The Razorbacks let a national championship slip away this week, but they still had one of the best seasons in school history.
They should make more trips to the College World Series in the coming years.
The Diamond Hogs are able to recruit nationally, but have a strong core of native Arkansans.
The roster features players from Bryant, Beebe, Fayetteville, Rogers, Bentonville and Springdale. Freshman pitcher Hunter Milligan, from Greenbrier, has a bright future with Hogs.
One of the best freshmen in the country was Casey Martin from Lonoke. Years ago, another small east Arkansas town produced an incredible amount of athletes who found statewide fame: Forrest City.
Their population in 1960 was only 10,544. Conway’s was 9,791.
Forrest City was the hometown to one of the greatest singers of all time, the Rev. Al Green. The “Jewel of the Delta” also lays claim to boxing great Sonny Liston. Both moved out of state in their teens.
When the football Hogs won the 1964 national title, there were four Forrest City Mustangs on that team: Jim Finch, Jim Lindsey, Jim Williams and Richard Trail.
Their high school coach was Jim DeVazier, who grew up in Forrest City. After graduating from UCA, he returned home in the early 1950’s to coach his alma mater.
John Childress, Red Barnett, Sonny Holmes and Dewitt Smith also later played for the Razorbacks.
Quite a few Mustangs made their way north to Arkansas State. Others were scattered around various rosters in the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference.
Several guys from Forrest City are enshrined in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, including brothers Jim and B. Lindsey, Don Kessinger, Bill Irving and Don Campbell.
There are others I could discuss, but I’d rather spend the rest of this column on one of my very favorites, Cliff Garrison.
Cliff left Forrest City to attend UCA where he played basketball for the Bears in the early 1960’s. He then began a long and storied coaching career.
He led Hendrix basketball from 1972-2003 and won 463 games. As athletic director in the 1990s, he helped transition Hendrix from the NAIA to NCAA Division III, a move that has been great for the school.
He is a legend on that campus. The Warriors play on Cliff Garrison Court at Grove Gymnasium.
He has a passion for the old AIC and his dedication keeps their annual golf tournament alive. This year’s was one of their biggest ever.
Garrison is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, UCA Sports Hall of Fame and Hendrix Sports Hall of Honor.
There are many more accolades, locally and nationally. But I know he is most proud of his family.
Cliff and his wife Meribeth are two of the finest people you will ever meet. They have a son and daughter who did not fall far from the tree.
Cliff may have been born in Forrest City, but Conway is so lucky he landed here.