What did he do?
KENNETH HALL, SON OF the Sugar Land constable, grew up on Brooks Street, fishing for anything dumb enough to get on his hook in Oyster Creek. Again, the legend is Hall burning to play football after his dad put a football in his crib; the truth is he was just as happy riding his bike and playing trumpet in the band.
Ken's mother, Imogene, says her son was "just average. Football was never talked about in our house. He felt if he played good, that was great, and if he didn't, he didn't. I enjoyed it when we won and hated it when we lost. That's about it."
Hall was so good, the people in Sugar Land got the blahs over him; he was supposed to do what he did. Against East Chambers his junior year, Hall produced a 21-0 lead the first three times he touched the ball. He ran back the kickoff for a score. He returned East Chambers's first punt for a score. He ran for a touchdown on Sugar Land's first play from scrimmage. "The games got kind of boring with Kenneth scoring and scoring," says Imogene.
Naturally, there are those who say the competition was inferior, and at times it was. But the facts are, hundreds of thousands of other players have encountered similar opposition over the years and not come close to Hall's achievements. Hall was no fluke. In addition to his football heroics, he was a starter for the Gators basketball team and twice led Sugar Land to the state Class B track and field championship. He ran the 100 in 9.7, the 220 in 21.4, the 440 in 49 flat; he long-jumped 23 feet and put the shot 53' 7"; he ran the anchor leg on the 440-yard relay; and occasionally he threw the discus and competed in the high jump.
T.C. Rozelle and Herb Shelton, two longtime fans, were sitting around Hightower's kitchen table recently, drinking coffee and telling lies, and Shelton said, "We knew way back then we were really enjoying ourselves, but we also know Kenneth's greatness grows over the years."
Truth be told, Hall is being forgotten rapidly. In 1959 Sugar Land High was closed and replaced by one big high school for a lot of towns. Ronnie Bell, the coach at the consolidated high school, John Foster Dulles in Stafford, says, "I just can't understand how good Hall must have been. But there are probably not a lot of people who even remember now."
Correct. Further, there is almost nothing around Sugar Land to perpetuate the memory of the finest high school player ever to buckle a chin strap. The newspaper office burned down, destroying many of the accounts and records. The current local sports editor has never heard of Hall. The trophies are, well, who knows where. There are only a few photographs, a couple of films, no plaques.
The football stadium at Dulles High is named after Edward Mercer, a former school superintendent. Leslie A. Wheeler Jr. Fieldhouse is named for a former school board president. There is a John Frankie Field, named after a former football player and head basketball coach at Rice. The airport is Don Hull Airport, for the man who built it. In 1980 it was proposed to the city council that a new street be named Ken Hall Thoroughfare. Ultimately, the city fathers named it Jess R. Pirtle Boulevard, in honor of a local civil engineer, who, Hightower says, "did lots of things for the town."
What did Ken Hall do?