Sneed, Adams Nominated to ASHOF

Thursday, June 23, 2016
Former Mohawk, and Razorback, standout Gary Adams as he spoke at a breakfast held in his honor in 2012.(file photo)

A campaign is currently underway to gain recognition for two former Piggott Mohawk athletic standouts, as they've been nominated for inclusion in the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (ASHOF). And, although they're from different eras, and excelled in different sports, both embody the true spirit and work ethic of a member of the Tribe.

"I have mailed the nomination information to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame asking them to consider both Marshall "Batsy" Sneed and Gary Adams for induction," noted local attorney, and former Mohawk, Joe Cole. "Gary has actually served on the board of directors of the ASHOF for a number of years, and is a member of the University of Arkansas Hall of Honor, but is not in the hall of fame."

Both men excelled in multiple sports, but Sneed will always be remembered as an outstanding baseball player while Adams had his finest moments on the gridiron. Cole has nominated Adams to be considered for senior status, while Sneed has been nominated to receive the honor posthumously. The following details are drawn from the official nominations.

Marshall "Batsy" Sneed during his days as a ballplayer.(courtesy photo)

Marshall "Batsy" Sneed

Sneed was a four year letterman, and two season captain, of the Mohawk football team in its infancy, and excelled in baseball. Following high school at PHS, he attended the University of Missouri and earned a degree in agriculture. At first he played outfield for the Mizzou baseball team, and halfback for the football squad. He dropped football in his junior year, and went on to letter in baseball and was voted captain of the Missouri Tiger baseball team as a senior. He also helped lead the Tigers to conference titles in both 1937 and 1938.

Following graduation he signed a professional baseball contract with the St. Louis Browns, inking the deal in July of 1939. He was assigned to the Topeka Owls, of the Western Association, and spent the remainder of the season there. By 1940 he had returned to the region, and was playing with the Paragould Browns of the Northeast Arkansas League.

Gary Adams during his days as a Razorback.(courtesy photo)

In two seasons as a pro he played in 135 games, had 470 at bats and collected 114 hits. He maintained a batting average of .243 and a slugging percentage of .309, but noted his favorite statistic was from 1939 when he completed the season with a fielding percentage of 1.000, never committing an error.

Sneed's greatest joy was playing for the Piggott Ramblers, where he joined his four brothers in what was considered to be an unbeatable lineup. Lyman "Tight-eyed" Sneed played third, Arthur Jr. "Roundy" Sneed played left field and Aaron "Goose" Sneed played centerfield in addition to "Batsy." The lineup also included pitcher Clifford "Dizzy" Cole, L.T. "Hoot" Gipson, Woody Templeton, Earl Ray Roberts, Omer Seals, Leon Underwood and Ray Smart.

In 1937 the team only lost three games, including one to the Pensacola Navy Flyers, who traveled to Piggott to play on the Fourth of July.

Marshall Sneed during his days as a fighter pilot in World War II.(courtesy photo)

Sneed's pursuit of an athletic career ended abruptly with word of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He entered military service the following February, and was accepted into the Army Air Corps, easily earning his wings.

Promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant, he was assigned to the 65th Squadron, 57th Fighter Group, based in Connecticut. The squadron had already gained recognition, based on the fact the commander, Captain Philip "Flip" Cochran had been immortalized in the "Terry and the Pirates" comic strip as daredevil pilot Flip Corkin.

In June of 1942 Sneed, and his squadron, received their orders. And, although the destination was secret, he noted the paint on his P-40 was desert camouflage.

He, and his plane, were loaded onto the aircraft carrier USS Ranger on July 1, 1942, and after two weeks at sea the squadron was positioned some 100 miles off the Gold Coast of Africa--or, so the flyers were told. Later, following several weeks of training, he was assigned to support the British Army's Eighth arm in their drive across Egypt and Libya, escorting bombers and flying strafing and dive-bombing missions against Rommel's Afrika Corp.

In January of 1943 he was promoted to Captain, and flight commander, and shot down his first enemy plane a short time later.

But, on Feb. 22, 1943, after seven months of overseas duty, Sneed was shot down in the Bay of Gabes, Tunisia, while attacking German forces in their flight to escape Africa. He was officially listed as missing in action, although his body was never recovered.

Sneed was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Silver Star and Purple Heart for his service to his country. He was credited with destroying several German planes, sinking one German ship and showed himself to be absolutely fearless of danger.

A gravestone bearing the name of Marshall Sneed rests atop an empty grave in the Piggott Cemetery, although his body remains at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

Gary Adams

Adams is a 1964 graduate of Piggott High School, where he was a four-sport standout athlete. As a Mohawk he was a three year starter as a member of the football, basketball and track teams.

As quarterback of the football Mohawks, Adams led the team to a record of 22-0 spanning the 1962, 1963 and 1964 seasons.

As a junior, he set a school record of five interceptions in a single game, against the Marked Tree Indians. He was also an All-State selection in high school and was selected to play quarterback for the east team in the 1965 Arkansas High School All Star Game.

Adams accepted a scholarship to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks in 1965, where he played quarterback and returned punts his freshman season as a member of the Shoat team. He moved to defense as a sophomore in 1966, and went on to leave his mark on the UofA record books.

He lettered for the Razorbacks from 1966 to 1968, and was named as a first team All-Southwest Conference selection all three seasons. During his sophomore campaign, he led the conference in interceptions with seven, while also returning kickoffs and punts. He remains tied for second for the record of interceptions in a season. Adams also recorded two interceptions in the fourth quarter of the game against Texas, sealing a 12-7 Razorback victory over the Longhorns.

He was named as the Outstanding Sophomore Defensive Player of the Year in the Southwest Conference, was the defensive captain of the 1968 Razorback team and was an All American Honorable Mention.

Adams' 13 career interceptions as a Razorback stood as a conference record until much later, when he was eclipsed by another Arkansas standout, Steve Atwater, who posted 14. He still holds the record for the second-highest total in the history of the University of Arkansas.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Adams was named to the Arkansas Razorback 1960s All-Decade team and in 2011 he was inducted into the University of Arkansas Hall of Honor.

As a Razorback, the teams he played for compiled a record of 22-8-1, tied for the 1968 Southwest Conference title and beat #4 Georgia in the 1969 Sugar Bowl.

He played in the All-American Bowl, in Tampa, Fla., in 1969 and was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 12th round of the 1969 NFL draft.

A successful businessman in the years since, Adams has also served on the board of the ASHOF, and in 2004 was elected to a term as president.

Cole noted only members of the ASHOF are allowed to vote on the hall of fame inductees, following a nomination process by the board of directors. Regular memberships are $75 per year, while active or retired coaches and administrators may join for $35.

The ASHOF was founded in August of 1958, and the first class of 25 was inducted in 1959. The hall is currently based in the Verizon Arena, in North Little Rock. Those wanting additional information may visit their website at www.arksportshalloffame.com or contact Cole at 901 246-7647.

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  • So happy to be able to share this story with my Dad, LT (Hoot) Gipson, who knew both nominees. Dad is 94, and I think is the only surviving Rambler of the 30s era. He's also the oldest Mohawk, playing his Sr year of football in the fall of 1939.

    -- Posted by Mike Gipson on Fri, Jul 8, 2016, at 9:01 PM
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