Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS :
Reader response overwhelms vote counter
Last Saturday it seemed like a great idea.
Ask who people thought were the five best athletes born in Arkansas.
It was believed a manageable number of 40 or 50 would respond. The first email read was from Paul Chruma of Hot Springs, and he had obviously given his answer much thought and some fretting. His was not first. That one came in Sunday at 4:41 a.m.
Don't know if it had anything to do with the time church was over, but just after noon the emails started pouring in. Dozens and dozens and dozens.
That was when it hit me. I was responsible for counting all the votes.
I started Sunday afternoon, continued Monday until I was almost caught up and will do it every day until June 10, the deadline for voting on the top five athletes who were born and bred in Arkansas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I received some interesting comments and a little chastising. So far 64 athletes have been nominated, so the list might have to be a top 10. A couple of nominees received were for athletes not born in Arkansas.
One email busted me for not including female athletes, then later apologized after rereading the column and saw it just said, "athlete."
Another comment worth mentioning was from one of the athletes who was mentioned in Sunday's column and he just wanted to say thanks and that he had great teammates and coaching. It is difficult to find that kind of unassuming humbleness these days.
Which brings me to the little bit of chastising. Some wondered why I only mentioned a few candidates.
The truth is if I had provided a list, then it would have been my list and not your own opinions. So I mentioned just a few to prime the pump.
I didn't intentionally leave anyone out of the column.
I do a radio show with Matt Jones, whom I consider the most exciting quarterback to ever play for the Arkansas Razorbacks. He could turn nothing into something on the football field. And he lettered twice in basketball for the Hogs. His first collegiate pass was for a touchdown, and the first time he touched a basketball in a game, it was a dunk.
Houston Nutt, the former head coach of the Hogs and Ole Miss, was a heckuva two-sport letterman. He lettered in football and basketball at the UA and Oklahoma State.
Derek Fisher has more playoff appearances than any NBA player and was key last Saturday night in Oklahoma City getting to overtime in Game 6 against San Antonio.
Joe Johnson is a great NBA player who has never had the luxury of playing on a really talented team.
No list would be complete without Sidney Moncrief, an Arkansas All American who had a long career in the NBA.
Darren McFadden was the best running back to play for the Razorbacks. Cedric Cobbs could play anything.
Basil Shabazz might have been had he not turned down numerous football scholarships to play professional baseball.
Chico Fletcher went to Arkansas State on football scholarship, played basketball, too, and quit football to concentrate on a sport he excelled in.
Sonja Tate was a great basketball player for ASU and recently inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.
Clyde Scott is a great Arkansan, who was born in Dixie, La.
The list of greats goes on and on, like the opinions I'm getting. It is a very diverse group and very interesting, although a bit tedious and time consuming to read.
This idea was for fun, and I appreciate everyone who has participated and I look forward to revealing the results. That might take a little longer than anticipated, as the response has been far more than expected.
For that, I'm thankful, and apologize I don't have time to respond to every note.
Sports on 06/03/2014