PRAIRIE GROVE -- The barber shop has become an icon of American culture serving as a gathering place where conversation happens.
On Friday, Dec. 7, 2018, Eddie McClelland, who barbered locally known as "Fast Eddie" for 48 years, found himself in the chair. The scenario featured a bit of role reversal as McClelland was inducted into the Prairie Grove Athletic Hall of Pride.
The moniker, "Fast Eddie," generally attributes to a man of some reputation including athletic exploits.
Wayne Carnahan, Prairie Grove Class of 1966, who played high school sports with McCelland, relates eye-witness accounts of McCelland's feats in high school which eventually led him to play professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Carnahan played catcher with McCelland pitching. Carnahan recalls having to be prepared with corresponding action when "Fast Eddie" saw a double steal on and intercepted throws from the backstop to second trying to pick a runner off. "Fast Eddie" knew picking off the runner at home was more important.
"If somebody was trying to steal second base and there was a third base runner, he was so quick that if they went to steal and I was going to throw them out, the guy on third base headed for home McClelland would reach out and catch the ball he (was) so quick-handed and throw it right back to me," Carnahan said. "We had him out coming to home plate."
Opponents never anticipated the move and it cost them an out.
"Fast Eddie" could hit, too. Carnahan remembers there was one pitch "Fast Eddie" consistently hit for a home run.
"Don't ever throw Eddie McClelland a fast-ball, he'd knock it out of the park on you," Carnahan said. "The guy was just good."
Carnahan recalls Justin Daniels tried and failed to get a fast-ball past "Fast Eddie."
"The first home run I can ever remember him hitting was we were playing up at Fayetteville at the city park and he put a line drive over the field into the Fayetteville swimming pool," Carnahan said. "Justin Daniels throwed him a fast ball and Eddie slammed 'er out of the park."
Spectacular Football End
Carnahan and his older brother, Don Carnahan (Prairie Grove Class of 1963), now a retired coach at Russellville; played quarterback. "Fast Eddie" made their job of completing a forward pass easier demonstrating pass-catching skills.
"He, 'Fast Eddie,' was an end," Carnahan said. "We were both fortunate to get to throw footballs to him."
One highlight stands out from the last game of the season with Prairie Grove taking on Fayetteville High School in football.
"With Tony Macks throwing him a pass then McClelland reached back between his legs running and caught the football, then fell into the end zone for a touchdown," Carnahan said.
Sensational Basketball Score
"Fast Eddie" rose to the occasion on the road against Elkins displaying ambidextrous handiwork in a basketball game.
"At the end of the half they throwed the ball down on a fast-break and it was off and Eddie run over and jumped, he was out-of-bounds in the air, caught the ball with his left hand, and fished it back. It was all net. Nobody could knowed anything about it. That was just part of Eddie. He made everything look easy. He had a lot of natural ability."
Carnahan ranks McClelland as one of the top five athletes in Prairie Grove history.
Sense Of Community
McClelland appreciates the sense of community Prairie Grove embodies going back to his high school days.
"It's a family, small school back in those years, we all just done well," McClelland said.
Excelling athletically just seemed to happen for "Fast Eddie."
"It had to be natural. It made it easier for me than a lot of people that didn't have that same attribute, just good at doing something once in awhile without trying too hard. When you try hard it gets better," McClelland said.
McClelland said his coaches at Prairie Grove recognized his natural talents and put him in position to succeed.
"Basketball and baseball and football, all of it, I liked to play ball," McClelland said. "Coach Deals was one of the toughest dudes I've ever seen, and then Hawkins was another that was pretty good. Those two probably I have more memories of. Back then one coach in the school coached about everything, basketball, baseball, football, whatever, track. Small schools back then."Sports on 01/02/2019
Print Headline: 'Fast Eddie' Reputation Well-Deserved