A salute to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience:
*Roy Walker III spent 22 years working for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and Oklahoma Tax Commission. Otherwise, Walker was all about sports that dated back to his days as a football player for Putnam City High School.
He attended Oklahoma State, where he was a cheerleader and member of the Wild Bunch spirit group. As a father to Dustin and twins Rosty and Mindy, Roy invested his life's free time a volunteer youth coach in baseball, soccer, softball, football and wrestling. He was a member of the Satellite Athletic Association, Northwest Optimist Sports, Putnam City North Wrestling Booster Club and Oklahoma Open wrestling tournament committee. He was a volunteer worker at the Big 12 Wrestling Tournament and a referee for USA Wrestling.
Walker's dedication to his children's sports helped lead to Dustin and Rosty wrestling for the Oklahoma Sooners and Mindi earning All-America honors as a soccer player at Oklahoma City University.
Roy Walker III died Oct. 27 at age 59.
*Tommy Stephens played basketball and football at Classen High School in the 1940s. He was the starting left tackle for the football team, which won Oklahoma's first official state championship on Dec. 16, 1944. The Oklahoman reported that behind superior speed and strength, Classen whipped Tulsa Central 26-6 before 8,000 fans at Skelly Stadium. Stephens and teammates were treated to a steak dinner after the game, then boarded the bus for the trip back to Oklahoma City. The Comets were welcomed home by students who lined the sidewalks behind the school. Stephens went into the family business — Stephens Products Co. — and retired after 30 years. The state champion football player died at age 84 in Sun City West, Ariz.
*Wewoka native Gene Aldridge was a personnel officer for the Air Force; in spare time, he played for the Connally Air Force Base basketball and volleyball teams. The volleyball team advanced to the World Air Force Championships, finishing third in 1955 and second in 1956. After the military, he resided in Richardson, Texas, and founded Metro Insurance Services. Outside of a coat and tie, he coached youth league basketball. Aldridge formed a neighborhood team called the Prairie Creek Pacers and guided the youngsters to five city championships. He served as booster club president for J.J. Pearce High School, where many of his former hoopsters would play as teens. Aldridge died recently at age 80.
*John Bickford was a certified public accountant who bowled and played golf in down time. The Guthrie native missed rolling a perfect game by one pin, in the 10th frame. He made up for the tight loss in bowling by winning the Blackwell Country Club golf championship. Bickford, who enlisted in the Army a few days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, was an Oklahoma City resident when he died at age 89.
*Harold Sinclair was a retired Air Force staff sergeant who later worked 29 years for the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System. He was an avid Oklahoma Sooners sports fan. Sinclair held season football tickets for 53 years. The OU Touchdown Club member was an Oklahoma City resident at the time of death, 10 days shy of his 86th birthday.
*Go to http://austinaauction.auctionflex.com/showlots.ap and check out an impressive cache of memorabilia being sold by legendary Texas football coach Darrell Royal and wife Edith. The Royals said in a release that it's time to downsize. “I'm hoping Darrell's fans will be the ones that purchase the UT things, and they will treasure them like we have,” Edith Royal said. “I love the memories — it was fun to rediscover them.”
Darrell Royal was an All-American quarterback at Oklahoma in 1949. The Hollis native went on to become Texas' most successful coach, guiding the Longhorns to three national championships. During a 20-year tenure at Texas, Royal accumulated a tremendous amount sports-related material, including championship rings, bowl watches, autographs, books and photos. And that only touches the surface of what's listed on the Austin Auction Gallery site.
Bidding begins Sunday.
*Some fans are not happy with Thunder general manager Sam Presti sending James Harden to the Houston Rockets, despite the long-term financial benefits for Oklahoma City's NBA franchise. Some souvenir shop owners share fans' angst. The popularity of Harden had some businesses in the Oklahoma City area ordering extra photos, trading cards and banners of the NBA's reigning Sixth Man of the Year.
Al Marchese, owner of Edmond Baseball Cards, is stuck with several products depicting Harden and his famous beard. Marchese said he hopes fans will buy Harden memorabilia no matter what uniform he wears. A recent NewsOK.com poll asked readers, “Will you purchase at half-price James Harden-themed T-shirts?” Results: 8 percent yes, 92 percent no.
Former Oklahoma Christian School and Oklahoma basketball star Blake Griffin is one of the NBA's most popular players and vicious dunkers. The Los Angeles Clippers' second-year pro is often a target for hard fouls that send the 6-foot-10 forward crashing to the hardwood. Last week, Griffin was a guest on Conan O'Brien's late night show. O'Brien asked Griffin if anyone offered advice on how to handle the thuggery:
“Kobe (Bryant) told me to get up and punch 'em,” said Griffin, whose response drew laughter from the studio audience.
O'Brien said, “Well, then you would get in trouble.”
Griffin smiled and said, “It probably wasn't the best advice.”
Pop up video
We don't have pop up video on NewsOK.com. If we did, here are a few tidbits about our sports staff that you would see in the quote bubble:
*Assistant sports editor Hayley Riggs, who is charge of page designers and copy editors, was a National Merit Scholar. Her family owned a hardware business in Roland.
*Web editor Lindsay Houts is from the Bay Area in California. She is a fan of the Oakland A's and San Francisco 49ers. Houts attended Azusa Pacific University.
*Phillip Baeza, who often designs the sports section's front page, served in the U.S. Marines as a jet engine mechanic. He attended the University of Houston.
*Mike Baldwin is a 35-year veteran with The Oklahoman Sports Department. A huge Kansas City Royals fan, through thick and thin. Used to be the sports information director at Oklahoma Christian University, then known as OCC.