Jan. 22, 2007
On Jan. 22, 1927, coach Ralph Wolf was taking his first Baylor basketball team to play a game at the University of Texas. This was a crucial game in the Bears' race for the 1927 Southwest Conference championship.
The trip was not a pleasant one, as rain had poured over Central Texas for the majority of the day and continued as the team departed for Austin. That hampered the vision of the chartered bus driver as debris from the road sprayed the windshield of the bus.
In Round Rock, Texas, just miles from the team's arrival in Austin, one of America's first athletic tragedies occurred. A speeding train from the I&GA Railroad Company rammed into the side of the bus at a railway crossing near the center of the city. Ten of the 21 players, coaches and fans in the Baylor party that traveled on the bus that day were killed.
Baylor remembers the story each year at Homecoming, when freshmen hear the tragic story and participate in a candlelight remembrance ceremony. Baylor students and alumni have raised funds to have a monument honoring the Immortal Ten erected on campus.
There was a hero of the accident, James Clyde "Abe" Kelly. Kelly, who was captain-elect of the 1927 football team, saw the train just before impact and pushed his roommate, Weir Washman, out of the bus' window. Kelly is credited with saving the life of his best friend at the greatest expense to himself. Kelly was one of the 10 who died in the collision.
Others who did not survive the wreck were William Winchester, W.E. Murray, Merle Dudley, Sam Dillow, Jack Castellaw, L.R. "Ivey" Foster, Bob Hailey, R.L. Hannah and James Walker.
Wesley Bradshaw, who is still in the top 10 on the Baylor football career scoring list, was seriously hurt. Gordon Barry, Joe Potter, Edgar Gooch, C.S. Bean, Keifer Strickland (an All-SWC selection), John Kane, Dave Cheavers (former Baylor journalism department chair) and coach Wolf were slightly injured. Washman and Louis Slade were unhurt.
As a result of the tragedy, the remainder of the 1927 season was canceled, and the first highway overpass in Texas was constructed in Round Rock.
Artist Bruce Greene's commemorative monument is scheduled to be unveiled Friday, March 2 on Baylor campus. The memorial consists of four life-sized bronze statues along with a bas-relief panel of the remaining six athletes.