Hometown: Yorktown, IN (High)
Position: G-F Playing Height: 6-2 Playing Weight: 185
Date of Birth: January 15, 1921 [Cumberland - 37 - 21]
Date of Death: March 17, 1998
Legal Name: Clifford Eugene Barker
Additional Photos: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14)
Action Photos: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11) (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17)
Game by Game Statistics
Kentucky Career Notes:
Retired Jersey #23
1947-48: All-SEC [Second Team]; All-SEC Tournament
1948-49: All-SEC [Second Team (AP)]; All-SEC Tournament
Post-UK Career Notes:
Served in the Military
State of Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame
University of Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame
Drafted in the 1949 NBA Draft by Indianapolis
Professional Basketball Statistics [External Link]
Obituary - Cliff Barker, 77, a Kentucky Basketball Star, New York Times (March 21, 1998) by Frank Litsky
He died in his sleep, said Russell Rice, a former sports information director at Kentucky and longtime friend. In recent years, because of problems with his feet and his legs, Barker used a cane or a wheelchair.
Barker, a native of Yorktown, Ind., was a burly 6-foot-2 inch forward on the 1948 Kentucky team that finished the season with a 36-3 record, the national title and the nickname of the Fabulous Five. The other starters were Wallace (Wah Wah) Jones at forward, Kenny Rollins at guard and two all-Americans: Alex Groza at center and Ralph Beard at guard. Their coach was Adolph Rupp.
After that season, the Kentucky team played in the trials to select the United States team for the 1948 Olympics. In the final game of the trials, Kentucky lost by 4 points to the Phillips Oilers, a semiprofessional team. The five Kentucky starters joined Phillips players on the Olympic team and won the gold medal.
In 1949, Kentucky, with a 32-2 record, won the N.C.A.A. championship again. Then the team of Barker, Groza, Beard, Jones and Joe Holland turned professional and became the nucleus and part-owners of the Indianapolis Olympians of the N.B.A.
Barker was player-coach for the first year and a half, and a player only for another year and a half. The team was jolted in 1951 when Groza, Beard and the former college player Dale Barnstable were arrested and charged with having roles in a gambling scheme that involved 90 college games. The three were charged with accepting $500 bribes to control the score of a 1949 Kentucky game in Madison Square Garden.
When all three admitted their part, their pro careers were over. They received suspended sentences, and Groza and Beard were suspended by the N.B.A. Barker was not involved, but the Indianapolis franchise disbanded after its fourth season.
Barker was older than his college teammates at Kentucky because he left school after his freshman year to serve in the Army Air Forces. A gunner in a B-17 bomber, he was shot down over Germany and held as a prison of war there for 16 months. He filled idle time in prison camp by bouncing and passing a volleyball, the only ball he could find. When he returned to college, his ball-handling skills were remarkable.
"He had good hands, exceptional hand," his Kentucky teammate Rollins said. "His hands were very sensitive to the ball. And he was able to visualize things on the floor that other people couldn't see."
After his pro career, Barker taught and coached at high schools in Indiana, Kentucky and Florida. His last public appearance came Feb. 1 when the surviving members of the Fabulous Five (Groza died in 1995) were introduced before the Kentucky-Florida game.
Barker also lived in Muncie, Ind. He is survived by his wife, the former Meredith Morrow; a daughter, Elizabeth Fann of Marietta, Ga., and a brother, Bobbie, of Muncie.