It was the early 1950s, and a storefront on Main Street in Snyder, Texas said it all: “No dogs or Mexicans allowed.”
A football hero from Texas A&M University who’d turned down a job in the pros so he could follow his passion,Buryl Baty traveled to Bowie High School in El Paso to be the coach. Then, the reality set in for coach Baty: his players were all from the barrio. They faced an obstacle that no amount of practice or tactical training alone could surmount.
All their lives, these young athletes had been told they wouldn’t succeed because of their race. When Buryl Baty arrived on the scene he helped to change that mentality. What followed made headlines statewide.
In his new book, “Champion of the Barrio,” R. Gaines Baty chronicles his father’s legacy of sportsmanship and his stance against bigotry in west Texas.
Gaines Baty says his father helped his team overcome the sense that they couldn’t accomplish anything in life.
“From the very first moment it was talking about success,” Gaines Baty says. “Then he started going around and meeting the families of these kids. He would meet the parents and talk about how he was gonna take care of their young men.”
Gaines Baty says the high schoolers experienced racial slurs and condescension often during game time, but his father helped to plant the seed that these kids were worth something more than what society was telling them.
“He treated them just like he did the team that he had before, which was an all-white team,” Gaines Baty says. “He was a builder of men and a builder of character – and that’s the foundation that he started with.”
Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.