It’s easy for those of us who live in small Texas towns such as the town of Comanche, Texas to fall into the rut of believing that “nothing” ever happened there and “no one” ever came from there, right? For instance, I’m betting that there are few people who live in Comanche today who realize that a former professional football player who played for both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears once walked the streets of Comanche, Texas, and yet he did.
Actually, more than one had similar successes, but today we are going to focus on the young man simply known as Bob…George Robert Masters to be exact.
The baby that Comanche County people knew as Bob was born in Comanche on January 16, 1913. By the time the young man left the county, he stood at 5’11” and weighed 200 pounds, not very big for a 21st century Texas football player, but certainly what my grandfather would have called “strapping” in the 1920s.
Bob spent his university years at Baylor, and one would assume that he played football for the Baylor Bears, but I’ve not done enough research to be able to say that with certainty. All I know for sure is that George Robert Masters began his professional football career in 1937 with the Philadelphia Eagles (a team that was just four years old) where he played through the 1942 season.
By 1943, World War II had created such a shortage in men throughout the league that the Eagles and the Pittsburg Steelers were forced into a temporary merger, creating a team known as the Steagles (bet you didn’t know that!).
“World War II shaped sports in the 1940s, just like it did to the American culture. The sports world did its best to maintain business as usual, but all organized games and contests were disrupted after 7 December 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and the disruption continued well after the end of the war in August 1945. Able-bodied men were expected to serve in the military, and most professional athletes answered the call. By 1945, 509 active major league baseball players had served, about two hundred colleges had disbanded their football teams because players went to war, and roughly four thousand boxers, had joined the military.”
Bob was a part of the Steagles team that year and then ended his pro ball career with the 1944 season with the Chicago Bears. He had not been a superstar by any means, but Bob had obviously had a chance to do something he wanted to do.
And….football provided a J.O.B. for Bob Masters at a time in the late 30s when the country was still reeling from the effects of the depression.
“Before the war professional football players earned an average of $150 per game; by 1949 their salaries had increased to an average of $5,000* per season.”
Pretty paltry by today’s standards, but a great wage when Bob took the job!
George Robert Masters died February 8, 1987, in Dallas County, Texas. He is buried in the Shiloh Cemetery in Comanche County.
*And just as an aside, in the early 1960s when my family was piling into the car and heading to Cowboy games, the average salary of a professional football player was $12,000! Oh, and the price we paid for those season tickets? Six bucks a piece!
Thanks to Missy Jones for reminding me that I had not written about Bob Masters!