For all his many accomplishments as a football player in the high school, college and pro ranks, Walter Abercrombie might be proudest of his record against Texas A&M - a perfect 4-0.
You can look it up: No Baylor class before or since has dominated the Aggies like that. There was a seven-year stretch (1948-54) when the Bears didn't lose a single game in the series, but three-game winning streaks were sandwiched around a 21-21 tie in 1951.
"It was one of the greatest days of my life," said Abercrombie, who rushed for a then school-record 207 yards in his first collegiate game on Oct. 21, 1978, when the 0-5 Bears shocked the 12th-ranked Aggies, 24-6.
But here's a part of the story that, honestly, I had never heard until this week.
Defensive tackle Tommy Tabor, who will be recognized as a Baylor Legend during Saturday's game against Stephen F. Austin, is convinced (maybe a little sheepishly) that the impetus for the Bears' four-year reign was a tradition that coach Grant Teaff started.
On the 84-mile bus ride from Waco to Kyle Field in College Station, the team would get out to stretch its legs in tiny Calvert, Texas, and "walk from one end of the town to the other," Tabor said.
"The whole town was out there," said Tabor, a native of Calvert, which had a population of just over 1,500 at the time. "It was like I was the messiah or something. That was such a big thing for the whole town of Calvert. And I think the team really enjoyed it, because it gave us an opportunity to get out and stretch our legs before we got into A&M. I think it really boosted us, because you know in my four years there, we never lost to the Aggies."
Two years later, when the Bears returned to Kyle Field, they recorded a 46-7 blowout before a then-record crowd of 69,735 that watched the game in a torrential downpour. As one writer quipped, Baylor proved that it doesn't rain on both sides of the field in rainy games.
Baylor's four-year run included a 17-7 win over the Aggies in 1979 and a 19-17 nailbiter in '81, with both of those games played in Waco.
"I'll just go ahead and attribute it to the good luck of Calvert," Tabor said. "We can debate it later, but it's got to be because of doing (the walk-through) in Calvert."
Hey, is anyone up for a walk through Calvert on Oct. 15?
Sic 'em, Bears!!!
As a Fort Worth native with a law office in his hometown, former Baylor All-Southwest Conference offensive guard Mike "Grubby" Bourland has a certain respect and even pride in what the TCU football team has done the last few years under Gary Patterson.
"But everybody that knows me knows that I bleed green and gold," said Bourland, who will be honored during Friday's season opener as a Baylor Legend. "Baylor University is my passion."
Even though he grew up "in the shadow of TCU," Bourland said his dream as far back as he could remember was to go to Baylor and play college football.
"I was undersized, even for kids of that day," said Bourland, who was a 175-pound guard and defensive end for a state semifinalist team at Paschal High School in 1960. "I got an offer from New Mexico State and West Texas and Hardin-Simmons, but I felt like if I was going to play college football and put fort that kind of effort, I wanted to play in the Southwest Conference and I wanted to play at Baylor."
Recruited by defensive coordinator Herb Zimmerman, Bourland got a one-year "make-good" scholarship from Baylor head coach and athletic director John Bridgers.
Playing for the freshman team in 1961, Bourland ended up starting, but "got clipped in the Texas game and sprained an ankle really badly. I played the rest of the year, but I played taped up and limping around."
At the end of that freshman year, Bourland fully expected Bridgers to "break the plate" and take away his scholarship.
"Believe me, at that point in my career, I gave him no indication that I would start one game, much less 31," he said. "He had every justification, every reason to cut me loose."
Instead, Bridgers told Bourland that he was going to "roll this over one more year" and shipped him off to "Christian boot camp" at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes summer conference in Estes Park, Colo. It was at that camp the summer after his freshman year that Bourland "found Jesus Christ."
"He had every reason to turn me loose, but he didn't turn me loose, and it changed my life," Bourland said. "To be very frank, he had every justification to take my spot from and give it to a new recruit with a much greater skill set than I had. But he didn't, because he was the kind of man that looked at the kid."
Bourland paid off Bridgers' confidence by starting 31 consecutive games for the Bears during the 1963-65 seasons and earned consensus first-team All-SWC honors as a senior. During his redshirt sophomore season, the Bears finished second in the league and 8-3 overall, knocking off LSU, 14-7, in the Bluebonnet Bowl.
During that '63 season, the Bears were on the verge of possibly upsetting eventual national champion Texas when Duke Carlisle picked off a pass from All-America quarterback Don Trull in the end zone with 19 seconds left as the Longhorns held on for a 7-0 victory.
"We were one interception at the end of the game against Texas of running the table and beating everybody," he said.
While Bourland went on to graduate from Baylor law school, served in the military as a Judge Advocate General for the Air Force, won a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and has had his own law firm for 28 years, he said, "I've never had any experience to replicate the feelings of camaraderie and the whole aspect of college football."
As for "Grubby" Bourland said he came by it honestly. Trull, his quarterback, stuck him with that nickname because "I was the grubbiest, smelliest guy he had ever been around."
"I would sweat so much in fall training that I would sweat through the leather of my shoes," he said. "One of the reasons they're using `Grubby' for (the Baylor Legend presentation) is that most of the guys don't even know my name. There were guys that enver called me Mike in the five years I was at Baylor. My own grandkids call me `Grubby,' but it sounds a lot different when they say it than it does when Trull says it."
Welcome home to a Baylor Legend.
Sic 'em, Bears!!!