E King Gill was on the 1921 football team but quit midseason to focus on basketball.
At the Dixie Classic in Dallas on January 2, 1922 Texas A&M was playing Center, the number 1 team in the nation. Gill happened to be at the game as Dallas was his hometown. He was asked to come into the press box by a Waco sportswriter to help spot players and keep statistics.
The Aggies suffered several game ending injuries and were down to 11 players when the coach, Dana X Bible spotted Gill in the press box. He quickly changed into another player’s uniform under the bleachers and stood at the bench as the lone substitute for the remainder of the game. In a stunning upset the Aggies beat Centre 22-14.
King re-joined the football team as the starting full back the following season, was an all-conference basketball player and baseball player. He graduated in 1924.
The 12th man captured the imagination of students and fans and evolved into its current form during the National Championship season of 1939. Students continue to stand for the duration of the game to demonstrate their willingness to contribute if needed.
Today there is one walk on who wears the number 12 and represents the students in the stands.
E King Gill served much of his life as a military doctor and died in 1974. He later said: “I wish I could say I went in and ran for the winning touchdown. But I did not. I simply stood by in case my team needed me.”