| Overall UK Wins: 8 | Overall UK Losses: 2 | Win % 80 |
Date of Birth: February 27, 1928
Date of Death: October 11, 2013
Hometown: North College Hill, OH
For a generalized listing of officials, please consult this page.
|12/15/1962||Northwestern at Kentucky||W||71 - 60||25||22||30||37||2||2||-||John McPherson and Leonard Wirtz|
|12/4/1964||Iowa at Kentucky||W||85 - 77||17||19||20||22||1||1||-||Leonard Wirtz and Dave Scobey|
|12/18/1964||West Virginia at Kentucky||W||102 - 78||24||24||33||31||2||1||-||Philip Fox and Leonard Wirtz|
|12/19/1964||Illinois at Kentucky||L||86 - 91||21||16||23||29||1||0||-||Leonard Wirtz and Philip Fox|
|12/13/1966||North Carolina at Kentucky||L||55 - 64||21||12||12||23||1||0||-||Frank Cochran and Leonard Wirtz|
|12/13/1969||Indiana at Kentucky||W||109 - 92||21||23||30||30||0||1||-||Bill Henderson and Leonard Wirtz|
|12/12/1977||South Carolina at Kentucky||W||84 - 65||26||25||31||28||2||2||-||Jack Manton and Leonard Wirtz|
|11/29/1980||East Tennessee State at Kentucky||W||62 - 57||20||24||20||17||0||0||None||Larry Ware, Robert Hartsfield and Leonard Wirtz|
|3/16/1986||Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky||W||71 - 64||16||24||30||15||0||1||None||Mark Reischling, Leonard Wirtz and Charles Vacca|
|3/26/1992||Kentucky vs. Massachusetts||W||87 - 77||20||18||23||22||0||1||Massachusetts coach Calipari for leaving coaching box [called by Lenny Wirtz]||Leonard Wirtz, Jim Stupin and Tom Rucker|
Obituary - Cincinnati.com (April 6, 2014)
Among self-made men, Lenny Wirtz, all 5-foot-4 3/4 of him, stood as tall as they come.
He grew up in the late 1930s/early 1940s, and came of age in post-World War II North College Hill, in the dawn that preceded the Great American TV Sports Age.
And yet Ð as the photo from the iconic Michigan State vs. Indiana State NCAA Championship Game in 1979 shows Ð Wirtz made it front and center to the TV Sports Explosion.
Monday's title game is the 35th anniversary of that one.
On the way to that Magic Johnson vs. Larry Bird game in 1979, Wirtz had to cover a lot of ground in the 1950s and 1960s, when non-playing and non-coaching sports careers had to be forged from one's imagination.
Small in stature, he was a giant in the dreams he brought to life.
And, oh, was he ever fair.
"My older brothers didn't get to drive when they were 16," recalled Scott, the youngest of the Wirtz boys, "so even though by the time I came along the means were there for me to have a car, Dad said: 'No. Your brothers didn't drive at 16, so you aren't either.' It was that way with everything."
Lenny died last October, about the time college basketball practice was beginning all around the country, which probably was appropriate. He never told people his age, probably because he didn't want anybody to tell him he was too old to be officiating. So we aren't going to reveal it here, either.
But know this:
He didn't just parachute in for that title game 35 years ago.
As a Tobacco Road-circulated story reported when Wirtz retired from refereeing in the autumn of 1995: "Lenny Wirtz É was running up and down courts with a whistle when (future North Carolina coach) Dean Smith got out of college in the 1950s.'"
The dream began in the Wirtz family home at 1818 Goodman Ave. (still there) behind the North College Hill Bakery (still there) to North College Hill High School (still there) to Clovernook Country Club (still there), where he caddied and fished golf balls out of the ponds.
He parlayed his sales job with Cincinnati's MacGregor Sporting Goods into becoming in the 1960s tournament director for the forerunner of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, and staged women's tour events at Clovernook. He basically was the tour's first commissioner, even though he wasn't called that. His legendary fairness showed up in the way he ran it.
He once moved a women's pro tour event from an all-white country club in Birmingham, Ala., to a public course so that the African-American tour member Althea Gibson, who had been a great tennis champion (five majors, including two Wimbledons and two U.S. Opens) could play.
Although she sat that one out in its first season, she returned to play the following year. She credited Wirtz for standing by her and doggedly pushing for her inclusion.
So, here's to you, Lenny Wirtz, for making other people's dreams achievable as well.