Alex Loyd couldn’t stand poor sportsmanship.
Loyd was a friend to all. He was genuine, caring, generous and handsome. But sitting in the Lewis Field stands watching one of the lopsided Bedlam games of the 1950s, he was mad.
He thought Oklahoma football coach Bud Wilkinson was unnecessarily running the score up on Oklahoma A&M. At the end of the game, Loyd walked down the stands and jumped over the railing. He chased after Wilkinson, running him off the field.
“Couldn’t get away with that now, but back in those days, you could,” Kathy Petrey, Loyd’s daughter said. “And my dad felt very strongly about that. He did not like poor sportsmanship. You win gracefully, you lose gracefully.”
Loyd played football for Oklahoma A&M (renamed Oklahoma State University in 1957) from 1945-49. He played tight end on the 1945 national championship team, then two seasons in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers.
What makes Loyd’s name relevant today is his school-record 16 catches against the Kansas Jayhawks on October 22, 1949, a game the Aggies lost 55-14. Last Saturday, OSU receiver Brennan Presley caught 15 passes against Houston.
Loyd’s record, 74 years strong, lives on.
“There’s not a lot about Oklahoma State football I don’t know, but I did not know that,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “Yes, that does surprise me.”
It’s impressive that Loyd still owns the record, Gundy said, considering how many talented receivers played at OSU in the pass-happy Big 12.
“I’m surprised Justin Blackmon hadn’t got that many,” Gundy said. “James Washington played with so many other receivers that were NFL (players) that we had to spread it around. But that shocks me that it’s been that long.”
Gundy and Presley didn’t know Loyd’s name when asked this week. Media in the press box Saturday had to Google his name to learn about the record-holder. So, here is a history lesson on one of the most interesting OSU players most people had forgotten prior to last week.
Loyd was born and raised in Stigler, Oklahoma, and died from cancer in 1976 at age 48. Loyd’s dad was Stigler’s postmaster general, and had five sons and two daughters. Loyd was the baby.
As a high school student, Loyd worked nights in a graveyard, guarding the graves from robbers. During the day, he focused on sports. Although he thought about playing basketball for coach Henry Iba, football was always Loyd’s favorite, so that’s what he chose to play at Oklahoma A&M.
Loyd played two seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. People in San Francisco regularly mistook him for John Wayne, and he would sign autographs as the legendary actor. (Courtesy Kathy Petrey)
Loyd contributed as a freshman on the 1945 Sugar Bowl team alongside Bob Fenimore, who is in the Cowboy football ring of honor. Members of that team, including Fenimore, were the pallbearers in Loyd’s funeral.
In college, Loyd reconnected with Jimmie Parkinson, a girl he knew from Wagoner. The pair married and later had three kids.
The Washington Redskins drafted Loyd in the 15th round of the 1950 NFL Draft, but traded him to the San Francisco 49ers before the season. Loyd caught 32 passes for 402 yards his rookie season in 1950, good for 22nd in the NFL. Loyd played two seasons with the 49ers before a shoulder injury ended his career.
When he walked the streets of San Francisco, Loyd was often stopped for autographs. But usually people weren’t asking for the young 49ers tight end’s signature. They thought Loyd, who stood 6-foot-3, was legendary actor John Wayne.
Of course, Loyd signed as Wayne every chance he got.
“If it was going to make that person happy, why not?” Petrey said.
After his career ended, Loyd moved to Dallas to join his brother’s sporting goods company. He worked as a sales rep, traveling the country and selling sporting equipment. It allowed him to merge his favorite things in the world: sports and people.
Petrey said her dad had “all the friends in the world.” He was also the “cool uncle.” Loyd drove a brand new convertible Cadillac to a family reunion in Stigler. His niece, 17, asked if she could take the car, with paper tags still on it, for a drive. Loyd tossed her the keys. She crashed into a barn.
Kathy Petrey (left) is one of three of Loyd’s children. Her daughter, Alexandria, (right) is named after Loyd. Here they sit outside Boone Pickens Stadium sharing a blanket embroidered with Loyd’s name that has been passed down since the 1940s. (Courtesy Kathy Petrey)
“My dad was like, ‘It’s OK, it’s only a car. Don’t worry about it,’” Petrey said.
Loyd had such an impact on his family that more than 20 people in his family tree bear his name. Petrey named her daughter Alexandria, who graduated from OSU in 2014, after Loyd.
“He was a wonderful dad, wonderful friend, just a wonderful person to all,” Petrey said.
And now, because Presley caught 15 passes last Saturday, Loyd’s name is talked about again.
Petrey is a huge OSU fan, and for cold games at Boone Pickens Stadium snuggles under a wool blanket from the 1940s passed down from her father. She said her father taught her to bleed orange and that, selfishly, she hopes her dad’s record is never broken. Because as long as that record is alive, so is her dad.
“I’m just so excited that he’s being recognized again, his name is coming up again. He’s still alive somewhat,” Petrey said.