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Tom Leach, voice of Kentucky Wildcats, elected to Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame

Even before his first radio job as a 16-year-old in Bourbon County, Tom Leach dreamed of one day following Cawood Ledford as the radio voice of UK sports.

Not only did Leach hit that unlikely goal, after more than 30 years working on UK radio broadcasts his name is now mentioned in the same breath as Ledford, Ralph Hacker and other broadcasting giants in state history. That distinction was formalized Wednesday when Leach was announced as one of five 2023 inductees into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.

“It’s just tremendously humbling,” Leach said after the announcement. “It’s a wonderful honor because of coming here (to Freedom Hall) so many times over the years to work or as a fan and looking at all of those plaques. What a group to be a part of.”

Radio host Tom Leach spoke at the memorial for former UK basketball player and radio announcer Mike Pratt who died last year. Marcus Dorsey/mdorsey@herald-leader.com
Radio host Tom Leach spoke at the memorial for former UK basketball player and radio announcer Mike Pratt who died last year. Marcus Dorsey/mdorsey@herald-leader.com

Leach first joined the UK radio network in 1989 as the host of the postgame scoreboard and call-in shows. He was named play-by-play man for UK football in 1997. After the retirement of Hacker in 2001, Leach added men’s basketball play-by-play duties to his responsibilities.

A two-time winner of the Eclipse Award for his horse racing coverage, Leach has worked as a reporter for national radio broadcasts of Triple Crown races for Westwood One and NBC Sports. He hosts a daily radio show focused on UK athletics.

Leach has been named Kentucky Sportscaster of the Year seven times. The University of Kentucky school of journalism named him a Distinguished Alumnus, and the Bluegrass Sports Commission awarded him the Tom Hammond Media Award for career achievement. Leach was previously inducted into the 10th Region Hall of Fame as recognition for his play-by-play work for Bourbon County and Paris high schools.

Leach will be inducted into the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 12 alongside former Mason County and Tennessee basketball star Chris Lofton, former KHSAA commissioner Brigid DeVries, former San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle William “Bubba” Paris and longtime Louisville sports writer Rick Bozich.

During the ceremony scheduled for Freedom Hall, Leach will be enshrined alongside Ledford, Hacker, former UK basketball radio analyst Mike Pratt and current basketball radio analyst Jack “Goose” Givens.

“You don’t go into the career path for those honors,” Leach said. “You do it because you love the work, but it is tremendously humbling and a tremendous honor to get the call, to know the plaque is going to be up there on the wall here at Freedom Hall. I aspired just to be in the same press box as Cawood Ledford, Ralph Hacker, Billy Reed and Earl Cox, all those legends. It is tremendously humbling to not only be a part of that history that’s in this building, but with a wonderful class of inductees this year.”

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