COLLEGE STATION — Twenty-five years ago, Newt Lamb’s visit to the Houston Public Library changed the history of Texas A&M.
“I wanted to research stories about the Great Galveston Storm,” recalls Lamb, 84, a Texas genealogy and history buff. “The library had the Galveston Daily News on microfilm, and while I was researching the Galveston hurricane of 1900, I decided to see what the newspaper had written about the Texas A&M-Galveston Ball football game.
“Maybe there was something in there about A&M’s first game.”
Has he ever done so – and Lamb’s curiosity hammered home the importance of accurate daily documentation of history.
“Holy smokes, I found a story about the A&M-Ball game,” Lamb said with a chuckle of scouring microfilm, which is footage of documents on a small projector used long before the internet to record the story. “Then I started watching more and saw A&M vs. Texas before that. I have all the A&M sports history books, and I was like, ‘This is not right.’
“But how could it be wrong in the newspaper? I’m sitting here looking at the microfilm and the dates.
Until that day in 1997, history books and media guides had A&M’s first football game as a win over Galveston Ball High School at College Station — odd in itself.
“Ball High in name only,” Lamb added with a laugh. “They just brought down a bunch of guys from the docks and formed a team.”
Aside from the peculiarity of A&M playing an alleged high school team to kick off its football story, Lamb discovered that the Aggies actually played at the University of Texas more than a month before Ball. The Longhorns prevailed 38-0 in Austin and the Aggies opted out of the second half.
“All the history books had A&M’s first game against Ball, and all the books turned out to be wrong,” Lamb said. “I thought, ‘This is absolutely weird. Who in the world can I tell?
If Lamb, a Lamar high school and A&M graduate in 1960, had made such a discovery on microfilm in 2022 or in the past 15 years or so, he probably would have posted as much on Facebook or on an A&M fan message board — and his discovery. would have spread that way.
In 1997, however, he used what was still considered cutting-edge technology at the time – email – to communicate his findings.
“I subscribed to the Bryan-College Station Eagle at the time and received it in the Houston mailbox a few days late,” Lamb said. “I took the Eagle so I could read about Aggie sports.”
When Lamb contacted the newspaper, there was a question: “Can you prove this?”
His answer: The daily documentation does not lie. Lamb’s sleuthing also reiterated the importance daily journalism plays in keeping and setting the record straight.
Lamb pointed out that as Aggie, he wanted A&M’s first game to be a win indeed — but he wasn’t going to ignore the truth either. The Galveston newspaper ran an article about UT shutting out the Aggies on October 20, 1894 in Austin. The A&M-Ball game took place on November 29, 1894 at College Station.
“It would be impossible for the newspaper to publish the results before the game was played,” Lamb explained.
The Daily News’ account of A&M’s first game was hardly flattering for the College Station team:
“Tonight’s football match between the university eleven and the agricultural and mechanical high schools ended in victory for the former with the score of 38 to 0, the second half of the match having been canceled before being played at the request of the agricultural college. and mechanical boys.
“The latter are playing well, but the Varsity team is too heavy for them and outperforms them in every way.”
The Aggies fumbled in their very first game, according to the account. A&M officials, when shown Lamb’s Xerox copies of the two Daily News articles, said no one was quite sure where the original misinformation came from – perhaps It was simply wishful thinking from A&M passed down over the decades.
“People who could have said it was wrong were dead,” Lamb said with a light laugh.
Twenty-five years ago, Lamb held in his hands the annual, freshly updated media guide to A&M football. His long love of history had paid off by officially setting the record straight, thanks to his passion for A&M and his surprising discovery thanks to an old microfilm buried in the Houston library.
“The next thing I knew, they were changing everything because of that article,” Lamb recalled.
As for the state’s most storied rivalry, A&M and UT haven’t played football since 2011. The Aggies left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference in 2012, and now UT and Oklahoma are about to join the SEC, probably by 2024 but not later. than 2025.
“You want Texas,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said of the Aggies and Longhorns finally playing again for the 119th chance. “When Texas comes into the league, you (want Texas) definitely, because of that rivalry.”
Rest assured if he is able, Lamb will be at Kyle Field when the two teams finally meet. His 57-year-old wife, Pamela, died last New Year’s Eve, so Lamb admits it was a tough holiday for him.
The former A&M athletics man of letters, Navy sailor, stockbroker and manager of Foley says telling the story of his unexpected discovery, however, has brought some joy back to this holiday – thanks in particular to historians. newspapers of more than a century ago that were simply doing their job.
“When I first got into genealogy, the best you could hope for was your grandmother writing dates and times on her Bible,” Lamb said with a chuckle. “Now so much has been digitized and the world has changed so quickly that I can find almost anything online.”
Including the results of his determination to restore A&M football history to 25 years ago.
“We took the bull by the horns,” Lamb said with satisfaction. “And the books have been changed.”
. love of a Houstonian for history changed record