Recreation and Sports

Entries - Entry Category: Recreation and Sports - Starting with M

MacArthur Park

The thirty-six-acre MacArthur Park is the oldest municipal park in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Located at 9th Street and McAlmont Street across the street from the St. Edward Catholic Church and just west of Interstate 30, it includes the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts and the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History. The park and its surrounding area have been designated the MacArthur Park Historic District. In many ways, the park preserves the history of the city of Little Rock and the state of Arkansas, as well as providing recreational opportunities for citizens of Little Rock and visitors to the city. The first known use of the land that would become MacArthur Park was as a horse racetrack in the 1830s. In …

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 …

Malvern Brickfest

The Malvern Brickfest commemorates the importance of bricks to the history of the city of Malvern (Hot Spring County). Abundant clay in the vicinity makes it a prime location for brick production, and, since 1887, the industry has played a leading role in the area’s economic development. Beginning in 1981, Malvern has recognized and celebrated that fact with a community festival each summer. In 1980, three brick companies were manufacturing in the city and nearby Perla (Hot Spring County), with Acme Brick Company having just upgraded its operation by opening a new plant in Malvern. At that time, the Malvern/Hot Spring County Chamber of Commerce declared the city to be the “Brick Capital of the World,” and, the following year, …

Mammoth Spring State Park

Mammoth Spring State Park preserves the state’s largest natural spring—and one of the largest in the world. Approximately nine million gallons of water flow through the spring hourly. The spectacular stream of cold water is the chief source of the Spring River, a fishing and canoeing stream that is popular year-round because of its dependable flow. The park also preserves a fully restored nineteenth-century railroad depot. Native Americans, particularly the Osage, inhabited the Mammoth Spring area for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans; unfortunately there are few archaeological sites in the area. Recorded local history dates to the early 1800s, when settlers called the spring “Head of the River.” In 1850, geologist David Dale Owen examined the spring …

Marks’ Mills State Park

Location: Cleveland County Size: 6.2 acres Marks Mills’ State Park, in Cleveland County on the old Camden-Pine Bluff Road, commemorates a Civil War action that was part of the Camden Expedition of General Frederick Steele. The park contains interpretive exhibits and a picnic area. The park is named for John H. Marks, who in 1834 constructed a sawmill and flour mill at this location. The mills were still operating during the Civil War, making them landmarks for both Union and Confederate troops. In March 1864, General Steele led approximately 14,000 soldiers out of Little Rock (Pulaski County) to join in the Union army’s Red River Campaign. The goal of this campaign was to join General Nathaniel Banks’s troops in northern …

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 …

Millwood State Park

Located just outside of Ashdown (Little River County) in southwest Arkansas, Millwood State Park is known for its excellent fishing and wildlife habitats. It was established about a decade after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built 29,500-acre Millwood Lake north of Texarkana (Miller County). Held in place by a 3.3-mile-long earthen dam—the longest of its type in Arkansas—the lake’s trademark timber stands have made it a bass-fishing haven by providing cover vegetation and a food source that keep the fish in shallow, more accessible water. The lake was built in 1966 on the Little River, some sixteen miles above its confluence with the Red River. In addition to the Little River, the Cossatot and Saline rivers also contribute to …

Miss Arkansas Pageant

The Miss Arkansas Pageant officially began in 1939, though two competitions before that year set the stage for the pageant. The pageant is Arkansas’s preliminary for the Miss America Pageant, which began in 1921. Forty-five smaller pageants lead up to the crowning of Miss Arkansas. The competition is managed by a non-profit organization and co-sponsored by the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation, Inc. The first winner of the pageant was Vivian Ferguson. However, she was later disqualified for being married, and the competition was halted until 1938, when the winner was Lorene Bailey. The next year, for the first time, the winner of the pageant was sent to compete in the Miss America pageant, thus marking the official beginning of the Miss …

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 …

Monte Ne (Benton County)

Monte Ne (Benton County) was a resort town founded by William H. “Coin” Harvey in 1900. It had the world’s largest log hotels, designed by architect A. O. Clark, and attracted visitors from across the country for more than two decades. It was the site of Harvey’s nomination to the Liberty Party’s 1932 presidential ticket and the location for his planned monument to the future. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. Located five miles southeast of Rogers (Benton County), Monte Ne began as the community of Silver Springs. Betty Blake Rogers, financial advisor and spouse to entertainer Will Rogers, was born here in 1879. Harvey, who had worked all over the country as a lawyer, silver …

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 …

Moro Bay State Park

Moro Bay State Park is one of the most popular locations for fishing and water sports in south central Arkansas. Located at the convergence of Raymond Lake, Moro Bay, and the Ouachita River, the park also marks the junction of Bradley, Calhoun, and Union counties. Records from November 18, 1804, of the Hunter-Dunbar Expedition up the Ouachita River described “Bay Morau” as “a large inlet on the right, which swells into a considerable lake during an inundation.” Before railroads, the Ouachita River was the primary means of travel in the region, and many cotton barges used it to make their way from south Arkansas to New Orleans. In days past, the only way to get across the river was by ferry. …

Mount Magazine State Park

Mount Magazine State Park is located on the highest peak in Arkansas, Mount Magazine, which is a plateau rising out of the Arkansas River Valley to an elevation of 2,753 feet above sea level. The steepness of the elevation change, roughly 2,200 feet between its summit and the surrounding valleys, produces dramatic views that attract tourists. Native Americans did not live on the mountain year-round, instead settling at lower elevations near the Arkansas and Petit Jean rivers. However, six sites dating to the Archaic period, from 9,500 to 650 BC, have been recorded on Mount Magazine. Near the top of the mountain, in a bluff shelter, artifacts from the Woodland and Mississippian cultural periods have been found, consisting mostly of …

Mount Nebo State Park

Mount Nebo State Park, Arkansas’s second oldest state park, encompasses more than 3,000 acres on Mount Nebo, a flat-topped mesa that rises to a high point of 1,762 feet above the Arkansas River valley of west-central Arkansas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Roughly 100 acres of the park are on the tabletop portion of the mountain, the main destination of tourists visiting the area. Called Magazine by the French because of its resemblance to a barn (but not to be confused with nearby present-day Mount Magazine), the peak was a prominent landmark for early navigation on the Arkansas River and was renamed Nebo sometime after the Civil War. Louis C. White of Dardanelle (Yell County) owned land around the …

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) …

Museum of Discovery

The Museum of Discovery, founded in 1927, is the oldest museum in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Its mission as of 2012 is “to ignite a passion for science, technology and math in a dynamic, interactive environment.” The original name of the Museum of Discovery was the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities, and it was founded by local author Julia Burnell (Bernie) Smade Babcock. She created the institution in response to the commonly held belief outside the state that Arkansas had no cultural centers and that its citizens were “bumpkins.” The museum’s articles of incorporation emphasized popular education and intellectual subject matter, “encouraging and developing the study of natural science…to the end of furnishing popular instruction and advancing educational standards.” …