The fascinating story of the 1899 Sewanee football team’s remarkable, unassailable winning streak
Ninety-Nine Iron is the story of the 1899 Sewanee football team. The University of the South, as it is formally called, is a small Episcopal college on Mounteagle Mountain in southeastern Tennessee. It is a respected academic institution not known for its athletic programs. But in that final year of the 19th century the Sewanee football team, led by captain “Diddy” Seibels, produced a record that is legendary.
In six days, on a grueling 2,500-mile train trip, the team defeated Texas, Texas A&M, Tulane, Louisiana State University, and Ole Miss—all much larger schools than Sewanee. In addition to this marathon of victory, the 21 members of the Sewanee Iron Men won all 12 of their regular games, and of their 12 opponents, only Auburn managed to score at all against them. Ten of these 12 victories were against Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association opponents, which put Sewanee in the record books for most conference games played and most won in a season.
In Ninety-Nine Iron, Wendell Givens provides a play-by-play account of that remarkable season. He includes an overview of campus life at Sewanee and profiles of the players, the team’s coach (Billy Suter), the manager (Luke Lea), and the trainer (Cal Burrows). In the five years he researched the work, Givens conducted interviews with Seibels and visited the five cities in which the Iron Men had played—Austin, Houston, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Memphis. Givens has written a vivid account of a sports achievement not likely to be seen again.
IntroductionMountaintop JubileeIron Men Roll CallThe Way They Played the GameSewanee, Pre-Iron AgePrelude to History“Don't You Remember?”Sewanee 12, Texas 0Sewanee 10, Texas A&M 0Sewanee 23, Tulane 0Sewanee 34, LSU 0Sewanee 12, Ole Miss 0Sewanee 11, Auburn 10Heisman Versus the UmpireSewanee 5, Carolina 0The Rest of Their StorySo, What Place for SewaneeIndex
Wendell Givens is a retired editor of the Birmingham News and editor of Benny Marshall's All-Time Greatest Alabama Sports Stories.
“Greatest College Team Ever? Untouchable, Forgotten Sewanee in 1899” —New York Times
“Wendell O. Givens, former editor of the Birmingham News, has at last given the Iron Men their due in his all too brief history of their legendary season. . . . Givens’s prose appropriately takes a back seat to the telling of such an extraordinary story. He gives us play by play accounts of each game as recorded by both teams when possible.” —Vince Brewton, Southern Scribe Reviews