Entry Category: Individual and Team Sports

All American Red Heads

A nationally known women’s basketball team, the All American Red Heads formed in 1936 in Cassville, Missouri, with Connie Mack Olson as its founder and coach. Originally, the team, all sporting dyed or natural red hair, publicized Olson’s Beauty Parlors in Kansas and Missouri, and though later the team moved to Arkansas, they kept their name. The team became so popular with the sports’ crowds that the team hit the road and successfully challenged men’s teams with their trick shots, athletic ability, and “hijinks.” The Red Heads thrilled audiences all over the United States with behind-the-back shooting, back-hand passing, and athletic ability on the court. They played men’s teams using men’s rules and won seventy percent of their games. While …

Allen, Dick

aka: Richard Anthony Allen
Richard Anthony “Dick” Allen—or “Richie” Allen, as the media called him early in his career—was the first African American to play for the minor league baseball team based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). That same year, 1963, official baseball records first recognized the team’s name change from the Little Rock Travelers to the Arkansas Travelers. After one season in Little Rock, Allen had a memorable, though controversial, career in the major leagues. Dick Allen was born on March 8, 1942, in Wampum, Pennsylvania, the second youngest of nine children born to Era Allen and Coy Allen, a traveling truck driver and self-employed sanitation worker who later divorced her. Era Allen raised Dick Allen primarily on her own. Allen’s family was …

Aluminum Bowl

On December 22, 1956, War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock (Pulaski County) hosted the Aluminum Bowl football game. The game pitted Montana State College against St. Joseph’s College of Indiana in the first national football championship game of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA governs hundreds of small college athletic programs across the United States. The Aluminum Bowl marked two historic events in Arkansas. It was the first time that a national collegiate football championship game was played in Arkansas, and it is thought to be the first racially integrated college football game to be played in the state. In an era of tense race relations across the South, the game came to Little Rock due to …

Alworth, Lance Dwight “Bambi”

An All-American football player at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1961, Lance Dwight “Bambi” Alworth was the first player from the American Football League (AFL) to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lance Alworth was born on August 3, 1940, in Houston, Texas, to Richard R. Alworth, an oilfield construction executive, and Elizabeth L. Parrish Alworth, a teacher. When he was a child, his family moved to Hog Chain, Mississippi, where his father’s company, Humble Oil, had an operation. At high school in nearby Brookhaven, Alworth won fifteen letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. The New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates both offered Alworth contracts to play professional baseball, …

Andrews, Glen

Glen Daniel Andrews Sr. is considered one of the all-time great professional bass anglers. Bobby Murray, two-time Bassmaster Classic champion, describes him as “the first true professional bass angler.” He mentored such fishing greats as Bill Dance, Billy and Bobby Murray, Ray Scott, and Jerry McKinnis. In addition, Andrews manufactured lures, promoted tournaments, wrote a syndicated outdoor column for the Springdale News called “Anglers World,” and wrote Techniques of Bass Fishing, a manual he used to teach fishing classes across Arkansas and throughout the Midwest. Andrews was inducted into Garry Mason’s Legends of the Outdoors National Hall of Fame in 2010. Glen Andrews was born on May 31, 1931, the third of seven children, to Earl and Ruth Andrews on …

Arkansas Derby

The Arkansas Derby is the most lucrative thoroughbred horse race in Arkansas, currently offering a “purse” of $1 million. The purse is the prize money that is divided among the horses competing in the race, based upon their finish, with the winner receiving sixty percent ($600,000). The one-and-one-eighth-mile race is restricted to horses that are three years old. It is traditionally held each year at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs (Garland County) on the second Saturday of April. Over time, it has developed into one of the nation’s leading preparatory races for the Triple Crown, which comprises the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes. The Arkansas Derby was first held in 1936 and carried a $5,000 purse. The …

Arkansas Diamonds

The Arkansas Diamonds professional football team competed in the Continental Football League in 1968 and 1969. The Continental Football League, a fledgling professional league, operated from 1965 to 1969. A. B. Chandler, former Kentucky governor and Major League Baseball’s second commissioner, was the league’s first commissioner and provided the upstart league with a recognized level of credibility. Nevertheless, by 1968, Chandler had departed and the league was struggling to survive. Still, the Continental Football League provided players with an opportunity to be paid to play, although in 1968 team payrolls were capped at $5,000 per game, and no player could earn more than $200 per game. Furthermore, the league offered players a chance to continue playing after their collegiate careers …

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) manages wildlife and natural habitat and sets hunting, fishing, and trapping regulations. It works with public, private, local, state, and federal groups to enhance conservation efforts and educate the public about the importance of healthy wildlife populations and their habitats. AGFC also publishes the bimonthly Arkansas Wildlife magazine, which began as Arkansas Game and Fish in 1967 but changed its name in 1992. The AGFC is overseen by a board of seven governor-appointed commissioners who serve seven-year terms. An ex-officio member is the chairman of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) biology department. Commission meetings usually are held at AGFC headquarters in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on the third Thursday …

Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference

The Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference (AIC) was an athletic confederation of Arkansas colleges and universities that was formed in 1928 as the Arkansas Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The AIC was affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which was headquartered at Kansas City, Missouri. Most of the state’s four-year colleges and universities were members of the AIC at one time or another during its existence, with what are now Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County) and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) among the original members. The league disbanded in the spring of 1995. During most of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the AIC consisted of five state schools and five private schools. The state schools …

Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the history of sports in Arkansas while honoring those who have played or coached in the state. The organization began in February 1958 when a group of prominent Arkansas businessmen began discussing the need for such an entity. On August 16, 1958, the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame was incorporated, with Little Rock (Pulaski County) construction executive Jack Pickens as its president. Pickens was the force behind the Hall of Fame in its early years, serving as president from 1958 to 1971. Other officers in 1958 were Milton Green as vice president, Cliff Shaw as treasurer, Warren Wood as legal counsel, and Allan Berry as secretary. The first …

Arkansas Travelers [Baseball Team]

For parts of three centuries, the Arkansas Travelers baseball team has used only one nickname, played on only three home fields, and become owned by its fans, something unusual in professional sports—in 1960, shares were sold to fans to ensure that the team would not leave Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1957, to draw fans from the entire state, management changed the name from the Little Rock Travelers to the Arkansas Travelers, making it the first professional team to be named after a state. In addition, five future National Baseball Hall of Famers played for the Travelers: Tris Speaker, Travis Jackson, Bill Dickey, Jim Bunning, and Ferguson Jenkins. The minor league team had many failures in the Southern Association and …

Arkansas-Missouri League

aka: Arkansas State League
The Arkansas State League/Arkansas-Missouri League was a professional baseball, Class D minor league that operated from 1934 until 1940. The league was one of only three Depression-era leagues to exist in the state, the others being the Northeast Arkansas League and the Cotton States League. The Arkansas State League began on May 8, 1934. It paralleled a rapid growth in professional baseball minor leagues around the country and was a by-product of the farm system created by St. Louis Cardinals vice president, Branch Rickey, wherein the Cardinals organization sponsored and managed teams and players in order to develop players for the St. Louis major league team. The league began play with teams in Fayetteville (Washington County), Siloam Springs (Benton County), …

ATA Martial Arts

ATA Martial Arts, previously known as the American Taekwondo Association, was founded in 1969 by Haeng Ung Lee and is headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County). ATA has over 300,000 members worldwide, making it the largest organization in North America dedicated to the discipline of taekwondo. The organization maintains that its instructors and students live by its founder’s philosophy: “Today not possible, tomorrow possible.” After teaching taekwondo for several years at the U.S. Air Force base at Osan in South Korea, Haeng Ung Lee immigrated to the United States in 1962 at the invitation of Richard Reed, an American military officer and one of Lee’s top students. Frustrated by the inconsistent quality of taekwondo instruction in the United States, Lee …

Ausbie, “Geese”

aka: Hubert Ausbie
Hubert “Geese” Ausbie joined the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team in 1961 following a standout college career at Philander Smith College in Little Rock (Pulaski County). For the next twenty-four years, Ausbie played for the Globetrotters in more than 100 countries and became known as the “Clown Prince of Basketball” for his entertaining antics on the basketball court. Geese Ausbie was born in Crescent, Oklahoma, on April 25, 1938. He was one of eight children and the youngest son of Bishop and Nancy Ausbie. As a youth, Ausbie excelled in baseball, basketball, tennis, and track. He once scored seventy points in a basketball game for Crescent’s Douglas High School and helped lead Douglas to four straight Oklahoma Basketball State Championships. After …

Barnes, Jim “Bad News”

Velvet James (Jim) “Bad News” Barnes was an American basketball player and Olympic gold medalist originally from Tuckerman (Jackson County). Barnes enjoyed great success in his collegiate career, which later led him to be the first pick in the 1964 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft. As a professional athlete, Barnes played for five different teams over seven seasons until an Achilles tendon injury largely forced his retirement. Regarding the nickname “Bad News,” Boston Celtics coach Red Auerbach said he was so named “for the damage he did to opposing teams and players.” Jim Barnes was born on April 13, 1941, in Tuckerman. As a child, Barnes picked and chopped cotton and played basketball wearing socks, since his family was too …

Barnhill, John Henry “Barnie”

John Henry Barnhill was a successful head football coach both at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) but left the most lasting imprint in Fayetteville (Washington County) as UA’s athletic director. John Henry Barnhill was born on February 23, 1903, to James Monroe Barnhill and Margaret Alice Bryan in Savannah, Tennessee. His parents were farmers. Barnhill’s services were so greatly required on the family farm that they caused an interruption in his attending high school. He graduated from Savannah High School in 1923. He was nineteen when he enrolled at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) in 1923. He transferred to the University of Tennessee in 1924 and excelled …

Baseball Players, Major League

The game of baseball developed in the nineteenth century and became, along with hot dogs and apple pie, a classic element of American culture. Although the state of Arkansas has never been home to any major league team, Arkansas has contributed in many ways to the sport and its professional roster. While some players from other places developed and improved their skills as college or minor league baseball players in Arkansas (playing for teams such as the Arkansas Razorbacks or the Arkansas Travelers), more than 150 major league baseball players have been born in Arkansas. Earliest Players and Newest Players Chick Carroll is the earliest major league player born in Arkansas. Carroll played outfield in four games for the Washington …

Basketball

Basketball, a uniquely American invention in the history of sports, is one of the most popular sports in Arkansas, both for participants and for spectators. Because basketball can be played either indoors or outdoors, and because it requires less equipment than most team sports, basketball rapidly acquired the attention and affection of many Arkansans. Most high schools and colleges in the state field competitive basketball teams, and the state has produced several high-caliber professional basketball players. Basketball was invented in 1891 by James Naismith, who was seeking a form of recreation that would keep competitors active while indoors during the winter months. He introduced the sport in a Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) facility in Springfield, Massachusetts, in December of …

Battle of the Ravine

The Battle of the Ravine is the name most frequently used for the annual football game at Arkadelphia (Clark County) between Henderson State University (HSU) and Ouachita Baptist University (OBU). The cross-town rivalry has received widespread national media coverage through the years due to the fact that the football stadiums of the two schools are just across U.S. Highway 67 from each other. The game is promoted as the only college football rivalry in the country for which the visiting team walks rather than flies or buses to a road contest. Of the eighty-seven meetings between Henderson and Ouachita from the game’s beginning in 1895 through 2013, the game has been decided by the score of a touchdown or less …

Bell, Earl Holmes

Earl Holmes Bell of Jonesboro (Craighead County) is one of the most renowned U.S. men’s pole vaulters and coaches, a three-time Olympian, and five-time National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) record holder. His achievements include setting the world’s outdoor record in 1976; qualifying for the Olympic Games in 1976, 1984 and 1988; and winning the bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics. He was the U.S. national champion in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s—a remarkable three-decade achievement for an athlete. After turning to coaching by founding Bell Athletics in Jonesboro, he was named the 1998 National Olympic Coach of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee. In 2004, Bell Athletics alone produced half of the U.S. Olympic pole-vaulting team. Earl Bell was …

Benson, Jesse N. “Buddy”

Jesse N. “Buddy” Benson earned statewide recognition in Arkansas athletic circles, first as a football player for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and later as the head football coach for thirty-one seasons at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Benson was a 1993 inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted into both the Ouachita Sports Hall of Fame and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame. Buddy Benson was born on November 9, 1933, in Wright City, Oklahoma, to Jesse Benson and Louise Pate Benson. He was one of the nation’s most actively recruited football players after he graduated from high school at De Queen (Sevier County). …

Big Dam Bridge 100

The Big Dam Bridge 100 (BDB100) is a 100-mile bicycle tour that takes place each fall in central Arkansas, traditionally on the last Saturday in September. The event has been held annually since the inaugural ride on October 1, 2006, and it has become the largest cycling event in the state. In addition to the 100-mile tour, several shorter routes are offered. The additional courses in the 2016 event included 68-mile, 50-mile, 32-mile, and 11-mile distances. The route has varied over the years, but, in 2016, the ride started at Riverfront Drive and Willow in downtown North Little Rock (Pulaski County), headed west toward Perryville (Perry County), and finished on Main Street in North Little Rock’s Argenta Historic District. The …

Biking

aka: Cycling
Arkansas is home to numerous dirt roads and trails for mountain biking, as well as paved paths and scenic highways for road biking, with nearly year-round use. The state hosts a number of noteworthy tours and competitions for all kinds of bicycling and for all levels of ability. Arkansas has a very popular series of mountain bike races for both experts and beginners through the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship (AMBC) Series. Some of the better known are the Attila the Hun and the Womble (Trail) Mountain Bike Classic. Another popular mountain bike trail is the Syllamo trail system north of Mountain View (Stone County), with fifty miles of mostly single-track (wide enough for one bicycle) biking. A trail system at …

Bolt, Tommy

Tommy Bolt was one of the top golfers on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) tour in the 1950s. The winner of the 1958 U.S. Open, he was also a pioneer in the development of the PGA’s senior tour that emerged in the 1960s. He later retired and settled in Arkansas. Thomas Henry (Tommy) Bolt was born on March 31, 1916, in Haworth, Oklahoma, to Walker Jeter Bolt and Adreon Geneva Jones Bolt. Little is known about Bolt’s youth beyond the fact that his mother died when he was two. With his father working in construction, the family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, when Bolt was six. Bolt dropped out of Byrd High School as a sophomore, and like many professional golfers, …

Brock, Lou

aka: Louis Clark Brock
Louis Clark (Lou) Brock, a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame, played a major role in changing the way baseball was played by using the stolen base as an important offensive weapon. He retired as Major League Baseball’s all-time stolen bases leader, a record that stood until 1991. Lou Brock was born on June 18, 1939, in El Dorado (Union County). He was the seventh of nine children born to Paralee Brock, who worked as a domestic and a field laborer. After Brock’s father, Maud, left the family when Brock was two years old, Paralee Brock and her children moved to nearby Collinston, Louisiana, where Brock grew up in the poverty …

Broyles, Frank

aka: John Franklin Broyles
After beginning his administrative career as an assistant coach at Baylor University in 1947, John Franklin (Frank) Broyles became one of the most familiar and powerful figures in all of college sports. In his years at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), he built a diverse and excellent athletics program, plus a system of world-class athletic facilities in addition to establishing a winning tradition that includes the most football victories as head coach in Razorbacks history: 144 wins, far ahead of the runner-up coach, Lou Holtz, whose teams won sixty. Frank Broyles was born on December 26, 1924, in Decatur, Georgia, to O. T. Broyles and Louise Solms Broyles. Broyles became a star quarterback at Georgia Tech, where he …

Bryant, “Bear”

aka: Paul William Bryant
Paul William “Bear” Bryant is one of America’s all-time most successful college football coaches. At the time of his death, he had won more games than any other coach, including the legendary Amos Alonzo Staggs and Pop Warner. Arkansas-born Bryant remains an icon not only for athletic accomplishments but for personal strength, determination, and the will to win. Paul William Bryant was born on September 11, 1913, near Kingsland (Cleveland County) in south central Arkansas, to William Monroe Bryant, a farmer, and Dora Ida Kilgore Bryant, a homemaker. Bryant was the eighth surviving child (three died at birth) of a total of nine. He had four brothers and four sisters and was the youngest boy, with one sister born four …

Burgess, Franklin

Arkansas native Franklin Burgess earned All-American honors in basketball at Washington State’s Gonzaga University and played professionally before going on to a successful career as a lawyer and judge. Franklin D. Burgess was born on March 9, 1935, in Eudora (Chicot County) to Morris and Ollie Burgess. Burgess attended Eudora Colored High School and then spent one year at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal College (AM&N), which is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, before joining the U.S. Air Force. After his discharge in 1958, he entered Gonzaga University. By this time, he and his wife, Treava Burgess, had twin daughters, so Burgess focused on the school’s academic offerings as well as its basketball program. He earned a …

Campbell-Brown, Veronica

Veronica Campbell-Brown is a former University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) track and field athlete who specializes in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4×100-meter relay. A citizen of Jamaica, she is the most decorated Olympic athlete affiliated with the state of Arkansas, having won eight Olympic medals from 2000 to 2016. In addition to her Olympic accolades, Campbell-Brown has garnered numerous medals at the youth, junior, and senior levels of competition. In 2007, she became the first of eight track and field athletes to win an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championship title, in her case in the 100 meters, at all three competitive levels. Veronica Campbell was born on May 15, 1982, in Clarks Town, Trelawny, …

Campbell, Leon “Muscles”

Lonnie Leon Campbell was one of Arkansas’s first post–World War II sports legends. In addition to being a star Razorback football player during the team’s formative years at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), Campbell played for three professional football teams: the Baltimore Colts, Chicago Bears, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Campbell reportedly earned his nickname, “Muscles,” after bending a railroad spike with his hands. In 1946, he also played in the Razorbacks’ first Cotton Bowl game, against the Louisiana State University Tigers. Campbell was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1977. In 1996, he was one of the first inductees into the Bauxite Hall of Fame, now on display in the Bauxite Historical Museum in …

Carpenter, Lewis Glen (Lew)

Lewis Glen (Lew) Carpenter had a long career in football, playing in high school, college, and in the National Football League (NFL). He played for the Arkansas Razorbacks from 1949 to 1952, followed by three NFL league championship teams. After ten years as a professional player, he had long career as an NFL coach. Lew Carpenter was born on January 12, 1932, to Verba Glen Carpenter and Edna Earl Pullam Carpenter in Hayti, Missouri. He and his younger brother, Preston Carpenter, grew up in West Memphis (Crittenden County), where he attended high school and played football. In 1951, he married Beverly Ann Holt from nearby Earle (Crittenden County). The couple had four daughters: Cheryl, Cathy, Lisa, and Rebecca. Accepting a …

Carpenter, Preston

Preston Carpenter played football in high school, in college, and in the National Football League (NFL). He played for the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 1952–1955 seasons and went on to play for several teams in a twelve-year professional career. His older brother, Lewis Carpenter, preceded him as a Razorback, and they once played for the same professional team. Verba Preston Carpenter was born in Hayti, Missouri, on January 24, 1934, to Verba Glen Carpenter and Edna Earl Pullam Carpenter. He spent most of his early years in West Memphis (Crittenden County) but graduated from high school in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where he was an all-state high school football player. A gifted athlete, Carpenter also played baseball in high school years, when …

Carr, Bill

aka: William Arthur Carr
William Arthur (Bill) Carr was the first Arkansan to win two gold medals in the same Olympic games, setting new records for track and field in the 1932 Los Angeles, California, Olympics. At the age of twenty-one, he set an Olympic record of 46.2 seconds in the 400-meter sprint, which stood until 1948, when it was tied. In 1954, he was named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Time Olympic Team. Bill Carr was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on October 24, 1909, the younger of William L. and Ann Holmes Carr’s two sons. In the fall of 1925, Carr entered Pine Bluff High School, searching for an organized team sport that would accept him. At the strained height of 5’6″, if …

Carroll, Joe Barry

Joe Barry Carroll had an eleven-year career with the National Basketball Association (NBA), playing on the NBA All-Star team. Joe Barry Carroll was born on July 24, 1958, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), the tenth of thirteen children. He and his family stayed there until he was thirteen, when they moved to Denver, Colorado. Attending Denver East High School, he became a basketball star who caught the attention of college recruiters. He accepted a scholarship to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and played there from 1976 to 1980. During his tenure there, the seven-foot-tall Carroll became the only Purdue player to earn a “triple-double,” with sixteen points, sixteen rebounds, and eleven blocked shots. During his junior year, he helped …

Charity Games of Football (1931)

By 1931, the Great Depression had produced hardship and suffering in all areas of Arkansas. Unemployment, grinding poverty, and the devastating Drought of 1930–1931 had produced myriad challenges for the state and its residents. Still, Arkansans loved their sports, in particular football. Harvey C. Couch, founder of Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L) and member of the Arkansas Advisory Committee of the President’s Organization on Unemployment Relief, saw an opportunity to raise funds with charity football games. On November 9, 1931, Couch met with representatives from six Arkansas colleges at the Marion Hotel in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The meeting produced a plan that called for a series of college football games to be played during the first week of December …

Claybrook Tigers Baseball Team

A black semi-professional baseball team located in eastern Arkansas during the 1930s, the Claybrook Tigers played and often beat some of the best Negro League teams around. The small Delta town known as Claybrook, in the southern part of Crittenden County, was an unlikely home for a competitive baseball team. It no longer exists today, but then it was the farming and logging operation of John C. Claybrook, a hard-working and enterprising man who became one of the most successful African-American businessmen in the region. Reportedly, Claybrook formed the team to entice his sports-loving son not to leave the farm for the city life he desired. By the early 1930s, Claybrook had built a stadium on the farm and formed …