This week, I’ll combine my recurring series of columns that feature good guys and those that detail local athletes who have been enshrined into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
The topic will be the one and only Bobby Tiner, who was enshrined in 1990.
Much has been written about his legendary career at the University of Central Arkansas. I’ll touch on him as an athlete but will also focus on him as a person.
A Morrilton native, Tiner was a dual threat quarterback who could both run and pass. He was ahead of his time in that regard.
As a freshman at UCA in 1963, he made first-team All-AIC.
He missed the following season but returned in 1965 to lead the Bears to the AIC title. He led the Bears in passing and rushing that year.
The Bears repeated as AIC champs in 1966 as Tiner was again named All-AIC.
During his senior season in 1967, Tiner posted some remarkable stats for that era. He attempted 256 passes, completing 125, for 1,728 yards with 10 touchdowns, all school records at the time. He again led the team in rushing.
He was also an All-AIC baseball player at shortstop.
Most of Tiner’s records have been surpassed over the past five decades as offenses have become more wide-open, but his legacy as a Bear remains unsurpassed.
Tiner joined the coaching staff at Pulaski Oak Grove in 1971. He became head football coach in 1977 and served in that capacity for 24 years. He led the Hornets to the 1979 AA state championship.
In 2002, the Oak Grove football facility was named Bobby L. Tiner Stadium for his more than 30 years of service to the district.
Having grown up in Conway and having been an avid sports fan, I knew of Tiner long before I actually knew him.
The first time I really interacted with him involved a tennis match.
In the early 2000’s, my friend Ancil Lea got me into playing a little tennis. The Conway Area Tennis Association would host events at the old Hendrix College Mabee Center.
This indoor complex housed several tennis courts as well as basketball and other campus recreation. It was torn down to make way for the Hendrix Village.
The format was that players rotated around to play short doubles matches with a variety of partners.
So, I get on court and see that I’m paired with Bobby Tiner. And yeah, he’s a good tennis player too.
I try to prepare him that I’m not, sort of asking him what he wants me to do so that I can stay out of his way. I forget his exact words, but he basically just tells me to hit the ball and have fun.
And we did.
In the following years, I have gotten to know Tiner a whole lot better. He really is a super guy.
He was a charter member of the UCA Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and is a member of the 2020 class of the Faulkner County Sports Hall of Fame.