Twelve Mighty Orphans - The Book
Best selling author Jim Dent tells the Depression-era true story of the mighty orphans from the Masonic Home in Fort Worth, Texas. The scrawny orphan football team captured the hearts and minds of Americans as they beat all odds succeeding at the game of football as well as the game of life. Released in September 2007, Twelve Mighty Orphans has been through 20 printings overall (16 printings in hardback) with over 250,000 books sold. The paperback version was released in the fall 2008 and the book is available on Kindle.
The story appeals to those who wonder about nurture/nature, those interested in real life Depression-era stories, ideas of success, children, love and families – even families who are those we find around us, not necessarily the families we are born into. Dent captures a time in the lives of these orphans who, more than half a century later, still think of those teachers and friends from The Home as their family, and credit their experiences there with later successes in life.
Dent, author of the bestselling The Junction Boys which was also made into a movie, followed that project with his most powerful story of human courage and determination with the Mighty Orphans.
More than a century ago, a school was constructed in Fort Worth, Texas, for the purpose of housing and educating the orphans of Texas Freemasons. It was a humble project that for years existed quietly on a hillside east of town. Life at the Masonic Home was about to change, though, with the arrival of a lean, bespectacled coach by the name of Rusty Russell. Here was a man who could bring rain in the midst of a drought. Here was a man who, in virtually no time at all, brought the orphans’ story into the homes of millions of Americans.
In the 1930s and 1940s, there was nothing bigger in Texas high school football than the Masonic Home Mighty Mites—a group of orphans bound together by hardship and death. These youngsters, in spite of being outweighed by at least thirty pounds per man, were the toughest football team around. They began with nothing—not even a football—yet in a few years were playing for the state championship on the highest level of Texas football. This is a winning tribute to a courageous band of underdogs from a time when America desperately needed fresh hope and big dreams.
The Mighty Mites remain a notable moment in the long history of American sports. Just as significant is the depth of the inspirational message. This is a profound lesson in fighting back and clinging to faith. The real winners in Texas high school football were not the kids from the biggest schools, or the ones wearing the most expensive uniforms. They were the scrawny kids from a tiny orphanage who wore scarred helmets and faded jerseys that did not match, kids coached by a devoted man who lived on peanuts and drove them around in a smoke-belching old truck.
In writing a story of unforgettable characters and great football, Jim Dent has come forward to reclaim his place as one of the top sports authors in America today.
The book has received wide acclaim and praise. This just lists a few excerpts:
“…A riveting narrative…This is the Seabiscuit for football fans, sure to attract narrative nonfiction fans who like to mix sports, inspiration and popular history.”
“…the Mites story is inspiring.”
Notable Sports Authorities Have This to Say:
A remarkable and inspirational story of an orphanage and the man who created one of the greatest football teams Texas has ever known . . . this is their story—the original Friday Night Lights. “This just might be the best sports book ever written. Jim Dent has crafted a story that will go down as one of the most artistic, one of the most unforgettable, and one of the most inspirational ever. Twelve Mighty Orphans will challenge Hoosiers as the feel-good sports story of our lifetime. Naturally, being from Texas, I am biased. Hooray for the Mighty Mites.’’
—Verne Lundquist, CBS Sports
“Coach Rusty Russell and the Mighty Mites will steal your heart as they overcome every obstacle imaginable to become a respected football team. Take an orphanage, the Depression, and mix it with Texas high school football, and Jim Dent has authored another winner, this one about the ultimate underdog.’’
—Brent Musburger, ABC Sports/ESPN
“No state has a roll call of legendary high school football stories like we do in Texas, and, admittedly, some of those stories have been ‘expanded’ over the years when it comes to the truth. But let Jim Dent tell you about the Mighty Mites of Masonic Home, the pride of Fort Worth in the dark days of the Depression. Read this book. You will think it’s fiction. You will think it’s a Hollywood script. But Twelve Mighty Orphans is the truth, and nothing but. It is powerful stuff. Some eighty years later, the Mighty Mites’ story remains so sacred, not even a Texan would dare tamper with these facts. And Jim Dent tells it like it was.”
— Randy Galloway, columnist, Fort-Worth Star Telegram
About the Author
Jim Dent, a longtime award-winning journalist who covered the Dallas Cowboys for eleven years in Fort Worth and Dallas, including a stint at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, has written six books, including The Junction Boys, the New York Times bestseller that was the basis for an ESPN movie and remains a fan favorite. He has written three other highly acclaimed sports books, Monster of the Midway, The Undefeated, King of the Cowboys (which was named one of the top five sports books of the year in 1995 by Sports Illustrated). Dent lives in Texas.