Doug Lowrey was named to his fifth Hall of Fame last week when he was inducted posthumously into the Arkansas Softball Hall of Fame.
Lowrey was inducted with his son, Mike, last Thursday as part of the 20th annual class for the Hall of Fame but first banquet, which honored every past member with a ring.
“It was excellent; they did it right,” Mike said. “They’re going to make it an annual deal. Instead of a Hall of Fame thing, make it for the whole softball community.”
The event was held at the Benton Event Center and was organized by Shane and Lara Pigue.
“The coolest thing about it was there were all sorts of guys there,” Mike said. “There were guys there that hadn’t seen other guys in 20 years. When I walked in there were probably 20 guys that were over 55 that were sitting back there in one area talking and stuff. It was a cool deal.”
Next year, the banquet will include the next class of Hall of Fame but also a male and female All-Arkansas team, a male and female player of the year, and the John Glidewell Award for the overall player of the year.
Glidewell, like both Doug and Mike Lowrey, are Fort Smith natives.
Doug was an offensive guard on the undefeated 1967 and 1968 state championship teams at Northside under legendary Bill Stancil. The ’67 team is considered one of the best in state history and finished 12-0. In ’68, Northside went 10-0-1 and Doug was named to The Associated Press Super Team.
In 2017, Doug was named to the Northside Hall of Honor.
Doug then played at Arkansas State and was named Kodak All-American and second team Associated Press All-American in 1973. He was a 15th round draft pick of the New York Jets.
He was named to the Arkansas State Hall of Honor in 2005.
In 1970, Doug played on the undefeated small college national championship Arkansas State team which was inducted collectively into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
He was named to the Southland Conference Hall of Fame in 2014.
After football, Doug’s passion was softball and he was Mr. Softball in Arkansas in 2000.
Mike played football and baseball growing up, but in a by-gone era before the travel ball era Mike wasn’t playing baseball every weekend but instead was watching his dad and other legends of the game play.
“When I was growing up there was no travel baseball,” Lowery said. “We played during the week and then played All-Stars at the end of the year so every weekend I was at the softball fields.”
Doug also organized teams and sponsored teams through his L&P Laundry company as a business owner for 40 years.
“For somebody that doesn’t know slowpitch softball, it sounds corny but I thought those guys were the greatest players and athletes ever,” Mike said. “Those guys were my heroes growing up.”
Many of those that Doug played with were at Thursday’s banquet, including players off teams like Amigos, Chuck’s Carpet, Fort Smith Merchants, Fort Smith Athletics, Thriftway, Ozark Nursing Home and Boyd Metals. Doug, who was also a state weightlifting champion, stayed active in his later years playing senior softball.
“Being able to see guys that Dad had played with was cool,” Mike said. “With my Dad, he had so many accolades, but for him, it was about being able to see all of the guys he played with and against and hang out and fellowship.”
Doug passed away in January coincidentally one year after Gerald Cross passed away. Cross owned Fliteline Motors and sponsored his softball team that was recognized nationally.
Cross and Doug Lowrey are two of the most influential sports figures in Fort Smith and softball history. Cross was selected to the Arkansas Softball Hall of Fame in 2002.
“There were some of the years that Dad had some of the Fliteline guys playing with him,” Lowery said. “I looked up to him football-wise, but when I started getting into it when I was 22 he said that I was 10 times the softball player that he was so from a softball standpoint, and Dad was good, but what made me think that Dad was a good softball player was because he played with those guys. He played with Dave Frost and Jim Hamilton and Johnny Mason. I thought Dad obviously was good because he’s playing with these guys.”
Mike became influenced by his dad, of course, and was an all-state football player at Southside before playing baseball collegiately at Westark Junior College.
“Football and softball are my two favorite sports that I ever played,” Lowery said. “Even though I played baseball in college, it wasn’t my favorite. I didn’t really love or enjoy the sport of a ball and bat until I started playing slowpitch.”
Mike played competitive men’s softball most recently with Fence Brokers Inc., who has played nationally, was 2006 Arkansas player of the year and 8-time All-Arkansas. He currently is an assistant football coach at Van Buren.
“As far as the inspiration for sports, I loved it starting out,” Mike said. “The reason I got into coaching is kids and being able to help and impact kids and minister to kids and tell kids about Christ like Dad did through FCA. The love of sports through him started me getting interested in sports but as much or more than that was the fact that he was always willing to help other people and be around kids.”