A tribute to people with Oklahoma ties who enjoyed the game day experience:
Paul Sharp spent 19 seasons as head football coach at Southwestern State University in Weatherford. The Bulldogs won 91 games over the 1986-2004 seasons under Sharp, including the NAIA championship in 1996. He was named NAIA Coach of the Year after Southwestern State trimmed Montana State 33-31 in the title game at Milam Stadium; Sharp had rallied the team to the championship after Alvin Milton, the Bulldogs' top receiver and a team leader, was killed with three other athletes in a car crash. Sharp resigned in November 2004, shortly after Southwestern State finished a 1-9 season, saying, “I want to see this program succeed and get rolling again.” The Douglas, Ariz., native went into the insurance business and was living in Little Rock, Ark., when he suffered a fatal heart attack Thursday night. Sharp, who also spent time as an assistant at Ouachita Baptist, Central Arkansas and Lamar during his coaching career, was 60.
*Frank Thomas spent 20 years at Midwest Trophy, which is renowned for making some of the most coveted awards in sports. He also worked as a customer service representative at the Ford Center, which is now known as Chesapeake Energy Arena and home of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thomas a Sentinel native, died at age 85.
*Barnsdall native Fred Sanford spent four years in the Air Force before beginning his dream job in 1970 as a game warden. The avid hunter and fisherman worked for the Oklahoma Department for Wildlife Conservation for 30 years, stationed in Garfield, Nowata, Osage and Washington counties. Sanford loved to teach kids how to hunt and fish — and the safety required of each. He often went on hunts and fishing trips with fellow game wardens to Colorado, Wyoming, Kentucky and Missouri. Sanford was a Bartlesville resident at the time of death at age 65.
*Jim Kremmel played part of the 1973 baseball season for the Tulsa Oilers, then the Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Kremmel was 2-4 with a 3.19 earned-run average for the Oilers; he struck out 54 in 48 innings and threw three complete games. But Kremmel was traded in October 1973 to the Chicago White Sox, who then sent him across town to the Chicago Cubs. Kremmel, Steve Stone and Steve Swisher were dealt to the Cubs for third baseman Ron Santo. Kremmel's big league career consisted of 27 games, an 0-4 record and 6.08 ERA with the Cubs and Texas Rangers. Shoulder problems ended Kremmel's baseball days. He died recently at age 64 after a lengthy career as an adult psychiatrist, which included a consultant's role with the Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals.
*Oklahoma City native Jimmie Morehead was an outdoorsman who served as president of the Rod and Gun Club in Leavenworth, Kan. Morehead, a decorated military man by trade, trained hunting dogs. Also enjoyed scuba diving and cycling. Morehead died at age 77 in Norman.
*Bruce Holland was passionate about basketball, playing at Vanoss High School and then coaching at Bunker Hill High School in Kansas. The East Central University graduate retired from coaching and worked in the oil business in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. Coach Holland was an Oklahoma City resident when he died a week after celebrating his 78th birthday.
*Rick Kirkendall was all about golf. He played plenty of it and sold equipment at his golf shops in Nichols Hills and Midwest City. The Edmond native also loved to hunt and fish. Kirkendall, who often played in fourball golf tournaments and The Oklahoman Open, died at age 51.
*Longtime Jones resident and veteran jockey Cliff Berry reached 4,000 wins in thoroughbred racing. Berry, who rode Brown Okie for the milestone win Saturday at Remington Park, is the 65th jockey in North America to reach the mark. He has won the leading jockey championship at Remington Park 14 times. Berry was inducted into the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2011.
“I felt the pressure in the gate. I guess it was because I knew this one could be the one,” Berry said in a statement about win No. 4,000. “It felt like I was riding in a million dollar race.”
*Oklahoma Baptist University is the place to be for high school swimmers and divers who want to remain close to home. The second-year program is seriously good under coach Sam Freas, a legend in the sport. The Bison, in its season-opening meet Friday at the Hendrix (Ark.) Classic, set seven Bob Courtway Pool records. Senior Dennys Noyles set two marks, a 296.8 score in the 1-meter dive and a 300.75 in the 3-meter dive. The men's team won the national championship last season, while the women's squad finished runner up.
OK, so we don't have pop up video on NewsOK.com. If we did, though, hear are a few tidbits about our sports staff that you would see in the quote bubble:
*Columnist Berry Tramel often asked wait staff for extra barbecue sauce at the old County Line for bread dunking.
*Page designer Kendall Matthews has a collection of minor league baseball hats from the Chicago Cubs organization.
*High school beat writer Ryan Aber has two daughters, one a cancer survivor.
*Trent Shadid, who compiles statistics for the scoreboard page, was a wrestler at Weatherford High School.
*Assistant sports editor Darla Smith, who is in charge of overseeing the high school writers, has a son, Josh, in the U.S. Marines.
Here are a few factoids about The Oklahoman sports crew, some of who are no longer with us, where names will be withheld to avoid further grief than they've already received:
*One of our current writers' parents has season tickets to Notre Dame home football games.
*A former staff member, who is now a schoolteacher, said Sam Bradford would never throw a pass for the University of Oklahoma.
*Several current writers have had to call police on game night — because they were usually the last to leave the stadium and were locked in.