President George W. Bush has been a Texas sports fan since he was a young child. He grew up in the West Texas town of Midland, where his family moved from Connecticut when he was two. The former governor and onetime managing partner of the Texas Rangers recalls his excitement at seeing the first issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED at a friend's house in 1954. On the occasion of the magazine's 50th anniversary, he sat down with SI's Don Yaeger to talk about sports and the Lone Star State.
SI: Why is Texas such a big sports state?
GWB: First of all, the weather is pretty darn good, so people can stay outside a lot. The main sport is football, and it's probably because years ago high schools became the center point of the small towns. High school football became the thing to do on a Friday night.
The elementary school I went to was in front of Midland Memorial Stadium. And Wahoo McDaniel was the Midland High football star. He went on to [ Oklahoma] and then played linebacker for the Jets, and then became a professional wrestler. I remember as a kid watching Wahoo McDaniel play football.
SI: What's your favorite Texas rivalry?
GWB: I'd have to say the Texas- Texas A&M football game. It's the kind of game where all records go out the window because of the intensity of the rivalry. When Texas A&M comes to Austin to play, the Aggie band and the Corps of Cadets march down Congress Avenue, which is the main street, to the stadium. The whole series is full of tradition. Plus they're good games, generally.
SI: You've been quoted as saying that as an athlete you peaked in Little League.
SI: Tell me about your Little League career.
GWB: Well, I was a pretty good catcher. In Midland we lived right behind an old buffalo wallow that they'd converted into a Little League park, so all I had to do was walk out our backyard, and there I was in the field. And I played for hours. You hear the stories about the mother leaning out the door screaming for the son to come back for dinner—that was me. The other thing I remember about Little League is that my mother was at every game. She was the scorekeeper and, believe it or not, actually didn't yell a lot at me or the umpires.