Dec. 5, 2002
This is another "B" Line column, a periodic collection of news items of particular interest to members of the Baylor "B" Association. Contribute news about you or your teammates via e-mail to Lee Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dutch Schroeder (Dutch_Schroeder@baylor.edu), Reba Cooper (Reba_Cooper@baylor.edu), Kyle Penney,(Kyle_Penney@baylor.edu) or Jack Loftis (Jack.Loftis@chron.com). The mailing address is Baylor "B" Association, P. O. Box 8120, Waco, TX 76714
BIRTH OF A STADIUM - Omar Keeton, who played post-World War II football at old Hillsboro Junior College and Baylor before going on to a successful career in the sporting goods business, has some interesting views about Floyd Casey Stadium. He suggests that Baylor Stadium, as it was known when opened in 1950, might never have been built had Doak Walker, SMU's three-time All-American, not come along. "They call the Cotton Bowl 'The House that Doak built,' but he also was responsible for a number of other stadiums in the Southwest," Keeton said. Here's his rationale: After Walker made All-American for the first time in 1947 his popularity was such that SMU moved its home games from tiny Owenby Stadium on campus to the Cotton Bowl, which immediately increased its seating from 48,000 to 72,000. Keeton says that after Baylor received two huge paychecks as the result of meeting SMU in Dallas in 1948 and 1949, school officials in Waco - and elsewhere - began to do the math and decided the time was right to build bigger and better stadiums. The war was over and collegiate football was in the spotlight . . .
MUNICIPAL STADIUM - During the Walker era, Baylor met SMU in 1946 at Waco's old Municipal Stadium before 15,000 fans. The 1947 game with SMU, also played in Waco, saw only 12,000 in attendance. However, the 1948 game against the Mustangs was played in the Cotton Bowl before 58,000 and the 1949 game there drew 63,337. Baylor's new 50,000-seat stadium opened on Sept. 30, 1950 with the Bears defeating the University of Houston 34-7 in front of 25,000 customers. But attendance levels continued to build, with 35,000 turning out for the Texas game later that year and 40,000 for the 1951 game with TCU . . . Walker, who would play himself into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after leaving SMU, lost only once to Baylor. That was in 1949 when the Bears scored a 35-29 win over the Mustangs. Baylor's Gale Galloway remembers the game well. Legend had it that no one player could stop Walker, but Galloway sought to change that perception. "I got a clear shot at him, but literally had to pick him up to bring him down," Galloway said. "I made the tackle, but ended up suffering a groin injury on the play." . . . In the Mustangs' next game Walker himself suffered an injury against TCU and, thus, missed SMU's season-ending game against No.1-ranked Notre Dame, a team that was working on its fourth consecutive unbeaten season. Played before 75,000 fans wedged into every nook and cranny of the Cotton Bowl, SMU - with Kyle Rote taking up the slack created by Walker's absence - gave the Irish a scare before losing 27-20. The contest ended with SMU on the Notre Dame 4-yard-line and is still considered one of the most memorable games in the history of the old Southwest Conference . . .
THE WAY IT WAS - To further note how much college football has changed since the Doak Walker era (or has it?), one only has to review the Sept. 28, 1948 issue of LIFE magazine (now a collector's item since the cover photo of Walker is in full color, a rarity for LIFE in those days). A staff-written article described how SMU's football team had come into prominence and how its players were recruited with the help of its millionaire-laden Mustangs Club. As reported in the story: "How the Mustangs operate is illustrated by the case of Henry Stollenwerck, a 183-pound fullback for Waxahachie High School. Last month at the annual Texas High School Coaches Association get-together, to which SWC coaches take their branding irons, Stollenwerck met SMU's (coach) Matty Bell. But as late as Sept. 1 he had not decided between SMU and Texas. So the Mustangs' ace trouble-shooter, automobile dealer A. P. Van Winkle, went into action. He spent a whole week on the Stollenwerck doorstep "just so nobody else could have a date with him." Then Van Winkle went back to Dallas and threw a big steak party at his house. The guest of honor: Stollenwerck. Two days later Henry moved into the SMU football dormitory." Such recruiting ploys were common in the late 1940s and early 1950s, but one has to wonder if the Stollenwerck incident set the stage for SMU to eventually receive the NCAA "death penalty"? . . .