Longview, Texas’ very own James Street was the quarterback at the center of the University of Texas’ dynasty during the late 60’s. When Darrell Royal put James Street in to pilot the wishbone offense during the 3rd game of the 1968 season, he had no idea how well Street would play. James went on to lead the team in passing in both 1968 and ’69, and back to back SWC titles in those years. In 1969 he led
the team in total offense, and was named team MVP. That season was magical for Street. As co-captain, he earned All-SWC honors, and won two critical and hard fought contests to claim to claim the National Title.
The first was a Dec 6 contest against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The ‘Backs and the Longhorns had a long and bloodied history that rivaled at some point that of the one between the Longhorns and Sooners. As Texas ramped up its football program under Darrell Royal, the rivalry grew between the two teams. Billed as the “Game of the Century” or the “Big Shootout”, #1 Texas and #2 Arkansas met at
Razorback Stadium. Even President Nixon showed up. Texas had handed Arkansas its only loss of the season the previous year and the Razorbacks wanted revenge. The Longhorns were unable to adjust early on to the suffocating ‘Backs defense and through out 3 quarters, it looked like Arkansas was going to win, up 14-0 going into the 4th quarter, but all James Street needed against the highly regarded ‘Backs defense, was that one quarter. To start the fourth, Street darted into the endzone for the TD, then converted the 2 point conversion by diving in to make it 14-8. After the Longhorns stopped the Razorbacks with an interception in the endzone, the Longhorns dive stalled and facing a 4th and 3 in their own territory they decided to go for it. Calling the Right 53 Veer Pass, Street executed it marvelously throwing into double coverage into the arms of Randy Peschel. It was good enough to set up the tying touchdown and go ahead extra point. Texas won the game 15-14 and set up the final showdown with Notre Dame.
On January 1st, 1970, Notre Dame decided to meet UT in the Cotton Bowl for the National Championship (-after undefeated Penn State declined). Carrying a 19 game winning streak into the game, UT was still battle worn from its previous epic contest almost a month ago against Arkansas. Spotting Joe Theisman and Notre Dame a 10-0 lead, Texas began to really put it back together in the second half. Down 3, with 7 minutes to play, UT mounted a historic drive, converting 2 fourth down attempts on 17 plays. Street himself completed an incredibly clutch pass to Cotton Spreyer setting the team up at the 2 yard line. They’d get the go ahead score and win the game 21-17 to claim the National Title. While Street didn’t have the greatest game, he led the Longhorns on 3 70+ yard drives. The game also served as the Texas’ program’s 500th. After the game LBJ stopped in to congratulate James Street and the Longhorns.
Back then players didn’t immediately go into the NFL, and it looked like Street’s destiny lied in baseball. An excellent pitcher James went 29-8 with a 1.86 ERA for the Longhorns, and even played in the farm system the previous year for the Boulder Collegians. An arm injury changed everything for James at the College World Series in 1970. He’s gone into business since then, and formed The James Street Group, which gives financial advice to people receiving structured settlements. In 1999, Street was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame, and the Texas Hall of Fame in 2000.
Another one I had almost given up on, 5 months was just enough to get me a bit nervous. I really liked the photos on these cards. The player card of Street looks great. I think the framing on the imagery is great, and I am grateful that they used a color shot. The classy Monumental Moments, well- I really like the gold one which was a limited numbered card -was dead on. It’s a great shot of Street before 53 Veer. The second one, is not so great, but it catches what seems to almost be a candid or tender moment between James and Coach Royal amid the fanfare of the contest between the Longhorns and the Irish. James returned the check I sent, and I hope he took my advice and had lunch up at El Patio over under the shadow of ‘The Drag’.
James Street passed away on Monday, September 30th 2013 of a heart attack at the age of 65.