Thursday, June 30, 2011

Remembering the 1962 Babe Ruth League Season in Fayetteville, Arkansas

A few months ago, I decided to write a short history/recollection of the 1962 Fayetteville Babe Ruth League (BRL) season.  I had a few newspaper clippings about the games of the United Commercial Traveler (UCT) team on which I played. However, I didn't recall too much about the season or other teams -- just a scattering of faces, events, and short action clips that would pop into the brain.
1962 Champions of the Fayetteville Babe Ruth League

My research consisted mainly of using my account to access the Northwest Arkansas Times newspaper archives. From those archives, I had access to the newspaper stories published by the NWAT in 1962, and I spent too many hours downloading all of the stories written about the BRL games played during the season. The coverage of most games included box scores.

These stories provided a mosaic of the season and were, in many ways, surprising.  The main surprise was how much I did not remember. One of the things I had forgotten was how good an athlete Brad Jenkins was.  I ran into Brad at a high school reunion, probably about ten years ago. He was not in good health, and died a year or so later. In our conversation, he said some nice things about our days playing baseball and how good a pitcher I was. Unfortunately, I recalled Brad mainly as a fast and powerful runner and had forgotten what an outstanding year he had in the 1962 BRL season. The newspaper clippings documented his prowess as a baseball player.

In junior high and high school, I greatly admired Robert Wilks' athletic ability. I saw him in action -- usually as a teammate -- for several years. Yet, I did not recall much about his baseball skills. Thus, I was surprised that I did not remember his remarkable streak in 1962 when, over a four game period,  he was ten for ten, plus had several walks. Quite an accomplishment.

Reading the clippings, I was surprised at what good seasons Bill Cooksey and Sonny Brewer (both on OK & Milady Cleaners) had as pitchers. They helped the OK team, which certainly didn't have the best talent in the league, have an outstanding second half of the season. This team showed great character and tenacity in winning come-from-behind and one-run games. I attribute that, in part, to Kenny Ramey, who was a determined and ferocious competitor.  

Also, when I read the clippings I was saddened when I saw the names of friends and 1962 teammates who died much too young:  Sonny Brewer, Tom Ernest, Martin Butt, Carl Gabbard, and Jerry Burnett.   

The focal point of my history/recollection of the 1962 BRL season is the pitching rivalry between me and Bubba McCord. The games we pitched against each other are what I remember best about the season, and they did have a major impact on determining the league championship.

Bubba and I played both with and against each other for several years. Two summers, after the Fayetteville baseball season was over, we went together to the Big State Baseball Camp in Dallas, Texas. One of those years, we were selected for the Camp all star team and went with the team to play several games in Monterrey, Mexico.

We both were on the University of Arkansas freshman baseball team in 1966, not a pleasant experience. In the summer of 1967, we were the two main umpires for the Fayetteville Babe Ruth League, probably the worst job I ever had.

Bubba was a fine catcher and as good as any baseball player in Fayetteville from 1960 to 1965. He took the game seriously and worked hard to perfect his skills. I enjoyed competing against him, and enjoyed even more having him as a teammate. Since I knew Bubba so well, it was fun to recall the year when I made his baseball life miserable. No doubt he has some stories of the times he contributed to my baseball woes.

The history/recollection of the 1962 BLR season can be found at this address:
It contains nothing more profound that the results of some games played almost fifty years ago. Nevertheless, for those whose names appeared in the box scores, it should help revive some memories of teammates, coaches, triumphs, failures, and balmy summer nights swatting mosquitoes with a leather glove.


  1. Thank you for mentioning my dad, Carl Gabbard. As I understand it, he was was pretty good. I loved going to his softball games as a kid. Thankfully, his love for the game has been passed down through two generations. Thank you for the blog.

    1. Carl was a very good baseball player on the UCT team shown in the picture on the blog, where he is standing between me and Marty Steele. He was a solid first baseman and a good hitter. He was also a good guy who I appreciated as a teammate. That year, after we won the Fayetteville Babe Ruth League championship, the local UCT people (UCT was United Commercial Travelers, a national insurance company) sponsored a trip for us to go to see the St. Louis Cardinals play. I do not recall for sure if Carl went on the trip, but if he did, I'm sure he was as excited about it as the rest of us were.

      In case you haven't seen the picture, go to page 9 on this link to see a picture of Carl as a Woodland Jr. High basketball player:

      Although Carl was not in the FHS Class of 65 (he was a year or two younger), he came to one of our reunions; I was pleased to see him after an absence of several years. He seemed happy and healthy and ha a smile for everyone; thus it was a shock to hear of his passing not too long after that.

      Thanks for the note, I am glad to hear that Carl's children and grandchildren enjoy Baseball as much as he did.