Entries - Entry Category: Individual and Team Sports

Day, Clyde “Pea Ridge”

Known as the “hog-calling pitcher” in a baseball career spanning the 1920s and early 1930s, Clyde Henry “Pea Ridge” Day transported his considerable talents, his hometown’s name, and a slice of the lively culture of the Arkansas hills onto the national scene. Day’s fun-loving showmanship and competitive spirit brought rare publicity to his hometown and home state. Clyde Henry Day was born on August 25, 1899, the second child of James (Jim) and Elizabeth Day. Day’s family lived on a farm and operated a steam-powered sawmill three miles north of Pea Ridge (Benton County), near the Missouri state line. His birthplace is taken to be Pea Ridge, although family members think the actual birth may have taken place in McDonald …

Day, Patrick Alan (Pat)

Patrick Alan Day is a retired thoroughbred jockey with 8,803 victories, many of which came at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs (Garland County). Born on October 13, 1953, in Brush, Colorado, Pat Day wrestled in high school, once winning the state championship for his weight class. After graduating, he participated briefly in professional rodeo bull riding before turning his attention to thoroughbred horse racing. Standing four feet eleven inches tall and weighing about 100 pounds, Day adapted quickly to the sport, riding Foreblunged to his first career victory on July 29, 1973, at the Prescott Downs Racetrack in Prescott, Arizona. Day dominated thoroughbred racing throughout the Midwest in the 1970s and secured his first major win on the East …

Dean, “Dizzy”

aka: Jay Hanna Dean
Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean was a professional baseball player and radio and television baseball broadcaster who was later inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Dean and his younger brother, Paul, pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals during the team’s “Gashouse Gang” era of the 1930s. Along with the aging Babe Ruth, “Dizzy” Dean was considered baseball’s major drawing card during the Depression years of the 1930s. Born in Lucas (Logan County) on January 16, 1910, Jay Dean was the son of Albert Monroe “Ab” Dean, a tenant farmer and sawmill worker, and Alma Nelson Dean. His Arkansas childhood was not an easy one. His mother died in 1918 from tuberculosis, and …

Dean, Paul

aka: Paul Dee "Daffy" Dean
Like his brother, Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean, Paul Dee “Daffy” Dean was a baseball player who enjoyed his greatest success as a teammate with his brother on the St. Louis Cardinals. Due to injuries, Paul Dean had only two truly successful years in the major leagues, though he attempted numerous comebacks. However, the Dean brothers’ 1934 and 1935 seasons are well remembered by baseball historians. Paul Dean was born on August 14, 1913, in Lucas (Logan County) to sharecroppers Albert Monroe Dean and Alma Nelson Dean. He became a professional baseball player in 1932 by signing with Houston of the Texas League. In 1934, he joined his brother on the pitching staff of the St. Louis Cardinals, prompting Dizzy’s famous …

Dickey, Bill

aka: William Malcolm Dickey
William Malcolm (Bill) Dickey is considered by baseball historians to be one of the best catchers in baseball history. Dickey played and later coached for the New York Yankees during that club’s dominance from the late 1920s to the early 1960s. His years as a player and coach are seen as a bridge that connects the great Yankees teams of those years. It is doubtful that any baseball figure can match the team success Dickey enjoyed as a player and coach. Combined, player/coach Dickey’s teams won seventeen American League titles and fourteen World Series (and Dickey was named to eleven All-Star teams in his playing career). That team success combined with Dickey’s individual performance made for an extraordinary career. Bill …

Dodson v. Arkansas Activities Association

Dodson v. Arkansas Activities Association (1979) was a federal court decision concerning the rules for girls’ junior high and high school basketball in Arkansas. Diana Lee Dodson, then a fourteen-year-old student in the Arkadelphia (Clark County) public school system, filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA), the governing body of public and private school athletic programs, asking that girls in Arkansas be permitted to play under the same full-court basketball rules as Arkansas boys played. Arkansas schools at that time required that basketball for girls be played under “half-court” rules. In this version of the game, which had been played in Arkansas and other states since at least the World War II era, girls’ teams had six players. …

Eells, Paul Irving

Paul Irving Eells was a radio and television broadcaster for University of Arkansas (UA) Razorback sports from 1978 until his death in 2006. Throughout his career, he became an iconic “voice of the Razorbacks.” Paul Eells was born in Iowa City, Iowa, on September 24, 1935 to Norval and Shirley Eells. He grew up in Mechanicsville, Iowa, graduating from the University of Iowa (UI) in 1959. He had a baseball scholarship to UI but decided that sports broadcasting was his real interest. Soon, he was working in radio and television in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, beginning with coverage of high-school sports and then as a radio play-by-play announcer for UI basketball and football. From Iowa, Eells moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where …

Elder, Jim

aka: James Albert Elder
James Albert (Jim) Elder was a sports announcer and analyst whose dry style and encyclopedic knowledge of baseball, football, and golf amassed a huge following the last thirty-five years of the twentieth century. Elder was sports director for KARN (earlier KARK) radio for most of those years, and he did the play-by-play broadcasts of the Arkansas Travelers professional baseball team for thirty-three years. Jim Elder was born on July 25, 1924, in Altoona, Pennsylvania, to Albert Elder, a construction worker, and Dorothy Moore Elder, who, following a divorce, worked at a bank to support her only child and her songwriting. When Elder was small, they moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he became an ardent fan of the Philadelphia Athletics major …

Ellender, Bennie

Former Tulane University quarterback Bennie Ellender served as head football coach for Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County) from 1963 through 1970, amassing one of the most successful winning records in the school’s history. Bennie Ellender Jr. was born on March 2, 1925, in Sulphur, Louisiana, to Bennie Ellender Sr. and Alice Gray Ellender. He attended Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was quarterback, running back, and safety for the football team in 1943–44. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, returning to college at Tulane, where he again played on the football team in 1946 and 1947. In 1949, he married Bette Howard; they had no children. Ellender began his career at …

Eudy, Sid

aka: Sid Vicious
Sid Eudy is a professional wrestler who has used the ring names Lord Humongous, Sid Justice, Sid Vicious, and Sycho Sid. He is the only Arkansan to win the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) Championship and the World Championship Wrestling (WCW) World Heavyweight Championship. Sidney Ray Eudy was born on December 16, 1960; according to some sources, his birthplace was West Memphis (Crittenden County). Eudy got started in the business with the help of professional wrestlers Randy Savage and Lanny Poffo. Eudy spent the beginning of his career wrestling in the southern United States as Lord Humongous, a persona who wore a hockey mask. In 1989, he signed a contract with World Championship Wrestling, a company based in Atlanta, Georgia. He …

Evans, Grover

Grover Evans was known throughout central and northeastern Arkansas for his political endeavors, sports accomplishments, and career as a motivational speaker. In 1978, he was in a single-car accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down. The road to recovery placed many challenges in his path, but he was able to meet those challenges and he was inducted into both the Arkansas Swimming Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Grover Evans was born on March 6, 1952, the first African American born at St. Bernards Hospital in Jonesboro (Craighead County); he was named after the delivering doctor, Dr. Grover Poole. His parents were William Evans and Georgia Lee Holiday, and he had five younger siblings. …

Fair Park Golf Course

aka: War Memorial Golf Course
The Fair Park Golf Course (also known as War Memorial Golf Course) in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is an eighteen-hole executive course that sits on ninety acres of the 200-acre War Memorial Park, covering almost the entirety of the park west of Fair Park Boulevard. The course was always part of the plan for what was originally called Fair Park, conceived at a time when the game of golf was experiencing its “golden age” during the 1920s. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 16, 2020. Built by the city as its first municipal golf course, the course was the only public venue for golf in the city when money was scarce during the Great Depression. …

Fisher, Derek Lamar

Derek Fisher is one of the most successful basketball players to hail from Arkansas. After an exemplary high school and college career in Little Rock (Pulaski County), he won five championships as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in the National Basketball Association (NBA). He also set an NBA record for participation in the most playoff games at 259. In 2011, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Derek Lamar Fisher was born in Little Rock on August 9, 1974, to John and Annette Fisher. He has an older half brother, Duane Washington, who also played in the NBA, and a younger sister. The Fishers lived on West 22nd Street in Little Rock. Derek attended Wilson …

Fleck, Jack

Jack Donald Fleck had one of most improbable victories in golf history with his 1955 U.S. Open playoff victory over perennial golfing great Ben Hogan, an established star on the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Tour who had previously won four U.S. Opens. Fleck was an unknown who had been playing regularly on the PGA Tour for less than a year when he recorded his historic victory. Fleck moved to Arkansas in 1988, opening the Lil’ Bit a Heaven Golf Club in 1992. Jack Fleck was born on November 7, 1921, on the outskirts of Bettendorf, Iowa, one of five children of Louis and Elsie Fleck. He grew up in a poor family, working odd jobs around farms, with his salary …

Fuller, Bennie

Bennie Fuller is the all-time leading scorer in Arkansas boys’ high school basketball history and ranks fourth on the national scoring list (as of 2015). Fuller scored 4,896 points at the Arkansas School for the Deaf in Little Rock (Pulaski County) from 1968 to 1971. In 1971, Fuller scored 102 points in a game against Leola (Grant County). Fuller is third nationally on the per-game scoring average list (50.9 points per game during the 1970–71 season). Bennie Fuller was born on March 13, 1951, the son of Tammy Fuller, who worked at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, and Birdie Missouri Fuller. Fuller grew up near Hensley (Pulaski County), where he learned to shoot a basketball into a hoop made from a …

Gibson, Henry C.

Henry C. Gibson is credited with developing a box-style turkey call that eventually was called the Gibson Turkey Box. This unique call had the distinction of being the first box-style turkey call patented in the United States. The box and attached lids made realistic calls, and the device was easy to carry. Henry Gibson was born near Dardanelle (Yell County) on September 18, 1848. Little is known about his family and childhood. Gibson worked in a small drug store in Dardanelle when he was around twenty years old. On December 18, 1870, Gibson married Alice Hawkins. Together they raised three daughters and one son. Following his wife’s death, Gibson married Lettie Dodge on October 14, 1891, and they had one …

Golf

Golf’s popularity in the state of Arkansas can be measured by the sport’s rich history in the state, the state’s numerous golf courses, and a number of regular collegiate, amateur, and professional tournaments. Along with several famous men and women golfers from Arkansas, the state also boasts the Natural State Golf Trail and numerous clubs and organizations devoted to the sport. Today, golf is an individual sport played with a variety of metal or graphite clubs and a single ball composed usually of urethane. The goal is to hit the ball with a club into a hole in the fewest number of strokes. Golf holes and courses stipulate “par,” or the number of strokes a first-class player should normally require. …

Great American Conference

The Great American Conference (GAC), created in 2010, is an athletic conference comprising institutions located in Arkansas and Oklahoma. The conference is associated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II, and the conference headquarters are in Russellville (Pope County). The Arkansas institutions that created the conference previously participated in the Gulf South Conference (GSC). These universities include Arkansas Tech University, Harding University, Henderson State University, Ouachita Baptist University, Southern Arkansas University, and the University of Arkansas at Monticello. These institutions also previously participated in the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference. The GSC includes member institutions from Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi, but due to the large travel costs associated with conference play, the member universities in Arkansas began exploring the …

Greene, Charles Edward

Charles Greene, born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), was a track and field champion who won the bronze medal in the 100-meter dash at the 1968 Olympic Games. He also took gold—and was part of a world-record performance—in the 4×100-meter relay in 1968. Charles Edward (Charlie) Greene was born on March 21, 1945, in Pine Bluff. Six months after his birth, his mother, Bertha Johnson, moved them to Chicago, Illinois, to escape the segregation of Pine Bluff. In January 1946, they moved to Washington State, near the Grand Coulee Dam, where she took a job as a domestic worker. Later that year, the family moved to Seattle, where his mother worked as a barber and cleaned houses part-time. Greene began …

Greens at North Hills

aka: Sylvan Hills Country Club Golf Course
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, the Greens at North Hills in Sherwood (Pulaski County) was originally named Sylvan Hills Country Club and was built in the Sylvan Hills community along the North Heights Highway (also known at times as the Ark-Mo Highway, AR Highway 5, and AR Highway 107) in 1926. The country club was envisioned and built by real estate developer Justin Matthews Sr. to provide recreational opportunities for residents living in his new Park Hill subdivision in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), as well as residents of his planned community of Sylvan Hills, located at present-day Loop, Kellogg, Johnson, and Miller roads. In 1927, Justin Matthews Sr. and his wife, Agnes, transferred their …

Greenwood, L. C.

L. C. Greenwood was professional football player who starred as a defensive lineman at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) and played thirteen years in the National Football League (NFL), leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Born on August 8, 1946, in Canton, Mississippi, L. C. Henderson Greenwood was one of nine children. He started playing football at Rogers High School in Canton in order to avoid after-school chores.After graduating from high school in 1966, Greenwood received both academic and athletic scholarship offers. He turned down an offer to study pharmacy at Clarke College in Atlanta, Georgia, for the opportunity to play football in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) at Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal …

Hamm, Eddie

aka: Edward Barton Hamm
Edward Barton (Eddie) Hamm was a state- and world-class athlete in high school, college, and the Olympics. In the 1928 Olympics, he set a world record in the long jump, becoming the first Arkansan to win a gold medal. The Atlanta Journal called him “the South’s first world champion in any sport.” Eddie Hamm was born on April 13, 1906, in Lonoke (Lonoke County) to Charles Edward Hamm, a plumber and electrician, and Zilpah Dare Harris Hamm. He was the oldest of five brothers and one sister. Raised in Lonoke, he excelled in sports, especially track and field. In high school, he won the state long jump for three years straight, 1923 to 1925, setting a state record of 23’2″ …

Hampton, Dan

A defensive star for the Arkansas Razorbacks football team and for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL), Daniel Oliver Hampton earned the nickname “Danimal” for his intense style of play. Earning All-American honors in college and Pro-Bowl recognition during his professional career, Hampton is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor, and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Dan Hampton was born on September 19, 1957, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the son of Robert and Joan Hampton; he has an older brother and an older sister. In 1962, the family moved to a farm near Cabot (Lonoke County). Hampton’s father was an IBM customer engineer who chose …

Harrell, Calvin F., Jr.

Calvin Harrell is ranked among the best football players in Arkansas State University (ASU) history. He played under renowned head coach Bennie Ellender at ASU, playing in three Pecan Bowls and on the undefeated national small college championship team in 1970. He is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Calvin F. Harrell Jr. was born on September 7, 1949, to Calvin F. Harrell and Miriam Virginia Harrell. His father was a sheet metal worker. He had three sisters and two brothers. After graduation from Trezevant High School in Memphis, Tennessee, as a star football player, he was recruited by ASU in Jonesboro (Craighead County) to play on the Indians (later renamed Red Wolves) football team. He was …

Harris, Clifford Allen (Cliff)

Nicknamed “Captain Crash,” Clifford Allen Harris played as a free safety for the Dallas Cowboys. He has been inducted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame (1978), the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (1985), the Ouachita Athletics Hall of Fame (2003), and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2020). He is also a member of the National Football League 1970s All-Decade Team and the Cowboys Silver Season All-Time Team. Cliff Harris, one of three children (and the older of the two sons) of O. J. “Buddy” Harris and Margaret Harris, was born on November 12, 1948, in Fayetteville (Washington County). He began playing football in the ninth grade at Southwest Junior High School in Hot Springs …

Henderson, Jeffrey Todd (Jeff)

While competing for Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood (Pulaski County), Jeffrey Todd (Jeff) Henderson became one of the top track and field athletes in Arkansas, excelling in the long jump. As a collegiate athlete, he developed into one of the top long jumpers in the United States. In 2016, he won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, becoming the second Arkansas-connected athlete to win in the long jump. Jeff Henderson was born in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) on February 19, 1989, to Laverne Henderson and Debra Henderson; he was raised in McAlmont (Pulaski County). He is the youngest of five children. Henderson played football while at Sylvan Hills High School, but by his …

Hill, Thomas Lionel

Thomas Lionel Hill is a track and field star, who, as a student at Arkansas State University (ASU), was ranked number one in the world in the high hurdles by Track and Field News. After graduating from ASU, he claimed the bronze medal in the 110-meter hurdles at the 1972 Olympic Games. Tom Hill was born on November 17, 1949, in New Orleans, Louisiana, one of five sons of Mattie Hill, who was a domestic worker. He grew up in the Magnolia Housing Project and attended Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans. In high school, Hill participated in track and field, competing particularly in the high jump and long jump. As a senior, he took third place in …

Hines, James Ray (Jim)

Jim Hines, born in Dumas (Desha County), is an Olympic track and field star who won gold medals at the 1968 Olympics in the 100-meter dash and the 4×100-meter relay, as well as establishing world records for both. His record for the 100 meters stood for fifteen years. James Ray (Jim) Hines was born on September 10, 1946, in Dumas, the ninth of twelve children of Charlie Hines and Minnie West Hines. In 1952, the family moved to Oakland, California, where his father worked in construction and mother in a cannery. As a center fielder on the Lowell Junior High School baseball team, he caught the eye of the McClymonds High School track coach, who asked Hines to join the …

Howell, James (Jim) Lee

James (Jim) Lee Howell was a professional football player and coach. As head coach of the New York Giants in the National Football League (NFL) from 1954 to 1960, he led the team to appearances in three NFL championship games and won the NFL title in 1956. He retired with a career record of 55–29–4. His career winning percentage is the best in Giants history for head coaches with fifty or more games and is among the best in NFL history. According to All-Pro defensive tackle Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier, Howell was “one of the greatest coaches to ever coach in the NFL.” Jim Lee Howell was born in Lonoke (Lonoke County) on September 27, 1914, the third of four siblings. His …

Huckaby, Curt

Curt Huckaby was an attorney and a Craighead County District Court judge. He was also renowned across the country as the driving force behind the nationally ranked rugby program at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), a pursuit he took up on a volunteer basis for fourteen years. His teams were perennially ranked in the Top 25 collegiate teams across the nation, and Huckaby coached sixteen All-Americans and numerous regionally ranked players. In 2016, the ASU rugby pitch was named the Curt Huckaby Field. The Curt Huckaby Cup is a traveling trophy awarded to the winner of two rival teams, ASU and Life University of Marietta, Georgia, who play for it each year. Reflecting Huckaby’s legacy, engraved on …

Hunter, Torii Kedar

Torii Hunter was considered one of major league baseball’s biggest stars during his career. An elite center fielder, he won nine consecutive Gold Glove awards, was a five-time All-Star selection, and won two Silver Slugger awards as the best offensive player at his position. He also recorded the most home runs by an Arkansan in major league history (353). In 2,372 games, Hunter hit safely 2,452 times—890 for extra bases—for a lifetime batting average of .277. He stole 195 bases, drove in 1,391 runs, and committed only fifty-two errors in center (and later right field). He played for the Anaheim Angels and the Detroit Tigers but ended his professional career on October 26, 2015, with the Minnesota Twins. Torii Hunter …

Hutson, Donald (Don)

Donald Montgomery (Don) Hutson, nicknamed the “Alabama Antelope,” revolutionized football’s passing game and set the standard for the position that would become known as the wide receiver. He is credited with creating many of the modern pass routes still used in the National Football League (NFL). Don Hutson was born on January 31, 1913, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), one of three sons of Roy B. Hutson and Mabel Clark Hutson. His father worked as a conductor on the Cotton Belt Railroad, and his mother was a homemaker. Hutson achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts, played baseball and football, and ran track at Pine Bluff High School. After graduating from high school in 1931, Hutson entered …

I-30 Speedway

The I-30 Speedway is a high-banked, quarter-mile, red clay, oval auto racing track located in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on Interstate 30 near the border with Saline County. As the heart of central Arkansas auto racing, the I-30 Speedway hosts Weekly Racing Series Events on Saturday nights from the second week in March through the last week in October, with special events held throughout the season. The track is open for sprint, mini-sprint, stock, modified, and other forms of dirt track racing. Events include races affiliated with the American Sprint Car Series (ASCS), Southern United Professional Racing (SUPR), and the Mid-South Racing Association (MSRA). The track’s signature event, the Short Track Nationals for Sprint Cars in October, pays $15,000 to …

Jackson, Keith Jerome

Keith Jerome Jackson is a former college and professional football player and current radio broadcast color analyst for University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) football. Jackson began working with the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network in 2000. Jackson is the founder of P.A.R.K (Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids), a nonprofit after-school recreational and educational program for students. Keith Jackson was born on April 19, 1965, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and grew up in a single-parent home with his mother, Gladys Jackson. He went on to become a successful high school athlete, earning letters in football, basketball, and track at Little Rock Parkview High School. A highly recruited football player, Jackson chose to play for head coach Barry Switzer at …

Jackson, Travis Calvin

Travis Calvin Jackson was one of six native Arkansans elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He played for the New York Giants and was considered the best National League shortstop in the 1920s. Noted for his defense (which earned him the nickname “Stonewall”), he was also considered a clutch hitter. Travis Jackson was born on November 2, 1903, in Waldo (Columbia County) to William Calvin Jackson, a storekeeper, and Etta Farrar Jackson. As a teenager, Jackson played for a team at Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) and for a semipro team in eastern Arkansas, where Little Rock Travelers manager Kid Elberfeld scouted him late in the 1921 season. Baseball was beginning to be played on Sundays …

Jenkins, Ferguson Arthur (Fergie)

Fergie Jenkins was a major league pitcher in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. Over his nineteen-year major league career, the six-foot-five-inch right-hander established a reputation for consistency and durability. Jenkins pitched for the Arkansas Travelers in 1963, 1964, and 1965, and was only the second African American to play for the Travelers. He won a Cy Young Award in 1971 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991. Ferguson Arthur (Fergie) Jenkins Jr. was born on December 13, 1942 (although some records say 1943, Jenkins has always maintained that it was 1942) in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. He was the only child of Ferguson Arthur Jenkins Sr. and Delores Jenkins. Growing up in Chatham, Jenkins was a …

Johns, Riley “Doc”

Riley “Doc” Johns was an African-American athletic trainer at Little Rock High School (now Little Rock Central High) from 1930 to 1950. He was also the groundskeeper and equipment manager for the school’s sports teams until his death seven years before the Central High Crisis of 1957. Riley Johns was born on September 14, 1895, in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) to Joseph Johns and Nettie Flynn Johns. He was the youngest of three sons that included Clarence (born 1891) and Percy Legette Johns (born 1892). His parents had lived in several northwestern Arkansas counties before settling in Fort Smith. During World War I, he was drafted into the military from Fort Smith and entered service on August 1, 1918. At …

Johnson, Billy Farrel (Bill)

Billy Farrel Johnson of Conway (Faulkner County) is a well-known banker, broadcaster, and civic leader in Faulkner County. He has served as president of three financial institutions, broadcast athletic events on the radio since 1961, served as a justice of the peace, and sat on numerous local and state boards. Johnson is also a development associate for the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) athletic department and raises money for the Purple Circle Club, the primary source of outside funding for UCA athletics. Bill F. Johnson was born on May 15, 1939, in Conway, one of two children of Hulon Johnson and Norma Warbritton Johnson. Johnson attended Conway public schools from elementary through high school and graduated in 1957. He then …

Johnson, James William (Jimmy)

James William (Jimmy) Johnson was a defensive end for the University of Arkansas (UA) Razorback football team and served as the head coach for Oklahoma State University and the University of Miami before going on to become head coach for the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. Jimmy Johnson was born on July 16, 1943, in Port Arthur, Texas. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, now known as Memorial High School, in 1961. A defensive end on the high school football team, Johnson continued in that position at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (Washington County). An All-Southwest Conference player, he belonged to the 1964 team recognized by the Football Writers Association as the national champion. After graduating from UA …

Johnson, Joe Marcus

Joe Marcus Johnson is a professional basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets. In the 2012–13 season, Johnson averaged 16.3 points per game, third best on a team that entered the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference. With about 16,000 points and counting, Johnson is the second-most prolific NBA scorer from Arkansas, as of 2013; Scottie Pippen of Hamburg (Ashley County) scored 18,940 points in seventeen seasons. Johnson, a six-time All Star, was a member of the U.S. national team in the FIBA World Championship in 2006. Joe Johnson was born on June 29, 1981, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the only child of Sara Dianne Johnson. For most of his childhood, he was raised in a …

Joyner, Alfredrick Alphonso (Al)

Alfredrick Alphonzo (Al) Joyner is a track and field star who won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles for the triple jump, the first American in eight decades to win the event and the first African American. He attended Arkansas State University (ASU), where he later returned as a coach, and was the winner of the prestigious Jim Thorpe award, honoring the best American field athlete at the Olympics. He married track legend Florence Griffith, who came to be known as “Flo Jo” after her marriage to Joyner. Al Joyner Jr. was born on January 19, 1960, in East St. Louis, Illinois, to Alfred and Mary Joyner, both then in their teens. Alfred Joyner Sr. worked …

Kastor, Deena

Deena Kastor is a long-distance runner who was named All-American at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). She is an Olympic medalist for the marathon, holds American records in both the marathon and half-marathon, and is an eight-time national cross-country champion. She was named the top women’s marathoner in the world by Track and Field News magazine in 2006. Kastor is renowned for her courage after a freak mishap during the World Cross-Country Championships in 2000. Deena Michelle Drossin was born on February 14, 1973, in Waltham, Massachusetts, later moving to Agoura Hills, California. She began long-distance running at age thirteen, breaking the 3,000-meter national record and reigning as the two-time National Cross Country Champion in the …

Kell, George Clyde

George Clyde Kell was a professional baseball player, announcer, and businessman and is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A lifelong resident of the small Arkansas town in which he was born, Kell also served for ten years as a member of the state’s Highway Commission and was campaign chairman for Dale Bumpers in the 1970 gubernatorial race. George Kell was born August 23, 1922, in Swifton (Jackson County) to Clyde and Alma Kell. His father, a barber, was a pitcher on the local semiprofessional baseball team, and Kell and his two younger brothers grew up playing the game. After high school, Kell began studying at Arkansas State College (now …

Kennedy, Cortez

Mississippi County native Cortez Kennedy was considered one of the best defensive tackles to have played in the National Football League (NFL). After an eleven-year career with the Seattle Seahawks, he retired in 2000. In 2012, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2015. Cortez Kennedy was born on August 23, 1968, in Osceola (Mississippi County). He spent his first eighteen years in the small town of Wilson (Mississippi County), where he was raised by his mother, Ruby, and stepfather, Joe Harris. With few activities available in the rural setting, Kennedy turned to football, becoming a star defensive player at Rivercrest High School. His promising …

Kessinger, Donald Euleon (Don)

Donald Eulon Kessinger played major league baseball for sixteen years in the 1960s and 1970s, mostly for the Chicago Cubs. He is also the only Arkansan to have both played in and managed in the major leagues, leading the Chicago White Sox for more than half a season in 1979. Don Kessinger was born in Forrest City (St. Francis County) on July 17, 1942, one of three children of Howard and Ida Kessinger. His father owned and operated Kessinger’s Grocery in Forrest City, and his mother owned a women’s clothing store called Kessinger’s. As a high school athlete in Forrest City, he excelled in four sports: baseball, basketball (in which he earned all-state honors three years), football (in which he …

Kidd, Sue

Sue Kidd was a female baseball star who gained local fame for the athletic prowess she displayed while playing on and against all-male baseball teams in Van Buren County and surrounding areas. Glenna Sue Kidd was born in Choctaw (Van Buren County) on September 2, 1933, to William Marvin Kidd and Julia Duncan Kidd, local farmers and merchants, though her father also served as postmaster at Choctaw. She had five siblings. The original community of Choctaw was covered by water when Greers Ferry Lake was filled in the 1960s. That community is now referred to as “old Choctaw,” as opposed to the present community of “new Choctaw” located on state Highway 65. As a student at Clinton High School, Kidd …

Kinder, Ellis Raymond

Ellis Kinder was a major league baseball pitcher. A right-hander who spent most of his career with the Boston Red Sox, he followed an unusual path before finally reaching the major leagues at the age of thirty-one. Ellis Raymond Kinder was born on July 26, 1914, in Atkins (Pope County). He was the second son in the farming family of Ulysses and Iva Kinder. Beginning when he was about ten, Kinder picked cotton in the fields, and his formal education in the local public school went only through eighth grade. His early baseball playing was sporadic, primarily on the local sandlots, although he was good enough to play on the high school team when still in grade school. On March …

Kochel, Guy Ward, Jr.

Guy Kochel became a renowned track-and-field coach at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County). His career included building a successful college-level track program, guiding Olympic medalists, working in financial services, and serving as a church pastor. Guy Ward Kochel Jr. was born on May 16, 1941, in Reydell, an unincorporated farm community in Jefferson County. His parents, Pauline Kochel and Guy Ward Kochel Sr., owned a store, with his father also farming and serving as postmaster. An only child, Kochel was attracted to athletics from an early age. He played whatever sport was in season, including baseball and track, but later said his first love was baseball. He attended high school in DeWitt (Arkansas County), which was more …

Kurosaki, Ryan

Ryan Yoshimoto Kurosaki, the first American of Japanese descent to play in the major leagues, is a former professional baseball player and firefighter from Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1974, he signed as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals, making his major league debut on May 20, 1975. He pitched for the Cardinals for one season but spent most of his career with minor league teams, first in Modesto, California, and then with the Arkansas Travelers, the Naranjeros de Hermosillo in Mexico, and the Springfield Redbirds in Springfield, Illinois. In the fall of 1980, Kurosaki retired from baseball and moved to Benton (Saline County). Ryan Yoshimoto Kurosaki was born on July 3, 1952, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Katsuto Kurosaki and …

Lacewell, Larry Wayne

Larry Wayne Lacewell, the former football coach and athletic director at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), took his teams to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-AA playoffs for four straight years, to two Southland Conference championships, and to the 1986 Division I-AA National Championship game. In 1992, he began work as a scout for the Dallas Cowboys professional National Football League (NFL) team. Lacewell is the only coach in the nation to have led college teams to back-to-back championships and been a part of back-to-back NFL Super Bowl wins. Larry Lacewell was born on February 12, 1937, in Fordyce (Dallas County) to Arvel and Eloise Lacewell. He was the second of four children. He attended …