Frank Broyles, legendary University of Arkansas football coach and athletic director, looked upon a packed house Saturday night and talked philosophically about legends.
"One of the greatest joys in life is bringing the past to the present," he said as he emceed the fourth Arkansas Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame induction banquet.
Entering the Hall as a sportswriter was Jerry McConnell, who was one of the foundational figures of track in Arkansas and helped develop the Meet of Champs. Former Razorback place-kicker Pat Summerall was the fourth sportscaster to enter the Hall.
McConnell, who coordinated high school sports for years with the late Arkansas Gazette, then served as managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat before closing his career as sports editor of the Daily Oklahoman, was initially recruited as a reporter on the newside (primarily politics) for the Gazette. He moved to sports on what he thought would be on a temporary basis.
"I stayed in sports because I discovered the coaches were more entertaining and charismatic than the politician I had been covering," he said.
It took a few minutes for McConnell to go through some career highlights and talk about relationships because he knew so many at the head table and in the audience "back then."
He remembered Don Dyer (former University of Central Arkansas and Henderson State basketball coach) when he coached girls basketball at England High School. He recalled watching Cliff Garrison (retired Hendrix men’s basketball coach and athletic director) when he was the "other guard" at Forrest City in the shadow of Donnie Kessinger.
He remembered watching Harold Horton (former UCA coach and now director of the Razorback Foundation) score touchdowns for DeWitt High School on four reverses.
He said he loved watching (former UCA coach) Ken Stephens’ teams because "you would always see some kind of trick play and most of them worked."
He was a student at the University of Arkansas when Summerall entered as a freshman, noting the sportscaster-to-be was one of the best all-round athletes he ever saw.
"I remember when we won an intramural softball championship at Gregson Hall and we won 2-1 — and the winning run was a home run by Pat Summerall that I’m not sure has come down yet," McConnell said.
Summerall was unable to attend because of health issues but he sent a video message from his home in the Dallas area.
"To be honored for anything from Arkansas is a priviledge for me," Summerall said in the taped message.
Presented with a lifetime achievement award was former Razorback coach Ken Hatfield, who said he was honored to be at the same table and share a hall of fame with the sportscaster and sportswriters whose number has reached eight. "No one could paint a greater picture of sports than these eight people," he said.
Former sportscaster inductees were the late Paul Eells, the late Bud Campbell and the late Jim Elder. Former sportswriter inductees were the late Orville Henry, Jim Bailey and Harry King.
Mike Harrison, executive director of the ASCSW Hall of Fame, said more than 400 tickets were sold, an increase of more than 100 last year. There were few vacant seats at the Centennial Valley Special Events Center.
Garrison was presented an award as Member of the Year for the Arkansas Sports Club.
Former state Sen. Stanley Russ was presented with a special service award.
He said it might seem awkward for a politician to receive an award at a banquet honoring media members.
"It’s like a farmer I know who took his plow horse to Oaklawn to train with the thoroughbreds there," Russ said. "A trainer there questioned whether the plow horse could run with the thoroughbreds. The farmer replied, ‘I know he can’t compete but I thought the association would do a lot of good.’"