Author photo

By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

Museum features local sports history

 

Last updated 8/15/2023 at 7:25pm

The photo is part of the public Heritage House collection.

Football started at Orange High in 1909, when it was the only high school in the county. This photograph from the Heritage House Museum collection shows the county's first high school football team. Members kneeling, from left to right, were Joe Malone, Pitman, Earl Bland, Vivian Peveto, Leon Skeeler, and Claude Myers. Standing, from left to right, were William Skeeler, Carl Cottle, Pete Dela Barto, Lance Russell, Malcolm Pearce, Herbert Massey, and Mr. Metcalf.

Heritage House Museum on Sunday, August 20, will have a special opening of a new exhibit entitled "Team Spirit" about local high school sports. The come-and-go opening is from 2 to 5 p.m. and will feature Joel Robins.

Robins was an all-around Stark High athlete in the 1960s, starting as Tiger quarterback and getting a baseball scholarship to Texas A&M. After retiring as a chemical engineer, he began researching Orange sports history, tracking down the first Orange High teams to 1909.

He self-published his writings along with copies of old photographs taken from the Heritage House and the Stark Foundation's Benckenstein Archives. He will be selling and autographing the books at the opening.

In addition, former New York Yankee shortstop and West Orange-Stark star athlete Andre Robertson will be at the opening.

The exhibit will include photographs and information on people like Ox Emerson, Orange's first pro football player who is now given credit for inspiring the Wishbone-T formation. Also, Taro Kishi, a Japanese immigrant who traveled by train from the Terry community to Orange High, where he played football and later became the first Asian football player for the Texas A&M Aggies.

Orange's Emma Wallace High, the school for Blacks during the days of segregation, won the county's first state championship when the team lead by Coach Willie Ray Smith won in the old Prairie View UIL. Smith's sons, Bubba and Tody, were born in Orange. Wallace also produced professional players Ernie Ladd and Garland Boyette.

Steve Worster and the Bridge City High Cardinals won the state football title 1966 after losing in the finals in 1965. The team and their star running back helped bring national attention to the small town, which was unincorporated at the time.

Photographs, explanations, and memorabilia will be set up throughout the three buildings on the museum's campus, which is at 905 West Division Avenue in downtown Orange, a block west of the Orange County Courthouse.

 

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