by Max Brantley
Harry King, Wally Hall and Jim Bailey (L to R) were honored today with inclusion on the War Memorial Stadium Commission's new Wall of Honor for sports journalists. They join Orville Henry, Jim Elder and Paul Eells.
Undoubtedly, some stories were exchanged, perhaps some lines from bygone OH Notepads. "Save a tree. Eat a beaver," for example.
It would have been a perfect occasion for Jim to roll out one of his best-told tales, about the self-styled "rebel" sportswriter on a fabled Southwest Conference press tour of yore.
War Memorial Stadium Honors Sports Media Legends
Bailey, Hall & King join Henry, Elder and Eells
LITTLE ROCK, AR (Sept. 9) —- The War Memorial Stadium (WMS) Commission today honored sports journalists Jim Bailey, Wally Hall and Harry King by naming them to the newly-established Sports Media Legends Wall of Honor. The designation honors sports journalists who have established themselves as true legends in their careers and have made outstanding contributions to sports and to the stadium.
Bailey, Hall and King join three deceased sports media legends — Orville Henry, Jim Elder and Paul Eells who were retroactively placed on the Wall of Honor since each already had portions of the Wall Memorial Press Box named in their memory.
The Wall of Honor is located on the third floor of the new $7.3 million press box and club facility on the west side of War Memorial Stadium. The press box and club facility was dedicated on August 26 with a large contingency of state officials which included Governor Mike Beebe and other governmental, business, education and athletic leaders.
The WMS Commission chose to give the new Sports Media Legends their own special day to be honored, rather than doing it on August 26. Today’s event was a nicely-appointed, by-invitation-only luncheon that was attended by the WMS Commissioners and staff, the inductees, family members, close friends and colleagues in the press box. The three new Sports Media Legends were given replicas of the plaques that will hang permanently on the press box’s wall of honor.
“We felt it appropriate to honor some of the giants in sports reporting and broadcasting in the War Memorial Stadium press box where each of them has spent considerable time. They have distinguished themselves as legends in our state and we felt it was time to recognize their exceptional talents from here at War Memorial,” Gary Smith, WMS Commission Chairman said.
Bailey has enjoyed a 54-year career as a sportswriter and columnist and currently writes a sports column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He is the author of several sports books, including one that he co-authored with Henry that was about Razorback football and has been re-published two times. The majority of his career was spent at the Arkansas Gazette where he covered a variety of sports, including football games from War Memorial Stadium. He is an inductee of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. He was introduced at today’s ceremony by WMS Commissioner Brenda Scisson, who worked alongside Bailey as a sports reporter at the Arkansas Gazette from 1972 to 1974 and has remained a close friend.
Hall has worked in the newspaper business for over 35 years. He is sports editor and columnist of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a position he has held for 31 years. He has served as President of the Football Writer’s Association, a national organization and has hosted his own television program, The Wally Hall Show for KARK, Channel 4. He also is co-host of a popular sports radio call-in show on KARN radio, the Shawn and Wally Show, with Shawn Arnell. Hall hosts his own sports blog, Like It Is. He is a member of the board of directors of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Hall was introduced by WMS Commissioner Kevin Crass, an avid sports fan who never misses a day of reading Hall’s sports column.
King is a sports columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau, having been there since 2002. He covered sports and served as sports editor of Associated Press (AP) for 35 years and spent approximately three years at the Arkansas Gazette as sports reporter prior to joining AP. King has been a mainstay in the War Memorial press box; he has missed only one Razorback game in Little Rock since the 1970 season, and that was to attend his son’s wedding. WMS Commissioner Donald Cook, who has read King’s sports stories for years, introduced King.
Smith said that the honorees were selected by the War Memorial Stadium Commissioners. Other sports media legends are expected to be added in the future, but not necessarily on an annual basis.
“We felt this year that we could not single out one single person, but rather we selected three because they are all so deserving of this recognition. Media professionals rarely get recognized and we are pleased that we’ve begun this program so we can do so,” Smith said.
Orville Henry served as sports editor of the Arkansas Gazette from 1943 to 1989. He moved the Arkansas Democrat (today Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) as a sports columnist and stayed there until 1996 when he joined Stephens Media Group (today Arkansas News Bureau) as a columnist until his death in 2002. He is an inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. The War Memorial Stadium Press Box honored him by naming the floor the Orville Henry Press Floor in 2001.
Jim Elder was a long-time broadcaster and sports director of KARN Radio and served as statistician for the Razorback Razorbacks football broadcast team from 1970 until his death in 1998. He was known for his encyclopedic knowledge of sports and statistics in all sports, particularly baseball, football and golf. He is an inductee in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Paul Eells, often referred to as “the nicest man in Arkansas,” was sports director at KATV, Channel 7 and was the Voice of the Razorbacks for over 25 years. He died in an automobile crash in August, 2006 just before the start of the football season. He is an inductee of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. In 2007 War Memorial named the radio play-by-play broadcast booth the Jim Elder Broadcast Booth and in 2005 Paul Eells’ name was added to it, making it the Jim Elder and Paul Eells Broadcast Booth.
In addition to Smith, Scisson, Crass and Cook, other War Memorial Stadium Commissioners are Nancy Monroe of Little Rock; Charlie Holt of Stuttgart, Dorance Damron of Fort Smith and Senator Jim Hill of Nashville. Commissioners are appointed by the governor and serve seven-year terms. Charlie Staggs is general manager of War Memorial Stadium.