Ninety-four-year-old Jimmy Cantrell has been attending Pampa Harvester home football games since 1948.
One Friday night, Meredith Place Executive Director Crystal Arreola really got to know Cantrell before he was a resident.
“I actually met him at a football game,” Arreola said. “I sit on the visitor side and he would come up and down the steps. He’s 94 years old but he is at every home game.”
Arreola started helping Cantrell up and down the stairs. Cantrell lived at home by himself after his wife, Joyce, passed away in 2019, After Cantrell and Arreola met earlier this year, the process started for him to move to the Meredith Place.
“I find it so gratifying that we have such a good staff with such good help, a good atmosphere and good food,” Cantrell said. “What else can you ask in life.”
Cantrell’s Harvester roots run deep through his family, with both children being former Pampa athletes.
“I just try to go and keep going as much as I possible can,” Cantrell said. “I’ve seen all of our great players that come through. Buddy Cockrell, Jimmy Bond and all of the basketball players and all of the all-state basketball teams.
“We had several good football teams in the 1980s. It’s just something for me [to keep my interest in athletics]. I was an athletic guy, I liked to play football (four years in high school, two years in college).”
Cantrell moved to Pampa in 1948 and married Joyce in 1949. He mentioned that most people in Pampa knew him as “Shorty.”
“I don’t have any problems with it because I’m short,” Cantrell said. “But most everybody knows me as Shorty.”
Arreola joked that she had seen him at football games before they met and thought “This is just the cutest little man, out here at football games this late.”
Cantrell doesn’t let his age or physical limitations keep him from enjoying life. He will still hit the links when he feels up to it.
“I even still play golf like I am tomorrow,” Cantrell said. “I belong to Pampa Country Club and Hidden Hills. I’ve played at Amarillo, Perryton, etc. You name it, I’ve played it in this part of the country.”
Cantrell’s competitive edge doesn’t just end at the basketball court or the football field. He even has a certain avian niche he enjoyed.
“I had homing pigeons,” Cantrell said. “I raced them for 38 years. I had several that flew from Houston to Pampa in 10 hours and 35 minutes. Which is impossible to think about with a little pigeon. But they aren’t like the ones here in Pampa. They are bred different.”
Arreola, whose oldest Isaih played on varsity this year, saw Cantrell’s loyalty to the Harvesters and wanted to get him a ball signed by the team. So she got in touch with Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Cody Robinson.
“I talked to Coach Rob and he delivered it the day of the football party,” Arreola said. “They (the team) got to meet him and played Bingo with him (a couple of months ago). He got to tell his football stories.”
Arreola is very appreciative of Robinson and the work of the Harvester football team for the gift.
“None of this would have been possible if not for Coach Rob,” Arreola said.
Cantrell said the event was one of the most exciting things he was able to do and said when he received the signed ball, he was emotional.
His favorite memory from attending home games this year?
“Watching them [win home games],” Cantrell said.
Cantrell and Joyce were married for 70 years, one month and five days before her passing in 2019. They had two children, Randy Cantrell (his wife, Norma, passed in 2019) and LeeAnn Ammons (husband Dale). He has two grandchildren, Leslie and Lindsey. He has four great-grandchildren.
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