Answering the Call
Imprint: Big Bear Books
Sales Date: 2023-12-16
150 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 x 0.45 in
- Published: December 2023
For Professors: Exam Copies
The call came for Tommy Bowman unexpectedly and yet he followed with conviction. It happened at the time when a revolution was coming to Southwest Conference football and basketball during the 1966-67 school year. John Westbrook, a Baylor walk-on, became the first African American to play in an SWC varsity football game in September of 1966. At SMU, Jerry LeVias carried the torch as the SWC’s first Black scholarship football player and took the field for the Mustangs that season. By the end of the fall semester, TCU’s James Cash became the SWC’s first African American scholarship athlete to play in a varsity basketball game.
In Tommy Bowman, Chad Conine, a sportswriter, tells the story of Tommy Bowman’s impact on not only Baylor basketball, but Baylor as a whole. Tommy Bowman quietly arrived at Baylor in 1966 for the fall semester. He found himself, almost by surprise, integrating the Baylor basketball team. Bowman had been recruited by Baylor basketball assistant coach Carroll Dawson to be a pioneer for the Bears—Baylor’s first Black scholarship athlete. It was a case of a young man being thrust into a game-changing role. Dawson discovered Bowman by a chance encounter at a service station in East Texas. Both coach and player now describe it as God’s providence. Bowman faced without flinching all the challenges of helping to break the race barrier in the SWC. With the help of his Baylor teammates, he excelled on the court and on campus.
Now, more than fifty years later, Bowman’s achievements have gained their rightful acclaim. He is a member of the Southwest Conference Hall of Fame and the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame. Despite his own humble tendency to avoid the spotlight, Bowman’s Bear teammates have ushered him forward as one of the program’s heroes. They recognize how he answered the call and changed Baylor for the better.
Tommy Bowman is known for being the first black scholarship athlete at Baylor, but I will always remember him for his integrity, hard work and character, both on the court and off. I’m honored to have recruited him, to have been his coach, and to have witnessed his impact as a player, friend, husband, and father.~Carroll Dawson, former head basketball coach of Baylor University and former Assistant Coach and General Manager of the Houston Rockets
Tommy Bowman is not only an integral part of our program’s history, but the qualities he possesses are the same ones we look for in our players today. Driven by faith, Bowman displayed hard work and tenacity to not only become Baylor’s first African-American Scholarship athlete but to excel on and off the floor, weaving himself into the fabric of our basketball program. At Baylor, we talk about Preparing Champions for Life, and I don’t think anybody exemplifies a champion in life quite like Tommy.~Scott Drew, Head Coach, Baylor University Men’s Basketball