazard, Ky., and 6-3 John Crigler, Hebron, Ky. The center was 6-7 junior Ed Beck, from Ft. Valley, Ga.
From the start Cox, Hatton and Calvert carried the scoring load. UK won its first three games, the biggest of which was 73-58 at Temple with Cox looping in 23 points. But the next game, despite 20 points by Cox, 21 by Hatton and 18 by Calvert St. Louis edged UK 71-70 on the Kentucky court.
St. Louis coach Ed Hickey called Cox “the greatest sophomore in the country,” but Kentucky couldn’t handle St. Louis’ Jack Mimlitz (25 points) and Harold Alcorn (24).
The next game, as to prove Hickey’s point, Cox scored 34 points in a 76-55 victory over Maryland. Still using the old two-handed dip shot on free throws, Cox dropped in 12 of 12.
The next time out. UK lost another one-pointer 85-84 at Duke University. Duke’s Bucky Allen stole the ball from Hatton with 20 seconds to play to score the winning basket. “He almost knocked Vernon down taking the ball, ” Calvert insisted.
Lexington Herald-Leader Obituary, July 15, 2021:
Former University of Kentucky basketball player Gerrv Calvert died Monday. He was 85.
A native of Maysville, Calvert played for UK in the mid-1950s. He later became a lawyer and practiced in Lexington for more than a half century.
Calvert had been in failing health and had undergone brain surgery.
“He was a walking miracle,” said Terrie Greer, Calvert’s sister-in-law. “He had brain cancer and lung cancer. He’s fought the good fight for two years. They only gave him three months after the brain surgery. “
Calvert, a 5-foot-11 guard weighing 160 pounds, played for Adolph Rupp’s UK teams from the 1954-55 season through 1956-57. He scored 777 career points and averaged double-digit points as a junior (11.2 ppg) and senior (15.2). He was UK’s second-leading scorer in 1956-57.
“Coach Rupp called him Red,” recalled Lexington businessman Jim Host, who lived in a room next to Calvert when they were UK students. “He had red hair. (Calvert) was a great person to be around and was a terrific competitor.”
After his UK playing career, Calvert played on the team that competed against the Harlem Globetrotters.
After setting basketball aside, he got a degree from the University of Louisville Louis C. Brandeis Law School and practiced in Lexington for 56 years.
Host said Calvert was active in politics and served as chairman of the Fayette County Republican Party. Calvert also helped establish the Adolph Rupp Trophy, which was presented to the Division I Player of the Year from 1972 through 2015.
Calvert also became known for rescuing dogs. “He loved dogs so much that he got a kennel license for their home and rescued who knows how many dogs,” Greer said. “Cathy, his wife, currently has eight.”
Greer also said Calvert entertained people by recalling stories involving basketball and other topics. “He was an awesome story teller…” Greer said. “Heaven received an angel.”