Texas Western Championship Jersey Auction
The jersey believed to be the one worn by Texas Western point guard Willie Worsley during the 1966 national championship game against Kentucky is heading to auction.
The jersey was saved for more than 30 years by Danny Whitlock, a backup point guard for UTEP from 1970-72. Whitlock said he was a graduate assistant for head coach Don Haskins after his playing career, and obtained six of the game-used jerseys in 1974. “We were in the gym and I heard that the trainers were going to throw them away because they had to make room for more equipment,” said Whitlock, who is now 56 and needs the money to put toward the cost of a liver transplant and 24-hour care for his handicapped son. “So they gave me them in a laundry bag and I put them in my trunk.”
Whitlock had no idea that any of the jerseys would be considered valuable one day. He said he gave the jerseys to his friends and they wore them for pickup games. Whitlock said he wore the No. 14 jersey of Bobby Joe Hill, the star guard of the team. When it got ripped and tattered, Whitlock said he threw it out. The only surviving jersey of his lot is Worsley’s, which Whitlock said he never wore. “I thought I’d keep one for old time’s sake,” Whitlock said. “It’s amazing I still have it. I’ve rescued it out of a few garage sales.”
Whitlock and his wife, needing to pay off their debts, looked around the house a few months ago trying to find items that would have some value. They figured the jersey might be worth a couple of hundred dollars. When they heard that the story of the 1966 national championship game, in which Texas Western started five African-American players and beat Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky team, would be memorialized in a book and a movie, both titled “Glory Road,” the Whitlocks knew that it was time to part with the jersey.
Thanks in part to the historical nature of the item, combined with the attention from the book — which hit shelves in November — and the movie, which was released nationwide on Friday, the auction house has estimated that the jersey is now worth between $8,000 and $10,000. The movie was made by an arm of the Walt Disney Co., which is the parent company of ESPN.
If there was ever a reason to sell something of that much historical significance, a liver transplant and treatment for your kid is it.