‘The past is the key to the future’

Broyles was the master of ceremonies for the induction at Conway’s Centennial Valley Country Club of the fourth class into the ASCSW Hall of Fame – sportswriter Jerry McConnell of Greenwood and sportscaster Pat Summerall of Dallas.

Ken Hatfield, former All-American and football coach of the Razorbacks, was the fourth winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Other honors went to Stanley Russ of Conway and Cliff Garrison of Conway for the ASCSW Service Award and the Arkansas Sports Club Member of the Year, respectively.

But everyone saw to it that the night belonged to McConnell and Summerall.
Russ compared the state’s sports media over the years to collegiate assistant coaches who toil away from the spotlight. He likened the Hall of Fame to the Broyles Award, started by David Bazzel, the former Razorback football player in attendance, to recognize the best of those coaches.

“They’re an under-recognized group,” Russ said of the sports media.

Broyles agreed.

“This group (sportswriters and sportscasters) means so much to all the sports in this state,” he said, starting with the late Orville Henry, who helped Broyles make the Razorbacks the top sports story in the state through his job as long-time sports editor of the now-deceased Arkansas Gazette.

“We have been benefactors of the news media and their coverage around the state. The news media are responsible for this. Orville Henry, Bud Campbell – I wish they could see what they helped build.”

Henry and the late Paul Eells of KATV were inducted into the first Hall of Fame class. Campbell, the late sportscaster, and Jim Bailey, long-time Gazette writer, made up the second. Jim Elder, the late KARN radio man and long-time voice of the Arkansas Travelers, and Harry King of Stephens Media (after a long career with the Associated Press), went in last year.

Hatfield said the main reason he was there was because of “the tremendous men” who had been honored.

“I’ve been thinking of my favorite memory with each one of them,” he told the crowd of about 400. “What’s your first thought of Bud Campbell? Jim Elder? Paul

Eells? Pat Summerall? Orville Henry? Jim Bailey? Harry King? Jerry McConnell?
“There’s no one that I know of who could paint a better memory picture about sports in Arkansas than the eight people you’ve honored.”
Summerall played defensive end, tight end and place kicker for the Razorbacks from 1949-51 and spent 10 years in the National Football League as a kicker for the Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants. He then went into broadcasting NFL games for CBS and Fox from 1962-2001, most notably paired with John Madden for 22 years.

Family illness kept Summerall away from the ceremony, but he expressed his appreciation in a videotaped message from his home.

McConnell, introduced by Bailey, his friend of 54 years, finished the evening with a fond look back at a career that spanned everything from Orval Faubus’ first race for governor in 1954 to the 1984, ’88 and ’96 Olympic Games.

He said coming from the news side of the Arkansas Democrat, he quickly grew to love covering sports after he arrived at the Gazette in 1955.

“I discovered coaches were generally more entertaining and charismatic than the politicians I’d been covering,” he said. “And I also enjoyed covering positive news for a change.”

He remembered tales of many coaches who had gathered that evening to honor him.

“I remember Don Dyer when he was a championship girls basketball coach at England High School,” he said. “I remember when Don Nixon coached at Joe T. Robinson. I remember when Cliff Garrison was the other guard (to Donnie Kessinger) at Forrest City. I remember covering DeWitt against Stuttgart one time.

Both were undefeated, and I picked Stuttgart. DeWitt won 26-0 on four touchdowns by Harold Horton. I remember when Ken Stephens first started coaching football. If you’d go see Ken’s teams play, almost every game you’d see a good trick play, and they’d usually work.”

McConnell continued with more stories of Hall of Fame coaches: Wilson Matthews, Bill Stancil, Gayle Kaundart, Sam Cook and Curtis King.
McConnell, along with Clyde Hart, got the Meet of Champions started, bringing together the winners of each event in each state track meet to compete against each other. It’s still going strong since its birth in 1958.

He spoke fondly of his colleagues at the Gazette, including Bailey, Henry, King, Wadie Moore, Robert Shaw, Bill Simmons, James Thompson and Ron Robinson.

He left the Gazette in 1971 to become managing editor of the Democrat, and went to the Daily Oklahoman in 1978 as sports editor.

“Thanks again for letting me relive some very special memories,” he said in closing.

Previous winners of the Lifetime Achievement Award were Bailey in 2007, Broyles in ’08 and retired UA track and field coach John McDonnell last year.

All were in attendance, as were all the previous living inductees and representatives of most of the deceased ones.

The past lived again, at least for one night.