Recreation and Sports

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

Ray Winder Field

Ray Winder Field in Little Rock (Pulaski County) was the longtime home of the minor league baseball team originally known as the Little Rock Travelers, a name that was later changed to the Arkansas Travelers. Known as Travelers Field when it opened in 1932, the stadium’s name was changed in 1966 in honor of Ray Winder, whose involvement with the Travelers, in roles ranging from ticket taker to part-owner and general manager, spanned half a century. The stadium, designed by the Little Rock architecture firm of Thompson, Sanders and Ginocchio, was built in 1931. It was located in what was known as Fair Park (later War Memorial Park), with the Little Rock Zoo as a neighbor to the west. In …

Razorbacks Football Team

Because the state of Arkansas lacks a National Football League team, its college football programs draw a great deal of attention every year. As measured in print and broadcast media coverage and observed in vehicle decorations, the football team of the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), the Razorbacks, is the most popular. Although they have not enjoyed the kind of success achieved by similar programs in other states, such as Nebraska and Oklahoma, the Razorbacks continue to receive widespread fan support and attention every football season. The football team of UA was founded in 1894. That same year, a contest was held to pick the new school colors, with cardinal red and white being chosen. UA’s first …

Rebel Stakes

The Rebel Stakes, a thoroughbred horse race restricted to three-year-old colts and geldings, has been run each year since 1961 at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort in Hot Springs (Garland County). Over the years, it has developed into an important preparatory race not only for the $1 million Arkansas Derby, but also for the subsequent Triple Crown races. (The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes make up the Triple Crown.) The Rebel Stakes is traditionally held in mid-March. Stakes races—so called because of the stake, or entry fee, owners must pay—are rated grade one (the highest), grade two, or grade three based on the size of the purse. (The purse is the prize money that is divided among the horses competing …

Recreation and Sports

Recreation and sports have long been vital to Arkansas. Recreation has been important in Arkansas since prehistoric times, and sports also have a long prehistoric as well as historic component. RECREATION We can only guess at the nature of recreation during the more than ten thousand years of habitation before the first Europeans arrived. The modern and Euro-centric term “recreation” very inadequately defines what tribes practiced. Dancing, for example, was a main component of Caddo Indian culture, but in addition to its elements of immediate enjoyment, it transmitted traditions and practices to upcoming generations. European settlement of Arkansas began with the French, and judging by the observations of outsiders, entertainment provided by the Quapaw and other local tribes, such as …

Recreational and Retirement Communities

Land developers have long capitalized on the American dream of owning real estate or a home in the sun by mass-marketing vacation and retirement home sites to a distant clientele. Land was subdivided into relatively small lots within amenity-based subdivisions and sold as future retirement home sites or as an investment. During the 1950s, property in suburban subdivisions became popular. Lots were mass-marketed by a few large land development corporations, principally in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California. The companies created a nationwide market for property sold on the installment plan by mail, often sight unseen. This type of land development soon became a national phenomenon; raw or partially developed acreage was “improved,” subdivided into small parcels, and offered for sale …

Rector, James Alcorn “Indian”

James Alcorn “Indian” Rector, who took the silver medal in the 100 meters at the 1908 Olympic Games, was the first Arkansan to win an Olympic medal. His nickname “Indian” is said to have been given to him by his teammates or East Coast track fans who said he ran like an Indian. Born on June 22, 1884, in Hot Springs (Garland County), James Alcorn Rector was the fourth of six children of Elias William Rector and Rosebud Alcorn Rector. His paternal grandfather, Henry Massie Rector, served as governor of Arkansas, while his maternal grandfather, James Lusk Alcorn, served as governor of Mississippi. His father practiced law and was a representative in the Arkansas General Assembly. After attending schools in Hot Springs, …

Redbug Field

Redbug Field in Fordyce (Dallas County) is a high school football field with its significance lying in the fact that future University of Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant learned to play the game there in the late 1920s. The regulation-sized football field was listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places on August 6, 2014. Football is important to the history of Fordyce, a town where Arkansas’s first high school football program was started in 1904 when New York native Tom Meddick organized a high school team at the Clary Training School. By 1909, Fordyce High School also fielded a team. The original playing field was behind the high school, but in the mid-1920s, it was relocated to accommodate a …

Rice Bowl

Established in 1936, the World’s Champion Duck Calling Contest has annually attracted the finest duck callers and duck hunting enthusiasts in North America to the city of Stuttgart (Arkansas County). The contest is held on the weekend following Thanksgiving Day, just as the college football season is beginning to wind down and the season’s bowl games are on the horizon. In 1957, contest organizers sought to capitalize on the popularity of college football in Arkansas by adding a college football game, known as the Rice Bowl, to the calendar of events. The Rice Bowl’s goal was to showcase the finest small college football teams in the state of Arkansas. In 1957, Rice Bowl committee chairman Shannon Flowers signed an agreement …

Rice, Glen Anthony

Glen Anthony Rice was a professional basketball player from Jacksonville (Pulaski County). Rice played for the Miami Heat (1989–1995), the Charlotte Hornets (1995–1998), the Los Angeles Lakers (1998–2000), the New York Knicks (2000–2001), the Houston Rockets (2001–2003), and the Los Angeles Clippers (2003–2004). His son, Glen Jr., also became an NBA player. Although often billed as being from Flint, Michigan, Glen Anthony Rice was born on May 28, 1967, in Jacksonville. When Rice was a few months old, the family moved to Benton (Saline County), where the Rice family lived in Benton’s Ralph Bunche Community. While in Benton, Rice attended both Angie Grant and Howard Perrin elementary schools. When Rice was twelve, the Rice family moved to Flint, Michigan, where …

Richards, Jack Spage “Spadjo”

Jack “Spadjo” Richards was an amateur boxer, former Razorback, and professional football player from Benton (Saline County). From March 1942 to 1943, he served as a U.S. Marine, notably in the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. He was a letterman at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1948 and 1950. Between 1951 and 1955, he played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, and Chicago Bears. Following his sports career, he worked for Alcoa and as an iron worker and heavy equipment operator until his death in 2009. Jack Spage Richards was born on March 22, 1926, to Frank William Richards and Ludy Ann Miller in Benton. He was the youngest of seven children. He …

Richardson, Nolan

Nolan Richardson is one of the most famous coaches to have served the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) Razorbacks basketball program. Richardson won nearly 400 games at UA using his unique style, known as “forty minutes of hell.” Nolan Richardson was born on December 27, 1941, in El Paso, Texas. He lived only a short distance from Mexico and grew up in a predominantly Mexican El Paso neighborhood. Richardson was three when his mother died, and, as his father was an alcoholic, Richardson was raised by his grandmother. While playing basketball at Bowie High School, Nolan caught the eye of legendary coach Don Haskins and was recruited to play collegiately at Texas Western College (now the University …

Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary

Opened in 1990 by Scott and Heidi Riddle, Riddle’s Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary, located on 330 acres outside of Greenbrier (Faulkner County), provides a permanent home for African and Asian elephants in need of sanctuary for any reason, regardless of age, sex, species, health, or temperament. Elephants come from private owners, circuses, or zoos. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit sanctuary—which raises money through grants and donations—houses up to a dozen elephants at any given time, with three baby elephants born at the facility as of 2010. Maximus, an African elephant born at the sanctuary in 2003, starred in Animal Planet’s television show Growing Up Elephant. Scott and Heidi Riddle met while both were working at the Los Angeles Zoo, and they married …

Riverfest Arts and Music Festival

Riverfest Arts and Music Festival was Arkansas’s premier summer event, offering three days of music on the banks of the Arkansas River in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) and North Little Rock (Pulaski County). Operated by Riverfest Inc., a nonprofit organization overseen by a board of directors, Riverfest attracted more than 250,000 people in 2013, creating an economic impact of more than $30 million in the local community. Founded by the Junior League of Little Rock as the Summer Arts Festival in July 1978, the first Riverfest presented the American Wind Symphony and other activities at Murray Park. Following the event’s initial success, the date of the Summer Arts Festival was moved the next year to its well-known Memorial Day weekend …

Roaf, William (Willie)

Willie Roaf became one of the greatest football players in Arkansas sports history and one of the best offensive linemen ever in the National Football League (NFL). He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012. William Roaf was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on April 18, 1970, one of four children of dentist Clifton Roaf and attorney Andree Layton Roaf. (Andree Roaf was the first African-American female member of the Arkansas Supreme Court and the second woman ever to serve in that capacity.) Though he played football at Pine Bluff High School, graduating in 1988, he was not recruited by any major colleges. After he was told that he would need to gain more weight …

Robinson Center Music Hall

aka: Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium
aka: Robinson Auditorium
Built in downtown Little Rock (Pulaski County) during the Great Depression as a Public Works Administration (PWA) project, the Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium—known since 1973 as the Robinson Center Music Hall—frequently hosts touring performances, including Broadway musicals, and is home to the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Named for Lonoke County native Joseph Taylor Robinson, who was governor of Arkansas and a U.S. senator, the Art Deco building on Markham Avenue near Broadway Street is a major Little Rock landmark. Prior to the construction of the Robinson Center, Little Rock’s largest auditorium for concerts and other public events was at Little Rock High School (now called Central High School). Senator Robinson, a strong supporter of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, helped …

Robinson, Brooks Calbert, Jr.

Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Brooks Calbert Robinson Jr. made his debut as a major league baseball player with the Baltimore Orioles at the age of eighteen. By the time he retired as an active player after twenty-three seasons, Robinson was regarded by many as the best third baseman ever to play the game. Brooks Robinson was born in Little Rock on May 18, 1937, to Brooks Calbert and Ethel Denker Robinson. A brother, Gary, was born five years later. His father, a fireman, had played semiprofessional baseball and in 1937 was a member of the International Harvester softball team from Little Rock that played in the finals of the World Softball Championship in Chicago. Robinson began playing baseball at …

Rodeo of the Ozarks

The Rodeo of the Ozarks in Springdale (Washington and Benton counties) was, in 2008, ranked in the top five of large outdoor rodeos in the United States. It is estimated to have a $6 to $7 million impact on northwest Arkansas. The Rodeo of the Ozarks was founded in 1945. That year, a pair of construction workers from Oklahoma who also worked as rodeo promoters, Paul Bond and Bill Kelley, were working in Springdale and raised the idea of starting an event that summer. Eventually, this idea was passed along to Thurman “Shorty” Parsons and Dempsey Letsch, co-owners of a feed store. Under their leadership, the Rodeo of the Ozarks became a reality in 1945, with the dates July 1, 3, …

Roe, “Preacher”

aka: Elwin Charles Roe
Elwin Charles “Preacher” Roe played professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Brooklyn Dodgers. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Roe was one of the top pitchers in the game. Preacher Roe was born on February 26, 1916, to Charles Edward Roe and Elizabeth (Ducker) Roe in Ash Flat (Sharp County). The Roe family, which included six boys and one girl, moved from Wild Cherry (Fulton County), where they had moved in 1918, to Viola (Fulton County) when Roe was six. Roe’s father played for a semi-professional team in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) but gave up baseball as a career and became a country doctor. Roe got his nickname at about three years of age when …

Roller Derby

Roller derby, a national sport that has experienced several cycles of growth and decline, began increasing in popularity in Arkansas in the mid-2000s. Although a co-ed sport when it originated, roller derby’s current status is that of a women’s sport. Roller derby’s roots date back to the 1930s when dance marathons and bike races were popular. Leo Seltzer conceived the sport in 1933. For what was initially a no-contact sport, twenty-five teams made up of one male and one female skated for twelve to fourteen hours a day, with the men competing with the men and the women competing with the women. The goal was to cover the distance between New York City and Los Angeles, or about 3,000 miles. …

Rotary Club of Little Rock

The Rotary Club of Little Rock is the oldest civic club in Arkansas. It is the ninety-ninth oldest and sixth largest of more than 35,000 Rotary Clubs in more than 200 countries and geographic regions. Although the official name of the club is the Rotary Club of Little Rock, it is frequently referred to as “Club 99,” because of the number on its charter, or as the “Downtown Little Rock Rotary Club” to distinguish it from other Rotary Clubs in the city. The club traces its origin to the 1911 arrival in Little Rock (Pulaski County) of Sidney M. Brooks (1886–1985), a Memphis, Tennessee, native who had graduated from Harvard University and moved to Little Rock to establish the state’s …

Rotary International

With a motto of “Service Above Self,” Rotary International is a non-political, non-religious civic organization that is open to all adults. There are about 35,000 individual Rotary Clubs located in more than 200 countries around the globe. Arkansas has more than eighty separate clubs in communities throughout the state. Most of the 1.2 million members of Rotary worldwide are business, civic, and professional leaders in their communities, and club members volunteer to serve others on the local, state, national, and international levels. At meetings, there are usually guest speakers who present programs on topics of interest. The first Rotary Club was founded in 1905 by attorney Paul Harris (1868–1947) in Chicago, Illinois. Harris wished to share his vision of meeting …

Rothert, Matt, Sr.

aka: Matthew Herman Rothert Sr.
Matthew Herman (Matt) Rothert Sr., a nationally recognized coin collector, was responsible for having “In God We Trust” placed on U.S. paper currency. He was a furniture manufacturer and president of the American Numismatic Association (ANA) from 1965 to 1967. Matt Rothert was born on March 17, 1904 in Huntingburg, Indiana. Little is known of his family, though he had at least two sisters. Rothert received a BS from Notre Dame University in 1924, moved to Camden (Ouachita County), and founded the Camden Furniture Company, serving as its president until he retired in 1975. On April 10, 1937, he married Janet Hope Firring. They had two boys and two girls. Rothert’s interest in numismatics, or coin collecting, began when he …

Rowe, “Schoolboy”

aka: Lynwood Thomas Rowe
Lynwood Thomas “Schoolboy” Rowe was a sports star from El Dorado (Union County) who became one of the most famous major league baseball pitchers of the 1930s and 1940s. With three other pitchers—Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, and Smokey Joe Wood—Rowe still (as of 2011) holds the American League record for most consecutive victories, winning sixteen straight games in 1934. Lynwood “Schoolboy” Rowe was born on January 11, 1910, in Waco, Texas, the son of Thomas M. Rowe and Ruby Hardin Rowe. The Rowes soon moved to El Dorado, where Rowe and his brother, Mark, attended El Dorado schools. He established himself as a superior athlete in elementary school and was later a star in football, track, basketball, tennis, and baseball. …

Running and Walking

In Arkansas, running and walking have long been used for exercise and fitness. Enthusiasts support each, especially as Arkansans become more health conscious. Arkansas also is home to a number of events and organizations devoted to running and walking. Walking draws the largest percentage of people exercising, but, beyond basic fitness walking, there are also speed walkers (sometimes referred to as power walkers) who walk at paces ranging from ten to sixteen minutes per mile. There are also race walkers who must abide by specific USA Track and Field (USATF) rules when it comes to form and style of walking. They can be very speedy, often walking faster than many runners. One club in the state is dedicated only to …

Runyan, Paul

Paul Runyan is a household name in Arkansas golf history. He won the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) Championship twice, in 1934 and 1938. At the diminutive size of 5’7″ and 125 pounds, Runyan earned the nickname “Little Poison” both because of his stature and because of his style of play—producing only short drives but relying on tremendously accurate freeway wood play. Paul Scott Runyan was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on July 12, 1908, to Walter and Mamie Runyan; he had an older brother, Dixon. His father was a farmer who also worked at the Majestic Hotel across the street from Hot Springs Country Club. Despite numerous chores, Runyan escaped to the golf course, where he made money caddying …