The Junction Boys tells the story of Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's legendary training camp in the small town of Junction, Texas. In a move that many consider the salvation of the Texas A&M football program, Coach Bryant put 115 players through the most grueling practices ever imagined. Only a handful of players survived the entire 10 days, but they braved the intense heat of the Texas sun and the burning passion of their coach, and turned a floundering team into one of the nation's best. The Junction Boys is more than just a story of tough practices without water breaks. An extraordinary fellowship was forged from the mind-numbing pain. The thirty-five survivors bonded together like no other team in America. They profited from the Junction experience; the knowledge they took back with them to College Station, about themselves and what they were capable of, would be used for the rest of their lives.
In vivid and powerful images reminiscent of Friday Night Lights, Hoosiers, and The Last Picture Show, these young men and their driven coach come to life. The Junction Boys contains all the hallmarks of a classic sports story, and it combines America's love of college football with an extraordinary story of perseverance and triumph.
More than a century ago, a school was constructed in Fort Worth, Texas, for the purpose of housing and educating the orphans of Texas Freemasons. It was a humble project that for years existed quietly on a hillside east of town. Life at the Masonic Home was about to change, though, with the arrival of a lean, bespectacled coach by the name of Rusty Russell. Here was a man who could bring rain in the midst of a drought. Here was a man who, in virtually no time at all, brought the orphans' story into the homes of millions of Americans.
In the 1930s and 1940s, there was nothing bigger in Texas high school football than the Masonic Home Mighty Mites—a group of orphans bound together by hardship and death. These youngsters, in spite of being outweighed by at least thirty pounds per man, were the toughest football team around. They began with nothing—not even a football—yet in a few years were playing for the state championship on the highest level of Texas football. This is a winning tribute to a courageous band of underdogs from a time when America desperately needed fresh hope and big dreams.
The Mighty Mites remain a notable moment in the long history of American sports. Just as significant is the depth of the inspirational message. This is a profound lesson in fighting back and clinging to faith. The real winners in Texas high school football were not the kids from the biggest schools, or the ones wearing the most expensive uniforms. They were the scrawny kids from a tiny orphanage who wore scarred helmets and faded jerseys that did not match, kids coached by a devoted man who lived on peanuts and drove them around in a smoke-belching old truck.
In writing a story of unforgettable characters and great football, Jim Dent has come forward to reclaim his place as one of the top sports authors in America today.
A remarkable and inspirational story of an orphanage and the man who created one of the greatest football teams Texas has ever known . . . this is their story—the original Friday Night Lights.
"This just might be the best sports book ever written. Jim Dent has crafted a story that will go down as one of the most artistic, one of the most unforgettable, and one of the most inspirational ever. Twelve Mighty Orphans will challenge Hoosiers as the feel-good sports story of our lifetime. Naturally, being from Texas, I am biased. Hooray for the Mighty Mites.''
—Verne Lundquist, CBS Sports
"Coach Rusty Russell and the Mighty Mites will steal your heart as they overcome every obstacle imaginable to become a respected football team. Take an orphanage, the Depression, and mix it with Texas high school football, and Jim Dent has authored another winner, this one about the ultimate underdog.''
—Brent Musburger, ABC Sports/ESPN
"No state has a roll call of legendary high school football stories like we do in Texas, and, admittedly, some of those stories have been ‘expanded' over the years when it comes to the truth. But let Jim Dent tell you about the Mighty Mites of Masonic Home, the pride of Fort Worth in the dark days of the Depression. Read this book. You will think it's fiction. You will think it's a Hollywood script. But Twelve Mighty Orphans is the truth, and nothing but. It is powerful stuff. Some eighty years later, the Mighty Mites' story remains so sacred, not even a Texan would dare tamper with these facts. And Jim Dent tells it like it was."
— Randy Galloway, columnist, Fort-Worth Star Telegram
Jim Dent, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Junction Boys, returns with a powerful Texas story which transcends college football, displaying the courage and determination of one of the game's most valiant players.
Freddie Steinmark was an under-sized but scrappy young man when he arrived in Austin as a freshman at the University of Texas in 1967. Despite the pronouncement by many coaches that he was too small to play football at the college level, Freddie was a tenacious competitor who vowed to start every game as a varsity Longhorn.
By the start of the 1969 season, Freddie was making his mark on the college gridiron and national stage as UT's star safety, but he'd also developed a crippling pain in his thigh that worried his high school sweetheart, Linda. Despite the increasingly debilitating pain, Freddie continued to play throughout the season, helping the Longhorns to rip through opponents like pulpwood. His final game was for the national championship at the end of 1969, when the Longhorns rallied to beat Arkansas in a legendary game that has become known as "the Game of the Century."
Tragically, bone cancer took Freddie off the field when nothing else could. But nothing could extinguish his irrepressible spirit or keep him away from the game. Although his struggle with cancer would be short-lived, Freddie's fight would inspire the nation as well as thousands of cancer victims, earning him a special citation from President Richard Nixon. Today, a photo of Freddie hangs in the tunnel at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, where players touch it before games en route to the field. With this moving story, a Brian's Song for college football, Jim Dent once again brings readers to cheers and tears with a truly American tale of resolution and bravery in the face of the worst odds.
Jim Dent takes the reader to the heart of Texas football with the incredible story of how two young men broke the chain of racism that had existed for more than half a century. In 1965, black and white players barely mixed in Texas. That summer, Jerry LeVias and Bill Bradley came together at the Big 33 game in Hershey, Pennsylvania. When no one else would room with LeVias, Bradley stepped forward. The two became the closest of friends and the best of teammates. LeVias called Bradley "my blue-eyed soul brother.'' Big-hearted, gregarious, and free-spirited, Bradley looked out for LeVias – one of three black players on the team.
The Texas team came to Hershey with a mandate to win. A year earlier, Texas had lost to the Pennsylvania all-stars 12-6 in the most significant defeat in the state's proud history. This was considered blasphemy in a place where football outranked religion. Texas coach Bobby Layne was mad-as-hell that he was forced to play with second stringers in '64. So he and assistant coach Doak Walker traveled to Austin and asked Texas governor John Connally to end the scheduling conflict with the in-state all-star game so he could suit up the best players. Layne also sought permission to recruit black players. After all, Texas was flush with black stars, some of whom would mature into the most notable players in the history of the National Football League.
Layne's scheme never would have worked without Bradley and LeVias. Together—and with Layne's indomitable will to win—the two led their team proudly to face down the competition at Hershey Stadium. The Kids Got It Right is a moving story, reminiscent of Remember The Titans. Jim Dent once again brings readers to cheers and tears with a truly American tale of leadership, brotherhood, and good-ol' Texas-style football.
In the 1960's, Notre Dame's football program was in shambles. Little did anyone know, help was on its way in the form of Ara Parseghian, a controversial choice for head coach—the first one outside of the Notre Dame "family." It was now his responsibility to rebuild the once-proud program and teach the Fighting Irish how to win again. But it was no small task.
The men of Notre Dame football were a bunch of unlikelies and oddballs, but Parseghian transformed them into a team: a senior quarterback who would win the Heisman Trophy; a five-foot-eight walk-on who would make first team All-American; an exceptionally rare black player, who would overcome much more than his quiet demeanor to rise to All-American, All-Pro, Hall of Famer, and to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Parseghian would change everything, from the uniforms and pads to the offensive strategy. It would be a huge gamble against great obstacles. But Ara Parseghian had that look in his eye....
New York Times bestselling author Jim Dent chronicles one of the greatest comeback seasons in the history of college football. Once again confirming his position as one of the top sports writers in the country, Dent brings the legends of Notre Dame football to life in an unforgettable story of second chances, determination, and unwavering spirit.
Monster of the Midway recounts Nagurski's unparalleled triumphs during the 1930s and '40s, when the Chicago Bears were the kings of professional football. From 1930, the Bronk's first year, through 1943, his last, the Bears won five NFL titles and played in four other NFL Championship Games. Focusing on Nagurski's 1943 comeback season, and how he miraculously led the Bears to their fourth NFL championship against the backdrop of World War II era Chicago, Jim Dent uncovers the riveting drama of Nagurski's playing days. His efforts were the stuff of legend, and his success in 1943 accomplished in spite of a battered frame, worn-out knees, multiple cracked ribs, and a broken bone in his lower back.
While chronicling the drama of the '43 championship chase, Dent also tells of both the Bears' colorful early years and Bronko's improbable rise to fame from the backwoods of northern Minnesota. Woven into the narrative are the sights and smells and sounds of one of the most romantic, flavorful eras of the twentieth century. And laced through it all are stories of legend: Bronko rubbing shoulders with colorful characters like George Halas, Red Grange, Sid Luckman, and Sammy Baugh; Bronko running into (and breaking) the brick wall at Wrigley Field; Bronko winning All-American spots for two positions; Bronko knocking scores of opponents unconscious; and Bronko reaching the heights of football glory and, with rare grace, turning his back on the game after winning his last championship.
Rich in unforgettable stories and scenes, this is Jim Dent's account of Bronko Nagurski-arguably the greatest football player who ever lived-and his teammates, the roughest, toughest, rowdiest group of players ever to don leather helmets, and the original Monsters of the Midway.