A few months ago, a block of concrete with an autograph and handprints from Taylor football legend, Dicky Maegle, was found on city property. It was added to the Duck Room/Webb Room museum along with memorabilia donated by Maegle himself. But no one associated with that find knew the original location of the concrete, until former city councilwoman, Ella Jez, and 1958 Taylor High School graduate, David Hertz, heard about the signature and helped fill in the gaps.
Jez was on the city council when the land on the southwest corner of Lake Drive and Main Street was sold and cleared for a CVS building. That spot was once home to Sportsman’s Field, Taylor’s baseball field.
“It was probably about the time the first dozer arrived that I got a call from Charles Brunken,” Jez said. “Charlie was concerned about a piece of concrete curbing with Dicky Maegle’s name and handprint on it. He was insistent that this Dicky Maegle fellow was well known and that the hunk of concrete had value.”
Jez asked the city about saving the concrete autograph, and that large piece of Duck history was retrieved from the site.
David Hertz began playing little league in 1951 and remembers the exact location of that autograph.
“I remember back in the early fifties that signature was underneath the bleachers at Sportsman’s Park,” Hertz recalled. “They put in new bleachers, and they had some vertical poles supporting the bleachers that were anchored in that concrete. Dicky must have been there when they were building them.”
Known as a top athlete at Taylor High School, Maegle quickly rose to the national spotlight after graduating in 1951. He entered Rice University as a 16-year-old freshman where he was named an All-American in 1954. During the 1954 Cotton Bowl Classic he was involved in one of the most famous plays in college football history, an event that landed him a guest spot in the Ed Sullivan Show.
Maegle went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys. He has been inducted into The College Football Hall of Fame, The Rice Athletic Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
Born Richard Lee Moegle Sept. 13, 1934, in Taylor, Maegle later changed the spelling of his last name to make it more phonetically correct. Many locals who knew Maegle during his early days in Taylor realized the young athlete was destined for fame.
“As an 11 or 12-year-old kid, we’d go in there and see that autograph,” Hertz said. “We were star struck pre-teens and he was everybody’s local hero back in those days. When they put up the bleachers, that’s when Dicky Maegle would have signed his name. It was a footing for the bleachers. The bleachers are gone now, but I still remember exactly where it was.”
Hertz often saw Maegle at the Taylor swimming pool, and his brother, Bobby Jim Moegle, helped out at the baseball field.
“Dicky was lifeguard at the pool and ran the pool during the summer. If we’d help him clean the pool we’d get to swim free for a week,” Hertz recalled. “Bobby Jim helped Ross Baldwin with the summer recreation and organizing the little leagues. I’m sure Dicky was over there with Bobby Jim at one time or another and that’s probably when he signed it.”
Current Taylor athletes, Josh Farley and Dyant’e Vincent, heard about the local football legend and recently visited the Dicky Maegle exhibit to learn more about this former Duck.
“I think it’s awesome, the connection between Dicky Maegle and the whole legacy of Taylor,” Farley said. “It’s awesome that you can see legends like this that come from Taylor, and it gives us hope in the future that maybe something like that will come of us or maybe of our kids.”
“I think it’s really amazing that we discovered this because not many people know that amazing people come from Taylor,” Vincent said. “They just think it’s a small town in Texas, but we have a lot to offer. I hope others will get to see this [exhibit].
Before Sportsman’s field, Hertz said his father spent time on that corner lot when it was a Civilian Conservation Core (CCC) camp back in the 1930s during the depression.
“That’s how my father came to be in Taylor,” Hertz said. “He was at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio and the army sent him to Taylor with that CCC camp. President Franklin Roosevelt formed this civilian conservation core to give men jobs. They would terrace farmland, they built all the state parks, and they built dams. That’s where they lived, they had tents set up there on that corner. The men lived in tents and they would go out on the farms and they would terrace farmland to stop erosion.”
As a young athlete himself, Hertz credits Dicky Maegle with helping him achieve a 67-yard punt while at Taylor High School.
“He used to come work out with us when I was in junior high and high school and he taught me how to punt,” Hertz said. “I did have a 67-yard punt to my record there at Taylor High School in 1957 and I always credit Dicky with that. I started punting in junior high and he said, ‘let me help you and I’ll show you what you’re doing wrong’.”
Dicky Maegle is a part of Taylor’s history that Hertz and others remember well. Now, thanks to the Duck Room exhibit, the younger generation is learning about this legend from their hometown.
“I think it’s good to know about our heritage as a people and even as a Duck people,” Farley said. “We’re all one big family and we should know about our past. Great football players, great people and great servicemen have come from Taylor. I think people in this town today need to know that there are still great people who come from here.”