In Sapulpa, the murder of beloved football coach Jerry Bailey was never really talked about, fueling rumors, speculation and unanswered questions. Now, over 40 years later, those questions can be answered.
The true story of the murder of Jerry Bailey guides the reader through the murder, investigation, trial, and how two small Oklahoma towns tried to cope with the gruesome death of their coach.
Sand Springs Leader Managing Editor (and Sapulpa Times contributor) Kirk McCracken wrote the book “Because of the Hate” starting in 2003 and it’s taken around 14 years to finish. It was released on Amazon.com in paperback and ebook, Friday, Jan. 15, 2018.
Jerry Bailey had just resigned as Sapulpa’s head football coach after the 1975 season, and he was looking forward to moving on. On Thursday, Jan. 22, Jerry Bailey and his assistant coach Paul Reagor Jr. were seen leaving together before first hour and they were never seen at Sapulpa High School again.
After bloody papers with Jerry Bailey’s name on them were found in Bixby, his wife, Beverly, and their children, Guy and Diedra, were sent for and taken home to wait for Jerry Bailey to return, but the school administration felt something was wrong.
After an exhaustive search all day and during the night, the two coaches were found the next afternoon in Bixby at an abandoned farmhouse. Reagor was found dazed and near comatose in the farmhouse, and Bailey was found dead in the trunk of Reagor’s car. He had been stabbed 22 times, and Reagor was arrested for the crime.
After numerous stints in mental health facilities, Reagor was ordered to stand
trial and eventually convicted of second degree murder with a sentence of 10 years to life. However, Reagor never served a day of his sentence and was able to walk the streets until his death.
“I grew up in Sapulpa and graduated in 1992. I had always wondered what really happened, but I had only heard rumors and most of them were untrue. Actually, they were just wrong,” McCracken said. “I also wanted to honor Jerry Bailey and his memory. He touched so many lives and didn’t see race or color during a difficult time in Sapulpa. His story is also about football and he used the sport as a tool to bring young men together, teaching them how to handle life, accomplishments and failure. He was also a great teacher in the classroom. Beverly Bailey, his wife, was my Geometry teacher and is one of my all-time favorite teachers. And I hate math.”
Jerry Bailey was also the head coach at Nowata in 1970, and that Ironmen team did something very special that season.
“My family is from Nowata and my cousin, Dee Paige, was the starting quarterback on that Nowata team. I’ve heard my whole life how great that team was and how great their coach was,” McCracken said.
About the Author
Kirk McCracken has been a journalist for 17 years, starting in 2001 at the Sapulpa Daily Herald as the sports editor. He then went to work at the Mannford Eagle in 2008 as a managing editor and was hired as the sports editor for the Sand Springs Leader in 2010. McCracken was promoted to managing editor of the Leader in 2013.
McCracken is an Oklahoma Press Association and Associated Press multi award-winning journalist.
He was born in Bartlesville, Okla. in 1974 and his family lived in Nowata until moving to Sand Springs several years later. In 1980, his parents moved the family to Sapulpa, where they live to this day. McCracken graduated from Sapulpa in 1992, playing soccer and football for the Chieftains. He attended Northeastern State University, OSU Okmulgee and Tulsa Community College.
McCracken has been married to Celeste McCracken for 23 years and they have two children, Gabrielle, 22, and Paige, 20.