Boynton, Benjamin Lee (1898–1963)

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 1, 1994

Ben Boynton, football player, was born on December 6, 1898, in Waco, Texas, the son of Charles Albert and Laura Bassett (Young) Boynton. He began his football career as quarterback at Waco High School, where he was an all-round sports star (1913, 1914, 1915).

At a time when the sports focus was on eastern collegiate football, Boynton attended Williams College, where during his sophomore year his kickoff returns placed him high among top contenders for national recognition. He played quarterback on an undefeated Williams team and was selected as one of the members of the All-Eastern eleven. At the close of the 1917 season the International News Service placed him on its All-American team. He thus became the first Texan named to an All-American team. He left school in 1918 and became a gunnery sergeant in the marine aviation corps during World War I. In 1919 he returned to Williams, where he achieved legendary status in eastern collegiate football. Harvard, Yale, and Princeton all lost to Williams College in 1917, 1919, and 1920.

Boynton was named to Frank Menke's All-American teams for three seasons. He was one of the few players listed as three-time All-American by the Official Football Guide in 1919 and 1920. He was described as one of the best drop-kickers ever and a fine field general and open-field runner. He tied an all-time record for the longest scoring run by any method (110 yards) when he ran out a long punt return in the 1920 game against Hamilton College. He was also classed as one of the first great passers in football.

After graduation Boynton worked for Bethlehem Steel Company in Steeltown, Pennsylvania, and was on the professional football circuit for four years with five different teams. At one time he played on two teams at the same timeā€“the Frankfort Yellow Jackets on Saturdays and the Buffalo All-Americans on Sundays. In professional football he was considered second only to Jim Thorpe in all-round football ability; he was also described as a "brainy" fellow who could do anything.

Boynton organized the Southwest Football Officials Association in 1926 and officiated at college and high school games until 1939, when he became a sportscaster for Southwest Conference games. He served as a navy lieutenant commander during World War II. He was a longtime president of the Texas Golf Association and a Dallas insurance executive. He died in Dallas on January 23, 1963, and was survived by his wife, Katherine. Boynton was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1962. He was also named to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

Dallas Morning News, January 24, 1963. Dallas Times Herald, January 23, 24, 1963. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Sports (Football)
  • Military
  • Soldiers
  • World War II
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Central Texas
  • Waco
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Boynton, Benjamin Lee,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 24, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994

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