Pruett's Many Contributions Still Remembered
The late Rudy Pruett has been announced as a member of 2014 induction class of the Rector High School Sports Hall of Fame. Pruett, a 1923 RHS graduate, worked tirelessly within the community's athletic programs, and is remembered as one of the biggest contributors to high school and community sporting events.
Pruett was an outstanding athlete, lettering in baseball and basketball at RHS in 1921 through 1923. Unfortunately, many of the records from the era have been lost to winds of time, leaving statistics and additional information difficult to find. Pruett's family was able to recall stories of his fondness for the game, as well as his penchant for making key plays whenever RHS played rival Marmaduke.
In the late 1920s, Pruett became heavily involved in Rector's independent league basketball team. He took part in many games around the region, playing against tough competition in towns such as Leachville, Piggott and Stanford. In later years, Pruett transitioned to a role as referee, remaining active in the game he loved so much, though he still hit the court as a player on occasion.
Beginning in the late 1940s, Pruett would fill a role which may have been his most vital, working to bring touring teams of professional athletes to the area while also placing a spotlight on the gifted athletes of Rector. Pruett is credited with contacting the Harlem Globetrotters for a two spirited contests against Rector in 1952 and 1953. The 1952 contest was such a close game, the Globetrotters varied from their typical fun, zany antics to more traditional style of play in order to hold off a skilled Rector Cardinals squad. Pruett helped bring teams such as the Memphis Air Force squad and other professional and semi-professional groups to the Rector gymnasium, providing outstanding basketball to a grateful crowd of fans. Pruett also was instrumental in bringing nationally recognized pro teams such as the House of David, Harlem Magicians, Whiskered Wizards and Hazel Walker's All-American Redheads to town.
Pruett helped bring teams featuring Major Leaguers such as MLB Hall of Famer Robin Roberts of the Philadelphia Phillies and many St. Louis Cardinals to the area for games with the Rector Cardinals, of which he was the manager. These games not only highlighted the visiting stars, but also served to cast watchful eyes on Rector players, which helped create opportunities in the profession for local stars, as well. Pruett also helped lead the Rector Cardinals to the 1959 Arkansas State Semi-Pro Championship, emerging from a tough league of very gifted teams.
"In my opinion, I know of no one who has made a greater contribution to the athletic entertainment of the Rector people than Rudy Pruett has made," former RHS basketball coach and member of the Rector Cardinals basketball and baseball teams Jess Bucy said. "He brought teams of touring professional athletes to Rector and he added former college players to some talented local teams to make some outstanding semi-pro teams. When you consider teams like the Harlem Globetrotters and Harlem Magicians in basketball and the baseball teams with Major League players like Robin Roberts and Harry Walker, it was really something to see in a small town like Rector. I marvel at Rudy's ability to get these prominent teams to come to Rector. I wonder how many other small towns in the USA have hosted the Harlem Globetrotters and a barnstorming Major League Baseball team."
Pruett is joined by Don Sinko, Paul Temerian and Les McKeel in the Induction Class of 2014. The induction ceremony will be part of the annual Hall of Fame Luncheon at the Rector High School gym, at which time representatives of the individual inductees will be presented with a plaque. The luncheon will be at noon Saturday, Aug. 30, with the induction ceremony immediately following the meal. Details regarding the luncheon may be obtained by contacting Owen B. Moseley at (870) 935-4039.