Bellville, TX - Ernie Koy, 97, a legendary athletic figure in the State of Texas, died Monday, January 1, 2007, in his home town of Bellville, Texas. He continued active with his ranching operation until December 1 when he broke his hip at home following his routine feeding trip to his ranch on Koy Road. Services will be at 10 am Wednesday, January 3, from St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 24 N. Masonic Street, Bellville. The Rev. Bob Gribble will officiate. The body will lie in state at Schmidt Funeral Home, 12029 Hwy 36 South, Bellville, from 4 pm to 8 pm on Tuesday, January 2. Family members will receive friends from 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm. Koy was born September 17, 1909 to Lucile and Frank Koy in Sealy, Texas. A natural athlete, he excelled in all sports but gained his fame and place in history in football and baseball. He was three times All-Southwest Conference in both sports at the University of Texas from 1930-1933. He was captain of Longhorn football in 1932 and baseball captain in 1933. He was selected as an East-West football All-Star in San Francisco following his senior season. Koy was signed off the Texas campus by the New York Yankees in 1933, spending five years in the Yankee minor league organization. He broke into the major leagues when the Yankees traded him to the Brooklyn Dodgers for the 1938 season. He has the distinction of homering on his first official time at bat as a major leaguer and led the National League in triples. He was part of the golden age of baseball history having played in the first televised game and the first night game under lights at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field. He was the last remaining Brooklyn Dodger who participated in the classic Johnny Vander Meer second consecutive no-hit baseball game of 1938. He became known as the fastest man in baseball when he defeated the great Olympian Jesse Owens in a 100-yard dash exhibition race prior to the Vander Meer game at Ebbets Field. Koy defeated Owens with a five yard start. Koy said later that baseball promoters always wanted him to race Owens again but he declined. "I told them if you could beat Owens once you'd better let it ride." Koy was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1940, to Cincinnati in 1941 and to Philadelphia in 1942. He left professional baseball to join the United States Navy at the outbreak of World War II. Following his discharge from the Navy in 1946 at the rank of Lieutenant junior grade, he and his wife Jane settled in Bellville where they operated Cameron's 5 and 10c variety store from 1946 to 1980. He also farmed and ranched remaining active until the last month of his life. Among his many athletic tributes was selection to the University of Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1960 and the State of Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1986. Blinn College, Brenham, named him a Distinguished Alumni in 2004. He attended Blinn School in 1928-1929 prior to entering the University of Texas. He graduated from Sealy High School in 1928 and received a Bachelor of Science from Sam Houston State Teachers College, Huntsville, in 1938 while he was coaching on the football staff during his off season in baseball. Koy was an active community leader of Bellville serving for 12 years as president and on the Board of Trustees of the Bellville Independent School District; active with the Chamber of Commerce, the American Legion, youth sports and St. Mary's Episcopal Church. Koy married Jane Cameron Koy on March 10, 1936 at St. Mary's Church, Bellville. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in 2006. Koy is survived by his wife Jane, and his three children, Ernie M. Koy and Barbara of Bellville; Margaret and Clay Kistler of Bellville; and Dr. Ted Koy and Valerie of Georgetown. His seven grandchildren are Robert Cameron Koy and Barbie of Houston; Lt. Andrew Bruen Koy USN, and Elizabeth of Annapolis MD; Jane Lucille Koy of Austin; Jess York Koy of Pearland; Lt. Daniel Koy Kistler, USMC, serving in Iraq; Suzanne Koy Skaer and Jason of The Woodlands; and Cameron Koy Gorman and Scott of San Antonio. In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes may be forwarded to the Ernie Koy Scholarship Fund, Austin County Texas Exes, Wells Fargo Bank, 2 East Main St., Bellville TX 77418; St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 24 N. Masonic St., Bellville TX 77418; or to the charity of your choice.
Posted by Joy Neely