Jim Bailey, sportswriting legend, dies at 86 | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Jim Bailey, sportswriting legend, dies at 86

Posted By on Wed, Jan 2, 2019 at 9:06 PM

AT RAY WINDER FIELD: An Arkansas Gazette house ad in 1987  featured Bailey at work covering the Travelers.
  • AT RAY WINDER FIELD: An Arkansas Gazette house ad in 1987 featured Bailey at work covering the Travelers.
Jim Bailey, the retired Arkansas sportswriter known by other newspaper people as the gold standard for reporting and writing, died today at 86.

An Emerson, Ark., native, Bailey (as he was almost universally known) spent most of his career writing for the Arkansas Gazette, which he joined in 1956 after college at what was then Southern State in Magnolia. He worked for a time for the Arkansas Times after the Gazette closed in 1991, then finished his career as a columnist at what had been the Arkansas Democrat, now known as the Democrat-Gazette. The colleges of the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference, the Arkansas Travelers baseball team and boxing were among his specialties, but he literally wrote the book on Razorback football, along with his sports editor Orville Henry.

His knowledge was encyclopedic, whether the subject was politics or football. His anecdotes were endless (many sharp recollections of Orville Henry and Frank Broyles among them). His manner was jovial. But his writing. My, his writing. It was clean and direct and compelling. No purple flourishes. No forced metaphors. His ear for quotes was pitch perfect.

Here's Bailey in his own words, in an interview for the oral history project on the Arkansas Gazette.

Facebook users will appreciate a page created by his son with photos of Bailey through the years and samples of his work.

Roller-Chenal will be handling funeral arrangements.

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