Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: Sports

A Flooded Sportatorium — 1945

Boys gotta do what boys gotta do… (photo: Squire Haskins/UTA Libraries)

by Paula Bosse

Imagine it has flooded around the Sportatorium: what would you expect seven boys and their dog to do? Well, here they are doing about what you’d expect. (The image above is a detail from the photo below, by Squire Haskins — see this photo really big on the UTA website here.)


Another photo, this one with a Huck-Finn-meets-Iwo-Jima-Memorial vibe (full-size on the UTA site here):


My closer-up detail (click to see larger image):


Another view (original full-size image here):


Closer up, with a Grand Prize Beer billboard, cars (on Industrial?), and a sign for the next-door Plantation nightspot:


No wrasslin’ tonight, y’all.


Sources & Notes

All photos by Squire Haskins, from the University of Texas at Arlington Libraries, Special Collections. More info can be found on the first photo here, the second photo here, and the last photo here.

The photos in the UTA collection are undated, but a photograph of these same boys and dog on their raft appeared in The Dallas Morning News on April 5, 1945, along with a whimsical article titled “Pint-Size Warriors Fight Battle of Trinity, Prove Stormiest Rain Cloud Has Silver Lining.” A few pages away there were several aerial photos showing the major flooding which had submerged large portions of the area around the Sportatorium and Corinth Street viaduct.

The Sportatorium was located at 1000 S. Industrial (now Riverfront), at Cadiz (see map here). Maybe a little too close to the Trinity….


Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved

Dallas Football Through the Decades

football_tom-landry_cowboys_texas-stadium-under-construction_UTA_051671Tom Landry, Texas Stadium, 1971… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Here are a few football-centric Dallas images to enjoy on this football-centric day.

Above, Dallas Cowboys’ coach Tom Landry in 1971, surveying with wonderment the then-under-construction Texas Stadium (via UTA Special Collections).

1905: Early days of local football. In 1905 there were hopes of getting up a “heavyweight team.” Prospects were iffy. (All images are larger when clicked.)

Dallas Morning News, Sept. 3, 1905

This was at a time when football injuries — and DEATH — were not uncommon.

DMN, Oct. 13, 1905

1911: The Dallas High School team at Gaston Park (a popular sporting field which is now the site of the Dallas Music Hall at Fair Park). This photo was taken on December 16, 1911 — that day they defeated Fort Worth High, 15-5.

football_dallas-high-school_gaston-park_1911_cook-collection_degolyer-library_SMUGeorge W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

1918: The Love Field eleven was made up of military personnel based at the airfield during World War I. They played other military teams in the area, venturing as far as at least Waco.

George W. Cook Collection, DeGolyer Library, SMU

1920s: The “State Fair of Texas” stadium predated the Cotton Bowl. This aerial photo shows what was probably the University of Texas vs. Vanderbilt game, which took place on Oct. 13, 1928 during the State Fair of Texas. (Vanderbilt won, 13-12.)

From “Dallas As a City In Which To Live” booklet, SMU

1920s: The SMU Mustangs took on the University of Missouri Tigers at Ownby Stadium.

From “Dallas As a City In Which To Live” booklet, SMU

1932: Speaking of the SMU Mustangs, then-local sports superstar (and Olympics medalist) Babe Didrikson — who was proficient in every single sport she tried — was given the opportunity by SMU coach Ray Morrison to give football the old college try: he coached her in passing and receiving and even allowed her to suit up in an official uniform. She tried out her football moves for the pubic during a scrimmage in Ownby Stadium on September 18, 1932.

One of the most interesting features of the program from a football fan’s standpoint was demonstration of several of the Ponies’ famous scoring plays, in fast and slow motion. Babe Didrikson, Dallas’ famous feminine athlete, took part in the slow motion exercises and proved herself somewhat of a polished gridder — adding more fame to her long list of athletic achievements. (DMN, Sept. 18, 1932)

didrikson-babe_football-SMU_boston-globe_092332        didrikson-babe_football-SMU_pottsville-PA-republican-and-herald_092832
Boston Globe, 9/23/32; Pottsville [PA] Republican, 9/28/32

1933: The stadium which would eventually be named the Cotton Bowl looks a little otherworldly in this Lloyd M. Long aerial photo.

Edwin J. Foscue Map Library, SMU

1940s: Dal-Hi Stadium (later P. C. Cobb Stadium) was the home field for six Dallas high schools.



In December, 1949, Dal-Hi served as the practice field for the University of North Carolina team while in Dallas for the January 2, 1950 Cotton Bowl match against Rice University (which Rice won, 27-13). I like this snapshot — downtown looms like a ghost in the background.

dal-hi-stadium_cobb-stadium_uc-practice-for-cotton-bowl_dec-1949via “Dismal Day in Dallas”

1950s: Dallas had a pro team before the Cowboys — the Dallas Texans. Here’s their ticket office, at 1721 McKinney Avenue. (From the article “Gone and Forgotten, The Dallas Texans of 1952” by Thomas H. Smith, from the Spring, 2005 issue of Legacies.)

via Legacies

1950s/1960s: Dallas high school football coaches who were all connected at one point (either as players or coaches) with Booker T. Washington High School: the legendary Raymond Hollie (head coach at both Booker T. and Roosevelt), Marion “Jap” Jones, and Sam Briscoe.

John Leslie Patton Papers, Dallas Historical Society

1960s: A quaint Dallas Cowboys locker room.

via Pinterest

1981: In the tradition of other comic-book heroes appearing in Dallas to save whatever needed saving (here and here), Spider-Man and the Hulk stopped by to help with some football-related issue. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders appear to have been involved.



Copyright © 2019 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

“Pickle Brine Ryan” — 1968

baseball_nolan-ryan_pickle-juice_1968_corbisBrining the blisters away….

by Paula Bosse

I give you a 21-year-old Nolan Ryan soaking his pitching finger in pickle juice. As one does.

Years before the future Baseball Hall of Famer made it to DFW, young Nolan was the star pitcher of the New York Mets. He was prone to blisters on the middle finger of his pitching hand, so Mets trainer Gus Mauch put him on a strict pickle juice regimen of soaking the affected finger between innings to toughen the skin and prevent blisters from popping up at inopportune moments. And, of course, this weird pickle juice thing became really big news in May, 1968. Sportswriters jumped all over it, and a few began calling him “Pickle Brine Ryan,” because it sort of rhymes.

The delicatessen where Ryan’s pickle juice of choice was purchased tried to cash in on what they hoped would become a fad by placing jars of the brine in the window with a sign proudly proclaiming that they were the source of the famous “Mets’ Pitching Juice.” According to a UPI story, when another pickle company offered the Mets five gallons of their pickle juice, trainer Mauch responded, “Gosh, you could embalm a whole swimming team with five gallons!”

And the rest, as they say, is history.



Photo ©Bettmann/CORBIS, from May 6, 1968; it appeared in newspapers with the following caption:

While teammates relax before a game, using anything handy for a pillow, New York Mets’ pitcher Nolan Ryan (left) soaks his pitching fingers in pickle juice. That’s right — pickle juice! Ryan says the juice toughens his fingers so that he doesn’t get blisters.

I wonder if he kept it up? By the time he got back home to Texas and signed with the Rangers, I’d love to know that he upped his brine game by using pickled jalapeño juice.

An earlier Nolan Ryan-related Flashback Dallas post — “Nolan Ryan’s Celebratory Pancake Breakfast — 1972” — is here.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

The Dallas Clippers: Early Dallas Baseball


by Paula Bosse

The Dallas Clippers were one of the city’s earliest baseball teams — their games were covered in local papers as early as 1888, and they appear to have played through at least 1905.

I’m not sure what’s going on in this photo. Tryouts? Practice? The stances are interesting — the way they’re holding their gloves (especially the catcher) — the gloves themselves. Cool photo. Here are a few details, a little closer up.




Those gloves are interesting — similar styles can be seen in the Wikipedia entry, here.



Many early baseball games in Dallas were played at the “base ball park” located in Oak Cliff Park (the park now known as Marsalis Park). A fantastic article on early sports in Dallas (“Gradual Development of the Scope and Popularity of Sports in Texas” — no byline — Dallas Morning News, Oct. 1, 1910) can be read here.)

Dallas Morning News, Jan. 28, 1888

DMN, Feb. 3, 1888

June, 1888

And this interesting little bit of early sports reportage appeared in the pages of the Dallas Herald in 1884, covering both black and white teams:

Dallas Herald, Aug. 26, 1884


Sources & Notes

Photo “Dallas Clippers Baseball Team” from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Central University Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more information on this photo is here.

Click pictures to see larger images.


Copyright © 2017 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved

Thanksgiving, 1891: The First Turkey-Day Football Game in Dallas


by Paula Bosse

Thanksgiving is a holiday known for eating until you’re full as a tick and football — the highlight for many is the traditional Dallas Cowboys game. But when was the very first Thanksgiving Day football game played in Dallas? 125 years ago — in 1891. It was played on November 26, 1891 in Oak Cliff (…which wasn’t strictly part of Dallas at the time, but… yeah, 1891). The game was between teams from Dallas and Fort Worth, teams which had been organized only a few months previously. The sport of “rugby football” had been gaining popularity around the United States, particularly as a college sport. One of the biggest games of the young sport was the university game played on Thanksgiving Day. In 1891, the Yale-Princeton Thanksgiving game was played in New York before thousands and thousands of spectators. Yale won that year, 19-0 (see the exciting illustration below in which helmets for players are non-existent, but a man who appears to be the referee is wearing a stylish bowler hat). (Click for larger image.)


This Ivy League game was almost more of a society event than a sporting event. To get a feel for the atmosphere of these university games, read this really great contemporary article — “The Man of Fashion, We Observe Thanksgiving Day with Great Eclat” by Albert Edward Tyrrell — on the fashions and behavior of these generally well-heeled crowds (it also contains an interesting look at how Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1891, by the swells as well as the non-swells). My favorite piece of minutiae was that young ladies were not above sneaking flasks of liquor into games, hidden in their fashionable hand-warmers. I give you “the loaded muff”:


But I digress. However much those early Texas football enthusiasts might have hoped for similar large, flask-sipping crowds, the first Thanksgiving football game held in Dallas (and possibly in Texas) attracted a smaller crowd of hundreds rather than thousands (including “about 100 ladies”). Though the crowd was miniscule compared to the one up in New York that day, it did not lack in boisterousness and excited appreciation.

Dallas Morning News, Nov. 25, 1891

Dallas and Fort Worth had met twice before their matchup in Oak Cliff — both times with Dallas emerging victorious, and … not to be too anti-climactic, but the big inaugural Thanksgiving Day game on November 26, 1891 resulted in another Dallas win (24-11). (This shouldn’t be too surprising, seeing as the overwhelming majority of the players on the Dallas team of 15 grew up playing rugby in rugby-playing countries: 7 were British and 5 were Canadian —  only 3 were native-born Americans. Still. Whatever it takes.) (The dullish play-by-play of the game can be read  below.)

So what else was going on in Dallas in the Thanksgiving season of 1891? Here are a few morsels.

Men might have contemplated getting a new $12.50 suit from M. Benedikt & Co. (a suit which would cost about $335.00 today) — especially after seeing this eye-catching Uncle-Sam-riding-a-(scrawny)-turkey ad. (Click pictures to see larger images.)

DMN, Nov. 21, 1891

Ladies were kept up-to-date on the millinery, dress, and hairstyle fashions of the season by reading newspaper articles such as “What Is Really Worn, The Fashions That Find Favor at Thanksgiving” (which can be read here).

DMN, Nov. 22, 1891

And stores that sold cookware, bakeware, and china took out ads to inform Dallasites that they really needed some new items in order to properly prepare for the big day — one’s guests shouldn’t be forced to be served a feast from tacky serving dishes or eat from chipped plates.

DMN, Nov. 25, 1891

If one wasn’t spending Thanksgiving Day attending one of the city’s many church services, feeding the children at the Buckner Orphans Home, feeding one’s guests and one’s family, visiting friends, or trekking over to Oak Cliff to see that football game, he or she might have considered attending a matinee at the Dallas Opera House — Maude Granger (“The Peerless Emotional Actress”) was back in town and raring to emote.

DMN, Nov. 24, 1891

Almost everyone had the day off from work, but, oddly enough, most postal workers had to work at least part of the day. Neither rain nor sleet nor tender turkey breasts and cranberry sauce stayed those couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, I guess.

DMN, Nov. 25, 1891

At least no one was dreading/eagerly anticipating Black Friday back in ’91.


Back to football. First, a friendly D-FW practice run before the Big Game.

DMN, Nov. 14, 1891

The pre-game article.

DMN, Nov. 25, 1891

The post-game article.

DMN, Nov. 27, 1891

And an article from a proud Canadian newspaper, boasting of the number of Queen Victoria’s faithful subjects playing for the Dallas team.

The Manitoba Free Press, Dec. 11, 1891


Sources & Notes

Thanksgiving card found on Pinterest.

Illustration of the 1891 Yale-Princeton game is from the Lost Century of Sports website, here. (I’m not really a sports fan, but if I were, this website of 19th-century sports might be one of my favorites!)

For more on how Thanksgiving finally came to be celebrated in Texas in 1874 (it took a long time for the Southern states to agree to celebrate what many thought was a “Yankee abolitionist holiday”), see my post “Encouraging Dallasites to Observe Thanksgiving — 1874,” here.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Most pictures and clippings larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bowling In the Sky — 1964

bowling_american-airlines_encylopedia-britannica-yrbk_jan-1964Sylvia Wene battles Dick Weber and turbulence… (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

It’s a bowling alley. …In an airplane.

As publicity stunts go, this one was pretty good. It even had a cutesy name: Operation AstroBowl. American Airlines wanted to promote their great big Boeing 707 cargo planes, so someone came up with the idea of putting a bowling alley in one of them. Happily, a company that manufactured bowling alley equipment — American Machine and Foundry (AMF) — was keen to jump on the promotion bandwagon. They installed the regulation 79-foot lane — complete with automatic pin-setting equipment and gutters — in one of the American Airlines jet freighters. It took 4 days. Looking at the photos, it resembled a very large MRI tube.

Since they had the lane and the equipment in there, they pretty much had to get a couple of champion players on board to bowl a few mid-air frames. As luck would have it, the National All-Star Tournament (aka “The World Series of Bowling”) was — hey! — to be held in Dallas at Fair Park Coliseum a week after the stunt. Serendipity! Champions Dick Weber and Sylvia Wene were roped in to play a 5-mile-high game in the sky.

So much to promote!

Operation AstroBowl took place on January 6, 1964 at cruising altitude between New York’s Kennedy International Airport and Love Field. Sylvia won. Barely. But this story made it into countless newspapers across the country the following day, so, really, it was the publicists who won. Drinks, I’m sure, were on them.

bowling_american-airlines_AP-story_010764-photo_dick-weberDick Weber bowling at 500 miles an hour

AP story which appeared all over the country, Jan. 7, 1964



Sources & Notes

Top photo appeared in the Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook and was brought to my attention by Steve Dirkx (thanks, Steve!).

Story and photos by the Associated Press.

If you’re on Facebook, a tiny bit of film footage can we watched here.

Hold the presses! I’ve been translated! Check out this bowling post in Portuguese (!), on a Brazilian bowling site, here.

All images larger when clicked.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


Girls’ Softball in Dallas, Hugely Popular

girls-softball_WPA-GD_dallas-park-rec-deptSoftball in the park… 

by Paula Bosse

Around 1938, softball suddenly became very, very popular in Dallas. Absolutely everyone seemed to be playing it: boys, girls, moms, dads, kids, businessmen, college students, and senior citizens. By 1939, The Dallas Morning News was calling the sport “the newest Dallas crazy custom.” There were more than 18,000 players playing on more than 300 organized teams, which meant that most of the roughly 100 softball diamonds in the city were constantly in use. It was estimated that more than 700,000 spectators had filled softball bleachers in 1938. These were all, of course, non-professional teams and players,  but there was some concern that this new-found softball enthusiasm might be cutting into attendance for the professional baseball games.

…[B]ut the fact remains that softball is cutting into the gate receipts of professional baseball. When more than 100 softball teams play almost every night in Dallas and hundreds of fans watch the games there certainly must be vacant seats at the stadium where professionals are doing their stuff for the Texas League. (Dallas Morning News, June 16, 1939)

Most interesting about this “fad” is that girls’ softball league games became extremely popular. These teams were often affiliated with local companies (Metzger’s Milk, Dunlap-Swain, etc.), and their sponsored games drew very large crowds, usually more than the men’s games did. The Dallas Morning News reported that attendance at the regular Friday night games in 1939 was something like five or six thousand. Some of the girls even became minor local celebrities.

Fort Wort at bat (via Portal to Texas History)

Coverage of the women’s games by the local press was solid, but coverage of the women themselves seemed more like a good excuse to run photos of the “girls” in skimpy uniforms rather than focus on their athletic ability. But I’m sure the girls shrugged it off and were just happy to be playing a sport they loved.



Below, the 1943 Dallas Girls’ Softball League champions, the Metzer Dairy Maids. I love their names so much I want to type them out:

Tinker Tarker
Mutt McFanning
Aubrey Ray
Thelma Lowe
Pat Bell
Faustine Riley
Beatrice Draper
Flo Dyer
Opal Ritter
Annie Jo Floyd
Alma Floyd
Genevieve Dobbins
Pud Adams

DMN, July 18, 1943


Sources & Notes

Top photo from the WPA Dallas Guide and History.

Second photo by Dallas photographer William Langley, from the collection of the Birdville Historical Society, via the Portal to Texas History.

Even though these company-sponsored teams were often in city- and state-wide leagues, they were all comprised of amateur players. That’s not to say money wasn’t being made. A lot of tickets were being sold, and companies got a lot of publicity for their winning teams. In fact, companies often scouted for players and hired them solely based on their athletic prowess — this is exactly how Babe Didrikson, generally considered one of the greatest all-round athletes in history, ended up working for an insurance company in the Interurban Building in downtown Dallas. (Read all about that in my previous post, “Babe Didrikson, Oak Cliff Typist.”)


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Blackie Sherrod: “The Most Plagiarized Man in Texas” — 1919-2016


by Paula Bosse

Legendary sportswriter Blackie Sherrod died yesterday at the age of 96. My father was not a follower of sports, but I remember he read Blackie Sherrod’s columns because, along with other great, larger-than-life, and exceptionally talented DFW sportswriters such as Bud Shrake, Dan Jenkins, and Gary Cartwright, Blackie was — for want of a better word — a “literary” journalist whose style transcended his subject matter. His writing appealed to everyone who enjoyed and appreciated well-written and caustically funny forays into, around, over, and under the world of sports. Sports fans — and other sportswriters — loved the guy. And so did everyone else.

In the December 1975 issue of Texas Monthly, Larry L. King (forever known as the man who made more money from the best little whorehouse in Texas than any of the girls who plied their trade there) wrote a fantastic profile of Blackie (“The Best Sportswriter in Texas”), in which he described Blackie Sherrod as being “the most plagiarized man in Texas.” Sportswriters around the state routinely stole all of Blackie’s best lines and inserted them, unattributed, into their own columns. King himself admits he was one of the worst offenders. The lengthy profile is great. Great. Read it here.


UPDATE: Also, this is a great 9-minute film produced by KERA in the 1970s in which Blackie talks about his career, past and present.


Sources & Notes

Video is from the KERA Collection, G. William Jones Film & Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, Southern Methodist University; the permanent link on YouTube is here.

Watch a Dallas Morning News-produced video tribute to Blackie Sherrod from 2013.

The Dallas Morning News obituary — “Legendary News Sportswriter Blackie Sherrod Dies at 96” — written by Kevin Sherrington, is here.

Several of Blackie’s Sherrod’s books can be purchased online, here.

Moments after I posted yesterday’s photo of the Dallas Times Herald lobby, I read that Blackie had died. He must have walked through that lobby thousands of times. That was an odd bit of synchronicity.

See an early photo of Blackie with his famed co-workers in the post “Legendary Sports Writers of the Fort Worth Press — ca, 1948.”

Thanks, Blackie.


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

Bob-O-Links Golf Course — 1924-1973

bob-o-links_abrams-rdBob-O-Links golf and St. Thomas Aquinas… (click for larger image)

 by Paula Bosse

The photograph above (with a view to the southeast) shows Abrams Road (at the left), a few blocks south of Mockingbird. On the right is St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and school, and on the left, part of the Bob-O-Links Golf Course, Lakewood’s only public golf course. If you’re familiar with that part of town, it’s pretty incredible to see all that open land right in the middle of it.

Bob-O-Links, a 9-hole course, was opened by Harry McCommas in 1924 on 60 acres of the land originally owned by the pioneer McCommas family (the family’s full 640 acres covered land that stretched from what is now Abrams Road to White Rock Lake). Despite a creek meandering through seven of the course’s nine holes, the course was an immediate hit, mainly because it was one of the few public courses in town. This is where East Dallas residents with golf-fever would go to play if they couldn’t afford to join the Lakewood County Club.

From an article by John Anders in The Dallas Morning News:

When [Harry] McCommas, 75, decided to build a golf course on his grandfather’s sheep pasture in 1928 [sic], there were only three other golf courses in Dallas. And two of those three are now gone. “We were really out in the country then. There was no water, gas or electricity so we hauled in our water by truck. We didn’t need much since it was originally a sand course.” (DMN, July 6, 1973)

When the course opened in 1924, it was pretty much out in the sticks. By the late 1950s, though, Lakewood was booming, and developers were eager to build things — much to the dismay of nearby residents. Development was staved off for over a decade, but during that whole time, developers never stopped trying to get the area re-zoned, either for commercial use or for apartments and townhouses. Eventually — inevitably — the land was sold, and the days of the little golf course came to an end. The only “victory” the neighborhood could claim is that only single-family homes would be built on the land.

Bob-O-Links Golf Course closed on July 4, 1973. And as one drives down Abrams Road these days, it’s almost impossible to believe that it was ever there.


via Flickr

via Flickr

bob-o-links_dallas-park-board-minutes_070858Dallas Park Board minutes, July 4, 1958

1962 map detail


Sources & Notes

I have no information about the top photo. It was posted on the Lakewood neighborhood group on Facebook by local bon vivant Michael Vouras. Comments on his post suggest that it may be a photo in the possession of St. Thomas Aquinas, taken around the mid 1960s. I welcome more info! (UPDATE: Below in the comments, other dates are suggested.)

A present-day aerial view of the same area can be seen here. The golf course (formerly on the left) has been gobbled up by houses.

A great article on Bob-O-Links — “The Bygone Days of Bob-O-Links Golf Course” — was written by Patti Vinson and appeared in a 2015 issue of The Lakewood Advocate; read it here.

Further reading from the archives of The Dallas Morning News:

  • “Re-zoning Denied for Bob-o-Links” (DMN, Sept. 17, 1960): this re-zoning request was to build a 35-acre shopping center; it was shot down by angry neighborhood residents
  • “Negotiations Finished To Buy Bob-o-Links” (DMN, Feb. 9, 1973): purchaser was long-time Dallas developer Hal McGraw who promised to build only single-family homes
  • “Farewell, Bob-O-Links” by John Anders (DMN, July 6, 1973): very entertaining article about Anders’ last round on the course, with memories of his earlier experiences on the course and quotes from owner Harry McCommas 

Wish I’d been there. “FORE!”

Pictures larger when clicked!


Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.


The 1952 Dallas Texans: Definitely NOT America’s Team


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_connell-miller_dmn_012152Giles 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.

dallas-texans_dmn_013052AP wire story, Jan. 30, 1952 (click for larger image)

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.

Illustration of 1952 uniforms from AmericanFootballWikia.com, here. 1960s uniform from BlackReign.net, here.

“Zing” image from Twitter user @ToddRadom.

Stats? 1952 Texans (read ’em and weep), here; 1960s Texans, here.

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.

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