Back in October of 2008, in a fit of braggadocio, I asserted that I was assuredly the only person to have attended each of the season-opening Late Nights in Allen Fieldhouse.
• Considering there have been three different Kansas University head basketball coaches and four athletic directors in 2 1/2 decades, there’s no way any KU athletic-department official had made each of the 23 — now 25 — Late Nights.
• Considering the actual hoops scrimmage tipped after midnight from 1985 until 2005, and deadlines being what they are, there’s no way any other media member ventured into the Phog for ’em all.
• As far as fans, I theorized it’s highly unlikely any KU zealot has witnessed every Late Night, considering both the “lateness” of the event for so many years and the fact it sometimes was held on a weeknight.
Folks have to work and also send the kids to school. You get the drift.
Two years later, I am proud to add two more individuals to the “Been to Every Late Night Club” — a group that now totals three (and counting?)
Drum roll please ....
Lawrence’s Bonnie and Bob Byers have been to all 25 Late Nights in the Phog.
I learned this recently by accident.
In checking kusports.com archives for 2010 Late Night in the Phog research, I came across a reader comment from Bonnie Byers on my Oct. 16, 2009 opinion piece:
“Didn't see the first story about going to every Late Night but you have at least two others in that company — my husband and myself. We have not missed a Late Night,” Bonnie Byers reported, adding ...
“The basketball has always been great but I could have done without the concert in one of the early ones (1989). The Late Nights that had volleyball games were great as well as the year with the Halloween costume contests (1992 when Greg Ostertag dressed as Frankenstein’s monster).
“It's fun to see the players performing in areas that aren’t as natural as running the court and making baskets. I think the first one (1985 with Larry Brown) was one of my favorites. A bunch of people who were interested in watching the team play. Not like some of the years when the Fieldhouse emptied out when the scrimmage started.”
In the true spirit of full disclosure, Bonnie clarified the Byers duo’s perfect attendance mark in a recent e-mail exchange:
“Bob has been to every Late Night. I have been in the building for every Late Night. I have worked for the concessions company for the past few years. For many of those years, I was able to join Bob for the skits. Hopefully I can start joining him for the whole thing this year,” she said.
Bonnie and Bob Byers have been in Lawrence since 1977, when Bob began grad school.
“We got student tickets that first fall. I think the tickets cost $15 each. You could get a student ticket for your spouse and any children. It was cheaper to get a ticket for our son than to pay for a babysitter,” she said.
“Bob would camp back in the day when camping for the good seats meant really camping. They would get in line the day before and camp in line all night. The athletic department would let them stay in the building on the really cold nights. For many years, our seats were seven rows behind Max Falkenstien’s head. They were great seats when the game was on the north end of the court. On the other end, the foul pole blocked the goal.
“We had student tickets for many years,” Bonnie added. “Bob was a student for two years, then I went to school for my undergraduate and graduate school. I think that standing is the best way to see the game. I am not very tall so it made it easier to see especially if my seat was next to an aisle.”
I don’t know about you, but I find Bonnie’s memories fantastic, pardon the pun.
“Beginning with Danny Manning’s junior year, season tickets were getting close to selling out,” Bonnie wrote. “Because we were afraid they would be gone when we could no longer get student tickets, we bought a pair for a year or so along with the student tickets. We had them for many years. Unfortunately, the cost became too high, and we couldn’t renew them. For a few years we worked before and after the basketball games for the concession company. Our pay — tickets to the games.”
Admission, of course, is free for tonight’s Late Night as it has been for all but one — that 1989 experiment gone sour with two bands on hand. You are asked, however, to bring nonperishable items to help stock area shelters for the upcoming holidays.
BTW, my offer still stands to everybody not named Bedore or Byers. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if indeed you have been to each and every Late Night. This club is willing to take on more members.