The First Bedsheet Bash

The following is an account pieced together from various oral and written reports of the first-ever football game between Texas State and UTSA from November 12, 1902. As far as we know, it's all true. 

As the crowd gathered on that cold Saturday morning just off Boerne Pass on the Northwest side of San Antonio, miles from civilization, the rain didn't show signs of letting up. Texas State's gridiron team had made the two day trip down the vast 43 mile stretch aboard rail car to San Antonio's Sunset Station. They then boarded carriages to UTSA's modest campus for an exhibition football game. Most fans wondered if the contest between the squads would even take place or if all the bad blood, sent via telegram, would boil over into an all-out riot. 

The barbs were familiar; Texas State was a school that drank too much brown liquor, UTSA students didn't reside on campus, but instead rode to and from school every day. Some were too obscene for respectable newspapers to print. For example, a few Texas State gents claimed you couldn't spell the male reproductive organ without UTSA and Texas State girls were fornicators. The accounts were salacious and had not escaped the attention of San Antonio mayor Eustice Rothchild who took the precaution of calling out troops from Fort Sam Houston to maintain law and order. 

The university presidents agreed to put on the exhibition in an attempt to highlight the academic achievements of both schools through a football game. Now both sat at brunch in the Menger Hotel, fearful they'd lit the match that would set the two schools aflame. 

UTSA head coach/manager/Geology professor, W.B. Hodsworth knew if the game came off, his speedy halfback Joseph Bustamante would have a say in the outcome. Raised on the south side of San Antonio, Bustamante honed his famous speed by outrunning his siblings during the many wolf  and wild dog attacks that plagued the area. Blocking in the flying wedge for Bustamante was mammoth 195-pound guard Horace Schultz from Fredericksburg. 

Schultz later toured as a professional wrestler under the ring name "The Kaiser." The outbreak of World War I cut short his grappling career.

The 1902 Texas State Bobcats

The Bobcats hoped to match UTSA with a play known as 23 Riff Ram Dazzle, a daring plan that required the quarterback, Wendel Doubletree, to take the pigskin and "throw" it to a waiting "end" who would attempt to "catch" the projectile and advance it towards the opposing team's goal line. Casual observers thought the strategy foolhardy. Texas State's player-coach Jerry Don Lambright convinced himself that the ploy might give his charges an edge. 

If Bustamante was going to scamper like a jackrabbit through the heather and Doubletree was to guide his team they'd do it on a muddy field in a deluge. 

Authorities delayed kickoff due to lack of parking spaces on the UTSA campus, but as fans filed into the converted stockyard, a miracle happened - the rain stopped. A bright sun shown across the field. Men and women in their finery lowered umbrellas and soaked in the warmth. The teams ran through drills - mostly side straddle hops and fortifying themselves with beer and oysters. 

Foregoing the typical coin flip, as none of the spectators dared risk that amount of currency, two willing participants stepped off twenty paces, turned and fired. Texas State's representative clipped UTSA's in the shoulder, Bobcat fans gave a hearty hoorah as they would receive the kick. The wound itself became gangrenous and the gentleman succumbed to the injury during the second quarter. Most fans agreed it was a far better fate than dysentery or wild dog attack. 

As to the events on the field, Doubletree went to work, handing the ball to Lambright and Warren Appleton who gouged the Roadrunner defenses, almost reaching midfield. But UTSA's guard/tackle/kicker, Shultz thwarted any further incursion by tackling Doubletree for a seven-yard loss. Facing an insurmountable third down and nine, Texas State chose to punt the ball rather than risk further humiliation. 

Joseph Bustamante over right end. 

Bustamante took over and gained five yards over right end, electrifying the crowd. The first half went back and forth until a gun sounded and both teams retreated to their respective locker rooms. Some still wonder if the shot came from the actual time keepers' revolver or if an overzealous fan simply fired off a round. By intermission Appleton was the Bobcats most dangerous option; however, he died of smallpox before the start of the second half. 

The halftime entertainment consisted of a polka band who ended their performance with a rousing rendition of Darude's Sandstorm. Doubletree and the rest of the Bobcats re-hydrated by smoking on pipes and sipping on warm beer. 

Bustamante shattered his spine midway through the third quarter but carried on thanks to a liberal application of pickling salt and three shots of bourbon. Neither team crossed the others goal line nor the 50-yard line for that matter. Parents shielded their children's eyes when Doubletree attempted a 23 Riff Ram. The ball fell helplessly to the ground, and UTSA players and fans cried foul. The game descended rapidly at that point. Fisticuffs interrupted most of the fourth stanza, including several donnybrooks in the wooden bleachers. 

Troops moved in to quell the disturbance with fixed bayonets but were themselves dispersed by a pack of wolves and wild dogs. A fire of unknown origin started in the livery stable just as a hail storm hit, destroying most of the wooden bleachers and sending spectators running for their wagons. The Bobcats fearful they'd miss their train and not knowing if another was coming made their exit as well. 

The San Antonio Light's headline on Sunday morning read, "Wolves Strike Again" while the San Marcos Daily called for Lambright to step down after his abomination of tactics. By Wednesday both university presidents agreed by telephone that the embarrassment of Saturday's game shouldn't be repeated. UTSA  disbanded their team in 1903 to focus on a relatively new and wolf-free sport, indoor basketball. The school wouldn't field another team until 2011. 

As for Texas State, the Bobcats carried on without the forward pass for most of their early history. The two schools met on the field for the first time since 1902 in 2012. They played the game indoors to avoid packs of wild dogs. 

The Roundup...

Posted on May 7, 2018 and filed under Southwest Round-Up, Texas State, UTSA.