King Hill

I saw in the Chronicle the other day that the great Rice football player King Hill passed away last week at the age of 75. He played in the mid-1950s, an era that saw a pretty fair number of exciting wins. But what I think of when I think of him is this game, as important a victory as the Rice football program has ever seen:

We have a wonderful student scrapbook in the Woodson that chronicles the 1957 season–below is a scan of one of the pages. (Click on it a couple of times and you’ll be able to read it no matter how old you are.) The feeling of excitement and camaraderie that followed this stunning defeat of the top ranked A&M team in a packed Rice Stadium is still palpable in its pages. A tremendous athlete, Hill was the star of the show on both offense and defense. He scored all Rice’s points, including the extra point, and had two interceptions to kill A&M drives.

The win absolutely riveted Rice’s student body. On Monday the students closed and barricaded the gate and declared an unauthorized General Holiday. In a move that still surprises me a little bit, the administration didn’t cancel classes, but decided that no one would be punished for failure to attend. (It’s the lack of punishment that is amazing–things were much, much stricter back then.)

King Hill, RIP.

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9 Responses to King Hill

  1. Tiki Owl says:

    Melissa,
    If you can I would love to see the entire scrapbook for the 1957 year. If you could gradually post it here or as a separate item in Alan Shelby’s daily mailout. As one who saw the ’57 game the passing of King Hill has greatly impacted me.

  2. Wow. Looking at the stats, A&M dominated the game. I guess the numbers don’t tell the whole story.

  3. C Kelly says:

    The player who placed the ball on King Hill’s extra-point kick was my old high school coach, Bobby Williams. His son is now athletic director at Sam Houston U.

  4. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

    King Hill was a super athlete: football, basketball, golf, and possibly track. I never knew him to attempt baseball.
    He once held the Rice record for a rushing play — a quarterback sneak for either 92 or 98 yards, my memory fails statistically. I don’t know if that record still stands.
    He was also successful as a professional quarterback.
    RIP, King Hill.

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

      7/23/12,
      After looking at the photo section of Hill’s Obituary page, I see that he was a member of a little league baseball team that won a championship at Galveston — in 1952, I believe. So he was, at least, a 4 star athlete.

  5. James says:

    I have to wonder if Frank Ryan, another great quarterback that same year, would have started would the outcome have been the same. I bet it would have been, this was Rice’s day and they played with determination and fire in their eye’s. As Tiki Owl said, I would like to see articles on the past accomplishments of some of those great teams back then.

  6. Karl Benson says:

    “Barricading the gate” was called a “lock-out,” and it was an administration-tolerated tradition after the first Southwest Conference win of the season (assuming there was one.) This victory was the third Conference win of the 1957 championship season, but when you beat Number 1 at home (especially the Aggies), why not?

  7. Joe Durrenberger says:

    My senior year on the Owls Basketball team was 1955-56. King Hill was a sophomore that season. King was an outstanding rebounder,rugged,strong, and tough on defense. I always felt confident when I saw King coming in to the game.
    Joe Durrenberger,
    All-SWC, MVP, 1955-56

  8. ed summers, Baker, 1959 says:

    I remember that game and the week preceding it, when little or no academic work was accomplished after sunsets, and student mobs wandered the campus, attending spontaneous pep rallies and chanting an adult comment on the probable diet of A&M students (best not repeated here!). The last Aggie play of the game was a complex “trick” play that did advance the ball, but not enough for a touchdown before time ran out. King Hill was terrific in that game, when football was so different than today (example: largest player on team, 225 lbs). But I can’t think of King Hill without also thinking of Frank Ryan, who earned his doctorate (in Physics or math, I think) at Rice when he wasn’t quarterbacking the Cleveland Browns. Hill and Ryan- so different, but together the best two quarterbacks Rice ever had (IMHO).

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