By Dana Stubbs – Special to the Navarro County Gazette

The Navarro County Genealogical Society is getting ready for another Oakwood Odyssey. This year, the theme is sports. Please support their cause to raise funds for the genealogy department at the Corsicana Public Library to provide ancestry.com to all patrons for no cost.

This is a unique experience to learn a bit of past history and be entertained with first person impressions and stories of days gone by.

Call 903-654-4808, or drop by the Corsicana Public Library for tickets. They are $10 each!

The Friday, Sept. 30 seated performance will be at 7 p.m. at the Nancy Roberts Room at the Corsicana Public Library, located at 100 N. Twelfth Street.

The Oct. 1 cemetery tours start at 5:30 p.m. at the North 15th Street entrance of Oakwood Cemetery. Tours run every 15 minutes until 7:30 p.m.

For most sports fans, especially if they are from the south, Friday night football or Saturday afternoon baseball is a tradition. From Little League through high school, college, and even into the pros, Navarro County has had its share of greatness on the sports fields.

2013 Tiger and Bear recognition event at Tiger Field. – Courtesy photo
2013 Tiger reunion. – Courtesy photo

Through the days of The City Football Team of Corsicana (1899-early 1900s) to the Jackson Bears (1923-1976), State Home team (1890s-1850s), and the present Corsicana High Tigers, the community has always come together to back the sport of football; a form of team game played in North America with an oval ball on a field marked out as a gridiron.

The early 1900s City Football Team of Corsicana players were recruited older players with a college experience who loved the sport for sport’s sake. Claude Cunningham and Ben Boltz were among them. Scott Bagby was a popular druggist who played on the team. He died during the pandemic with Spanish influenza.

Walter and Charles Ingram, Ewing Edens, all played on the team along with many other old Corsicana names. The team played against various cities in the localized section of the state. This team made a name for themselves as good players which all Corsicana was proud of.

The great Jackson Tigers formed during the 1923-1924 season when a young Nathaniel H. Pendleton was hired to instruct the young boys in the skill of football. Their first game was a loss to I.M. Terrell of Ft. Worth by a score of 100-0.

If that doesn’t motivate you to get better, I don’t know what will.

Pendleton did have his hands full serving the school as head coach, assistant coach and trainer, supervisor of the seventh grade, teacher of high school math, geometry, general science, chemistry and physics. Progress was slow but steady.

With two high schools in the same town using the same mascot there was some confusion. Mrs. Velma Hardee Middlebrooks, director of the Jackson Glee Club, was assigned to select a new mascot for Jackson High. It was her glee club who came up with the Jackson Bears! With their own identity, their own devotion to the game and an outstanding leader they made their own history.

2018 Bear recognition event. – Courtesy photo

Come hear Petrina Johnson share the story of the Great Jackson Bears!

The Corsicana High School Tigers dynasty brought home two of their own state championships, one in 1932 and one in 1963. The 1963 march to the goal line is still talked about today with great admiration, pride, and fond memories with a little smirk on each face as they recall the events that brought the win to Corsicana.

That year had some of the coldest temperatures for most of the games; 2023 will be their 60th reunion. The game between Corsicana and Graham seems to be the most talked about. Graham was much bigger than the Tigers so they were the favored team to win. The Tigers were hungry for it and pulled it off. They had a great coach in Jim Acree, just ask Ronnie Ward. He is putting the finishing touches on a book about the coach. I can’t wait to read it!

Come hear Ronnie talk about Coach Acree’s early years!

On to baseball! Many folks nowadays don’t even know Corsicana was a big baseball town in the early 1900s. It was! Doak Roberts, son of JP Hawkins Roberts and president of the Texas League, owned several Texas teams and even had pro clubs winter camp in Corsicana. Greed caused him to leave Corsicana, but Doak never left the sport. His ambition for a time was to beat any team Corsicana had and he did.

However, there were also many good times, come hear Rob Jones as Doak recall the respectable periods of the Texas League.

Stewart Beebe brought Little League baseball to Corsicana in June, 1953. A thousand fans packed into the Navarro Junior College baseball diamond to see the inauguration events. Hundreds of boys tried out for the teams. All through Little League these boys played together or against each other and attended school and church together. They formed lasting friendships. But every once in a while, a new kid would come to town and join them.

In 1958, those Little Leaguers were juniors and seniors at Corsicana High. No matter what color sox they played for in the National or the American Little Leagues were all donned the blue and gold of the CHS Tigers! And, yes, a new kid had come to town in 1957. He had played for Fairfield and pitched a no hitter against the Tigers in 1956, beating Corsicana 10-0. Let’s just say the Tigers were happy when Frankie pulled mound duty for their side.

Come hear Mark Bedgood as he recalls stories as Frankie Rouse, CHS Tiger!

Bringing the CHS school spirit to life for about half a century were the two most beloved band leaders of the time, Joel Trimble and his protégé, Herbert “Hub” Hill. Joel loved music and his career shows how dedicated he was to teaching his art to as many students as possible. When Hub took the reins of the band they participated in many competitions, parades and events. He is indeed a beloved band leader as a statue of him will hopefully be erected soon in Corsicana.

1957 Famous CHS Tiger Band. – Courtesy photo

Come hear Camille McClanahan share their story and maybe help her sing “All Hail Corsicana!”

Over the last 75 years, Navarro College produced many sports icons, too many to name. But a few Bulldogs will be given a mention for their sports abilities and achievements through the years as a student or a coach. Everyone will eventually be recognized by the school with their Bulldog Sports Hall of Fame now making a name for its self.

Come hear Dana Stubbs as Amanda Miller recognizes a few Bulldogs and shares her dream.

Speaking of the Miller family, many people don’t not know this, but, Dr. Will Miller was an outstanding athlete for the CHS Tigers baseball team. He loved baseball! And there were some who believed he should have put away his stethoscope for an umpire’s plate brush. He was an exceptional and popular baseball umpire for many years.

Come hear Norman Stubbs as Will Miller as he recalls the 1920 CHS Tiger baseball season!

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!! 

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