Hub Hollis: We’ll Always Have Paris

Roo fans:

This week’s story takes us back from West to East Texas, and is dedicated to my good friend and AC alum Mr. Cliff Brooks.

Chapter 1: The Season
Chapter 2: The Protest
Chapter 3: Herbert on Fire
Chapter 4: We’ll always have Paris

Chapter 1: The Season

Herbert Hollis (AC ’24) arrived on campus in the fall of 1920, and made an immediate splash. The Denison, TX star was a solid short stop on the diamond, and a fullback with lightning speed on the gridiron. Hollis was a starter his freshman year in baseball and football, and contributed to AC’s TIAA championship in 1920 on the football field.

His sophomore year was even more impressive. Hollis was voted captain of the football team, leading AC to a winning season. The 1921 campaign included a win against SMU and a competitive loss to Baylor. The AC fullback was also the team’s kicker, and accounted for 34 points that season…..3 touchdowns, 3 field goals, and 7 extra points.

Expectations were through the roof for football in 1922, as most of the team was back. Sharing running back duties with Hollis was Ray Morehart, the future 1927 Yankees star mentioned in an earlier story. This duo was at times described by Texas newspapers as the “fastest backfield in the state.” And the AC Roos of 1922 would not disappoint.

The season began with a loss. But a respectable loss. The Roos journeyed to Austin to take on the mighty Longhorns of UT. By the half, UT had managed only a 3-0 advantage. The Horns would prove too strong in the second half, prevailing 19-0. But Hollis had a tremendous game at Clark Field, breaking one long run after another against an impressive Horns team that would finish the season 7-2 with wins over Alabama and Oklahoma.

It’s not known if UT President Robert Vinson was in attendance, but it would not be surprising if he were. President Vinson was an 1896 AC grad, and played a pivotal role in the acquisition of land for DKR Memorial stadium in 1924.

See photo of the 1922 game. Roos are in solid; Horns are in vertical burnt orange stripes.

After the UT game, the Roos and Hollis went on a tear…..

A win over Howard Payne. A 10-7 victory at SMU. Victories over Daniel Baker and Simmons (later Hardin-Simmons). An impressive 20-7 defeat of TCU. And a 7-0 victory over Southwestern. Hollis was pivotal in nearly every game, scoring touchdowns against Daniel Baker, Simmons, TCU, and Southwestern, and providing the difference in the SMU game with a late field goal. Hollis himself was on his way towards his third straight year on the All-TIAA team.

The Roos stood at 6-1, and undefeated in conference. According to team manager Jimmy Creighton, the 1921 team was “dreaming of a bowl invitation, possibly on the west coast”. All that remained was a season finale against rival Trinity and the TIAA championship would come back home to Sherman. And who knows what post season game might await?

But A.E. Chandler had other ideas.

Recap of the AC – UT game in 1922. “The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You.” “Kangaroo meets Longhorn.” “Cow bells in distance.”

Because of the references to Hardin-Simmons in Abilene, this chapter is dedicated to Abilene native Mr. Stephen Sides.

Chapter 2: The Protest

A.E. Chandler was a professor of business administration at Simmons University. He was also the president of the T.I.A.A. Simmons had a quality T.I.A.A. team in 1922, second only to the undefeated Roos. Late that season, Chandler learned that Hollis had played summer baseball in Oklahoma, and heard allegations that his ball club had paid Hollis for his services. Acting as T.I.A.A. president, Chandler demanded that Hollis answer questions about his summer ball in Oklahoma.

Hollis responded. Yes, he was a poor student. Yes, he had played summer ball. Yes, he was paid in cash. But he was never under contract. And T.I.A.A. rules clearly stated that only baseball contracts were illegal.

And Hollis was correct. In 1921. However, according to Chandler, a little publicized rule change in 1922 meant that renumeration in any form, contract or no, was a violation of the rules. With Chandler’s prodding, the T.I.A.A. ruled Hollis ineligible and demanded that A.C. forfeit all T.I.A.A. games in which Hollis played. With this ruling, Simmons was declared T.I.A.A. champions in 1922.

AC formally protested (see November 1922 article in the Port Arthur News). The rule change was unknown. The rule was unjust. And the penalty was excessive. The protest fell on deaf ears, and the ruling stood. In spite of a perfect 6-0 T.I.A.A. record for AC, Simmons would be awarded the conference championship.

It all stinks to high heaven, if you ask me…..

The dispirited Roos found themselves with no Hollis, no conference championship, and no more dreaming of a West Coast bowl. Not surprisingly, they fell to Trinity in the last game of the season, 9-0. The 6-2 season was remarkable and impressive, yet the Roos understandably felt cheated and despondent. Hollis himself, exasperated at the ruling, would not be allowed to play ball for AC ever again.

Careers in education often required advanced degrees. So after a decade absence, Hollis returned to Austin College in the 1930s in order to earn a masters degree in history. His AC degree required, among other things, a master’s thesis on a a topic of Hollis’s choosing. Hollis submitted his thesis, received his M.A. from Austin College, and quietly placed his work in his attic, where it collected dust for nearly a half century…….


3 time All-TIAA fullback Herbert Hollis in the 1922 Austin College Chromascope.

Austin College told A.E. Chandler to take a hike, and informally declared themselves 1922 TIAA champions. Hollis is front and center with the football.


Chapter 3: Herbert on Fire

To this day, no one is sure how it was started. Some say school kids playing with matches at the railyard. Others suspect an industrial fire. But the result is well known. On a very warm day in March 1916, with winds blowing from the southwest at speeds up to 60 mph, the entire city of Paris, TX was destroyed by a catastrophic fire. By the next morning, very few buildings remained and most of the city was homeless.

The Paris fire of 1916 is often compared with the great Chicago fire of 1871, infamously started by Mrs O’Leary’s cow. The citizens and firefighters of Paris did their best to contain the blaze. But firefighting in 1916 was primitive and ineffective compared to the efforts of firefighters today such as Cliff Brooks. Buckets of waters and lots of volunteers were no match for the raging inferno fueled by high winds. Nearly 90% of the town was destroyed.

Over the decades to follow, Paris would eventually recover and thrive. However, the memory of the fire began to fade. As did the knowledge. Why did it begin? Where did it spread? What was lost? What was the cost? How many casualties? By the 1980s, most of the story about the fire came from a rapidly decreasing number of eye witnesses. Until…………….Hollis’s AC master’s thesis was found. His topic in Sherman? The Paris Fire of 1916.

The Genealogical Society of Northeast Texas learned of the Hollis thesis, and began work on republishing alongside photographs of the disaster. Hollis’s work from 1936 was extremely detailed, and included eyewitness interviews, insurance claim data, newspaper clippings, maps, and other relevant information about the scope of the disaster.

For historians interested in the 1916 event, the Hollis thesis was equivalent to recuperating detailed history assumed lost forever. The work was republished in 1982, ironically the same year that Paris was hit with the second of its two famous natural disasters………… the April 2, 1982 F4 tornado that leveled parts of the city.

The 100th anniversary of the Paris fire of 1916 was just a few months ago. Cliff even posted about the anniversary on social media recently. As for our knowledge of that event? We can thank Mr. Hollis and his work on the campus of Austin College. An Amazon link to his work is included.*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Hollis’s work is enhanced and republished in 1982, nearly 50 years after it was first created in Sherman.

Special shout out to Tina Cook….AC alum, Paris resident, and Student Advisor at Paris Junior College. Salute!


Cliff Brooks shares an article in March 2016 on the 100 year anniversary of the great Paris fire.

Chapter 4: We’ll always have Paris

Herbert L. Hollis went by the nickname of “Hub”. That was his nickname in Sherman, and that’s what he was called during his half century in Paris. “Hub” was inducted into the Austin College Athletic Hall of Honor in 1965, one of six founding members. Herbert Lynn “Hub” Hollis passed away in 1973.

After AC, Hollis played minor league baseball for 3 seasons in Paris, TX after graduation. In Paris, he found a home. He married a local Paris girl. After retirement from Paris minor league baseball, he became head football and baseball coach of the Paris Junior College Dragons, as well as a history teacher at Paris High School. And in 1937, Herbert Hollis accepted the position of principal at the Graham School within Paris ISD, a job he would hold for nearly three decades.

For his contributions to baseball in the city of Paris, both as a minor league player and as head baseball coach of Paris Junior College, the home field of the Dragons was named for Hollis. All who venture to 24th street in order to watch or play will be arriving at “H.L. ‘Hub’ Hollis field”, just north of Paris High School. Hollis field is used by both the PJC Dragons and the Paris High School Wildcats. The field has been used for decades in Paris. Why, the local paper even reported our own Cliff Brooks hitting a triple there in 1988 for a local Paris summer club. See photo of “Hub” Hollis field and newspaper clipping of Cliff’s triple.

It’s a shame Hub was not around in 1988-89 to watch his local Wildcats that year. After starting the season 0-3, Placekicker Cliff Brooks and the rest of the Paris HS football team simply decided to never lose again. They rolled to the Class 4A state championship, easily defeating West Orange-Stark in College Station for the title and finishing with an 11-3 record. But Paris was not yet done.

The Wildcat baseball team picked up where the football squad left off, dominating opponent after opponent on Hub Hollis field in route to a Class 4A state championship in baseball. Paris defeated Austin Anderson at Disch-Falk in dramatic fashion just weeks after Cliff’s graduation and months before his arrival on campus. No wonder he was such a fun guy to be around. 🙂

The Hub Hollis naming honors were not confined to Paris either. Austin College acquired a live kangaroo as a mascot in 1923, and began the process of naming the Roo. According to AC sources, three finalist names were nominated and voted upon:

“Pat”, in honor of athletics supporter Pat E. Hooks.
“Steve”, in honor of Stephen F. Austin.
“Hub”, in honor of fullback H. L. “Hub” Hollis.

In the end, “Pat” would win. But probably not without some competition from “Hub”. Both Hooks and Hub were inducted into the Hall of Honor together in 1965.

Cliff Brooks is a firefighter/paramedic in The Colony. He’s also a member of the 1988 Paris High School state champions in football, a veteran baseball player at “Hub” Hollis field, and a fightin’ AC Roo. If I have not yet convinced you why this story is dedicated to Cliff, I ain’t ever gonna do it. 🙂

Our next story will be dedicated to my good friend Mr. John Cotton, AC Class of 1984.

Go Roos!

Cliff Brooks hits a three bagger at Hollis field in 1988!

“Hub” Hollis (AC ’24) one of the original inductees into the AC Athletic Hall of Honor in 1965.