The 1952 Dallas Texans: Definitely NOT America’s Team
by Paula Bosse
by Paula Bosse
The “Dallas Texans” was the name of two different short-lived professional football teams representing doesn’t-like-to-lose Dallas, Texas. One played in the NFL (1952), the other played in the AFL (1960-1962). The ’60s team won the AFC championship. The ’50s team … oh dear.
That 1950s team already had a checkered past before it got to Dallas in 1952. In 1944, the team was founded as the Boston Yanks. It moved to New York in 1949, becoming the New York Bulldogs. In 1950 the name was changed to the New York Yanks. By 1951, the franchise was in financial trouble and was put up for sale.
Young Dallas “textile tycoon” Giles Miller — a native Dallasite who was “the great-grandson of a pioneer Texan who was wagon-master for Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto” (Dallas Morning News, Jan. 21, 1952) — bought the franchise (and took on a heavy debt incurred by the original owner to repay the New York Yankees for rental of their stadium — see below) for $300,000 (three million dollars in today’s money).
Giles Miller, 1952
People went crazy. The team (which was initially going to be called the Texas Rangers) was the first professional football team in Texas. I think it was the first professional SPORTS team in Texas. There was much rejoicing.
The team would play in the Cotton Bowl. Their colors would be royal blue, silver, and white (…hmm, sounds familiar…).
Their “traveling clothing” would be, for some reason, western wear. “When the team goes on the road, it will be decked out in typical western dress — cowboy boots, 10-gallon hats and other gear typical of the cow country. At least that’s the aim of the stockholders at this time” (DMN, Jan. 31, 1952). (See the shirts here.)
And they had a flashy logo.
Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to have been as much attention directed to the players. Even though there were a few new players brought in (including local boy Jack Adkisson, better known later by his wrestling name, Fritz von Erich), the team was basically the same one inherited from the failed New York team (including three black players, which caused a lot of questions about whether they would be retained by Dallas — they were).
So how’d that first season go? They played 12 games. They won one. Attendance started out sparse, and it only got sparser. The team quickly went bankrupt. Giles Miller tried to get financial help from the city and from fellow wealthy businessmen, but after the seventh game, Miller “returned” the team to the NFL. I didn’t know you could do that — like a dog owner who had happily adopted a German Shepherd without having researched how much it would cost for its upkeep, then after realizing he couldn’t afford it and being unable to find anyone else who would be able to take him in, he had to return him to the shelter. The remainder of the season had a homeless team (still called the “Dallas Texans”) traveling to various cities until the season mercifully ended. The Dallas Texans were, somewhat ignominiously, the last NFL team to fold.
The team eventually became the Baltimore Colts. Sort of. From the Wikipedia entry:
The NFL was unable to find a buyer for the Texans, and folded the team after the season. A few months later, the NFL granted a new franchise to a Baltimore-based group headed by Carroll Rosenbloom, and awarded it the remaining assets (including the players) of the failed Texans operation. Rosenbloom named his new team the Baltimore Colts. For all intents and purposes, Rosenbloom bought the Texans and moved them to Baltimore. However, the Colts (now based in Indianapolis) do not claim the history of the Yanks/Bulldogs/Yanks/Texans as their own, in spite of the fact that the Colts 1953 roster included many of the 1952 Texans. Likewise, the NFL reckons the Colts as a 1953 expansion team.
Dallas didn’t have a professional football team again until 1960. And then it got TWO. Clint Murchison gave us the Dallas Cowboys (my sports knowledge is obviously pretty paltry, because I’d never heard how Murchison got the NFL franchise until I read the story about his pretty amusing feud with the Washington Redskins owner), and Lamar Hunt created the AFL and gave us … the Dallas Texans. Mach Two. They wore red, white, and yellow and actually won a few games. Someone even created a weird little nickname for them: “The Zing Team of Pro Football.” The Zing Team lasted for three seasons before becoming the Kansas City Chiefs.
Sources & Notes
1952 pennant and 1960s sticker from eBay.
“Zing” image from Twitter user @ToddRadom.
A couple of interesting articles from The Dallas Morning News archives:
- “The Sports Scene” by Bill Rives” (DMN, Jan. 31, 1952). Rives shared with his readers several instances of Texas stereotypes showing up in national stories about the city’s new acquisition.
- “The Inside Story” by Charles Burton (DMN, Jan. 18, 1953). A bitter article on the 1952 team going to Baltimore. Columnist Charles Burton felt that Dallas was “railroaded” and that there were some suspicious backroom dealings going on having to do with the big Yankee Stadium debt Giles Miller took on when he bought the team.
Click pictures and clippings for larger images.
Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.