Tag Archives: Earl Quigley

Little Rock Look Back: Basketball begins at Robinson Auditorium

Coach Earl Quigley in the 1940s

While Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium is known today as a performance and meeting venue, in its early days it was also the home to sports. Seventy-eight years ago tonight the first basketball game was played at Robinson.

One of the first regular activities which took place in the lower level exhibition hall was a series of boxing and wrestling matches.  Building on the success of this, basketball came to the convention hall in January 1940.

A series of games featuring Little Rock High School and North Little Rock High School were announced by Tiger Coach Earl Quigley to take place from January 11 through February 16, the official opening day for the facility.

At that time, neither high school had a gymnasium; therefore both schools played their basketball games on their school auditorium stages with fans seated in the audience. The convention hall offered a regulation size floor (made of pecan block parquet) with seating for over 1,300 people along the sidelines and in the balcony.  The first men’s basketball game in Robinson Auditorium took place between the Little Rock High School Tigers and the North Little Rock High School Wildcats on January 11, 1940.

The Tigers lost the game before a crowd estimated to be 1,300.  Earlier in the evening there had been an exhibition between two women’s basketball teams.  The cost for admission to the games was 35 cents for the reserved seating and 25 cents for general admission.

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Little Rock Look Back: First Basketball at Robinson Center

Former entrance to Robinson off Garland Street. Used to attend basketball games.
Former entrance to Robinson off Garland Street. Used to attend basketball games.

While Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium is known today as a performance and meeting venue, in its early days it was also the home to sports. Seventy-seven years ago tonight the first basketball game was played at Robinson.

One of the first regular activities which took place in the lower level exhibition hall was a series of boxing and wrestling matches.  Building on the success of this, basketball came to the convention hall in January 1940.

A series of games featuring Little Rock High School and North Little Rock High School were announced by Tiger Coach Earl Quigley to take place from January 11 through February 16, the official opening day for the facility.

At that time, neither high school had a gymnasium; therefore both schools played their basketball games on their school auditorium stages with fans seated in the audience. The convention hall offered a regulation size floor (made of pecan block parquet) with seating for over 1,300 people along the sidelines and in the balcony.  The first men’s basketball game in Robinson Auditorium took place between the Little Rock High School Tigers and the North Little Rock High School Wildcats on January 11, 1940.

The Tigers lost the game before a crowd estimated to be 1,300.  Earlier in the evening there had been an exhibition between two women’s basketball teams.  The cost for admission to the games was 35 cents for the reserved seating and 25 cents for general admission.

Turkey Day Football in LR – Little Rock High vs NLR

lrhs-nlrhs-grid-1957After 20 years of playing a variety of schools on Thanksgiving, in 1934 Little Rock High School had started the new tradition of playing the North Little Rock High School Wildcats.  These cross-river rivals had played a few games previously in the 1910s and early 1920s. The competition was resumed in 1931, but was not on Thanksgiving Day until 1934.  With that game, the Tigers of Little Rock would begin a 49-year tradition of taking on their biggest rival on Turkey Day.

For much of the 1920s and 1930s, a Thanksgiving Day game for Little Rock High School meant rain.  That was the case in the 1934 meeting at Kavanaugh Field. (Located at the current spot of Quigley Stadium, it was a baseball field on which football games could also be played.  In 1936, the current stadium opened.)  The Tigers and Wildcats played to a 2-0 win achieved by the southside Bengals of Earl Quigley.

Another notable matchup was the 1938 game.  Little Rock won 12 to 7. With that win, it captured its first official state football championship. (Though the Arkansas Activities Association does now credit LRHS with several prior championships.)

The 1939 edition took place on Arkansas Thanksgiving.  That November featured five Thursdays.  President Roosevelt issued a proclamation that Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday, as it traditionally was. However Arkansas and a few other states chose to observe it on the final Thursday.  Little Rock won 6 to 0, but it was a messy game. Some sports fans joked that the game was FDR’s revenge on Arkansas for ignoring him regarding Thanksgiving.

In 1941, only a few days before the US would be plunged into World War II, North Little Rock achieved its first Turkey Day win over Little Rock.  The score was 26 for the Wildcats and 0 for the Tigers.  This was only the third ever loss for the Tigers on a Thanksgiving Day.  The Tigers were so dominant on Turkey Day games, a student had once remarked to a Gazette reporter that the matchup against Pine Bluff should be moved to Thanksgiving since the Tigers always seemed to win on that day.  (Pine Bluff was the state’s other football powerhouse at the time and often gave the Tigers fits in games.)

North Little Rock repeated as winner in the 1942 game, this time with a 31 to 12 score.  Writing for the Gazette, Orville Henry wondered if this would be the final meeting for the duration of the war.  He opined that many of the players might be in a different type of uniform for future games and that rubber might be needed for the war effort instead of athletic equipment.  While some colleges and high schools did drop football during the war, neither LR nor NLR did.

The Tigers were back on top in 1943 by a 13-7 score.  (It would be the last football game for the NLR coach who had been drafted.)  The 1944 game also featured a 13-7 score, but this time it was flipped and the Wildcats were winners.  The 1945 edition ground to a 13-13 tie.

In 1947, both teams were undefeated heading into the Turkey Day classic.  The inky wretches and scribes were predicting another evenly matched slugfest.  Instead Little Rock owned the game and came out with a 13-0 win.

The teams met eight times in the 1950s on Thanksgiving.  Little Rock won seven of the eight, losing the 1951 game by one point (13 to 14).

With the anticipation of a second Little Rock high school to be opened in a few years, Little Rock High School was rechristened as Little Rock Central High in 1954. The new school, named Hall High, opened in 1957 but played much smaller schools for its first year on the gridiron.  Plans were underway for Hall and Central to meet on Turkey Day in 1958, so the 1957 meeting of Little Rock and North Little Rock would be the final time the two teams would meet on Thanksgiving Day.

Little Rock Central High had dominated world headlines in September and October 1957 with the integration of the Little Rock Nine.  The sports coverage of this game however belied all the drama off the field. News reports focused on Turkey Day as the final game between the longtime rivals and on the fact that it had a morning start time instead of the traditional afternoon start time.  In the end, the Tigers had the same result as they did in the first Turkey Day meeting: a win.  The Bengals scored 40 while the Cats only managed 7.

After 24 meetings on Thanksgiving Day, Little Rock had 19 wins, 4 losses, and one tie.  Seven times they shut out the Wildcats, and one time the northern team blanked them.  The fewest total points scored were 2 in the 1934 game, while the 1950 game produced a cumulative total of 71 points (LR 64, NLR 7).  The Tigers scored a total of 517 points over 24 games and gave up only 203.

Turkey Day Football in LR – Beating a Variety of Opponents from 1914 to 1933

Turkey Day 1921From the first Thanksgiving football game for Little Rock High School in 1914 until 1933, the Tigers played a variety of opponents.  They faced off against other Arkansas high schools, out of state high schools, a college and a team of soldiers.  Their record in these twenty games was 18 wins and 2 losses.  While the opponent may have varied, each year the Tiger eleven lined up against their foes at home in Little Rock. The team had enough of a reputation that they could invite opponents and never had to travel.

Playing games on Thanksgiving had become a tradition by the time Little Rock joined in the fray in 1914. Their first Thanksgiving Day opponent was Texarkana High School.  The Tigers won by a score of 20 to 0. The crowd of 1,500 at West End Park (now the site of Quigley Stadium) not only witnessed the high school game, but also saw Arkansas College (now Lyon College) defeat Little Rock College (no association with UALR) by a score of 40 to 0.  With their win, Little Rock captured the state championship – their fourth since 1907.

By the next Thanksgiving Day, the field at West End Park was known as Kavanaugh Field. It would have that name until it was replaced by Quigley Stadium in 1936.  From 1915 until 1933, Little Rock would defeat three Arkansas high schools Van Buren, Benton and Hot Springs as well as high schools from Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Kansas, Illinois and Missouri.  Three of their out of state opponents returned for a second time, so even though these schools were generally overwhelmed by Little Rock High, it was obviously viewed as a positive experience.  Playing out of state teams garnered other benefits. In 1920, they played Tupelo Military Institute, which held the Mississippi-Alabama championship. By defeating them, Little Rock High School claimed the state championship of four states: Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi.

In 1917, they beat the college team of Arkansas State Normal School (now UCA) by a score of 45 to 0. (The Tigers so overpowered State Normal that the Gazette mused that the extremely muddy field was all that kept LR from scoring more than 45 points.)

The Tigers’ only two defeats came in 1918 and 1924.  The first Thanksgiving Day defeat came in 1918 when Little Rock played a team of soldiers from Camp Pike. The soldiers were an average of 20 pounds heavier than the Tigers. They used that weight to their advantage to defeat the high schoolers by a score of 42 to 0.  This was at the height of the US involvement in The Great War. So this game was certainly part of Little Rock’s war effort as the City worked to extend hospitality to soldiers. The Tigers’ 1924 defeat was at the hands of Atlanta Tech High School by a score of 35 to 7.

While the Thanksgiving games were serious business for the Tigers and their fans, they also provided for moments of entertainment.  In 1923, the Gazette reported that the Tigers had hosted a dance at the Capital Hotel for the visiting Ensley High football team from Birmingham, Alabama.  One wonders if there were a motive to their hospitality considering that the next day the Tigers won by a score of 20-7. Perhaps distracting the opposing players the night before the game was all part of Coach Earl Quigley’s strategy.  On Thanksgiving 1929, Little Rock hosted previously undefeated Soldan High from Saint Louis. At halftime of the game (which would end with LR scoring 26 to their opponent’s 6), there was a performance by the Little Rock High School band as well as a group of girls called Quigley’s Quackers.

Based on their reputation as a powerhouse, Little Rock would continue to play teams from other states. But after 1933, Little Rock would play a close rival: first North Little Rock (1934-1957) and then Hall High (1958-1982).  During the two decades of playing various teams, the Little Rock Tigers achieved ten shutouts and suffered one shut out.  The Tigers scored 492 points and gave up 133 points.

1914 Little Rock 20 Texarkana 12
1915 Little Rock 40 Muskogee Central High 0
1916 Little Rock 46 Van Buren 0
1917 Little Rock 45 Arkansas State Normal 0
1918 Little Rock 0 Camp Pike 42
1919 Little Rock 52 Benton 0
1920 Little Rock 6 Tupelo Military Institute 3
1921 Little Rock 21 New Orleans Warren Easton High 3
1922 Little Rock 7 Bryan (TX) High 0
1923 Little Rock 20 Birmingham Ensley High 7
1924 Little Rock 7 Atlanta Technical High 35
1925 Little Rock 6 New Orleans Warren Easton High 0
1926 Little Rock 18 Birmingham Ensley High 6
1927 Little Rock 37 Wichita Central High 0
1928 Little Rock 18 Chicago Lindblom High 0
1929 Little Rock 26 Saint Louis Soldan High 6
1930 Little Rock 33 Chicago Lindblom High 13
1931 Little Rock 31 Dallas Woodrow Wilson High 0
1932 Little Rock 6 Saint Louis Cleveland High 0
1933 Little Rock 13 Hot Springs 6
  • Muskogee Central High has been known as Muskogee High since the 1970 integration of the formerly all-white school with an African American high school.
  • Tupelo Military Institute existed from 1913 to 1937.
  • Warren Easton High is Louisiana’s oldest high school. After Hurricane Katrina it is now a charter high school.
  • Bryan High School was replaced by Stephen F. Austin High School, which was replaced by a new Bryan High School.
  • Ensley High in Birmingham closed in 2006.
  • Atlanta Technical High closed in 1947. A charter school with the same name operated from 2004 to 2012.
  • Wichita Central High has been known as Wichita East High since 1929. It is the largest high school in Kansas.
  • Chicago Lindblom High now educates under the name Lindblom Math and Science Academy.
  • Saint Louis Soldan High now educates as Soldan International Studies High School
  • Woodrow Wilson High School continues to operate in the Lakewood neighborhood of East Dallas.
  • Saint Louis Cleveland High now educates as Cleveland Junior Naval Academy and is no longer in the longtime Grover Cleveland High School building.

Little Rock Look Back: Robinson Baskeball Arena

Former entrance to Robinson off Garland Street. Used to attend basketball games.
Former entrance to Robinson off Garland Street. Used to attend basketball games.

While Joseph Taylor Robinson Memorial Auditorium is known today as a performance and meeting venue, in its early days it was also the home to sports. Seventy-six years ago tonight the first basketball game was played at Robinson.

One of the first regular activities which took place in the lower level exhibition hall was a series of boxing and wrestling matches.  Building on the success of this, basketball came to the convention hall in January 1940.

A series of games featuring Little Rock High School and North Little Rock High School were announced by Coach Earl Quigley to take place from January 11 through February 16, the official opening day for the facility.

At that time, neither high school had a gymnasium; therefore both schools played their basketball games on their school auditorium stages with fans seated in the audience. The convention hall offered a regulation size floor (made of pecan block parquet) with seating for over 1,300 people along the sidelines and in the balcony.  The first men’s basketball game in Robinson Auditorium took place between the Little Rock High School Tigers and the North Little Rock High School Wildcats on January 11, 1940.

The Tigers lost the game before a crowd estimated to be 1,300.  Earlier in the evening there had been an exhibition between two women’s basketball teams.  The cost for admission to the games was 35 cents for the reserved seating and 25 cents for general admission.

PIGSKIN TURKEY DAY IN THE ROCK, Part 6 – A Variety of Foes

Turkey Day 1921From the first Thanksgiving football game for Little Rock High School in 1914 until 1933, the Tigers played a variety of opponents.  They faced off against other Arkansas high schools, out of state high schools, a college and a team of soldiers.  Their record in these twenty games was 18 wins and 2 losses.  While the opponent may have varied, each year the Tiger eleven lined up against their foes at home in Little Rock. The team had enough of a reputation that they could invite opponents and never had to travel.

Playing games on Thanksgiving had become a tradition by the time Little Rock joined in the fray in 1914. Their first Thanksgiving Day opponent was Texarkana High School.  The Tigers won by a score of 20 to 0. The crowd of 1,500 at West End Park (now the site of Quigley Stadium) not only witnessed the high school game, but also saw Arkansas College (now Lyon College) defeat Little Rock College (no association with UALR) by a score of 40 to 0.  With their win, Little Rock captured the state championship – their fourth since 1907.

By the next Thanksgiving Day, the field at West End Park was known as Kavanaugh Field. It would have that name until it was replaced by Quigley Stadium in 1936.  From 1915 until 1933, Little Rock would defeat three Arkansas high schools Van Buren, Benton and Hot Springs as well as high schools from Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, Kansas, Illinois and Missouri.  Three of their out of state opponents returned for a second time, so even though these schools were generally overwhelmed by Little Rock High, it was obviously viewed as a positive experience.  Playing out of state teams garnered other benefits. In 1920, they played Tupelo Military Institute, which held the Mississippi-Alabama championship. By defeating them, Little Rock High School claimed the state championship of four states: Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi.

In 1917, they beat the college team of Arkansas State Normal School (now UCA) by a score of 45 to 0. (The Tigers so overpowered State Normal that the Gazette mused that the extremely muddy field was all that kept LR from scoring more than 45 points.)

The Tigers’ only two defeats came in 1918 and 1924.  The first Thanksgiving Day defeat came in 1918 when Little Rock played a team of soldiers from Camp Pike. The soldiers were an average of 20 pounds heavier than the Tigers. They used that weight to their advantage to defeat the high schoolers by a score of 42 to 0.  This was at the height of the US involvement in The Great War. So this game was certainly part of Little Rock’s war effort as the City worked to extend hospitality to soldiers. The Tigers’ 1924 defeat was at the hands of Atlanta Tech High School by a score of 35 to 7.

While the Thanksgiving games were serious business for the Tigers and their fans, they also provided for moments of entertainment.  In 1923, the Gazette reported that the Tigers had hosted a dance at the Capital Hotel for the visiting Ensley High football team from Birmingham, Alabama.  One wonders if there were a motive to their hospitality considering that the next day the Tigers won by a score of 20-7. Perhaps distracting the opposing players the night before the game was all part of Coach Earl Quigley’s strategy.  On Thanksgiving 1929, Little Rock hosted previously undefeated Soldan High from Saint Louis. At halftime of the game (which would end with LR scoring 26 to their opponent’s 6), there was a performance by the Little Rock High School band as well as a group of girls called Quigley’s Quackers.

Based on their reputation as a powerhouse, Little Rock would continue to play teams from other states. But after 1933, Little Rock would play a close rival: first North Little Rock (1934-1957) and then Hall High (1958-1982).  During the two decades of playing various teams, the Little Rock Tigers achieved ten shutouts and suffered one shut out.  The Tigers scored 492 points and gave up 133 points.

1914 Little Rock 20 Texarkana 12
1915 Little Rock 40 Muskogee Central High 0
1916 Little Rock 46 Van Buren 0
1917 Little Rock 45 Arkansas State Normal 0
1918 Little Rock 0 Camp Pike 42
1919 Little Rock 52 Benton 0
1920 Little Rock 6 Tupelo Military Institute 3
1921 Little Rock 21 New Orleans Warren Easton High 3
1922 Little Rock 7 Bryan (TX) High 0
1923 Little Rock 20 Birmingham Ensley High 7
1924 Little Rock 7 Atlanta Technical High 35
1925 Little Rock 6 New Orleans Warren Easton High 0
1926 Little Rock 18 Birmingham Ensley High 6
1927 Little Rock 37 Wichita Central High 0
1928 Little Rock 18 Chicago Lindblom High 0
1929 Little Rock 26 Saint Louis Soldan High 6
1930 Little Rock 33 Chicago Lindblom High 13
1931 Little Rock 31 Dallas Woodrow Wilson High 0
1932 Little Rock 6 Saint Louis Cleveland High 0
1933 Little Rock 13 Hot Springs 6

 

  • Muskogee Central High has been known as Muskogee High since the 1970 integration of the formerly all-white school with an African American high school.
  • Tupelo Military Institute existed from 1913 to 1937.
  • Warren Easton High is Louisiana’s oldest high school. After Hurricane Katrina it is now a charter high school.
  • Bryan High School was replaced by Stephen F. Austin High School, which was replaced by a new Bryan High School.
  • Ensley High in Birmingham closed in 2006.
  • Atlanta Technical High closed in 1947. A charter school with the same name operated from 2004 to 2012.
  • Wichita Central High has been known as Wichita East High since 1929. It is the largest high school in Kansas.
  • Chicago Lindblom High now educates under the name Lindblom Math and Science Academy.
  • Saint Louis Soldan High now educates as Soldan International Studies High School
  • Woodrow Wilson High School continues to operate in the Lakewood neighborhood of East Dallas.
  • Saint Louis Cleveland High now educates as Cleveland Junior Naval Academy and is no longer in the longtime Grover Cleveland High School building.

 

PIGSKIN TURKEY DAY IN THE ROCK, Part 3 – Little Rock vs. NLR

 

Turkey Bowl LRHS NLRHSAfter 20 years of playing a variety of schools on Thanksgiving, in 1934 Little Rock High School had started the new tradition of playing the North Little Rock High School Wildcats.  These cross-river rivals had played a few games previously in the 1910s and early 1920s. The competition was resumed in 1931, but was not on Thanksgiving Day until 1934.  With that game, the Tigers of Little Rock would begin a 49-year tradition of taking on their biggest rival on Turkey Day.

For much of the 1920s and 1930s, a Thanksgiving Day game for Little Rock High School meant rain.  That was the case in the 1934 meeting at Kavanaugh Field. (Located at the current spot of Quigley Stadium, it was a baseball field on which football games could also be played.  In 1936, the current stadium opened.)  The Tigers and Wildcats played to a 2-0 win achieved by the southside Bengals of Earl Quigley.

Another notable matchup was the 1938 game.  Little Rock won 12 to 7. With that win, it captured its first official state football championship. (Though the Arkansas Activities Association does now credit LRHS with several prior championships.)

The 1939 edition took place on Arkansas Thanksgiving.  That November featured five Thursdays.  President Roosevelt issued a proclamation that Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday, as it traditionally was. However Arkansas and a few other states chose to observe it on the final Thursday.  Little Rock won 6 to 0, but it was a messy game. Some sports fans joked that the game was FDR’s revenge on Arkansas for ignoring him regarding Thanksgiving.

In 1941, only a few days before the US would be plunged into World War II, North Little Rock achieved its first Turkey Day win over Little Rock.  The score was 26 for the Wildcats and 0 for the Tigers.  This was only the third ever loss for the Tigers on a Thanksgiving Day.  The Tigers were so dominant on Turkey Day games, a student had once remarked to a Gazette reporter that the matchup against Pine Bluff should be moved to Thanksgiving since the Tigers always seemed to win on that day.  (Pine Bluff was the state’s other football powerhouse at the time and often gave the Tigers fits in games.)

North Little Rock repeated as winner in the 1942 game, this time with a 31 to 12 score.  Writing for the Gazette, Orville Henry wondered if this would be the final meeting for the duration of the war.  He opined that many of the players might be in a different type of uniform for future games and that rubber might be needed for the war effort instead of athletic equipment.  While some colleges and high schools did drop football during the war, neither LR nor NLR did.

The Tigers were back on top in 1943 by a 13-7 score.  (It would be the last football game for the NLR coach who had been drafted.)  The 1944 game also featured a 13-7 score, but this time it was flipped and the Wildcats were winners.  The 1945 edition ground to a 13-13 tie.

In 1947, both teams were undefeated heading into the Turkey Day classic.  The inky wretches and scribes were predicting another evenly matched slugfest.  Instead Little Rock owned the game and came out with a 13-0 win.

The teams met eight times in the 1950s on Thanksgiving.  Little Rock won seven of the eight, losing the 1951 game by one point (13 to 14).

With the anticipation of a second Little Rock high school to be opened in a few years, Little Rock High School was rechristened as Little Rock Central High in 1954. The new school, named Hall High opened in 1957 but played much smaller schools for its first year on the gridiron.  Plans were underway for Hall and Central to meet on Turkey Day in 1958, so the 1957 meeting of Little Rock and North Little Rock would be the final time the two teams would meet on Thanksgiving Day.

Little Rock Central High had dominated world headlines in September and October 1957 with the desegregation of the school.  The sports coverage of this game however belied all the drama off the field. News reports focused on Turkey Day as the final game between the longtime rivals and on the fact that it had a morning start time instead of the traditional afternoon start time.  In the end, the Tigers had the same result as they did in the first Turkey Day meeting: a win.

After 24 meetings on Thanksgiving Day, Little Rock had 19 wins, 4 losses, and one tie.  Seven times they shut out the Wildcats, and one time the northern team blanked them.  The fewest total points scored were 2 in the 1934 game, while the 1950 game produced a cumulative total of 71 points (LR 64, NLR 7).  The Tigers scored a total of 517 points over 24 games and gave up only 203.