Saturday will mark the 11th annual induction banquet for the Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame. Local radio personality Mike Harrison started the organization and it is an offshoot his Arkansas Sports Club.
Among the awards to be presented is the Arkansas Sports Club Member of the Year, going to Faulkner County Judge Jim Baker. Baker is a regular at the monthly luncheons and has been for years.
The Service Award will go to Doretta Bright, who has also given much of her time and talents to the group over the years.
The annual Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Charles Ripley. Coach Rip spent more than two decades at Little Rock Parkview and won five state titles. But much more important than that, he helped mentor hundreds of young men, many who needed a father figure. He deserves an award for that alone.
The Arkansas Sportscaster and Sportswriters Hall of Fame was created to honor those who bring the games to the fans, and this year’s inductees are two of the best.
The sportswriter is Conway’s own Joe B. McGee. He began covering Hendrix athletics part-time for the Log Cabin Democrat while a student at the school in 1920s. He spent half a century at the paper, mainly as a sportswriter and sports editor, but in various other roles as well.
McGee helped organize the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in the late 1950s, and was honored by the Hall with its meritorious service award in 1984. Conway’s western sports center is named in his honor.
The inductee for sportscaster is Keith Jackson. The former NFL All-Pro is being honored for his radio work covering Razorback football games.
But the Little Rock native is also one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. Built like a lineman, he had the hands and the speed of a wide receiver.
In a special twist, he introduce Ripley, his former coach for the Lifetime Achievemennt Award.
You could fill an entire column about Jackson’s gridiron achievements. But I’ll just go with one. The Football Writers Association of America was founded in 1941. In 2015, the FWAA announced its 75th Anniversary All-America Team. The tight end they selected as the best ever in college football was Keith Jackson.
I know he will be happy to take a picture and sign an autograph at the banquet. He’s even more engaging in person than he is on the radio. And he’s even bigger in person than he is on TV.=
This week is also the registration period for the city’s Senior Softball League, now in its second year. The league is open to those ages 49 and older.
Signup will be July 17-19 from 6-8pm each evening at the Conway Sports Center at the Don Owen Sports Complex. Games will be played at Don Owen on Tuesdays starting in August.