Editor’s note: Daily News Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds is a product of Texas City High School and was editor of the high school newspaper. The story below is a reprint from a story he wrote his senior year in 1986.
TEXAS CITY — It was said that in 1947 Swede Sandberg was the second most popular man at the port. But few may realize that one of the true characters that came out of the Texas City disaster was also pretty influential on the local sports scene as well.
In fact if it weren’t for the effort of Sandberg local fans would not be cheering for the Texas City Stingarees but instead the Texas City Wolverines. There was a time when the local sports team was known as the Wolvin School Wolverines.
But it was Sandberg who led an effort to change the team name and colors to better fit the personality of Texas City. He was the man the people remember as one of the true leaders following the explosions of the Grandcamp and High Flyer.
Sandberg’s impact on local sports took place long before the disaster of 1947.
With school enrollment growing by leaps and bounds in the early 1900s a new high school building was constructed and named Wolvin High School.
It was named for the man who put a major shot into the arm of the port in 1899 and for whom the local shipping line was named Capt. A.B. Wolvin.
Sandberg thought despite the school name it was time to get a new mascot.
Sandberg recalled why he thought a name change was necessary.
”In all my years here I had yet to see a wolverine in these parts” he said.
But Sandberg had seen plenty of stingrays or stingarees as they were referred to then. ”I thought that name was more appropriate seeing as we caught a lot of those things in the bay.”
Sandberg said even the school colors black and orange had their influence from the Stingaree name. He said most of the rays he saw were black but they also had a deep orangish color to them.
Several years after the name change Sandberg was thrust into the worst industrial disaster in the United States.
But as he stated ”I’d rather be remembered for the Stingaree name than for being around when those ships blew up.”