Evin Demirel: This Week in Arkansas Sports History

Visit Evin's Author Page
Editor’s Note: Welcome to the newest feature on Sporting Life Arkansas from Evin DemirelThis Week in Arkansas Sports History. In this column you will find tidbits of sports news from years gone by, pulled from sources and newspaper archives from around the state. Our hope is that we will remind you of a sports story you may have forgotten and share some you never knew.

10 years ago …

It’s announced on June 12, 2003 the Arkansas Riverblades, the state’s second professional ice hockey franchise, is for sale after four seasons in central Arkansas. The managing director of Arkansas Sports Entertainment, which runs the RiverBlades and Arena Football 2’s Arkansas Twisters, says  the Riverblades have been released from the remaining season on their lease from Alltel Arena in North Little Rock.

The Riverblades were preceded in central Arkansas by the Arkansas GlacierCats, which played two seasons from 1988-2000 at Barton Coliseum at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds in Little Rock. An average of 3,976 people attended RiverBlades games for the 1999-2000 season, but two seasons later that number had fallen to 2,951 people. And only 3,212 people attended games last season.

“This is a tough market for any team to survive,” Travelers General Manager Bill Valentine said. “Little Rock is not a great-drawing sports town. Baseball [attendance] is flat. The Twisters are flat. They were drawing 12-14,000 a game. Now they’re drawing about half of that. It’s flat all over the South.” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; June 14, 2003]


The Razorbacks won the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in June 14, 2003 with 59 points, edging SEC rival Auburn, which took second with 50.

Arkansas distance runners Daniel Lincoln and Alistair Cragg combined for 38 points. Lincoln, a senior, led with 20 points. He became the first runner in NCAA history to win the 3,000-meter steeplechase and 10,000 meters.

Arkansas sophomore Ahmad Carroll scored two points and finished seventh in the 100 meter dash. Carroll, also a cornerback, became the second Hog to letter in football and score in an individual event at the NCAA Championships in the same school year.

The first was Clyde “Smackover” Scott, a star running back from 1946-48 who won the 110-meter hurdles at the 1948 NCAA Championships. [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; June 11, 2003]


25 years ago …

The chairman of the state Board of Higher Education stressed how much society values sports in defending the Committee on Higher Education’s vote earlier in the week to allow Arkansas colleges to continue athletic deficits for three years.

Dr. H.D. Luck of Arkadelphia added that he opposed the deficits, but cast his vote to move discussion about priorities in higher education beyond the issue. “We had debated it for so long and hadn’t gotten anywhere,” the chairman said. “I just voted for it to get it over with and out of the way.”

Arkansas Sports history Bill Clinton

Arkansas Govenor Bill Clinton

The deficits in question topped $1.2 million at ASU and UALR. Previously,  the committee had considered a proposal that would cap athletic deficits at $350,000 annually.

Soon after the commitee voted, Governor Bill Clinton attacked its recommendation, saying: “It’s pretty hard to raise money for academic improvements if we’re going to have a permanent million-dollar deficit program to basically bring people into our state from other states to play basketball who aren’t request to graduate.” [Associated Press; June 12, 1988]


50 years ago …

Fort Smith’s Ken Sharp, the finest prep pole vaulter Arkansas has yet produced, announced his intentions to enroll at the University of Arkansas.

“The 6-0, 150-pound Grizzly athlete holds the Arkansas Relays record (12’9); set a new AAA state record of 13’6: and finally the 14’0 mark for a gold medal at the Meet of Champions.” [Blytheville Courier News; June 16, 1963]


100 years ago …

Roy Wood, former standout first baseman for the University of Arkansas, reported to the Pittsburgh Pirates and their manager Fred Clarke. Wood, a Little Rock High School graduate and son of Associate Justice Carroll D. Wood of the Arkansas Supreme Court, was recommended to his Razorback baseball coach Hugo Bezdek.

Arkansas Sports History Hugo Bezdek

Hugo Bezdek

Bezdek, also the Hogs’ football coach, works as a scout for the Pirates during the summer months. The 23-year-old Wood, who stands 6-0 and weighs about 175 pounds, is an exceptionally fast fielder and known for being “heady and fast on the base. He swings like a veteran and but few box scores were not decorated with his name credited in the hit column.” [Arkansas Gazette; June 13, 1913]


1937 The National Football League granted a franchise to a group of Cleveland businessmen. The Cleveland Rams had played in the American Football League in 1936, their first season. In their first season in the NFL, they would compile a record of one win and ten losses.

Former Pittsburgh Pirate manager Hugo Bezdek was named as the first Rams coach. To this day, Bezdek is the only man to coach an NFL team and a major league baseball team.



Hot Springs Club is Willing To Meet All Comers

The Arlington Reds, negro baseball team, is “honin’ fuh a game,” and they ain’t barrin’ any club in the state that feels lucky.

Their manager, A.E. Phillips, whose post office address is Box 82, declares that his team is entirely different from the [other] Hot Springs [team], and while “they classes with ’em,” the teams are separate and apart.” [Arkansas Gazette; June 15, 1913 – See actual article below.]

This week in Arkansas Sports History June 12


“Breaking 45 out of 50 clay pigeons, E.J. Voss and C.C. Handley [of Pine Bluff] won the two-man team shoot in the annual tournament of the Pine Bluff Gun Club …. Despite the face that the weather conditions were not ideal, some excellent shooting was done and the tournament was declared the most successful ever held in the history of the club.” [Arkansas Gazette; June 12, 1913]

For more on how Arkansas coach Bezdek ran a no-huddle, hurry-up offense 100 year ago, visit thesportssser.com. Follow Demirel on Twitter here.

Tags: , , , , ,