Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Samuell’s baseball field named for legendary coach James Lawless
School pays tribute to coach who guided ’65 state champ
The late coach of a state championship baseball team that produced a first-round draft pick, a Denver Broncos quarterback and a current co-owner of the Fort Worth Cats was honored Tuesday afternoon as the Dallas ISD christened James “Pete” Lawless Baseball Field at Samuell High School.
Members of the 1965 Class 4A state champion Samuell team were among the several hundred who turned out at the recently refurbished campus field before Samuell hosted a district game against rival Woodrow Wilson.
“You can see how instrumental Coach Lawless was with people here from the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and even ’90s,” said DISD athletic director Jeff Johnson, who played for Lawless in 1977 and succeeded him as coach in 1984.
Samuell opened in 1955 in the fast-developing East Dallas neighborhood of Pleasant Grove, and a host of players helped build a foundation for success in the 1960s.
Mike Biko, a first-round draft pick by Philadelphia in 1966, was one of the top players on Samuell’s ’65 state championship team. Others were first baseman Steve Ramsey, who would become a quarterback for the Denver Broncos; Johnny Johnson (Jeff’s brother), a speedy center fielder; independent league Cats co-owner Byron “Moses” Pierce; and longtime DISD coach Steve Scott.
“I was blessed to have coach Lawless put in my path,” said Biko, whose pro career was stopped by an injury. “He was not up or down. Not right or left. When I was getting twisted up on the mound, he could come out and calm me.”
Coach Lawless spent nearly 30 years at Samuell, which won the DISD’s only state baseball title at the largest UIL classification. He was known for long practices against live pitching under game conditions.
“We had a sophomore, junior and senior class which had all won the city championship in junior high,” Pierce said. “We were talking about winning a state championship from the first day of practice. There was a chemistry we were able to build under coach Lawless.”
Current Samuell baseball coach Mike Pena and captain Treyvion Wright presented two of Lawless’ children, son T.K. and daughter Elizabeth, with a Samuell jersey with Lawless’ No. 18 and a framed picture of the 1965 state championship team.
“When I was a coach here at Samuell, we used to talk about what records this building had,” said Israel Cordero, DISD director of the Samuell feeder school pattern. “And it wouldn’t be long before talk about coach Lawless and that state championship team would start circulating. What coach Lawless did for all those students still circulates in the halls of the school.”