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TEXAS READS: Author revisits deadly riot at 1926 A&M-Baylor football game
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TEXAS READS: Author revisits deadly riot at 1926 A&M-Baylor football game

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T. G. Webb, a Waco historian and football fan, revisits a dark moment in college football in Battle of the Brazos: A Texas Football Rivalry, a Riot, and a Murder (Texas A&M University Press, $27 hardcover).

In 1926, the intense football rivalry between Texas A&M and Baylor erupted into a riot at halftime and an Aggie cadet was fatally injured. He died the next morning in a Waco hospital.

Webb examines the background, eyewitness testimony, and subsequent investigations that led to several prime suspects being named in the death of cadet Charles Sessums, but no one was ever charged.

Sessums was struck in the head by a Baylor student or fan wielding a club or a broken piece of a wooden chair. The riot grew out of a halftime prank that escalated when two Aggies leaped onto the field in protest, and both student sections joined the fray.

Both sides pointed the fingers at the other in assessing blame for the riot, and Baylor and A&M -- less than 100 miles apart -- would not play each other in any sport for five years.

"For decades," the author writes, "echoes of the riot and whispers of a murder haunted the rivalry between Texas A&M and Baylor. This book explains the Cotton Palace riot, including its causes and aftermath, and reveals the untold story of the murder of a Texas A&M cadet and the search for his killer."

High school football

Nearly every year a new book comes out about Texas high school football. Why not? There's so much history and lore connected with the high school game in the Lone Star State.

High School Football in Texas: Amazing Stories from the Greatest Players of Texas by Jeff Fisher, editor-in-chief of the High School Football America web site, focuses on more than 50 Texas football stars recalling their high school years (Sports Publishing, $19.99 hardcover).

Among the players featured: Earl Campbell, John Tyler High School; Bob Lilly, Throckmorton High School; Joe Greene, Temple Dunbar; Don Maynard, Colorado City; Johnny Manziel, Kerrville Tivy; Mike Singletary, Houston Worthing; LaDanian Tomlinson, Waco University; Von Miller, DeSoto High School; Jerry LeVias, Beaumont Hebert; Sammy Baugh, Sweetwater and Kenneth Hall, Sugar Land.

The stories are short and easy to read -- anywhere from two to eight pages per player. Each piece concludes with a very brief summary of the player's accomplishments after high school.

"In all of my interviews," author Fisher writes, "the players spent more time with me than I requested. Almost every player said they did longer interviews because they enjoyed reminiscing about things that they hadn't thought of in years.

"High school football in Texas," Fisher adds, "is woven into the fabric of every community -- no matter how big or how small."

Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.

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