Wyn Norwood and Bobby Tiner continued a dispute on possession of the ball that has extended almost a half-century.
Basketball stars Sonja Tate (Arkansas State) and Marcus Brown (Murray State) shared a basketball.
Don Nixon shared an achievement with special people.
Such was the situation at Friday’s Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet, often a verbal marathon that was turned into a sprint of praise. The event, in which eight individuals were inducted, last less than an hour and a half.
Norwood, an Arkansas Tech graduate and a golfing icon in the state, was one of the new inductees. Tiner, one of the best quarterbacks in Arkansas history, is already in.
“Bobby and I have had fierce verbal warfare for about 50 years, otherwise known as trash talking,” said Norwood, noting he and Tiner were rivals when he played football for Russellville and Tiner for Morrilton and then the two went against each other in the old Tech-Teachers rivalry. One bone of contention is a fumble that Norwood was credited in recovering near the goal line in a Wonder Boy victory. Tiner, however, handed the ball to the official.
“I recovered that fumble,” Norwood said in addressing Tiner in the audience at North Little Rock’s Verizon Arena. “Look at the scoreboard, read the press clippings and get over it.”
Tate, one of the best players in Arkansas women’s basketball history, pulled a basketball from underneath the podium and said, “For me this has been my world. “This was my vehicle. I’ve been all over the world with this.”
Brown, one of the greatest players in European basketball history, pulled the basketball back out during his speech. “This is my second wife and she had to show up tonight,” he said.
Other inductees had fun with other balls.
Former UA golfer Stacy Lewis, a native Texan and No. 3 among female golfers in the world, talked about how she fell in love with Arkansas the first time she visited and how the support from Arkansans is everywhere. She described playing in a tournament in Australia and seeing a spectator along the green wearing an UA T-shirt, an Arkansas hat and who started a Hog call.
“No other school gets that kind of support on tour,” she said. “When I play in a tournament in Arkansas, all the other golfers know where I am on every single hole from the crowd reaction.”
Frank O’Mara, one of the Irish distance runners who helped seed the Razorbacks’ longtime dominance in track and field noted, “Running success breeds success,” he said. “But even without that success coming to Arkansas would have been worth it because I met my wife here.”
Jeremy Jacobs of Southland Park Fame and one of the most successful and influential owners in professional sports noted how a team that wins the Stanley Cup gets possession of the iconic trophy for a year and individuals who contributed to the success can take it whereever they choose. “No other trophy in team sports get you so exhausted taking to places,” he said. “Next time we win it, we’ll take it to Arkansas.”
The late John Outlaw, a former UCA star who was an assistant coach with Norwood at UCA and later went on to a highly successful high school career in Arkadelphia and Texas, was saluted by his older brother, Steve.
“Why was he successful? Heart,” Outlaw said. “He played with heart and he coached with heart ... I remember when on tryout day for football in the 10th grade, I couldn’t find him. I finally found him in the parking lot putting rocks in his pockets because he was afraid they would not let him play weighing 120 pounds.”
Nixon, a highly successful junior high and high school coach in Little Rock and later as men’s basketball coach gave praise to his wife for her patience and perseverance, then asked a large number of his former players in the audience to stand.
“The boys and girls who played for me put me here,” he said.
A night of sharing ended with a shared shout-out.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org)