Book to span 50-year Red Head history

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
"Big Red" broke down in St. Louis in 1975 but help arrived. (photo provided)

Town Crier News Staff

"Just Out of Sight," the true story of The All American Red Heads, told by the former coach/owner Orwell Moore of Caraway, will go to print this month and should be ready to purchase by June 1. The book should come out just in time for the All American Red Heads' reunion scheduled for June 13-14 in Jonesboro.

The story spans a 50 year history, 1936-1986, of women who loved the game of basketball and made history playing over 15,000 games, winning 12,750.

"It is a most amazing story of outstanding women," Coach Moore said. "Truth is stronger than fiction. The Red Heads' influence played a role in the advancement of women's athletics and is evident today. They were the first women's team to play five-man, full court basketball by men's rules against men's teams."

Mr. Moore was coaching high school girls' basketball at Cotter High School when he took his team to see the "Famous Red Heads." The team originated at Cassville, Mo., in 1936, under the direction of founders C.M. Olson and Mrs. Doyle Olson.

Coach Moore started coaching the Red Heads' team in the late 1940s. His wife, Lorene "Butch" Moore, was on the team.

"We always had an understanding," Mr. Moore said. "She never expected to get special treatment, she was one of the team. She never tried to coach the other girls or take advantage in any way. She retired from the team in 1969 but still filled in occasionally when she was needed."

The Moore's became owners/managers of the All American Red Heads in 1955. They moved the headquarters to Caraway and began an outstanding 30 year journey taking them coast to coast and farther.

"Back then the owners' job included booking, recruiting, publicity, setting up plays, coaching, driver, trainer and anything else needed," Coach Moore said. "We sent out booking notices in the days when a stamp was three cents. I can remember sending out 700 notices in one day."

Moore said they played on a lot of military basis, filled a lot of college stadiums and high school gymnasiums.

"One of the largest crowds we played for was a preliminary game at the Chicago Stadium with over 17,000 people," Moore said. "We played coast to coast and as far away as Alaska. We set the tone for playing. We had to overcome a lot of myths about women athletes. We had wonderful girls on the teams throughout the years. We were like a big family."

Mr. Moore has no problem remembering the players, their names, and their hometowns.

He is proud of the legacy left by the All American Red Heads. There is a display of the All American Red Heads at the Women's Professional Basketball Hall of Fame and Museum in Knoxville, Ky.

Through the years Moore and his basketball teams were featured in television appearances such as What's My Line, Art Linkletter, To Tell the Truth, and the Ed Sullivan Show. They traveled over 2.5 million miles by car, bus, ship, train and air to entertain crowds with their basketball skills and showmanship.

The last team of the All American Red Heads was the 1985-86 team who played for fundraisers.

There will be an All American Red Head Reunion on July 13-14 at the Holiday Inn on Caraway Road in Jonesboro. The reunions are planned by the Red Head alumni organization. Mr. Moore said they try to find as many players as possible and look forward to the reunions.

"We will have people there from as far away as California and Maine," Coach Moore said. "There may be players still in the area or family members who can help us locate former players who have moved away."

Mr. Moore is looking forward to the reunion. He said there will be some great keynote speakers there.

For more information on the reunion, persons may contact Coach Moore at (870) 482-3922.

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