Lindy Suiter's Racer Memories - The Early Years



Lindy Suiter and Racer legend Gene Pendleton

Over the decades, Lindy Suiter and the Suiter family have become synonymous with Racer basketball. If the Racers are playing, you can bet the Suiters will be watching.

“My father, Gearl, was big a Racer fan and there was really no option,” Suiter said. “If you grew up in his household, you were going to be a Racer fan. My grandfather, Elroy, was a  fan and he used to take my dad, Pete Waldrop and Dr. Hal Houston on road trips when they were kids. Bennie Purcell was their hero.

“My grandfather owned the Shell station at the corner of 12th and Chestnut. The coaches and a lot of the players would get their gas there. And, they became friends of the family.”

So, for the Suiters, Racer basketball quickly became a family affair.

“It really started for me with the 1963-64 season,” Suiter said. “That's the first year that I memorized the starting lineup. And I think I still know it – Jim Jennings, Stew Johnson, Al Varnas, Gene Pendleton, and Scott Schlosser. I loved Schlosser's name and the way Chuck Shuffett would say it.

 “The first player I ever met was Gene Pendleton. He was my first favorite player. My dad was still in his 20s at the time and they became really good friends. And two years ago, I ran into Gene at the OVC Tournament in Evansville and got my picture taken with him. It was so neat.

“I can remember sitting in my grandmother's den, over on Sycamore Street, the night we played Loyola in the NCAA tournament. My dad and his buddies drove through the snow to watch it in person. I remember we jumped out to a big lead. But, we wound up losing the game.”

The Racers made it back to the NCAA tournament in 1969. They finished 11-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference, tying Morehead for first place. But, they crushed the Eagles 94-76 in a playoff game to earn the right to play Marquette in Carbondale, Illinois.

 “That was the first time I got to go to the NCAA tournament,” Suiter said. “Don Funneman was on that team and I really liked the way he played. He was our defensive stopper. But, he got injured and didn't get to play against Marquette. He had been in the army, so he was an older guy and he was married. He and my dad became really close and our families did lots of things together. We went over there after every game.

"Dick Cunningham and Billy Chumbler really stood out to me. I can remember after Dick Cunningham's senior year my grandad sponsoring an AAU team. And they played the championship game in Owensboro. My dad had to get Dick Cunningham to Owensboro and I can remember riding with my Dad and this massive 6-10 Dick Cunningham in a 1968 Mercury Cougar.

“Hector Blondet, and Claude Virden were great players too. Claude Virden was a spectacular player. I can remember on a road trip to East Tennessee playing a little flipper basketball game with Hector Blondet. We played all night."