Tex's Sa-Los

Frisbee… Who Really Invented It?

According to “The complete book of Frisbee,” world Frisbee champion Vic Malfronte gives Tex credit for the earliest known example of organized sailing disc games. As a 10-year-old (1922) growing up in Sweetwater, Texas, Tex played with neighborhood friends tossing metal can lids. Then in 1933 as a camp counselor at Camp Wolverine in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he introduced Sa-Lo to the campers, which is the birthplace of organized Frisbee playing. When Tex came to the University of Texas as swimming coach in 1936 he demonstrated his Sa-Lo skills to capacity crowds during basketball games at Gregory Gym.

poster2Just recently the Austin Flying Disc Club commemorated the 75th anniversary of Tex’s Gregory Gym demonstration. The club’s president, James “Jimbo” Bauman, created this poster and had the Frisbee Company create some discs to honor Tex on the occasion.

Carol and Bill Robertson were fortunate to sit behind one of Tex’s star swimmers from the '40s, Hylmar “Moose” Karbach. Moose, along with his children and grandchildren, attended Camp Longhorn for many years. Bill asked him how he got his nickname. Karbach stated that in 1947 during a dual meet with A&M, the team captain, Jack Tolar, announced that he looked like a moose while swimming freestyle with his nose out of the water. The name stuck.

Moose went on to tell Bill that the Sa-Lo was used during meets to send results to the announcer for 100-yard races. The Gregory Gym pool was 33 1/3 yards long, so races would finish at the far end. After the timers wrote the times down, they were then attached to the Sa-Lo and sent through the air to the announcer.

When Tex and Pat started camp in 1939 with only one and a half campers, part of his plan to recruit new campers was to go into neighborhoods and ask youngsters to take the “Sa-Lo Challenge.” This was a test of skill in throwing a Sa-Lo through a three-foot hoop that Tex would place in the prospect’s front yard. Tex’s fascination with flying disc games resulted in Sa-Lo becoming an important part of Camp Longhorn’s activities. Soon, Tex introduced Sa-Lo golf by laying out five hoop holes around camp to which the kids tossed metal or paper Sa-Los. In addition campers could choose from a menu of Sa-Lo tennis, distance throwing and catching contests.