Dick Burnett made his fortune in the oil business in 1930s Texas. Today, he is better known for his history of popularizing professional baseball, albeit minor league, in the form of The Dallas Eagles.
Burnett was born in McLennan County, Texas, in 1898. He grew up In Gladewater and lived there for the rest of his life. After serving in the Navy during World War I, Burnett married Dale Jeter and worked in a variety of businesses, including a hardware store. In 1932, he struck oil and became wealthy.
Burnett loved baseball. With his new-found fortune, he was able to buy the minor league team from Shreveport, Louisiana. He moved the team to Gladewater and renamed it the Gladewater Bears. The Bears won the AA East Texas League pennant in 1936.
Formation of The Dallas Eagles
In 1948, Burnett purchased the Dallas Rebels, a minor league team in the AAA Texas League. He renamed the team the Dallas Eagles and purchased Oak Cliff Park, the team’s home field, and modestly renamed it after himself. Burnett also hired an organist (Miss Inez of Luby’s Cafeteria fame) to play in the stadium. Burnett also signed Dave Hoskins, one of the first black baseball players in the Texas League.
The Eagles won the Texas League championship in 1952, 1953, 1955, and 1957. The team also staged exhibition games, including one in 1950 that included Hall of Famers such as Dizzy Dean.
This writer remembers Eagles games at the dilapidated Burnett Field in the 1950s. It was the only professional sports game of any kind in town. A special night would be when they played a twilight double header. More often, my dad and I would share my regular-sized double bed ( no queens or kings in those days) and listen to the games at night in the dark. It has always been a special memory of shared experience with my father.
I have often felt that my generation’s ability to visualize things was greatly aided by game listening and hearing radio dramas like “Suspense” or “The Lone Ranger”. At any rate, when the Eagles won their Texas League Championships in the mid 50s, we felt like our town was “on the map”. It was nearly like winning The World Series.
I also remember that whenever my family had Sunday lunch at Luby’s, I was thrilled to approach Miss Inez with a play request on her warbling Hammond organ. To me, she was a celebrity since she played on the radio at Burnett Field for The Eagles.
Burnett died in 1956 at the age of 58. He had been able to revitalize minor league baseball in Dallas. A few years after the Eagles, the minor league Texas Rangers started up. Still later, there was a Texas Rangers Major League Baseball team.
- Year Started: 1948
- Year Ended: 1958
- Origin Of Name: City and a Catchy Mascot Name
- Location Sales: Texas
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Dick Burnett
- Owner While In Use: Burnett Family
- Owner Successor: N/A
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: Texas Rangers
- Naics Code: 711211
- Location Headquarters: Dallas, Texas USA