BELLVILLE, Texas -- Former Brooklyn Dodger outfielder Ernie
Koy, who hit a home run in his first major league at-bat, died
Monday. He was 97.
Koy's family said he died in his sleep at home, longtime Texas
sports information director Bill Little said. Koy, a rancher, had
broken his hip on Dec. 1, the family said.
The university said in a news release that Koy helped change the
face of football and baseball for the Longhorns in the early 1930s.
Koy, known as "Big Ernie," was named all-Southwest Conference
three times in both football, where he was a running back, and
Koy chose pro baseball over football and played for 10 years,
including five in the majors. He played with the Dodgers from 1938
to 1940. He then spent time with the St. Louis Cardinals, the
Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies before joining the
Navy in 1942.
He hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat in the majors and
finished his pro career with a career average of .279 with 36 home
runs and 260 RBI.
He played in the first televised baseball game and the first
night game under lights at Ebbets Field.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, Koy once beat 1936 Olympic hero Jesse Owens in a promotional 100-yard foot race set up by the Dodgers.
"Of course, I had an 8-yard head start. But he was wearing his
track suit and I was wearing my baseball uniform and I still won
the race," Koy said in 2000 in a story in the Victoria Advocate.
Koy declined a rematch, according to the paper. "I told them if you could beat Owens once, you'd better let it ride," Koy said.
He has been chosen as one of the 25 most significant figures in
Longhorn baseball history and also is a member of the Longhorn Hall
of Honor. He was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in
His two sons, Ted and Ernie Jr., played on national championship
football teams at Texas in 1963 and 1969.
In addition to his sons, he is survived by his wife, Jane;
daughter, Margaret Kistler, and seven grandchildren.
Funeral services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at St.
Mary's Episcopal Church in Bellville.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.