If you love Arizona basketball now, then you would have really loved what Fred Snowden and the “Kiddie Corp” did from 1972-1977. McKale Center was new and names such as Jim Rappis, Eric Money, Coniel Norman, Al Fleming, Bob Elliott, Herman Harris, Len Gordy, Gilbert Myles and Larry Demic were just as big as a Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott, Mike Bibby or Stanley Johnson.
Of course, not many media types know this because they were either living in another city at the time or where in diapers. They can only read about it. Heck, a few even believed Brian Williams was the first Wildcat to enter the NBA draft early in 1991 but were embarrassed when my brother, Javier, correctly pointed out that Money and Norman left the program after two years.
How would Javier know this fact? Because he was there.
Our oldest brother, Hector, was a student at Arizona at the time and he was able to secure tickets for us by begging his fellow students for the use of their tickets. At that time, the student section was way up top in the old yellow seats. That didn’t matter because the Morales brothers had the hottest ticket in town.
Our other brother, Carlos, was mostly in charge of Javier and me at these events. Same was true for football games and baseball games. When we talk about Bruce Hill throwing to “T” Bell or Steve Powers pitching to Ron Hassey it is from first-hand experience. We don’t need to go to a library to look up stories.
The three of us were so visible at games that even longtime Arizona, Toros and Tucson High fan David Bell took a liking to us. What the rest of the city saw as a sort of strange man who rode his bicycle everywhere, we saw as a fellow fan.
We would watch Snowden sip his can of ginger ale after every game, waiting to be interviewed by either Gene Adelstein or Eric Steffens. Snowden would always acknowledge us in some way.
The best came around 1974. Carlos was 14, I was 10 and Javier was 7. We were hanging out in the hallway leading to the locker room after a game and David Bell yelled out, “Hey Freddy, how about taking these boys in the locker room tonight?’
Javier got a lot of attention from Rappis because he was sporting an afro at the time. Bob Elliott came over and talked to us and we saw Norman and Money goofing around. The only thing I can relate to this experience is how the Beatles are shown in news clips. These guys were it, they were winning, everyone knew who they were and they were having fun.
Well, Norman and Money did leave for the NBA but the Cats still managed to make it to the Elite 8 in 1976. Imagine what could have been had those two stayed?
Of course, Snowden is no longer with us and Bell was killed while riding his bike. Still those days were our formative years. Javier ultimately went on to become the Star’s beat writer for Arizona Basketball and was court side when Arizona won a championship 20 years ago.
It is very fitting that both the Elite 8 team and the championship team are being honored this year.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014 and has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Contact Andy Morales at AMoralesMyTucson@yahoo.com