By MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Joedy Gardner, a great guard on West Virginia basketball teams in the 1950s, who returned for a four-year stint as head coach in the late 1970s, was severely injured last week in his home at Peoria, Ariz.
His wife, Ruth Ann, told me on the telephone that her husband broke his neck (No. 6 vertebrae) when he fell backwards. It happened when he got up at night. He also broke some ribs and has staples in his head.
But Mrs. Gardner said Joedy “is doing a lot better now.” He is back home after spending a few days in a rehabilitation facility.
Fortunately, Gardner is not paralyzed. But he must be in a neck brace for at least three months.
Gardner, a Pennsylvania native, came to West Virginia with the late Llyod Sharrar, an All-America center. Both earned letters in 1955-56, 56-57, and 57-58.
The two also were among the team captains as seniors.
They helped the Mountaineers to records of 21-9, 25-5, and 26-2. West Virginia also captured three Southern Conference Championships and three trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Hall of Famer Jerry West was a teammate of Gardner in 1957-58, as was Sharrar. That team earned a No. 1 ranking nationally after defeating Kentucky and defending national champion North Carolina to win the Kentucky Invitational in December.
As head basketball coach, Gardner filled that role for his alma mater from 1974-75 through 1977-78. His teams posted a combined four-year record of 59-53.
The 15-13 mark in his second season here was the first winning season in eight years. His teams became increasingly more competitive in the ECAC and Eastern Eight conferences.
Gardner, who is 79, coached such players as Maurice Robinson, Warren Baker, and Stan Boskovich.
He has coached at several other colleges both in the U.S. and Scotland. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War as a United States fighter pilot.
Joedy and wife Ruth Ann have two daughters, one son, seven grandchildren, and one great grandchild. The children are in their 50s
Son Joedy and both sisters played basketball at Morgantown High School. Son Joedy also was a player at Long Beach State in California.