The Harris Ratings System, which originated around 1962, is not called that anymore. It’s called Harris Ratings Weekly. It still has the same purpose. It ranks the power of every high school football team in the state of Texas, as well as predict the outcome of every game in a particular week. It was, and is, unbelievably accurate. It was originated by a man named Jon Harris here in Brownwood. His son now runs it.
Back in 1961, they had a scoreboard show on Friday night on KBWD radio. It would come on after the ballgame and go to 1 in the morning. The first year I was a small part of it was in 1961. One couldn’t help but notice that every Friday night during the season there was this man pulling scores off the teletype during the show. Anytime we would read them on the air, we would give them back to him.
It took me about half the season to finally ask somebody, “Who’s the old man we are giving the scores to?” They said, “His name is Jon Harris. He wanted access to the radio station because he was thinking about doing a high school prognostication deal of some kind.”
Well, around 1963, the Harris Ratings System debuted in high schools all over the state of Texas. It was fun seeing how it took off and became like a bible to coaches around the state.
Jon and I got to become pretty good friends. He would tell me, “I never go to a ballgame because I want to be accurate in what the numbers say and not consider what my eyes see.”
Today, I’m sure Harris Ratings Weekly is computerized to the point where it would blow my mind, and Jon’s as well. But, when Jon started out it was strictly a lot of paper and plenty of pencils and erasers. In the early days, sometimes on Friday night, he would invite me to his house to see how they did everything. This man literally wouldn’t sleep between Friday afternoon and Monday morning when he sent everything out. He was self-addressing every one of them and stamping every one of them and mailing every one of them.
He had this huge, enormous easel board-type thing that had on it every school in the state and a number beside each of them. He also had an entire wall covered with a huge sheet of paper. This thing had every score from the night in the state on it. I remember there were so many columns. Every one of them had the prior week’s score, next week’s game, etc., etc. … just everything. And, it was filled out in pencil. How he did that was absolutely amazing to me. It is still today almost a necessity for every coach and every high school fan to have and it is still crazy accurate.
I told my wife about this column and she said, “Be sure and mention the beautiful rose bushes he had in his back yard.” So, there, I did. And yes, they were beautiful.
Also, Jon was a good athlete. Not football, but basketball.
You see, Jon played on the first Brownwood team to go to the state tournament in 1949.
Until next time, so long everybody.
‘Out of the Box’ with Dallas Huston is published each Monday morning at BrownwoodNews.com. Dallas was the radio voice of the Brownwood Lions and Howard Payne Yellow Jackets for more than 55 years. He currently is Pastor of Center City Baptist Church and hosts a Men’s Bible Study in Brownwood on Monday evenings. Your comments are welcome at email@example.com.