Required Reading

Got a cute text today from David Shoemaker. He’s the executive director of Razorback Sports Properties, the IMG branch in the UA athletics department.

David’s son Wyatt is a third grader. He loves Razorback baseball. David brought home a Razorback baseball cap, but before Wyatt could have it, there was a homework assignment.

David gave Wyatt the new Hawgs Illustrated Baseball Preview for reading. He gave Wyatt a reading comprehension test. If he passed, he got the hat.

Interestingly, I sent the idea to my daughter Sarah, a math coach (facilitator is the term) at the Lowell Elementary School in the Rogers system. Sarah had taught third grade for 14 years before transitioning into administration two years ago. She’s doing night grad school work to get her principal’s certification. She and the literacy coach at Lowell love this. They say anything that gets a third grader to read is gold.

Sarah said she would write a comprehension paper for us to post on-line that would go with each issue. I think I’m going to do it and then our subscribers can pass the magazine on to their children/grand children to encourage reading.

Interestingly, over the last 35 years, I’ve run into many who have told me they learned to read as first, second or third graders because they wanted to be in the discussion on the Razorbacks that their dad or grandfather would be having. Typically, it was that Monday column written by my father that they wanted to consume and be ready to talk about on Monday night after dinner. Literally, hundreds have told me that they were not interested in learning to read until they realized an older brother had read that column and was prepared to enter the discussion and they were not.


As a kid, very early in life, whoever got up first and got the paper, me or my dad , the Arkansas gazette, got to read sports first while the other drank coffee and fidgeted with the Memphis commercial appeal or just starred at the other Impatiently, just to read whatever Orville had written. Arkansas got limited coverage in the Memphis paper and without doubt Orville had the inside track to hog football. Still remember that 60 years later.

Thanks for sharing.

You were lucky. If you think the Razorback news was lean in the Memphis paper, how do you think it was in the El Paso Times (where I grew up)?

One of the reasons I almost went down the journalism road was that I realized I’d have free access to that ticker machine with all the breaking news (and sports). In a world decades before the internet, that was a very seductive consideration to a Razorback nut like me.

Question. How did you become a hog fan living in El Paso? Also I remember sitting around the radio listening to hog games. 1964 Texas game I can remember specifically. Then one time a year I would get to go to a game in Little Rock usually w a friend and his parents. They had that amusement park next to war memorial. Quite a treat for a poor kid from Marion.

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That’s a real good way to get kids to read! My son Zach turns 9 the February 5th. He reads messages about our hogs on this board. He has been a hog fan since birth!
I’ve always beard that good readers make good leaders.

Wyatt and my son are in class together at VG. Good kid! Known David since his Octagon/LPGA days.

My parents met at the U of A; Dad, who grew up in Abilene, TX was there on the GI Bill after WWII (he drove up with a buddy to help him move there and decided that’s where he’d go as well); Mom grew up in Little Rock. I was actually born in Fort Smith, but Dad’s government job took the family to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico about 40 miles from El Paso, when I was less than 2 years old. We lived on base at WSMR (first place I remember) for a few years, then moved to El Paso and Dad commuted to work daily.

Both Mom and Dad were Razorback fans (especially Dad…but Mom would call the Hogs with the best of them), so I grew up hearing about the Hogs and seeing them on TV whenever they were on (as you will recall, that was once - maybe twice - a year back then). As I grew older, I’d use my transistor radio to see if I could find a stray distant broadcast of our games outside on the patio. If I could, Dad and I would listen to those games, pacing back and forth. I was the only Razorback fan in my High School, among many Longhorn, Red Raider, Aggie, Baylor and SMU fans.

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Great story and glad you’re a hog fan. Thinking back, glory years for the most part. We’ve fallen on hard times and it’s going to take coaches, players, and fans patience to climb out of this hole. Depressing and humbling to say the least. Glad to hear your background. Go hogs

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