Entry Category: Individual and Team Sports - Starting with M

Major League Spring Training in Hot Springs

In the early days of baseball, major league baseball teams conducted spring training, but it was limited. Since all of the teams were located in the north and northeastern part of the country, it was difficult for them to train outside during February and March. Due to the cold weather, many teams used gymnasiums or other inside areas for training. In 1886, Albert Goodwill (A. G.) Spalding, president of the Chicago White Stockings of the National League, decided to train in a warmer climate. Thus, Hot Springs (Garland County) became one of the first spring training locations south of the Mason-Dixon Line for major league teams. On the front page of the maiden issue of the Sporting News, March 17, …

Malham, Michael James (Mike)

Mike Malham was an all-star football player at Arkansas State University (ASU) in the 1970s. After a short career in professional football, he became a high school football coach. By the time of his retirement in 2019, he was the second-winningest coach in Arkansas high school football history. Michael James Malham was born to Michael Joseph Malham and Betty Ruth Atcley Malham on March 2, 1953, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). He has two sisters. Both of his parents were educators, with his father also pursuing a career as a coach. Malham graduated from Little Rock’s McClellan High School in 1971. Coached by his father, he played linebacker, receiver, and occasionally quarterback on his high school football team. Malham was …

Martin, Mark Anthony

Mark Martin is the only driver from Arkansas competing in the top circuit of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). He ranks tenth on the all-time win list and sixth on the all-time pole position list. In 2017, he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Mark Anthony Martin was born on January 9, 1959, in Batesville (Independence County) to Julian Martin and Jackie Estes Martin. Martin’s father was a truck driver who started a successful Batesville-based trucking company, Julian Martin, Inc., in 1960. As a hobby, Julian also sponsored a race team that competed on the numerous small local race tracks. Martin’s father instilled a passion for driving in him when he was very young. Before …

McDonnell, John

John McDonnell served as track and field coach at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) from 1972 to 2008. In total, his teams won forty NCAA championships and eighty-four conference championships. His teams also produced 116 NCAA individual champions and 652 All-American certificates, while McDonnell himself was awarded thirty National Coach of the Year awards. John McDonnell was born on a dairy farm near Crossmolina, County Mayo, Ireland, on July 2, 1938, just a few miles from Ireland’s west coast. He was the seventh child of eight born to Bridget and Michael McDonnell. He was raised as a Roman Catholic and spent much of his childhood working on the family farm. McDonnell finished high school in 1958 in Dublin …

Meador, Eddie Doyle

Eddie Doyle Meador was a star defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL) throughout the 1960s. A graduate of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville (Pope County), Meador was the recipient of numerous honors and recognitions over the course of a twelve-year career in the NFL. Eddie Doyle Meador was born on August 10, 1937, in Dallas, Texas, to Euell Meador, who was a mechanic, and Easter Meador. The family moved to Arkansas before his junior year, but a pre-season injury prevented him from playing for the school team that year. However, in 1954, as a senior, in his sole high school season, he led Russellville High School to the Region 3AA championship. A superb …

Memphis-Arkansas Speedway

During a four-year span in the 1950s, the Memphis-Arkansas Speedway located near Lehi (Crittenden County) was the longest racetrack and one of the fastest racetracks on the NASCAR circuit. Only Darlington Speedway in South Carolina and the beach course in Daytona, Florida, saw speeds exceeding the Arkansas speedway’s. In the twenty-first century, approximately a third of premier NASCAR races are run on 1.5 mile, oval tracks; the Memphis-Arkansas Speedway was the first of this kind of track. The paper clip–shaped track, one and half miles in length, was made up of 550-foot-radius, high-banked turns, connected by 2,500-foot straights. “I remember going there a long time ago. We raced there in the summer and I went with Daddy,” said seven-time NASCAR …

Mitchell, Bobby

Robert Cornelius (Bobby) Mitchell played professional football for the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Redskins before becoming a scout for the Redskins. He is the only athlete born in Hot Springs (Garland County) to have been selected to the National Football League (NFL) Hall of Fame. Bobby Mitchell was born in Hot Springs on June 6, 1935, to the Reverend Albert Mitchell and Avis Mitchell. He became a four-sport standout at Langston High School in Hot Springs. The local media referred to Mitchell as “Mr. Touchdown” due to the talents he exhibited on the high school gridiron. In 1953, the senior-packed Langston team, coached by Fred Mason, took the Negro State Football Championship, going undefeated in conference play. Mitchell was …

Mock, Lucy Byrd

Lucy Byrd Mock, a native of Prairie Grove (Washington County), set numerous records as a golfer, established two national World War I–era women’s organizations, and was a noted author, journalist, poet, and publisher. Lucy Byrd Mock was born in Prairie Grove on February 23, 1876, the second of James Mock and Amanda Patton Mock’s six children. She was a student at the Methodist Academy in Prairie Grove until 1890, when she was admitted to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) as a fourteen-year-old sophomore. After completing the spring semester in 1893, she spent part of her summer break on a trip overseas to Great Britain, where she learned to play golf. Mock enjoyed the game so much …

Moncrief, Sidney

Sidney Alvin Moncrief is one of the greatest basketball players ever to come out of Arkansas. While playing guard for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) basketball team from 1975 to 1979, Moncrief was named Southwest Conference Most Valuable Player and went on to help lead the Razorbacks to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament and ultimately to the NCAA Final Four in 1978. After college, Moncrief was picked in the first round of the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, where he went on to be a five-time NBA All-Star and earn the praise and respect of such NBA luminaries as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. He was inducted into …

Monday, Rick

Rick Monday was an All-Star major league baseball player who played for nineteen seasons. He had his longest stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning a World Series with the team and going on to serve as a Dodgers broadcaster on television and radio. Monday is perhaps best known for a 1976 incident in which he prevented a flag from being burned on the field at Dodger Stadium. Robert James Monday Jr. was born on November 20, 1945, in Batesville (Independence County), the only child of Robert James Monday Sr. and Nelda Marie Monday. The family left Arkansas when Monday was young, and he grew up in Southern California. When Monday was twelve, his father left the family, leaving his …

Moon, Wallace Wade (Wally)

Wallace Wade (Wally) Moon, named for one of the most prominent football coaches of the era, played twelve seasons of major league baseball. A member of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers, he won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1954 and made major contributions to the Dodgers’ World Series championship teams in 1959, 1963, and 1965. Wally Moon was born on April 3, 1930, in Bay (Craighead County) to Henry Albert Moon and Margie Leona Vernon Moon, the middle child in a family of two boys and a girl. Moon was unusual for his time because when he signed his first professional contract, his father made sure to include a provision that allowed Moon to …

Murphy, Benjamin Edward (Ben)

Ben Murphy is an actor and tennis star who is perhaps best known for his leading role in the popular 1970s television series Alias Smith and Jones, although he is also known for starring roles in a number of other TV series, including The Name of the Game, Griff, Gemini Man, and Berrenger’s. He played a major character in the landmark TV mini-series The Winds of War and appeared in feature films including The Graduate (1967), Yours, Mine & Ours (1968), The Thousand Plane Raid (1969), To Protect and Serve (2001), and The Uniform Motion of Folly (2006). He is also a highly regarded tennis player on the United States Tennis Association (USTA) singles and doubles circuit. Benjamin Edward (Ben) …