Immortal Ten Memorial Installed on Campus
A physical monument is in place for the first time in Baylor University history to honor the memory of 10 students, known as the Immortal Ten, who died in a tragic accident near Austin more than 80 years ago.
On Jan. 22, 1927, the students were on their way to a basketball game against the University of Texas, when a train collided with their bus in Round Rock, killing 10 of the 22 players, coaches and fans in the Baylor travel party.
Baylor remembers the story each year at Homecoming, as freshmen hear the tragic story and participate in a candlelight remembrance ceremony. Thanks to the generosity of Baylor students and alumni, the necessary funds have been raised to make the monument honoring the Immortal Ten a reality.
On June 22, renowned western sculptor Bruce Greene of Clifton assisted crews as they installed Greene's stunning life-size monument to the Immortal Ten in Traditions Square between Pat Neff Hall and the Bill Daniel Student Center. The memorial consists of four life-sized bronze statues along with a bas-relief panel of the remaining six athletes.
The project began in 1995, when the student body president charged Chase Palmer, permanent president for the class of 1996, with the task of coming up with a project for their senior class gift. After brainstorming with classmates, they decided on a tribute to the Immortal Ten.
"It's one of those traditions you hear about all through your years at Baylor, yet there was nothing on campus to perpetuate their memory other than a story," said Palmer, who was on campus for the installation. "I felt like there should be some physical, tangible presence to honor those men."
The Immortal Ten memorial will be officially dedicated during Baylor Homecoming at 2 p.m. Nov. 2 in Traditions Square.
A Flashback To Jan. 22, 1927 - The Immortal Ten
On Jan. 22, 1927, coach Ralph Wolf was taking his first Baylor basketball team to play a game at the University of Texas. This was a crucial game in the Bears' race for the 1927 Southwest Conference championship.
The trip was not a pleasant one, as rain had poured over Central Texas for the majority of the day and continued as the team departed for Austin. That hampered the vision of the chartered bus driver as debris from the road sprayed the windshield of the bus.
In Round Rock, Texas, just miles from the team's arrival in Austin, one of America's first athletic tragedies occurred. A speeding train from the IG&N Railroad Company rammed into the side of the bus at a railway crossing near the center of the city. Ten of the 22 players, coaches and fans in the Baylor party that traveled on the bus that day were killed.
One of the heroes of the accident was James Clyde "Abe" Kelley, captain-elect of the 1927 football team. Kelley saw the train just before impact and pushed his teammate, Weir Washam, out of the bus's window, saving the life of his best friend at the greatest expense to himself. Kelley was one of the 10 who died in the collision.
Others who did not survive the wreck were William Winchester, W.E. Murray, Merle Dudley, Sam Dillow, Jack Castellaw, L.R. "Ivey" Foster, Bob Hailey, R.L. Hannah and James Walker.
Wesley Bradshaw, who is still in the top 10 on the Baylor football career scoring list, was seriously hurt. Gordon Barry, Joe Potter, Edgar Gooch, C.S. Bean, Keifer Strickland (an All-SWC selection), John Kane (later a Congressional Medal of Honor winner in WWII), Dave Cheavens (former Baylor journalism department chair) and coach Wolf were slightly injured. Washam and Louis Slade were unhurt.
As a result of the tragedy, the remainder of the 1927 season was canceled, and the first highway overpass in Texas was constructed in Round Rock.
A book written about the Immortal Ten is available here.