The Legacy of Hershel Kimbrell, Hall of Fame Basketball Coach

***** Heart Thumping Action                          Review by Rox Burkey

Author Caleb Pirtle III shows his long-time reporter experience in grabbing readers. Then he masterfully weaves the story of the career of this renowned coach using fast basketball prose for a great story telling exercise. Reading the description of Coach Kimbrell’s team and game philosophy helped me realize what a force he was for the game. His players were prepared because Hershel worked his five-man teams into a force that challenged all comers.

The research, interviews, and personal insights by Author Pirtle make this book as exciting as each game. You can visualize the people and places, hear the crowds, smell the sweat, and relate to the team’s emotional commitment to the coach.  The writing is that vivid.

This nonfiction memoir is nothing short of incredible about a man and how he ruled basketball. He brought the small Texas town, Abilene, to mean far more than just the Prettiest Girl Ever Seen. Coach Kimbrell created winners at all levels. A few stats from the book below.

“From 1959 to 1990, he won 448 games and eight Texas Intercollegiate Association Basketball Championships. His teams fought their way into the postseason playoffs sixteen times, and Kimbrell led McMurry to the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City in 1962 with a 24-5 record. In 1985, he was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame.

Kimbrell coached basketball at only two schools during a forty-year career: Garland High School and McMurry University.

He could have gone to larger colleges. The offers certainly came. More prestige, perhaps. More money, assuredly.

He didn’t leave.

Did the other schools have more prominent programs?

Probably.

Did he care?

No.”

The story itself is fantastic because the man put this private Methodist University on the map. Hershel Kimbrell gave his life to his team, the university, and he loved them all. The method Caleb Pirtle uses to tell this story brings out all sides of this man. I totally recommend this to anyone who desires a true story about basketball, life, commitment, winning, and family. I love the fictional writing of Caleb Pirtle, but this memoir is so powerful from the first page to the last. Don’t miss it.

About the Author

Caleb Pirtle III lives in the present but prefers the past. He is the author of more than eighty books, including four noir thrillers in the Ambrose Lincoln series: Secrets of the Dead, Conspiracy of Lies, Night Side of Dark, and Place of Skulls. Secrets and Conspiracy are also audiobooks on audible.com. All of the novels are set against the haunting backdrop of World War II. His Lonely Night to Die features three noir thrillers in one book, following the exploits of the Quiet Assassin, a rogue agent who has fled the CIA. He takes the missions no one else wants. He is expendable, and he knows it.

His award-winning Boom Town Saga includes Back Side of a Blue Moon, the story of a con man who comes to a dying East Texas town during the Great Depression, promises to drill for oil, and falls in love with a beautiful woman who just may have killed her husband. In Bad Side of a Wicked Moon, the lawless have come to the oil patch, and justice has left town.

Pirtle also wrote Friday Nights Don’t Last Forever, the story of a high school quarterback whose life spins into turmoil during his entanglements with illegal college recruiting, and Last Deadly Lie is the chilling story of the gossip and scandal that threatens to break a church apart in the midst of greed, jealousy and murder.

Pirtle is a graduate of The University of Texas in Austin and became the first student at the university to win the National William Randolph Hearst Award for feature writing. Several of his books and his magazine writing have received national and regional awards.

Pirtle has written two teleplays: Gambler V: Playing for Keeps, a mini-series for CBS television starring Kenny Rogers, Loni Anderson, Dixie Carter, and Mariska Hargitay, and The Texas Rangers, a TV movie for John Milius and TNT television. He wrote two novels for Berkeley based on the Gambler series: Dead Man’s Hand and Jokers Are Wild. He wrote the screenplay for one motion picture, Hot Wire, starring George Kennedy, Strother Martin, and John Terry.

Pirtle’s narrative nonfiction, Gamble in the Devil’s Chalk is a true-life book about the fights and feuds during the founding of the controversial Giddings oilfield and From the Dark Side of the Rainbow, the story of a woman’s escape from the Nazis in Poland during World War II. His coffee-table quality book, XIT: The American Cowboy, became the publishing industry’s third bestselling art book of all time.


Pirtle was a newspaper reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and served ten years as the travel editor for Southern Living Magazine. He was editorial director for a Dallas custom publisher for more than twenty-five years.

He and his wife, Linda, live in the rolling, timbered hills of East Texas. She is the author of two cozy mysteries.

Find and follow Caleb and Linda on your SM of choice.

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    2 replies to "Never Afraid, Never a Doubt"

    • Jan Sikes

      What a fascinating memoir! And I learned more about Caleb Pirtle that I didn’t know. Thanks for sharing, Rox!

      • RoxBurkey

        Jan, thank you for stopping by. Caleb is a remarkable author. Take care.

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