James Street wasn’t heavily recruited out of high school. Undersized for a quarterback, the fiery East Texas native worked his way up the ranks and earned a starting spot for the Longhorns—in both baseball and football—and captained the ’Horns to the 1969 football national championship under Coach Darrell K Royal.
Street, ’69, Life Member, died this morning at his home in Austin. According to media reports, the cause of death was a heart attack. He was 65 years old.
In addition to throwing two no-hitters for the Texas baseball team, Street was the only undefeated quarterback in school history, notching 20 wins on the football field.
“He was going to beat you if he was an option QB, a passing QB a running back, a tight end or if he was shooting marbles or playing tennis,” teammate and NFL tight end Ted Koy, BJ ’73, Life Member, told the sports website Horns 247. “Name the sport, the game, he was going to beat you.”
Street was perhaps best known for his role in the “Game of the Century,” the 1969 face-off between top-ranked Texas and No. 2 Arkansas that cemented the Longhorns’ status as national champions. Texas was trailing Arkansas 14-0 when Street broke free for a spectacular 42-yard run to open the fourth quarter. With a two-point conversion, the Longhorns closed in, 14-8.
As the clock ticked down to under five minutes, Street led the offense onto the field for a crucial fourth-down play. Everyone, from coaches to players, expected Royal to call an option play designed to give Street multiple possible targets. As the quarterback trotted onto the field, Royal called for Street to pass to tight end Randy Peschel, BBA ’71, a one-shot play that had to work. Street stopped in his tracks, turned to Royal, and asked if he was sure.
“Yes, I’m damn sure,” Royal said, according to Street.
Royal’s faith in Street and Peschel paid off, and with President Richard Nixon in attendance, Street lobbed a 44-yard bomb to the ready tight end, who managed to pull in the pass despite being dogged by two Razorback defenders. A touchdown two plays later, along with the extra point by the delightfully named Happy Feller, BJ ’72, put Texas on top for good, 15-14. Texas was once again the national champion. And the long shot had once again paid off.
The talented Street also helped lead the Longhorn baseball team to two Southwest Conference championships. One of his five sons, Huston Street, ’04, is a pitcher for the San Diego Padres and also pitched for UT.
Watch highlights of Street from the 1969 Arkansas game below. Can’t view the video? Click here.
Photo courtesy UT Athletics.