Twelve Mighty Orphans

The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football
By: Jim Dent
Narrated by: Barry Abrams
Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (53 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

More than a century ago, a school was constructed in Fort Worth, Texas, for the purpose of housing and educating the orphans of Texas Freemasons. It was a humble project that for years existed quietly on a hillside east of town. Life at the Masonic Home was about to change, though, with the arrival of a lean, bespectacled coach by the name of Rusty Russell. Here was a man who could bring rain in the midst of a drought. Here was a man who, in virtually no time at all, brought the orphans' story into the homes of millions of Americans.  

In the 1930s and 1940s, there was nothing bigger in Texas high school football than the Masonic Home Mighty Mites - a group of orphans bound together by hardship and death. These youngsters, in spite of being outweighed by at least 30 pounds per man, were the toughest football team around. They began with nothing - not even a football - yet in a few years were playing for the state championship on the highest level of Texas football. This is a winning tribute to a courageous band of underdogs from a time when America desperately needed fresh hope and big dreams.  

The Mighty Mites remain a notable moment in the long history of American sports. Just as significant is the depth of the inspirational message. This is a profound lesson in fighting back and clinging to faith.

©2007 Jim Dent (P)2019 Tantor

What listeners say about Twelve Mighty Orphans

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Verne was right

I saw Uncle Verne was quoted on the cover as saying this may be the best sports book ever written, and he may be right. Phenomenal story-telling.

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Enjoyed Listening

This was my first audio book so dont have anything to compare it to. I did throughly enjoyed listening. I thought it was well done.

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Great story

Will definitely listen to again. The story is compelling at every chapter knowing that it is true makes it even more compelling. I will study this more in hopefully it is a movie someday . A great story told greatly.

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HomeBoys

Rings true to me, as I was a HomeBoy in the 60’s and heard all of the stories of the 1930s Mighty Mites. Was a tough school when I was there, though we never fielded a team that came close to matching the caliber of “The 12 Mighty Orphans”.

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A great sports (and more) story

This was my second Jim Dent book. I had previously done another by Jim Dent about Bear Bryant’s time at Texas A&M. He does a really good job with football. His focus is on Texas football. This one was about the Texas Masonic Home’s football team that became a high school football power under Coach Rusty Russell from the late ‘20s to the early ‘40s. Russell is credited with being the inventor of the spread offense, which given the run dominated era was a true innovation. The Masonic Home was an orphanage. The kids played in the highest level of high school football at the time despite being one of the smallest schools in the state. Dent became interested in the story of the Mighty Mites after seeing a film about Ex-NFL player Hardy Brown. Brown said no one in the NFL hit as hard as his teammates from the Home. Dent became interested in how an NFL player got his start in an orphanage and his research lead to a fascinating book. Dent does have a reputation for embellishing so I wouldn’t take everything in the book as the gospel. In fact Dent himself is an interesting story. He’s currently in prison for the third time due drunk driving issues. But, this book is being made into a movie which I’m sure will be “inspired by actual events”. I did learn one thing that I’m wondering if it was limited to Texas at the time or was common practice nationwide. Ties were decided by which team penetrated the 20 yard line the most times. I’ve heard of tie games in high school in NC being decided by total yards at one point, but had never heard of the 20 being a deciding factor. This was a great story of how a really good football coach turned literal orphans into a great football program and changed their lives for the better along the way. Listening to it you learn something and are inspired. What more can you ask for? I enjoyed it. It was a very good sports book, but also gave insight into orphanage life at the time and the factors in our country at the time that led to so many orphans. I’d recommend it to any football fan.