Photo courtesy of Rice University

Timpson High School-Class of 1917 100 Years Ago Won the State Track Championship for Timpson

Marion Lindsey was perhaps the best athlete that ever walked the halls of Timpson High School.  Timpson High has had its fair share of athletes throughout time.  In the 1930s Timpson had Kavanaugh Francis, George “Bo” Griffin, Sherrill Bailey, and Arthur Horton.  In the 1940s, Timpson had Howard Brooks and F.M. Crump on the football field.  Some more outstanding athletes after these years were:  Forrest Hailey, Gary Williams, Dennis Lilly, and Joe Mack Johnson in the 1970s. They were followed by Patrick Earl and Rick Oliver from the 2000s who carried that grace and skill on the fields into the new century.  The list is numerous to list all.

However, it can be argued that no star shined brighter throughout their school and college years then Marion Lindsey did in the realm of athletics

Marion Lee Lindsey, Jr. was born on August 2, 1899 to parents Marion Lee Lindsey, Sr. and Julia Bergin Lindsey.  We believe in Ft. Bend County, TX.  He had three siblings, Robbie Lindsey, Eugene Lindsey and Edwin Lindsey.  His father was a Methodist preacher and moved due to his calling. Marion, Jr., would later be known as “Preacher” Lindsey.  He would lose his father in 1915.  His mother died in 1946.  Both his parents are buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in Timpson. 

In the spring of 1916, Marion Lindsey put his name in the record books for Timpson High School.  He traveled to Austin that spring to the UIL state track meet.  His sister, Robbie, also took part in the UIL state meet on the scholastic side in 1916.  It is believed the state gave each school so many vouchers so the students could travel by train to the meet.  At the state meet, there were only two classes or sizes of schools.  The larger schools were Class A and the smaller schools, Class B.   Timpson competed in the Class A schools against schools like Houston, Lubbock and such.  Marion came in second in two events at state in 1916, the pole vault and 100-yard dash.  Apparently he was saving up for the 1917 meet as the records show. 

Coming back to the state meet in May of 1917, Marion Lindsey competed in five events but this time with the Class B schools.  He won first place in the 50-yard dash, the 100-yard dash, the 220-yard dash and the shot put.  He also placed second in the pole vault.  He won the state track championship for Timpson by scoring all the points himself!!!  Marion was also high point man in the meet.

This earned him a scholarship to Rice University in the fall of 1917.   Despite never playing organized football, he started playing under Coach Phillip Arbuckle.  Marion “Preacher” Lindsey started making a name for himself as a halfback on the team with his speed and athletic ability.  Rice went 7-1 for the year, losing only to Texas A&M.  In the big game of the season, Rice did defeated Texas.  The Houston papers mentioned his exploits on the field almost every week in the fall of 1917.  However sometime late in the season, a knee injury prevented him from playing to his complete capacity.  For his playing, Marion Lindsey was name to the second team all-state team as a freshman at halfback.  Back in the early start of football in Texas, this was a big honor because it included all the colleges in Texas.

For the year of 1918, not much is known about Marion.  It is known that he did enlist in the military on October 1, 1918 but the war ended.  Thus Preacher Lindsey only served one month in the army.   In the Spring of 1919, as reported by the papers he was back at Rice and expected to play basketball.  

In the fall of 1919, Marion did try to play football but was injured again.  However he was able to run track in the spring of 1920 but he sprained a ligament in his knee that prevented him from participating in the Southwest Conference meet.   In the fall of 1920, his name appears on the football roster for Rice but again he was unable to play much if at all due to his knee. 

In the spring of 1921, the Rice University newspaper, “The Thresher” reports that Preacher Lindsey is the coach of the freshman basketball team.  The paper also noted that he was quite the basketball in high school.  At the end of the season the paper wrote of  the outstanding job that he did in coaching. 

Preacher Lindsey must also to have been a good leader at Rice as he was elected captain of the track team for the1921 season.   Also he was elected treasurer of the Student Body at Rice in April of 1921

 In April in track at a dual track meet against Texas A&M, Preacher Lindsey put his name in the record books.  He unofficially tied the world record in the 100 yard dash with a time of 9.6 seconds.  Following that performance, according to the Rice paper, he won four events at the Texas Intercollegiate Track Meet, those events were the 100, 440, shot put and discus.  Then in late May of 1921 he won the Southwest Conference in the 100 and shot put.   He was also on the relay team that placed second in the meet.

At the National Intercollegiate track meet, Preacher was scheduled to compete in three events, the 100, 200 and shot put.  All the southern papers were reporting on him.  However we cannot find much about his National results.  It did place 4th in the shot put but did not place in the races.  The winning time for the 100 yard dash was 10.0 which was well above Preacher’s times for the year of around 9.8.  We speculate that he must have hurt his chronic knee and was unable to compete in the sprints.

In the August 24, 1921 the Brenham Daily Banner reported that Marion had a knee operation in hopes of playing football in the fall.  However it was not to be as apparently his knee could not stand up the poundings.  He did oversee the Houston Post short marathon of 5.5 miles sponsored by the paper it was reported in September of 1921. 

In the April 11, 1922 edition of the Waco News Tribune, the paper speculated that Lindsey was finished as a sprinter.  The paper thought he was not his old self perhaps due to his knee.  In meets earlier in 1922, Preacher was not up to form.  Preacher Lindsey would prove the paper wrong.  At the Southwestern Conference, Preacher won the 100 yard dash in a time of 10.0 to tie the conference record.  He also placed fourth in the 220 and third in the shot put.  Clearly he was not washed up due to his knee but he must have had some ill effects from the operation the past August. His times and placing were not what he did in 1921.  However he went out a winner at Rice. 

 In late 1922 or early 1923, Marion “Preacher” Lindsey married Estelle Streetman, the daughter of a judge.  The couple had one daughter in their short time together.  (As of about 2014 she was still living in Houston.)  Marion died on August 24, 1927 in Houston, Texas after a short illness at the age of 28.   His daughter believes he died of leukemia.  

In 1970, Rice University started a Hall of Fame for their former athletes and inducted 14 people.  In the second year of inductions in 1971, Marion “Preacher” Lindsey was inducted into the Hall of Fame along with greats from Rice like Bobby May and Jess Neely.   Thus his name will be forever remember when one is speaking of the great athletes at Rice.

The following is what is written on his plaque at the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame:

"So fast he won the Southwest Conference 100-yard championship in 1921 and 1922 and on another occasion unofficially tied Charlie Paddock’s then world record of 9 3/5ths…so strong he won the SWC championship in the shotput in 1920 and 1921….so agile and talented he was a star halfback on the fine Rice football team of 1917 even though he never seen a football game before….the late MARION LEE “PREACHER” LINDSEY (Class of 1922) is believed by many old-timers to be the greatest natural athlete Rice ever had.  He might have had an even greater record.  A knew injury kept him from playing but one year of football.  It must have handicapped in track and field.  Son of a Methodist minister, “Preacher” Lindsey came from Timpson High.  There he won the state high school track and field championship as a one-man team.  On August 24, 1928, Lloyd Gregory in his “Looking ‘Me Over” column in The Houston Post-Dispatch wrote: “it matters not how brilliant Rice athletes of the future may be, “Preacher” Lindsey who died Wednesday, always will be listed in rice annals as of the highest and worthiest athlete ever to don the Blue and the Gray.”