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Mary Hoover

The death of Mary Hoover in May hit me especially hard.

You see, although I went to El Paso High School and she attended Austin High School, we were practically the same age and I followed her career as she grew up. 

I wrote about her in her later years in one of my seven books, “El Paso’s Greatest Sports Heroes I have known,” as follows:

“She was such a beautiful young lady she could have been a model or a movie star. She was so popular she could have been a successful politician. She was so bright she could have been a successful businesswoman.

“Luckily for the athletic world, she chose sports as her main interest. I say luckily because she went on to become one of the most versatile and successful athletes in the Southwest.” 

IN 1933, at the age of 5, she entered the first Kids Rodeo in El Paso. She was kicked off a burro five times.  It was such a bravado performance it was written up in Western Horseman magazine. Nine years later, she was reserve champion. In 1943, she was Grand Champion.

She attended Crockett Elementary School. While there she participated in swimming meets, neighborhood track, basketball and football. How’s that for a quadruple?

That same year she also won the City Tennis Tournament and the El Paso Country Club beauty contest. 

BUT THAT was just a portent of things to come. While attending Austin High School, she and Margaret Warner competed in the Gulf Coast Tournament in 1943 and won every trophy in six events. And in 1945 Mary won the state high school tennis championship.

She attended the University of Arizona and while there lettered in basketball, volleyball, field hockey, bowling, swimming, golf and tennis. 

GOLF? YES!

Besides winning numerous tennis tournaments throughout the Southwest she was Coronado Country Club champion in golf 19 times, El Paso Country Club champion twice and city champion three times.

She also won the Juarez Invitational, the Border Association three times, the Southwestern Tournament twice and the Horizon Invitational.

To read more of her accomplishments, refer to my book, “El Paso’s Greatest Sports Heroes I Have Known.” 

TRIVIA QUESTION: Can you name a player in the past half-century who has been named most valuable player in both major leagues? Answer at end of column. 

YOU FIND SUCH interesting comments when you post on social media. For instance: 

Michael Montes asked if Ken Heineman played football for El Paso High School. Yes, he did.

Fred Herrera: “A lot of fine successful people are EPHS grads ... Including my daughter Claudia, Class of 2000 and now aerospace engineer at NASA Armstrong Flight Center/Edwards Air Force Base in California.”

Chris Rodriguez: “My Grandfather also played in the first Sun Bowl. His name was Poppy Perez.”

BJ Chavez: “My husband, Tom Chavez, played basketball at EPHS and later became an Olympic Basketball Coach!”

Patrick Thompson: “Ken Heineman’s, Ken Jr., went to Austin High School and was a standout baseball player for the Golden Panthers.”

 

ANSWER to trivia question: Frank Robinson in 1961 with the Cincinnati Reds and in 1966 with the Baltimore Orioles.

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Veteran sports journalist, historian and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by email at rayf358@yahoo.com or online at raysanchezbooks.com.

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Veteran sports journalist, historian & author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at 915-584-0626, rayf358@yahoo.com or raysanchezbooks.com.

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