TCU’s glory

1957 Cotton Bowl, TCU pregame meeting

TCU’s extraordinary football season, which soared until the reality of Georgia happened, triggered fond memories of following sports as a teenager in Fort Worth.

Pop Boone

Mark Boone reminded me that his grandfather, Pop Boone, was sports editor for the Fort Worth Star Telegram and the Fort Worth Press. There are now TCU athlete of the year awards named for him.

Our family subscribed to both of the papers, and enjoyed reading writers such as Dan Jenkins, one of Boone’s protégés.

Pop was a big supporter of both the TCU Horned Frogs and the Fort Worth Cats minor league baseball team. I spent many hours watching or reading about these teams. I saw only a a few Cats games, but I often listened to the radio, filling out stat sheets, as shown below right.

Baseball blank stat sheet

Television

Some of my interest came from Bud Sherman, a sports announcer for radio and WBAP- TV. He was my friend Clayton’s father.

TV was a new thing in Fort Worth in 1948. Our family got one sometime after the political conventions in 1952.

Of the many stories from that time, one is that a viewer called WBAP on the first night telecast, complaining that she was not receiving any picture. The receptionist asked, “What kind of set are you using?”  The viewer responded, “Why, my radio set, of course!” 

Also, on that fateful night, Amon Carter, who owned the station and much else in Fort Worth, nearly fell to his death through an unmarked hole in the studio floor. He was grabbed just in time.

Football day

TCU’s Amon G. Carter stadium was built in 1930, long before my time, but I benefited from it, the two newspapers, and the sports legacy that Pop Boone created. 

On football day when I was 10 or so I ‘d go with a couple of friends to sit in end zone seats. Tickets cost 50¢; I’ve heard that prices have increased since then. We’d move to better seats after halftime when the thin crowd thinned even more.

We watched Jim Swink, the star running back. He was an All-American in 1955 and 1956. During a game against the U of Texas at Austin, he rushed 15 times for 235 yards and scored 26 points in a 47–20 rout. The Longhorns’ slogan and the hook ’em horns sign was created in reference to stopping him. Swink was drafted by the Chicago Bears and later became an orthopedic surgeon in Fort Worth.

Jim Swink with the Dallas Texans on a Fleer bubble gum trading card, 1960

After the games, we’d collect a big stack of programs. These were in the form of a daily newspaper, but a bit smaller. They had seemed so valuable before the first kickoff.

I’m not sure why we felt compelled to collect them. We’d carry them home and bury them for some imagined future use. I imagine they’ve long since composted.

1957 Cotton Bowl

See the powerful pregame locker room photo from the 1957 Cotton Bowl pitting TCU against Syracuse. That was chosen by Sports Illustrated as the photo of the century.

Don’t the players look serious? They’re probably asking how they could possibly stop the amazing Jim Brown. 

Brown was not only a football legend, but a star in basketball and track as well. He was so good in Lacrosse that they changed the rules of the game.

Brown rushed for three touchdowns in that Cotton Bowl game. He also kicked three extra points. It would have been a tie, but TCU blocked the final extra point try. TCU and Swink went on to defeat Syracuse and Brown, 28-27. 

I wish I’d been able to go to that Cotton Bowl, but Dallas was a long ways off and tickets probably cost more than 50¢.

[Thanks to Mark Boone for telling me stories about Pop Boone. Also to Troy Seate for his excellent article on Jim Swink.)