As Leo Durocher used to say about Willie Mays, Lawrence “Spud” Orr “could do it all.”
As an Alamosa High School athlete in 1942, Orr led his football team to an undefeated and unscored upon season. It was Alamosa, 168, opponents, 0. And that was just the beginning. At Adams State College, Orr was a heroic figure in football, basketball and baseball. He skipped collegiate track and field because he had a wife and son to support. Imagine a college athlete today being his school’s number one athlete in three sports as well as an outstanding scholar, working as a daily newspaper distributor, cleaning Alamosa offices, opening a pool hall at 7:00 a.m., and butchering in a meat market on Saturdays, except during football season. Orr did all of these, plus found time during the summer months to coach kids in the Old Timers baseball program.
Orr was nineteen when his family moved from his native Alamosa to Pueblo. He decided to remain in Alamosa and paid Dr. and Mrs. I.S. Jones eight dollars a week for room and board. The money came from the soda jerk job he held during his four years as a high school athlete.
Although Orr played in football’s smaller college ranks, he was named to the small college All-America second team as a halfback. Orr’s Adams State coach, Bill Heiss, who had played for an Illinois Rose Bowl winner said, “If this boy (Orr) had been on one of the so-called ‘big clubs’, he would be getting national attention along with Doak Walker, Charlie Justice and the others in that group.” Orr celebrated the birth of his son on October 18, 1947 by running eighty-five yards from scrimmage for a touchdown against Eastern New Mexico. Following a 20-12 victory over highly ranked Colorado State Teacher’s College, their coach, John Hancock, was asked what happened. His reply was simple and to the point. “We met a boy named Orr.”
The pros were interested in the flashy Orr, but not enough to draw him away from his family responsibilities. He said that present-day professional football might have enticed him to continue his career, but the fledgling National Football League of the war years did not offer enough security or opportunities for Orr to try out.
So, despite signs of interest from the Rams, Giants, Red Sox, Yankees and others, Orr remained in Alamosa to become head baseball coach at Adams State College, as well as assistant coach in football and basketball and later, golf coach and athletic director.
It was a fitting tribute that Orr was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 1978.
Orr passed away in 2005.
Lawrence “Spud” Orr “could do it all.”