Favorite

Without the All American Red Heads, there would be no WNBA 

The Arkansas-rooted professional team showed the world that women belong in basketball.

Page 3 of 7

"Hazel didn't feel like she needed a man," said Francies Garroutte, 77, of Cabot, who played for the Travelers all 16 years of the team's existence. Garroutte and Walker took turns driving, booking games and handling business, carting their portable typewriter everywhere. According to Garroutte, the Travelers were too focused on basketball to be bothered with roadside attractions. "We had to get to the games, and we had to be on time," she said.

Walker couldn't entirely escape her era, and maybe she didn't want to. Like the Red Heads, the Travelers "did not go out in public unless you were dressed right, hair and make-up fixed," Garroutte said. "Hazel was a high class lady. She believed you could look like a woman, act like a woman, and play ball like a man."

But the Travelers weren't hired exactly like men. "I selected my players for morals, character, neatness, looks and most of all ability," Walker told the Arkansas Democrat in 1950. "We stress good basketball. You've got to if you want to go back next year. ... We do pull stunts. We mix one into each quarter, and it takes only a few seconds." Newton explains this as Hazel "understanding her times. She knew that ultimately, they were an entertainment entity. They were charting new territory. There had never been a professional basketball team owned by a woman, traveling alone, without men." Walker didn't want the Travelers to play without her, so in 1965 at age 51, she dissolved the team. She lived in Little Rock until she died in 1990.

In 1954 Olson finally sold the team to his favorite Red Heads coach, a ginger-haired man from Caraway. Orwell Moore, the team's second and final owner, was born in 1917 and had been a teen-age baseball star with aspirations of joining the St. Louis Cardinals. But after two bouts of tuberculosis, he channeled his passion into teaching at a one-room school in Hancock (Craighead County). When he was 26, he ended up falling in love with a sassy 14-year-old student named Lorene. They moved to Cotter, where the high school didn't allow married students and it certainly didn't allow them to play ball. But Lorene was an extraordinary athlete, and Moore threatened to resign if she was banned from classes or basketball. After Lorene graduated high school, the couple joined the Red Heads — Moore as a coach and Lorene as a player. Lorene played for 12 years, scoring more than 35,000 points and becoming the team's greatest all-time scorer.

In 1959, they had a daughter. "I was born into the Red Heads," Tammy Moore Harrison said. "I just thought everybody had a whole bunch of girls hanging around all the time that played ball and stayed at your house." When she was too young for school, she traveled in the team station wagon. She considered the players her older sisters, only better, because they were celebrities. When they pulled up to the evening's venue, people would crowd the vehicle to meet them.

Much later, in the '70s, the Red Heads trained at Camp Courage — 350 acres of forest in Holly Springs, Miss., with two lakes, cabins and a mess hall. Moore bought the camp and poured concrete over an area larger than a football field, put up goals and created multiple basketball courts. The Red Heads also coached the young campers, girls from 10 to 18 who came from all over the country to spend a few weeks learning basketball. Sometimes college-aged women came as well, in the hopes that they would be hired as Red Heads.

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Cheree Franco

Readers also liked…

  • Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt

    Rep. Justin Harris blames DHS for the fallout related to his adoption of three young girls, but sources familiar with the situation contradict his story and paint a troubling picture of the adoption process and the girls' time in the Harris household.
    • Mar 12, 2015
  • The hart

    It is hard for a straight person, The Observer included, to imagine what it would be like to be born gay — to be shipwrecked here on this space-going clod, where nearly every textbook, novel, film and television show, nearly every blaring screen or billboard or magazine ad, reinforces the idea that "normal" means "heterosexual."
    • Feb 26, 2015
  • A child left unprotected

    State Rep. Justin Harris and his wife adopted a young girl through the state Department of Human Services. How did she, six months later, end up in the care of a man who sexually abused her?
    • Mar 5, 2015

Most Shared

  • Lawsuit filed over settlement in forum-shopping class action case

    The lawyers facing disciplinary action by federal Judge P.K. Holmes in Fort Smith over their settlement of a class action lawsuit against the USAA insurance company have a new legal headache.
  • Cherokee tribe backs the casino amendment

    NOW, I get it. The group circulating petitions for a constitutional amendment to establish casinos in Boone, Miller and Washington counties reveals that the deal anticipates operation of the casino in Washington County by the Cherokee tribe that now has casino operations in Oklahoma.
  • Highway Department: Key parts of new Clarendon bridge installed upside down.

    The future of the old Highway 79 bridge at Clarendon is uncertain, but it's a good thing the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department jump the gun on demolishing it.  That's because the new bridge at Clarendon — or at least the western approach, which is elevated over U.S. Fish and Wildlife wetlands — is snakebit.
  • A modest proposal for charter schools

    It was just a little over a year ago when Baker Kurrus was hired as the superintendent of the Little Rock School District. With new Education Commissioner Johnny Key there was a strong concern that the Little Rock school system would be converted to all charter schools and the entire public education system would disappear.
  • Mansion wars

    It has never been as consequential as Versailles, which helped trigger the French Revolution, but the royal palace of Arkansas's First Family has always been an object of political intrigue.

Latest in Cover Stories

Event Calendar

« »

June

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The 15 oldest houses in Pulaski County

    • I do believe that I have been in some other Pulaski County houses that are…

    • on June 24, 2016
  • Re: Separate and unequal

    • According political pundits and research organizations, the Millennial Generation/Generation Y (1982-2004) is responsible for the…

    • on June 23, 2016
  • Re: A limit on elders' rights

    • What's another dead nursing home resident when there is money to be made and politicians…

    • on June 22, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation