Former Tribune-Herald sports editor Dave Campbell has always been a humble man, so it’s no surprise that he was taken aback when he learned he would be honored with the Lamar Hunt Lifetime Achievement Award.
Campbell and his wife, Reba, will be recognized at a black-tie gala Monday night at 7 at the Brazos Ballroom at the Waco Convention Center.
“I never expected anything like this,” Campbell said. “It’s a great honor. I’ve been involved with the Texas Sports Hall of Fame for a long time, and I’m really going to cherish it.”
Campbell is widely known as the founder of Texas Football Magazine, which he started in 1960 and is still popular today. Locally, he served as Tribune-Herald sports editor from 1953-93 before editing the Baylor Bear Insider.
Perhaps less known are his contributions to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. When the hall relocated to Waco in 1993, Campbell was one of the prime movers behind it.
Campbell recalls being involved with the hall of fame back in the 1950s.
“I was first associated with presenting things on behalf of the hall of fame,” Campbell said. “I was president of the Texas Sportswriters Association, and I went to Dallas and presented an award to Bobby Morrow after he won the Olympics, and I gave a trophy to (Texas A&M coach) Bear Bryant.”
In 1981, Lamar Hunt opened the Texas Sports Hall of Fame to the public in Grand Prairie. But logistical problems contributed to the hall closing just five years later.
“Lamar built a very nice building near the turnpike close to Arlington,” Campbell said. “That would have worked out fine except the toll road didn’t go directly to the hall of fame. You had to go a back country way to get there and people didn’t want to do that, and it didn’t work out.”
For the next few years, the hall of fame was in search of a new home. Campbell talked to former Waco city manager David Smith about relocating to Waco, and they formulated a plan.
“David and his wife went up to the old sports hall of fame and looked it over and wanted to see what it was like,” Campbell said. “He came back and persuaded the city commissioner to offer the Texas Sports Hall of Fame a million dollars if they would build it here.”
Campbell recalls Hunt looking at the Brazos River and realizing that it would be a perfect spot to build the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
On April 16, 1993, it came to fruition with its grand opening. Not only was memorabilia transported from Grand Prairie, the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame and Texas Tennis Hall of Fame were included in the building since they were already in Waco.
“The move to Waco was a good one,” said former Associated Press Texas sports editor Denne Freeman. “Lamar Hunt tried so hard to make it a go in Dallas. It was great to bring it to Waco where people have had a lot of enthusiasm for it. For Dave to get the Lamar Hunt award is perfect because he’s one of the people who was there when it all started. He’s taken what Lamar envisioned and helped keep it alive with the move here.”
Campbell believes Smith should be honored by the Texas Sports Hall of Fame for his part in bringing it to Waco. Smith, who served as Waco city manager from 1971-87, died last year.
“I really thought David Smith was the head man on this, and he should be the one to get this honor,” Campbell said. “David is the main reason we’re here.”
The Hall of Fame saw an extensive expansion in 2010 that included a new banquet hall, the Health, Fitness and Education Center and a major section representing the history of the Southwest Conference.
There’s even a room dedicated to Campbell that includes a red-haired mannequin of him writing on an old typewriter.
“But I never had red hair,” Campbell laughed.
Campbell served as chairman for the selection committee for Texas Sports Hall of Fame inductees for many years before handing it over to Freeman. Campbell still serves on the selection committee.
“People respect the Texas Sports Hall of Fame,” Freeman said. “Our selection process is upright and honest and Dave is one of the reasons for that. There’s always a lot of give and take, and Dave is always the voice of reason. He’s truly an icon. Dave is recognized nationally. When I’d go to sporting events outside of Texas they’d want to know how Dave is doing down in Waco. His reach is from coast to coast.”
Campbell joins past Lamar Hunt Lifetime Achievement Award recipients that include former San Antonio Spurs owner Red McCombs, former Dallas Mavericks owner Donald Carter and former Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane.
“Any time you mention Dave’s name to anybody, you hear such admiration and praise for the work he’s done,” said Jared Mosley, Texas Sports Hall of Fame president. “He’s had a tremendous impact on sports in Texas. This is a great opportunity to show our love and appreciation to the Campbells for the ways they’ve impacted Waco. Certainly to have them right here is a true blessing.”