Cliff Shaw

Image Clifford Houston Shaw , born July 21st, 1906 in Hamlet, AR1 was a professional baseball player from 1927-1934 and a minor league baseball executive in 1934. He was best known for his work as a football official.


Cliff was the tenth of eleven children born to William Sherman Shaw and Mary Jane Crosby. When Cliff Shaw was only 4, his father died2 . He mother remarried and the family moved to Little Rock, AR. He attended Little Rock Central High School where he lettered in four sports3 and was captain of the football team4 .

In 1927, Shaw signed with the Little Rock Travelers. That fall, he entered the University of Arkansas5 . However, because he was a professional athlete, Shaw was ineligible to play athletics at the university. Instead, Shaw began officiating local football and basketball games on both the collegiate and high school level. He became well-known in this role and was soon labeled "northwest Arkansas' premier official"6 . He was also an assistant football coach from 1930-1931 (the university did not field a baseball team at the time)7 .

Shaw continued playing baseball during the summer when not in school. He returned to the Little Rock Travelers in 1928 before spending three seasons in the class D Cotton States League from 1929-1931. In 1932, Shaw played with the Mobile Red Warriors8 . However, Shaw's baseball career was interrupted in early February, 1933 when he was forced to undergo a major operation due to appendicitis9 . The operation kept him from playing baseball that summer10 .

Meanwhile, Shaw had been hired to coach at University High School in Fayetteville, AR in late 193211 . He continued in this position until he was hired to become the Director of Athletics at Harrison, AR High School in the spring of 193412 (10). That spring proved to be a busy one for Shaw. During this time, Shaw also helped organize the newly formed Arkansas State League and was subsequently named president of the Fayetteville entry into the league. Furthermore still, Shaw assumed a rare player-president role in June when he began at third base for Fayetteville13 . However, this all proved to be too much for Shaw, and as a result, he stepped down from his position as president in July14 . He also gave up his third base position when he realized the effects of his operation kept him from playing harder, ending his professional baseball career.

Shaw coached at Harrison until May, 1937 when he resigned. While at Harrison, Shaw led the high school basketball team to a combined 96-9 record and the football team to a combined 23-9 record. Shaw took a job with the Central States Life Insurance company back in Little Rock15 , and later became an executive at Coleman Dairy1 .

Shaw remained highly involved in athletics and continued to officiate football and basketball games. He become the president of the Arkansas Officials Association16 and became so well respected that he was chosen to officiate in numerous major sporting events, including the 1952, 1954, and 1956 Cotton Bowls17 18 19 . During the 1954 game, Shaw awarded Rice a touchdown after Alabama player Tommy Lewis tackled Rice running back Dicky Moegle off the bench. Shaw is best remember for this decision, and the call was adopted as the official ruling for such a play the following year20 .

The list of Shaw's accomplishments continued to grow in the years to come. From 1954-1964, he co-hosted a Southwest Conference highlight show on KARK 4. In 1956, Shaw was elected the commissioner of the Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference21 . He served in that roll until 1962 when he took on an advisory position within the conference22 . As a referee, he continued to officiate games until March, 1967 when he retired23 . Even then, however, Shaw was unable to fully leave athletics. An avid golfer, he was a regular at golf courses around the state for many years.

As one of Arkansas's most respected individuals, he received numerous honors. The Cliff Shaw Scholar-Athlete Award, given to the top athlete with the highest cumulative GPA and at least two letters in intercollegiate athletics, became an annual award in the AIC24 . In 1981, Shaw was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and in 1996, the Arkansas High School Coaches Association/Arkansas Officials Association Hall of Fame25 .

Shaw lived in Little Rock the rest of his life. He died there on January 21st, 1998 at the age of 9126 . He was buried in New Liberty Cemetery near his birthplace in Faulkner County, AR. See Cliff Shaw Gravesite.


1927-1931 Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.

1932 Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com

1934 Statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.

1 Arkansas Demacrat Gazette, 1/25/1998
3 Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame
4 Times-Picayune, 11/12/1926
5 Fayetteville Daily Democrat, 9/27/1927
6 Fayetteville Daily Democrat, 11/23/1929
7 1930 and 1931 University of Arkansas Yearbooks
8 Fayetteville Daily Democrat, 4/22/1932
9 Fayetteville Daily Democrat, 2/3/1933
10 Fayetteville Daily Democrat, 5/10/1934
11 Fayetteville Daily Democrat, 12/3/1932
12 Fayetteville Daily Democrat, 5/10/1934
13 Fayetteville Daily Democrat, 6/4/1934
14 Fayetteville Daily Democrat, 7/9/1934
15 Harrison Daily Times, 5/24/1937
16 Blytheville Courier News, 11/18/1950
17 Springfield Union, 12/16/1951
18 Dallas Morning News, 12/20/1953
19 The Camden News, 12/13/1955
20 Arkansas Demacrat Gazette, 1/23/1998
21 Blytheville Courier News, 9/03/1956
22 Northwest Arkansas Times, 4/19/1971
23 Blytheville Courier News, 3/20/1967
24 Northwest Arkansas Times, 6/20/1974
25 Arkansas Demacrat Gazette, 1/23/1998
26 Arkansas Demacrat Gazette, 1/25/1998