a flight from Baltimore to Dallas, seated
next to me was Ralph Eugene Blount, better known as Peppy, Southwest Conference
official and Texas Judge. This was Sept. 22, 1962. He was returning to Texas
after refereeing the Southern Methodist University–University of Maryland football
I had just ended a conference led by Frank Laubach, famous for his
literacy work and the Each One Teach One program that later was added as a program
of the United Nations. (An unexpected treat of the week, besides meeting Laubach,
was watching my first Major League baseball game between the New York Yankees
and the old Washington Senators. More on that in coming weeks.)
always been a fan of the Southwest Conference it was special to get to know Peppy
and a feel for the games from the inside. Game announcers like Jim Wiggins and
Kern Tips kept us glued to the radio in those days.
Blount was a direct descendant of William Blount, one of the signers of the United
States Constitution. I learned that bit of history from his obituary in the San
Antonio Express-News. He died June 22 at his home. He played football for Big
Spring High School; at age 19 the youngest pilot of B-25 bombers in the Pacific
during WWII. He was awarded
the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three clusters and two Presidential
He went on to star in football at the University of Texas
as well as being elected the youngest House of Representatives from the 91st District
of Texas. As far as I know he is the only elective politician to spend his Saturdays
His life seemed to be filled with “firsts.” He was elected
Gregg County Judge, on a write-in ballot. The highest office ever reached in Texas
with a write-in ballot. That event happened in 1962, the year I met the “legend.”
He was a Sunday school teacher. He wrote four books and with his wife,
Eva Jean Finch, had three sons.
The football game score was Maryland 7,
SMU 0. It was Hayden Fry’s first season as SMU coach. The former Baylor quarterback,
and a West Texas whiz won only two
games that fall, over Rice and Texas Tech. USC was the only team to embarrass
them. Texas beat SMU by six; A&M 12-7; Arkansas 9, SMU 7; TCU 14-9. Baylor won
over Fry’s Ponies 17-13. Football Hall of Famer Fry was born in Odessa,
Texas, went on to upgrade Univ. of Iowa for years. He turned 81 last February.
(I hope he feels better in his 80s than I do!)
Fry’s sense of humor and realism is shown in the many quotes attributed to him:
“Welcome to the Salvation Army. I've never been associated with an offense so
nice about giving the ball away.”
And Baylor he made Baylor proud with
this quote: “The preparation I had in college was the most valuable.”
on the subject of SMU football, on August 12, 1977, I had the pleasure of performing
the wedding ceremony for Virginia Flack and W.T. “Tug” Sanders. Tug was on the
1935 SMU team that lost to Stanford 7-0 in the Rose Bowl.
Ponies got to the Rose Bowl after defeating TCU and quarterback “Slingin” Sammy
Baugh (another famous West Texan). That came to be known as the Game of the First
Half Century. The game was tied with SMU on the TCU 37-yard line. From punt formation,
SMU quarterback Bob Finley instead threw a deep pass to Wilson, who caught the
ball at the four-yard line and waltzed in for the game-winning score.
the time the pass was dubbed “the $85,000 touchdown” (The SMU payout for appearing
in the Rose Bowl). SMU was still named national champion, outscoring opponents
288 to 39.
Glad of a chance meeting with Peppy and the friendship of Tug.
© Britt Towery
the Way with Britt
August 21, 2010 Column
Britt Towery, former Sports Editor of the Howard Payne
College Yellowjacket, and Brownwood resident. Comments and corrections: firstname.lastname@example.org