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Miss. A&M athletics endorsed, supported by Starkville

November 18, 2012


An enthusiastically called meeting of the Chamber of Commerce was held the night of Tuesday, Dec. 12, 1921. The members of the Athletic Council of the A and M College were present and plan for enlarged activities in this important phase of college discussed. John White, H.S. Chilton, F.L. Wier and M.A. Saunders voiced the sentiments of the Starkville citizens in their expressions of whole-hearted support of college baseball, football, basketball and all other athletic pursuits of the student body.

W.D. Chadwick of the Athletic Council spoke of the immense possibilities of the college along athletic and other lines, how the recent Dad’s Day celebration had afforded a number of Mississippi’s most prominent citizens — many from distant parts of the state and others from adjoining states — the opportunity of inspecting, as a working organization in its full scope, one of the very greatest institutions in the entire Southland, and at the same time, partaking of the youth-restoring elixir of associating with their own and their neighbor’s boys.

With the completion of the good roads leading into Starkville and the impetus in road-building in other parts of the state, the splendid attractions in athletic events to be staged by the college will be witnessed by representative people from every section of Mississippi and adjoining states.

Enlarged facilities in grounds, spacious and comfortable seating arrangements, larger parking space for automobiles and modern equipment in every department, are a few of the contemplated improvements, and with a schedule calling for contests between the leading colleges of the country, sport of a superior order may be expected.  A committee from the Chamber of Commerce, the personnel of which assures constructive effort and permanent results, was appointed to act with the Athletic Council, and is composed of F.L. Wier, chairman, James. Reed, J.S. Puller, G.T. Golson, and M.A. Saunders.

The news reported there was “A Booster Even In His Sleep.”  A cattleman turned the laugh in a neat way on one of our merchants who was good-naturedly trying to make sport of him at the Chamber of Commerce meeting. The latter, though active and successful, happens to occupy a store building that is not noted for architecturally beauty; in fact, it is one of the oldest and “most ornery looking” buildings on Main street. This merchant was making an enthusiastic talk in which he heartily favored city and community support of College Athletics.  He said that when people from other counties came to the college athletic events they would naturally drive through our city to see what it was like; and that would at once begin to arouse our civic pride. “Even that cattleman,” he said, “nodding over there by the stove, will begin to catch the spirit of civic improvement.” The effect of this remark upon the cattleman was electric! His head ceased to nod and he promptly replied, “You are right, brother, visitors to our town will have that effect. And we certainly need to have our civic pride aroused—stockmen, bankers, dog men, merchants and all. And I hope it will prompt our merchants to put in store fronts in keeping with a modern and wide-awake city.” The merchant joined heartily in the laugh that followed. It is said that John M. White (for he was the “cattleman” in question) even when asleep, is actually dreaming things for the betterment of his country and community.

Among the plans for better athletic facilities at the A and M College being contemplated by the Athletic Council is a large and more convenient athletic field. A plat of ground has already been donated for this purpose, situated across the road just south of the present football field. It is the purpose of the Athletic Council to build an athletic field that will take care of all football and baseball games and track meets, the grandstand and bleachers to have a seating capacity of at least five thousand people.

This new athletic field will cost $5,000. Nearly half this amount is already accessible to the Council, and if the balance of the amount could be raised, work on the new field would be started and completed in time for the football games next season.  Inasmuch as the new location would bring the field closer to the business section of Starkville, and would be the means of drawing larger crowds here, it has been suggested that the citizens of the Starkville community raise a fund of $1,000 and donate that amount to the Athletic Council for this purpose.

Can we do it, and should we do it? This question was asked the members of the committee from the Chamber of Commerce, appointed to cooperate with the Athletic Council of the College, and they were unanimous in the opinion that it could and should be done. Here is what they say:

F.L. Wier (Drug Store) — “It can be done. It would be a good investment. And our people, of all vocations and conditions, will support it enthusiastically, if we will only give them a chance. Life is too short for us to be puttering away our time on little things. If we are going to boost College Athletics, let’s do something worthwhile.”

James P. Reed (Grocery Store) — “Certainly we can do it. It ought to be done right away. And the new field ought to be completed and ready for the games next fall.”

J.S. Puller (Drug Store) — “If it is necessary, we certainly can, and I will cheerfully do my part.”

M.A. Saunders (Peoples Bank) — “I am heartily in favor of anything that will be of benefit to the athletic activities of the college. The citizens of Starkville should back them up. Athletics to a college is like advertising to a business—the better the athletic features the wider the college is known. It’s the best advertising feature for the college and the town.”

G.T. Golson (newspaper) — “It will mean big things for Starkville. We can do it.”

Next week the News will publish other interviews from our citizens in answer to this question.

The next week on Dec. 23, 1921, the news reported much favorable comment on the new athletic field at the A an M College has been heard from our citizens and stated that it would be a good thing for Starkville as well as the college almost everyone agrees.

This is the day of the athletics — especially college athletics. A college without athletic features is a “dead one” today. Cities where colleges are located are recognizing the fact that football, baseball, basket ball and the other athletic features are drawing cards for large crowds and an advertisement for the town. Large cities are bidding high for these events, for they know a good thing when they see it.

 With a good athletic field at A and M and some big football and baseball games on the schedule, people will flock to Starkville for these events, and the name of Starkville will be flashed far and wide over the country. It is not too much for the people of this city to subscribe a thousand dollars for a bigger athletic field at A and M.

Last week The news asked the question” “Can we do it, and should we do it?” Several favorable replies were received and here they are:

B. Blumenfeld (Wholesale store) — “I am willing to do my part, and am in favor of anything that is for the interest of A. and M.

D.C. Castles (School Board of Trustees) — “It would mean a great boom for Starkville. I believe we can do it, and think we should do it.”

Baker Harrington (Men’s Wear Store) — “I believe we should do everything to help the athletic features at the college. It’s a good thing and I am for it.”

M. Rossoff (Dept. Store) — “I believe we can do it. The town should do everything it can to help build up the athletic features of the college

 Are you a member of the “B & B A. A. Club?" That was the question asked in the Starkville News on Jan. 27, 1922. It’s about the livest club ever organized. It’s a Starkville product, too. And it’s got the “proper-gander.”

 “Bigger and Better Athletic Activities at A and M” is one safe bet. Come on, you knockers, and place your dough. You can get all the odds you want. The “proper-gander” was launched at the regular meeting of the Chamber of Commerce when by unanimous adoption of the Athletic Committee’s report of the Starkville Chamber of Commerce pledged itself to raise a cash fund to be given to the Athletic Council of the A and M College, to be applied to the funds they already have on hand for the construction of a five to six thousand dollar baseball field. By this cash donation the Council will be enabled to begin work at once and have the grounds completed in time for the spring baseball games.

 A written report was submitted which stated in substance that the committee had gone into the subject carefully and thoroughly and found that the college was in great need of larger and better athletic fields, the most pressing one being a new baseball field. Plans were submitted along with the report of the new baseball grounds.

 The committee was unanimous in recommending that the citizens of Starkville make a liberal contribution to the Athletic Council in order that they might, with other funds available, proceed with the work of constructing this new baseball field so that it could be completed in time for the spring varsity games.

 Immediately following the report, Coach W.D. Chadwick submitted a blueprint of the new field, and explained it to the members. The new park is to be located just south of the present football field and is admirably adapted for the purpose, being easy of approach from every direction and with ample parking space for cars. Enthusiastic speeches were made by several prominent members, pointing out the immense possibilities along the line of “Bigger and Better Athletic Activities at A and M.

 Even before the adoption of the report there cries of “start the subscription now.” After the report was adopted the athletic committee with Kid Chilton added was continued for the purpose of raising the fund, and several hundred dollars were voluntarily subscribed before the meeting adjourned. Only enthusiastic baseball fans would have set forth on such a mission under the weather conditions that confronted them the next day, but the appointed “go-getters” were undaunted. Friday afternoon in an old, drizzling rain, the committee started out to raise the necessary fund. It was by no means an ideal day to solicit subscriptions.  But the committee met with generous and hearty responses. In less than two hours the amount needed was an assured fact.

The goal set by the Chamber of Commerce for the committee has been reached and more.  The merchants, bankers, professional men and citizens of Starkville have “gone over the top” and made a new baseball park possible at A and M College, but — this is only the beginning of the campaign for “Bigger and Better Athletics at the A. and M. College.” J.W. Bailey, secretary of the A. and M. Alumni Association, was one of the enthusiastic advocates for “Bigger and Better Athletics.” He told of plans under way for the launching of a campaign for a fund of twenty-five to fifty thousand dollars by the alumni of the college for the building of a concrete stadium on the present football site and for other athletic features.  This was great news and the old A and M College graduates will receive a warm welcome into the “B&BAA Club.” Mr. Bailey told an appreciated joke about the man going to the woman who owned the goose that laid the golden egg; he asked her why his goose would not lay golden eggs. 

“You have not the “proper-gander,” she said. Come on, Alumnus, we have the “proper-gander” now.  Let’s get busy on the new concrete grandstand and bleachers at the football field.

The Starkville News later addressed a letter to ministers and physicians of the city asking their opinion on “College Athletics.”  The questions put to them was, “What is the Value of College Athletics to the College, to the Student Body and to the Prospective Student.”

The News was gratified at the replies received and with one accord they all favored College Athletics. A few responses follow.
Dr. J.W. Eckford
“It is my opinion the development of the physical man is just as important as the mental.
The trouble at A and M has always been that the facilities were so limited that only the strong husky men who had a chance to make some of the teams go any athletic training.
The boy who was delicate and poorly developed got nothing except his routine military training. I would like to see conditions such that every boy who enters college would get such training as his physical condition and inclination will permit.
Dr. F.E. Barr
College athletics when properly conducted build up a college spirit which is the one greatest factor in building up college attendance. Athletic items are always a point of contact between the ex-student, the student and the prospective student. Every man who attends a college where you have clean athletics is always talking about the contests, and this is spreading interest in his college. We all recognize the self-reliance gained by personal participation in the games. But if you have ringers or hired players on the teams or if favorites are put and kept on the team you soon kill all pride that a student or ex-student may have in his college.  I have attended two colleges at different times and I know from personal experience how a student feels about this subject.
James B. Turner
College athletics is to the body of the boy what classroom work is to his mind.  It is more than this. Athletics is a great stimulus to moral strength.  Decision of the ready type must characterize the athlete. The play to make next is seldom premeditated.  The unexpected thrills the player’s mind and he is trained to be on the alert for it. As regards the college, I think the chief value of athletics lies in its power to instill college spirit. Nothing will cause a boy to forget personal aims, sink himself in the general weal, so surely as to witness intercollegiate athletic contests in which his college is a participant. There is much more I could write, but space does not permit.

Ben F. Rogers
The value of college athletics cannot be estimated in dollars and cents. Physical education or training in any college, if properly carried on, should reach and benefit every student.  Superior athletic teams are splendid advertisements for a college provided high standards of sportsmanship are maintained in producing such teams. They likewise create a fine and commendable spirit among the students of any institution.

Now even “Bigger and Better” plans are in place to expand Scott Field by 6,000 seats by the 2014 season. Nearly 2,500 bleachers will be removed from the north end zone, replaced with 7,000 bleacher seats and 1,500 club seats increasing the seating capacity to 61,000. To be completed by the 2014 season, this project also includes a new video/scoreboard, upgraded concourses, restrooms and concessions.

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