By Michael Karr | Broadcast Intern
The Immortal Ten are mentioned throughout the school year, whether it be at the Mass Meeting during Welcome Week, the statues on the Vera Martin Daniel Plaza, or on the anniversary of the tragic death of ten students.
But who exactly are the Immortal Ten and what legacy did they leave behind?
On Saturday, Jan. 22, 1927, the Baylor men’s basketball team was headed toward Austin to take on the University of Texas Longhorns. To do so, a wooden bus transported 21 students including coaches, players, and fans.
Along the way, the bus stopped to let L.R. “Ivey” Foster, Jr. ride with the others. Foster was the newly-named sports editor for The Baylor Lariat — hired only a week before.
The rain hindered the driver’s eyesight as he drove onto a railroad track. The driver did not see the oncoming train until it was too late and the train hit the bus, killing 10 of the individuals inside the vehicle.
“Bloody basketball jerseys were scattered for 200 to 300 yards,” Clint Patterson, senior coordinator of spirit and traditions said. “The train actually carried the deceased and some survivors as well into Round Rock and Taylor, Texas.”
The rest of the basketball season was cancelled due to the loss of seven players, a manager, a yell leader and the sports editor.
Many of the victims had big things ahead of them, such as being initiated into chamber, celebrating a birthday and attaining a law degree.
Jack Castellaw was among the students that did not survive the collision. He was the team’s scorekeeper and never missed a game. Jack was known and loved across campus. He was remembered as a friend to Dave Cheavens, who raised money to build the Castellaw Communications Building.
Among the decreased was James “Abe” Kelly. Kelly was on the basketball team and the football team as the newly-elected captain. Kelly was a fireman and used his income to pay for housing. During the train accident, Kelly pushed his friend, Weir Washman out the window, causing Washman to live.
“Weir Washman was a pallbearer at his funeral,” Patterson said. “He even got to live another 50 years.”
Among the living was also the men’s basketball coach, Ralph Wolf. Wolf was on the way to his first game as coach when the train hit the bus. Wolf became Waco’s mayor and was in that position during the infamous 1953 tornado that tore through the city.
The Eternal Flame is another tradition at Baylor, but is connected to the Immortal Ten. Every year at Mass Meeting, the torchbearers light the flame as a way to represent the mark that the Immortal Ten left on campus.
Patterson said there is much to be learned from remembering these individuals and their story.
“There is a lot of inspiration to take away from this,” Patterson said. “Don’t live your life as if this is the last day of it but instead, make it the best day of your life.”