This story is dedicated to Freddie Steinmart & James Street…the two players that provided more inspiration to winning the 1969 NCAA National Football Championship at the University of Texas than any other players and heroes of the season…more than Coach Darrell Royal, WR Cotton Speyer, TE Randy Peschel, RB Ted Koy, DE Bill Atessis, LB Glen Halsell, OT Bob McKay or even K Happy Feller…all of whom had signature moments and game changing plays throughout the season. In this particular story…there is a large dose of BD’s sentimentality for these two athletes…but first some backfill.
For all young men ages 19 – 25 in colleges and universities throughout America in 1969…the biggest event of the year was the nationally televised fishbowl military draft lottery. This was the first conscription draft since World War II in the United States. This was the event that would defined the number of young men who had their II-S military exempt status to continue their college education revoked…only to receive new 1-A military status…which meant that with one drop of a ping pong ball, they were immediately prime prospects for being drafted for military service induction to support the ongoing demands of the war in Viet Nam.
On this particular night, Bone Daddy and the rest of his fraternity brothers bought a keg of beer as some sort of respite from the impending drop of the ping pong balls that would forever change the lives of the 850,000 young men who were soon to be conscripted into the military to go to Viet Nam…many in colleges an universities across America. As BD puts it….“not being much of a drinker, I sipped on one beer through the first 58 dates picked in the now famous lottery…and then came ole #59….January 24th”. YAHOOOOOO!?! Oh my God Dog, Bone Daddy won the only lottery he would ever win in his life. Bone Daddy didn’t eat, drink or sleep much that night…..waking up often with a subconscious full of thoughts, concerns and fears searching for alternatives to being drafted as a grunt in the US military. So, being a man, who even at a young age, had the capacity to focus on finding a resolution instead of focusing on the problem, gave his subconscious thoughts the task of coming up with a workable resolution to the problem he face. When he awoke the next day, his plan of action was a clear as the back of his hand…so he jumped out of bed and immediately began to put into action a plan that would guaranteed that BD would be on campus at UT for at least the next two years. That morning, BD went to the University of Texas Registrar Office and dropped two courses he was presently taking…this would allow him to keep his junior status for the coming semester…and then went and joined the UT-ROTC program by committing to two years of reserve officer training on the Texas campus. It seems to this lil ole Chiweenie that Bone Daddy figured that if his future was going to be military…then going in as an officer was much better than going in as a grunt. Can you say “Smart Young Man”.
I told all of that above in order to say this…if Bone Daddy had not taken this course of action…he would never have had the opportunity to see live and in person every home game during the 1969 Season and The University of Texas Longhorns run to the NCAA Football National Championship.
Heck, there’s a good chance that I might not be writing this story had other alternatives been taken…..cuz if BD had made other choices…or even worse…let others dictate his choices and what he had to do…he would have never had the opportunity to know DB Freddie Steinmart or QB James Street…much less see these two fiercely competitive winners play football on the gridiron while leading their team to the National Championship.
Now folks, these were not big men. Why Freddie was 5′ 10″ 166lb strong safety and the captain of the defense. Street was 5’11” 175lb quarterback and the captain of the offense. Even in 1969, they were diminutive players who transformed into giants on the field of play. They each embodied a competitive fire that burned deep within their souls…..coupled with enormous hearts for the games they competed in is what was etched in the memory bank of all fams who got to watch them play.
There were many “jocks” at the UT Delt house in 1969. Jocks was the termed used around the house for those guys on scholarship. The Delts had many jocks members in the fraternity, both scholarship athletes and intramural athletes. They actively rushed and pledged scholarship athletes from many different sports. Off the 1969 UT Football team alone were starters LB Glen Halsell / DE Bill Atessis / OLB Bill Zapalac along with FB Mike Perrin, who is currently (2015) UT Interim Athletic Dircetor/ LB Scott Henderson / LB Mack McKinney / DB Scooter Monzingo. I guess it would be fair to say that UT football was pretty high on the priority list at the Delt house in ’69.
The Delts had rushed Freddue Steinmark heavily in 1967/68. He was a UT jock who embodied all things UT-Delt….blue jeans, t-shirts, humble, sports minded, competitive, self driven and faith driven young men from mostly small towns around Texas. BD remembers that Freddie was described as a young man of good character and leadership qualities in Delta Tau Delta rush meetings. Because BD had served as Delt Rush Captain, he was always involved in the rush process….he made it a point to get to know every top candidate for membership…..so, he got to know Freddie Joe Steinmark during the process of rushing this Texas jock. At that time, little did BD and the Delts know that Freddie Steinmark would become the starting Safety for the University of Texas Longhorns football team for the 1968 team that went 10 – 0 – 1 and the 1969 National Championship team that went 11 – 0. No one had even an inkling of the personal tragedy Freddie would experience during the championship run…..an experience which would become a lasting inspiration for all who attended UT that fateful year….which would illuminate a life that would serve as an inspirational symbol of faith, courage, heart and perseverance. UT students loved Freddie Joe Steinmark.
Steinmark is well-known for his legendary performance in his last game, when the Longhorns, ranked #1, played the Arkansas Razorbacks, ranked #2, a classic battle of longtime rivals that sports writers have called “The Game of the Century”. After the magical Texas 15 – 14 victory, a cancerous tumor was discovered in Freddie’s left thighbone, resulting in amputation of his leg. Yet, 20 days later, Steinmark valiantly stood on the sideline, on crutches, to support the Longhorns in their victory over Notre Dame in that year’s National Championship Cotton Bowl game.
It was during this time that the Steinmark legend began an accelerated growth phase that would carry through to his death in 1971. His story and legend is being depicted in a new movie called “My All American” being released in late 2015. In short, Freddie Joe Steinmark showed people how to live in the two remaining years of his life….as he never spent a moment in dying….at least to those who knew him best. He was not only an inspiration to each and every student enrolled at the University of Texas during the1969 season and beyond….but to a whole legion of Longhorn faithfuls who grew to know and love this Texas Longhorn legend. Those folks like BD, who attended UT during the Freddie Steinmark years still carry the heartfelt admiration and inspiration that was touched off by this diminutive giant…His fellow National Championship teammates still today give him great credit for his leadership in their historic season. Coach Darrell Royal grew very close to Freddie from the day his Horns won “The Game of the Century” as the #1 Texas Longhorns took on the #2 Arkansas Razorbacks winning 15 – 14 in an ending fit for the ages. Steinmark’s leg was amputated the week following that historic game….and from then until the day that Freddie died….Coach Royal was his biggest supporter and fan. In the two seasons that Freddie Joe Steinmark started as UT’s Strong Safety the team had a record of 20 – 1 – 1. Can you say WINNER!!!!!
Interestingly enough…..QB James Street not only led the Texas Longhorns football team to a 20 – 1 – 1 record……but also pitched the Longhorn Baseball Team into the College World Series three years in a row…..amassing a 29 – 8 record over three years as the ace of the UT staff. Now we’re talking 5’11” 175 lb of pure off-speed pitches placed in the perfect spot…..over and over and over again.
Watching James Street was pure joy for a Sportsphile……..he didn’t run over anyone……he didm’t overpower any hitter with his blazing fastball…..but he could sure hit those spots with a myriad of pitches. A quick look at Steet’s records at UT is a testament to his fiercely competitive nature. It takes a tremendous amount of expressed heart and perseverance to accomplish these things as follows:
• UT – Longest pass in a bowl game, (79), broke his own record set earlier in the game
• UT – Longest touchdown pass in a bowl game, (79), broke his own record set earlier in the game
• UT – Most wins without a loss, career (20-0)
• UT – Highest Average Gain Per Pass Completion for a season (17.5) surpassing by Eddie Phillips
• Cotton Bowl – Most yards per attempt, game (15.4)
• Cotton Bowl – Most yards on touchdown passes, game (157)
• Cotton Bowl – Passing yards, career (307), surpassed by Joe Theismann in 1971
• UT & Southwest Conference – Best winning percentage (minimum 1 season), career – 100%
• Southwest Conference & UT most no-hitters (2) tied Bobby Layne, Burt Hooton and Greg Swindell
• Southwest Conference & UT – Most perfect games, season and career (1)
• UT – Opponents batting average, career (0.198), surpassed by Hooton in 1971
• UT – Complete games, career (21), surpassed by Hooton in 1971
A serious case could be made for James Street as the best athlete that the University of Texas has ever had……especially when it comes to winning and leading his teams to championships. But BD knows Lil Jimmie, as BD called him through a venue of competition of a whole different nature……cuz BD was involved in more than a few extremely heated shuffleboard competitions against Lil Jimmie with some significant coin on the table. Money will always change the game. Look what it is doing to all sports today. Shoot, we no longer name stadiums after great icons of the school…..but rather……corporate names.
The place was Jake’s Cafe on 5th St in downtown Austin….the year was 1983…..and the game was shuffleboard. Jake’s was an old “greasy spoon” bar and grill that had been in operation for over 25 years when BD first discovered it. Jake’s had the best fried oysters platter in Austin…..one that would rival any on any coastline anywhere in the world…and their fried chicken platter rival any fried chicken platter anywhere, be it North or South…..black or white. Jake, the owner, was a diminutive “ole country boy” that had an attitude way bigger than his stature…..a kinda warped sense of humor (must have been from serving old drunks all those years)…..and a high tenor voice with a country twang….appearing to not be the brightest candle on the cake….but was surprisingly cunning and stealth like a coyote BD discovered Jake’s Cafe in 1965 upon entering UT as a freshman. He says that looking back over the year’s of being a patron of Jake’s…..he had seen Jake grow old and die…..but his son continued the tradition. What really drew BD to Jake’s was the shuffleboard. From ’65 to ’83, there is no telling how many games of shuffleboard BD played at Jake’s…..as two things began to grow….BD’s stomach and the layer of varnish and oil that Jake applied to the shuffleboard. All those layer of protection for the wood…..created a triple curve board that allowed the shooter the chance to drop the puck right onto the corner at the end of the board. It you could negotiate the third curve with the proper speed, the puck would stop right on the corner for the maximum of 3 points. If you could handle the curves on a regular basis…..there was a significant amount of money to be earned. Bone Daddy tells me he could make more money shooting shuffleboard a Jake’s in one night than he made in a week of working a Clyde Campbell’s Clothier on the Drag at th UT campus in order to support his education at UT.
BD had known Lil Jimmie through playing a game called shuffleboard against each other. In the early days….BD called him James…..but when their shuffleboard games went to putting your money where your mouth is…..that is when the cash is on the table….that’s when Street went from James to Lil Jimmie. Bone Daddy has always said that the athletes who are the best competitors are also the biggest bettors on their talents…..cuz they are winners…..and Lil Jimmie was wired that way….so BD knew that he had to get inside Street’s head in every way that he possibly could…..and calling James Street any thing that might indicate that he is small or little….just would not sit well with Street each time he heard it. Believe me, the way BD said Lil Jimmie was not a name with affectionate overtones…..but rather….more of a “short people got no body to love” name. Bone Daddy and Street’s shuffleboard games at Jake’s Cafe evolved from $5/game throughout the early post UT years…..to $100/game during the sports bar owner and insurance agent years of their lives…..but whether it was for 5 buck or a c-note, BD says that James Street competed fiercely on every shot…..for there was no question in his mind whether he would win or not.
This story is dedicated to Freddie Joe Steinmark and James Street for the parts they played on their fields of play…..for the parts they played in inspiring a generation of students at their University along with their army of Longhorn fans who will forever remember these two fiercely competitive little men with big hearts and winning pedigree…..and most of all for their part in the evolution of my favorite Sportsphile….my Bone Daddy….which gave me the opportunity to write this story.