Richard S. Braddock, a second-generation native of Huntsville, was a decorated hero of World War I. He lost a leg and three fingers on his left hand when he dragged four seriously injured members of his company into the safety of a ditch while under withering German gunfire. He returned home and was immediately accepted as a student at Rice Institute. Upon completion of his studies there, he attended the University of Texas School of Law where he graduated with honors. He married Eleanor Bagwell and established the Law Office of Richard S. Braddock in Huntsville. His son, Richard S. Braddock, Jr., was born in 1941.
When their son was an infant, Richard and Eleanor began to call him “Junior.” Junior was a precocious child. As he grew older it became evident that he was a person of exceptional intellect. At age ten he studied books that most children did not read until they entered high school. At age eleven he became the champion in the national spelling bee.
Junior had no interest in the activities in which virtually all of his peers participated. But he was neither arrogant nor aloof. Nor was he unpopular. His only his interests were the pursuit of academic excellence and swimming. He was an unusually large boy who swam daily in the pool at Sam Houston State University.
Junior was admitted to Princeton University on his sixteenth birthday. He graduated summa cum laude at the age of nineteen. He attended Harvard Law School where he was elected Editor-in-Chief of the prestigious Harvard Law Review and graduated third in his class.
Major law firms along the east coast made strenuous efforts to recruit Junior to join them. But he could not get acclimated to the severe weather in that part of the country. He accepted an offer to come to Houston and join Barton, Boggs & Stafford, the most highly regarded firm in the southern half of the country. He passed the Texas bar examination and began his law practice at the age of twenty-three.
In only two years after he walked in the door, it became evident to the partners of Barton & Boggs that Junior Braddock was destined for stardom. He had an extraordinary ability to grasp the most arcane issues in complex business transactions. By the time he completed his sixth year of practice, every corporate client for which he had worked demanded that he head up the next major matter that it sent to the firm. At the end of his seventh year Barton & Boggs made him a partner, the shortest period of time in the history of the firm in which any associate lawyer had attained that exalted position.
In 1944 a girl named Elizabeth was born to Samuel and Judith Weaver in Childress, Texas. Elizabeth was the youngest child of the Weaver clan. She had four older brothers, the youngest of whom was six years older than she. Her father was the owner S & J Trucking Company, a small business the purpose of which was to haul oil field equipment to drill sites in North Texas and parts of Oklahoma. Judith was S & J’s office manager. Both Samuel and Judith were far short of the business acumen required to run their business profitably. The Weaver family lived from hand to mouth.
Elizabeth was an uncommonly bright student. Having been named valedictorian of her high school class, she was awarded an academic scholarship to North Texas State University. Her outstanding record there enabled her to receive a scholarship to Southern Methodist School of Law where she finished at the top of her class. Upon graduating from there, she accepted an offer to practice law at Johnson & Day, the most prominent firm in Dallas.
Elizabeth excelled at the representation of corporate clients in significant business transactions. Early on the firm management told her that she was on a fast track to partnership. If she continued to progress as expected, she would become the first woman to achieve partnership in any major law firm in the state.
In her seventh year of practice, the firm’s best client, Briggs Financial Corp., engaged Elizabeth to take the lead in a transaction in which it sought to acquire Ram Enterprises in a hostile takeover. Within two days of the public announcement of the Briggs proposal, Ram, represented by Junior Braddock, filed suit in Delaware to enjoin the transaction. After a two -day skirmish in Wilmington, Elizabeth returned to Dallas.
On the morning after she arrived, her secretary and close friend, Janie, approached her. “Well, how did it go?”
Elizabeth chuckled. “I feel like I’ve been put through a wringer. I’m up against a guy named Braddock. He’s the smartest lawyer that I’ve ever come across. He punched so many holes in our proposition that it looks like Swiss cheese.” Her smile broadened. “He’s kind and polite. In fact, he’s so gentle you could almost call him sweet.”
Janie shrugged and grinned. “One could get the impression from your tone of voice that you kinda like this Braddock guy.”
“I don’t know, Janie. He’s different from other men I’ve been around.” Elizabeth paused and scratched her brow. “When we were taking breaks from work, everyone but Braddock was talking about the upcoming NFL draft.” She shook her head. “He sat in the corner and read what looked like a book of poems.”
Over the next few months the Briggs proposal evolved into a friendly transaction whereby Elizabeth and Junior ceased to be adversaries. Instead, they worked together daily to make the transaction work. In time they became romantically involved. Just before Christmas, Junior proposed marriage.
Elizabeth hesitated before she answered. “I want to marry you, Richard,” she finally said. “But you’ll have to agree to something I’m not sure you’re willing to do.”
Elizabeth spoke softly. “I’m sick and tired of this rat race I’m in. Flying all over the country and working eighteen hours a day has worn me down. I want out of it. I want to be a small town lawyer.”
Junior bowed his head and rubbed his hand through his hair.
“That’s a tall order,” he whispered. He heaved a deep sigh. “I enjoy what I’m doing. I’m not sure being a small town lawyer will challenge me.” He closed his eyes and grimaced. “I’ll have to think about it.”
Two days later Junior gave her his answer. He would become a small town lawyer only if the city were Huntsville. Moreover, he required that both he and Elizabeth would practice in his father’s firm and an institution called Braddock & Braddock would be formed.
Elizabeth agreed. They resigned from their respective firms on December 31 and were married three weeks later. Their son, Richard S. Braddock III was born eighteen months after that. Elizabeth insisted that their son would be called “Trey.” His grandfather proclaimed that the boy would receive the best education possible, become a lawyer and then join their firm, thereby perpetuating Braddock & Braddock as a Huntsville institution well into the next century.
Trey had a different idea. At age six he announced that he had disowned the name his mother had given him and that from that time on he would be called “Ricky.”
When he was eight Ricky and Carl T. Wilson went to Houston with Carl T.’s father to watch the Astros play the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Astrodome. Ricky was stunned when he entered the stadium. He had never imagined that so many people could be housed in one facility.
Ricky was enthralled when he heard the roar of the sellout crowd when the announcement over the loudspeaker proclaimed that the starting pitchers would be Orel Hershiser for the Dodgers and Nolan Ryan for the Astros. After the first pitch was thrown and the game wore on, Ricky got caught up in the excitement of the screaming throng.
Ricky had never heard the words “no hitter” until he listened to them whispered by Carl T.’s father in the eighth inning. Neither team had a base hit. He did not understand the significance of that fact, but he realized that Ryan and Hershiser were doing something special when he overheard a man sitting behind him say in a disbelieving tone that the fans were witnessing a historic event.
Fifty thousand people went berserk when with two out in the last half of the eighth inning a Houston player named Terry Puhl hit a home run over the right field fence. The crowd became silent when the Dodgers came to the plate in the first half of the ninth. A buzzing sound developed when the first batter grounded out. It became louder when the next man flied out to left field. When the third batter struck out, and Ryan completed a no-hitter, pandemonium erupted. It was then that Ricky Braddock decided that he would become a major league pitcher and that one day he would be even better than Nolan Ryan.
Photo credit: Bob Malinak