A farewell to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience:
Jack Moncrief was a life sportsman, excelling in high school athletics in Dallas, and then at Southern Methodist University. He participated in football, basketball and track for the Mustangs before joining the Army to fight for his country during World War II. Moncrief was first stationed in war-weathered London, where he was assigned to guard maps for the D-Day invasion. The Texan was then selected to become a physical training instructor, charged with helping wounded soldiers rehabilitate injuries. That was the seed that started a career in physical education, which included a move to Oklahoma City in 1951.
Moncrief was named director of physical education for all city branches of the YMCA. He coordinated the Y's national volleyball tournament in OKC, and he helped develop the citywide church basketball league. Moncrief was one of 40 people selected by Dwight Eisenhower to serve on the president's physical fitness committee.
Moncrief would become a charter member of the All Sports Association and a proponent for the construction of All Sports Stadium, which would lead to professional baseball's return to Oklahoma City. He also favored a new building — the Myriad — which still houses professional hockey today. Moncrief also spent 12 years as chairman of the Big Eight Baseball Tournament, held each year at All Sports Stadium.
He died recently at age 91.
*Layton Runkle had a memorable high school athletic career in the 1950s before becoming an ear, nose and throat doctor in Norman. Runkle starred at Casady School in football, baseball and track. Some of his exploits included throwing a one walk, no-hitter against Catholic (now Bishop McGuinness); striking out 10 in a victory against Midwest City; running for three touchdowns and 243 yards in a 33-0 football win over Houston St. John; and combining with Ken Binder, Roy Williams, and John Bozalis to win the 880 relay at the Bison Relays. Runkle, who was 13-0 over his junior and senior seasons as a pitcher, was on the 1957 All-City Baseball Team; He was offered a tryout with a New York Yankees farm team but chose schooling at Princeton, where he graduated cum laude in biochemistry. He also graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School. Dr. Runkle died recently at age 73.
*The former Elaine Buck was a barrel racer while growing up in the 1930s in Shawnee. Buck also attended an all-girls school in Dallas, where she participated in equestrian jumping. She married Philip Honnold and became a mother of three. Mrs. Honnold played golf as an adult. The Oklahoma City resident died at age 95.
*Former Oklahoma City 89ers pitcher Frank Pastore died from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. He was 55. Pastore's time in Oklahoma City was brief, finishing 1-3 with an 8.46 earned run average and 15 strikeouts. The stint marked the end of Pastore's career. The right-hander had previously pitched more than 1,000 innings in the majors, most with the Cincinnati Reds; he won a career-best 13 games in 1980. He once held the speed record (9 minutes, 31 seconds) for eating the 72-ounce sirloin steak and sides at the famous Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Pastore was a host for a Christian radio station in his native California at the time of the crash. He was in a coma for a month before succumbing to injuries.
*Alan Rubenstein continued to exercise and jog past his 80th birthday. The credit manager from Oklahoma City died at 86.
*Oklahoma football fan Curtis Callahan did not miss a Sooners home game in more than 57 years. The railroad worker and World War II veteran died recently at age 94.
*Harriet Pulley was a girls physical education teacher at Classen High School in the 1950s. The World War II Army veteran died at age 87.
*Frederick resident Edward Ketcham Jr. lived in Oklahoma since 1989. The Army veteran of World War II and the Korean War attended Louisiana State on a football scholarship. He won a regional Golden Gloves boxing championship and also held the No. 1 spot in singles tennis. The Great Neck, N.Y., native died a month after celebrating his 99th birthday.
*Matt Covington is the just the second driver in American Sprint Car Series history to win two regional championships in the same season. The 23-year-old Glenpool resident won his “home” Sooner Region title, and he also captured the Lone Star Region crown. The Tulsa Community College student somehow, albeit successfully, has managed schoolwork, travel and racing the car for nine consecutive months.
“It's pretty much impossible,” Covington said with a laugh.
The 2012 race season results say otherwise.
The only other driver to win two ASCS regional championships in the same season was Jason Danley of Lincoln, Neb. He won the Midwest and now-defunct Northern Plains titles in 2009.
Covington raced 60 cards this past summer, “and we had more good nights than bad. We did not tear up our cars. And we have a sponsor who has been great.”
Dennis Marshala of Shawnee has funded the Oilfield Equipment & Manufacturing-sponsored team, helping Covington become a fast force. The majority of Covington's races are Oklahoma and Texas. He does some national tour races, which might require a trip to New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas or Arkansas.
Sometimes, Covington and lead wrench, 19-year-old brother Tyler, are away from Glenpool two or three weeks at a time.
Even a young driver, one who wrestled in high school, can get “a little sore and worn out,” Matt said. “But I think a lot of my determination and drive comes from wrestling and the discipline it takes. (Racing) has a real tough schedule, and a lot of people don't know the time it takes behind the scenes to compete. But if I had to do it all over again, I'd do it. I'm having a lot of fun.”
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:
*As a freshman football player at Noble High School, OU beat writer Jason Kersey filled out an online recruiting form for the University of Miami. He still has the letter from Hurricane coach Larry Coker, who responded by thanking the young special teams player for his interest in the defending national champions. Kersey never played college football.
*Writer/page designer Jacob Unruh was a drum major at Caney Valley High School.
*Assistant sports editor Scott Munn is from Portsmouth, Ohio, the original home of the Detroit Lions. The team was known as the Spartans before moving to Detroit.
*Sports editor Mike Sherman and Sports Animal radio host Jim Traber played high school football, basketball and baseball against each other in Maryland.
*Bryan Byars is a stud goalkeeper for the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma men's soccer team. As a sophomore, the former Putnam City North star led the NAIA this season with a 0.55 goals against average. Byars has 31 career wins, including 21 shutouts. The latter number has already tied Drovers assistant coach Alexis Vizarelis for the school record.
*The Oklahoma City Barons gave fans a Christmas present of sorts Saturday night at the Cox Center. Three of the Barons' biggest studs — Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz — were asked to spend 30 minutes signing autographs after the game. On-the-ball fans lined up early. All three players will be reporting to the Edmonton Oilers once the NHL lockout ends.
*Jones resident Cliff Berry has done it again. The veteran jockey won a 15th Remington Park championship behind 72 victories during the recently completed thoroughbred season. Luis Quinonez was second with 67 victories, and Lindey Wade finished third with 51 wins. Quinonez did lead the trio in mount earnings at $1,776,044.