Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Paul Eells, 1935-2006

If you're not a Razorback fan, you may well want to skip this post.

31 years ago, at the top of his game, the Voice of the Razorbacks, the man who had called the infamous Arkansas-Texas Game of the Century (sorry, Husker and Sooner fans, this is the best one) in 1969, Bud Campbell, was killed in a car accident in west Little Rock. It sent Razorback Nation into a panic.

First, Dave Woodman was lured from KARK to call the Hogs, but that lasted all of one year. Then, someone named Sam Smith came and went in about the same length of time, and Hog fans grew impatient. Just because we weren't in the SEC then didn't mean that it was any less important to a devoted state.

Finally, it was announced in the summer of 1978, I believe, that Vanderbilt play-by-play anchor Paul Eells was hired to become the new Voice of the Razorbacks.

To everyone's delight, he fit like an old shoe, and Arkansans near and far fell in love with his smooth tones and his professionalism, even as he yelled "TOUCHDOWN ARKANSAS!" Through thick and thin, he was the soothing voice that made Hog radio broadcasts fun to listen to each game.

Over time, he became an institution throughout the state, as many had forgotten about Bud Campbell. Paul Eells was as much a part of Arkansas as Crowley's Ridge and the Boston Mountains.

Then, around 8 last night, on his way home from a Houston Nutt-sponsored golf tournament for charity, Paul Eells' vehicle inexplicably veered across Interstate 40 and smashed head-on into a car driven by Billie J. Burton of Dover, Arkansas. Neither survived.

Razorback Nation, which, despite my best efforts, I'm still a member in good standing, is in mourning today. Governor Huckabee has requested that all state flags be lowered to half-staff on the day of Paul's funeral, and I agree with that.

I never met Paul Eells; like most Hog fans, I knew of him what I heard, that smooth voice calling yet another Razorback touchdown.

Now, that will never be the same again, and neither will we.

No comments: