Eagles Baseball Opening Day Ticket, 1950

Fans flocked to the Cotton Bowl to set a baseball attendance record

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by Tom Wancho, Exhibit Planner

The Dallas minor league baseball franchise was a charter member of the Texas League when it was formed in 1888. The Dallas Hams, as the team was originally named, won the league’s first championship that year. After a series of team names, the Dallas Eagles were introduced in 1949.

When the 1950 season opened, Eagles owner Dick Burnett wanted to set a Texas League Opening Day attendance record, then held by the rival Fort Worth Cats. The Cats attracted 16,018 fans to their 1930 season lid-lifter. 

Burnett was the consummate showman and promoter, but with a stadium that could only squeeze 10,500 fans, he needed to find another ballpark. The Cotton Bowl football stadium held 70,000 fans and Burnett had the bait to attract them.

Joining the Dallas Eagles team for one night only were Hall of Fame members Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Charlie Gehringer, and Mickey Cochrane along with soon-to-be Hall of Famers Travis Jackson, Frank “Home Run” Baker, and Dizzy Dean. Former major leaguers Charlie Grimm (also the Eagles’s manager) and Duffy Lewis joined them.

The old-timers, with ages ranging between 40 and 64, opened the game against the Tulsa Oilers. But in a gimmick, well publicized so as not to upset the fans, the major league players faced only one batter. After Dizzy Dean walked the first Tulsa batter, he staged an argument with the home plate umpire and walked off the field. His teammates followed, allegedly in a show of support. The regular Eagles team then took the field for the rest of the game.

Though they lost the game 3-0, the Eagles attracted a crowd of 53,378—meeting Burnett's goal of setting a single game Texas League attendance record. That record still stands today.  

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Eagles Baseball Opening Day Ticket, 1950 Artifact from Dallas, Texas
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