I wish I could say that I went in
and ran for the winning touchdown
but I did not.
I simply stood by in case my team needed me.
E. King Gill
On January 2, 1922, the fightin' Texas Aggies squared off against vaunted Centre College, the top team in the nation with an 11-0 record, in the Dixie Classic for the Southwest Conference championship. Aggie coach Dana X. Bible knew that he was up for a big challenge, and to make matters worse, a lot of players were out with the flu and other ailments.
As the third quarter rolled around, A&M was leading Centre 15-14, but injuries and fatigue had withered all of Bible's reserves away. Desperate, he looked into the stands and spied E. King Gill, a former football halfback who had moved on to the basketball team.
"Gill, can you help me out?" He asked. King dutifully accepted the plea, went to the locker room, and suited up. He spent the rest of the game standing on the sidelines, waiting for the call to go on the field. Luckily, the A&M eleven on the field stayed the course, and the Aggies won the hard-fought contest 22-14.
Gill's dedication to the team earned him the nickname "the 12th man", a nickname which soon spread to the entire student body of Texas A&M. Beginning the following season, the students stood through out the entire game, showing their support for the team and their willingness to help lead their team to victory themselves, if need be.
In 1980, the graduating class presented the university with a bronze statue of E. King Gill outside of Kyle Field, as a tribute to the legend the man left at A&M. In 2001, the Fort Worth Star printed a lovingly crafted book about the man entitled The 12th Man: The Life and Legend of Texas A&M's E. King Gill. It's hard to find, but not impossible, and made a great present for my dad this past Christmas.