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Artwork is from the "Cactus"

Artwork is from the "Cactus"

Article below is from

Baseball, not football, was the sport of choice for UT students in the 1880s. In the spring of 1885, when the University was not yet two years old, a student enrolled who claimed to have the only curve ball pitch in the state. The curve ball was a new addition to the game, welcomed by baseball progressives, and hated by the sport's purists. Nevertheless, University students formed a team "that rated high in brain power, low in brute force," and challenged any college in Texas to a game. Southwestern University, thirty miles north in Georgetown, answered the call and invited UT to a picnic and baseball contest. The University accepted, and students arranged to make the trip to Georgetown on a chartered train.

On a Saturday morning in April 1885, the first UT baseball team, along with most of the student body, arrived at the downtown Austin train station at 3rd Street and Congress Avenue, and boarded the passenger cars bound for Georgetown. Everything was on schedule until the final whistle sounded. Just as the train was ready to leave, two coeds announced the need for some ribbon to identify them as University of Texas supporters.

Today's college fans arrive at stadiums clad in t-shirts and caps. But in the 1880s, colored ribbons were worn on lapels to show team loyalty. The more enterprising male students sported longer ribbons, so they would have extra to share with a pretty girl who had none. The truly ingenious (or just plain desperate) wore ribbons almost down to their knees.

The dates of the two Texas coeds, Venable Proctor and Clarence Miller, ever eager to impress the ladies, jumped off the train and sprinted a block north along Congress Avenue to the nearest general store. Between gasps for breath, they managed to ask the shopkeeper for three bolts of two colors of ribbon. "What colors?" the shopkeeper asked. "Anything," was the response. After all, the train was leaving the station, and there was no time to be particular.

The shopkeeper gave them the colors he had the most in stock: white ribbon, which was popular for weddings and parties and was always in demand, and bright orange ribbon, because no one bought the color, and the store had plenty to spare.

Loaded with their supplies, Proctor and Miller ran back and boarded the moving train as it left for Georgetown. Along the way, the ribbon was evenly divided and distributed to everyone except for a law student named Yancey Lewis, "who had evolved a barbaric scheme of individual adornment by utilizing the remnants."

Unfortunately, it rained that Saturday afternoon, the curve ball curved not, and Texas outfielders ran weary miles in a lost cause. According to one witness, the University's colors were "christened on a dire and stricken field."

Or were they? Even though the first baseball team had sported orange and white, the colors were by no means official, and subject to the whims of future UT students.

After a decade of starts and stops, the University of Texas fielded its first "permanent" football team in 1893. The first recorded game was actually ten years earlier, during UT's very first fall term, though it was a rather embarrassing two-goals-to-none loss against a group of high school students at the Bickler School in downtown Austin. Football, the newfangled sport that could draw 50,000 spectators to a Princeton-Yale game in the 1880s, required a little more time to be accepted in the Lone Star State.

The UT football team of 1893 played four games, a pair in the fall and two more in the spring. The first was against the Dallas Foot Ball Club that claimed to be the best in the state. Held at the Dallas Fair Grounds, the game attracted a record 1200 onlookers. It was a tough and spirited match, but when the dust had settled, the "University Eleven" had pulled off an 18 - 16 upset. "Our name is pants, and our glory has departed," growled the Dallas Daily News. The UT club would go on to a spotless record and earn the undisputed boast of "best in Texas."

The University team, though, didn't wear orange. Their striped uniforms were gold and white.

Painting in the "Cactus" in the 1900's

Painting in the "Cactus" in the 1900's


In the 1890s, the forty-acre UT campus consisted of a still-unfinished Victorian-Gothic Main Building, a chemical lab building to its northwest, and a plain-looking men's dorm, known as Brackenridge Hall, or "B." Hall, nestled down the hill to the east. All were fashioned from pale yellow Austin pressed brick, and trimmed with cream-colored limestone quarried in nearby Cedar Park. (The Gebauer Building, built in 1904 for engineering, is today the home for College of Liberal Arts, and is the last survivor of this early UT architecture.) Students identified themselves with their surroundings on the campus, and several University teams donned gold and white uniforms.

Of course, gold and white weren't official, either, and only lasted a couple of years. Members of the student-run UT Athletic Association wanted a more "masculine" color, and in 1895 orange was paired with white once more. White uniforms, though, were difficult to clean after a hard-fought victory on the football field. In 1897, to save cleaning costs, the Athletic Association opted for a darker color that wouldn't show dirt as easily: maroon.

For the next three years, UT football, baseball, and track uniforms, along with letter sweaters, were orange and maroon. This created more than a little controversy, especially among the alumni. Adding to the confusion was the Cactus Yearbook, at the time published by the Athletic Association, which listed the University colors as either gold or orange and white. The appearance of the 1899 Cactus made matters worse. It suddenly declared the University colors to be "Gold and Maroon," which just happened to be the same hues used for the yearbook's cover. And all the while, students the University's medical branch in Galveston wanted to throw out the double-colors in favor of a single one: royal blue. Attending a football game in 1899, a UT fan would have found his compatriots sporting all shades of yellows, oranges, whites, reds, maroons, and a few in blue.

After considerable discussion, the Board of Regents decided to hold an election to settle the matter. Students, faculty, staff and alumni were all invited to send in their ballots. Out of the 1,111 votes cast, 562 were for orange and white, a majority by just seven votes. Orange and maroon receive 310, royal blue 203, crimson 10, royal blue and crimson 11, and few other colors scattered among the remaining 15 votes.

The Texas Longhorns have won the most games are the winningest team in college baseball history with 77 conference championships,  35 College World series, 12 appearances to the  Championship game,  and 6 national champions (1949, 1950, 1975, 1983, 2002, 2005).  

Since 1895 there have been 13 baseball head coaches at Texas. Since 1911 there have only been 6 full-time coaches. 

From 1895-2015 the won loss collegiate record is 3252-1073-28 with 35 College World series tournaments.   

Texas ties LSU with most members in the College Baseball Hall of Fame- Kirk Dressedorfer, Bibb Falk, Cliff Gustafson, Burt Hooten, Brooks Kieschnick, Keith Moreland, Greg Swindell, and Richard Wortham are the Longhorns in the hall of fame. 

Clark Field #I is the home of Longhorn baseball from 1890's until 1927. There is also a Clark Field #2 to be discussed later.

1895- 1910

There Are 8 Different "Managers" During This Period and  Conference Titles in the SIAAA Or SWIAA. 

9 Players letter the first year of baseball.

UT plays their first game in 1895 but record keeping begins in 1897.

April 21, 1895 Texas Plays Its First Baseball Game And Loses To Southwestern 22-6.

1896- 1-5-3  Coach H.B. Beck

This year is not official because of the caliber of teams and high scores. O’Keefe was the manager and captain and received a letter. Walter Fisher also received a letter. 14 members received letters. All the games were played in Austin. Team loses its first game to employees of the school for the blind.

1897-  6-5     Coach F. Weikart  

Pre Smokey canon blasting begins this year.

 The first college victory in Longhorn baseball was against "ADD_RAN" which Is now TCU. 

Record keeping began this season but records show that baseball players in 1895 and 1896 were awarded letters.

1898-  1-4  Coach Ellis

Coach Ellis is a professor of philosophy and psychology who takes a leave from teaching to coach the baseball team in 1898, 1899, 1901, 1902, 1903, and 1909.


1899-  11-1-1 Coach A.C. Ellis



John Douglas strikes out 13 players in three games

Team is SIAA Champion







1900- 14-2 Coach M. Gordon Clark 

UT focused on more on playing other colleges instead of Club teams.

Walter Morris is a baseball immortal in Texas as a manager and president of the Texas Baseball league. He is enshrined in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

1901- 11-2 Coach A.C. Ellis is the baseball coach.

The whole travelling squad is declared ineligible. After a road swing the President of UT tells Coach Ellis that two baseball players were ineligible due to grades and could no longer represent UT in baseball. The team and Coach revolted against the President and decided to pay one of the ineligible players way on a Eastern road trip. The President sent a telegram stating that the entire team would be held responsible if that player saw action. He played and the President followed thru dismissing all the lettermen from the team.

Even after all the lettermen were released , the substitutes continued to win 4 of the next 5 games. The only loss by the substitutes the remainder of the year was to a team composed of the ineligibles and other castoffs. Ineligibles defeated Varsity 17-1.

Samuel Leslie is a leader of this team and is also named by the Houston Post as the best Longhorn half back from 1893- 1912.

1902- 13-3 Coach A.C. Ellis Pending more information

The team went on 3000 miles of road trips this year. Wilbur Price Allen was a leader of this team and later served as the Chairman of the Board of Regents. Wilbur was one to the players disqualified to play in 1901.

1903- 12-7 Coach A.C. Ellis Pending more information

For the second year in a row the School for the Deaf beats the Longhorns.

Longhorns play their first games against Baylor and Texas A & M

1904- 18-10-1 Coach r.F. Hutchinson  Pending more information




Coach Hutchinson from Princton is hired as football and baseball coach 






The field with no name is finally named Clark Field  

 Longhorns play a professional team for the first time. The Cleveland Indians win 6-1.

The Horns and St. Edwards play an interesting game with the two head coaches - Hutchinson and Disch - pitching. Billy Disch won the decision, but Hutchinson pitched a great game.

1905- 17-8 Coach R.F. Hutchinson Pending more information

8 of 9 lettermen return to win the SWIAA Champion

A Nashville paper refers to the Texans as the "long horn boys". The name will not be recognized as the official mascot for several more years. 

1906- 10-9 Coach R.F. Hutchinson

In 1906 Texas Baseball is in financial trouble.  The University’s Athletic Council, chaired by math professor (and future UT president) Harry Benedict, officially adopts a policy of “no cash, no schedule.” All Texas sports except football are in the red, and baseball is the worst with a $1200 deficit.  The deficit has to be erased before Sewell Myer, the student manager of the baseball team, is allowed to set-up a schedule. 

Money is borrowed to start the season, but the money has to be repaid. The students decide that a "Varsity Circus" performance to raise money is the answer.  The idea works and enough funds are raised to retire the baseball debt, contribute $150 to the Longhorn Band, and contribute $100 to the Glee Club.   

The Varsity Student Circus continues annually into the late 20's and is an important source of funds for UT sports. 

1907- 16-8 Coach H.R. Schenker Pending more information

SWIAA Champion

Winston Mcmahon has a special place in Longhorn Sports History. Not only is he a great hitter and first baseman for the Horns, he is the quarterback that threw the first Longhorn touchdown pass to Bowie Duncan .

1908- 16-12-1 Coach Brooks Gordon

Team played a record number of games this year (24).


SWIAA Champion

Top of the Charts in 1908





1909- 12-14 Coach A.C. Ellis returns to coach the team for the 3rd time.

Eligibility issues again plague the team and a trip to the East Coast is cancelled.  A trip to Louisiana and Alabama because most of the players were ineligible under the rules of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Men with little baseball training had to play T.C.U. and Baylor.

Robert Holliday was the manager and became a member of the UT Board of Regents in 1927.

Team only played in the state of Texas for the first time since 1898. The team was so bad the Texan publication censured the team for dissension but also blamed the fans for being so Lethargic. The Texaan said “ If a Texas team like ours of this year had invaded the East, we would have been laughed at for years as the college baseball joke.”

Roy Johnson and Henry Groesbeck led the team in pitching.


1910- 8-11-1 Coach C.A. Keith Pending more information

First game against OU 

Coach Keith ,a Rhode Scholar, is hired as the 5th coach at Texas. Keith quits in midseason and the team has its first losing season since 1898.

Eligibility issues continue to hurt the morale of the team. 

Captains of the team resigned their post because the UT administration and the Athletic Council would not reinstate Hughes and Onion to the team saying these two players “had not carefully observed the training rules as formulated .

Tensions are so great that some in UT leadership roles want to abolish baseball as a sponsored sport. Harwood Stacy a member of the baseball team convinces the UT decision makers that a major issue was the quality of the coach over the last 3 years. Billy Disch’s name was mentioned in the meeting and the rest is history. Billy is hired as a trainer for the football team and head baseball coach for $1500 for 9 months of work.


Positive things are about to happen.