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Mary Jo Ponsford Melby looks at a picture of her uncle, Mannie Ponsford, and holds a copy of Ray Sanchez’s column from 1952.

I was asked by Steve Kaplowitz, a fellow columnist at El Paso Inc. and host of KROD radio’s sports talk show, when I wrote my first column at the El Paso Herald-Post.

Luckily, I saved it and have it on hand. Or at least part of it.

I wrote my first column at the El Paso Herald-Post in 1952, and it happened to include an almost-incredible feat by Mannie Ponsford when he was at Austin High School. That was exactly 100 years ago.

My first column, then known as “By the Way…,”  follows:

“IT’S BEEN A LOT of fun getting together with some of El Paso’s old-timers at the recent El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame meetings. My column, titled ‘By the Way …,’ is a newcomer compared to these gents who remember all the way back to the early part of the (last) century …

“Naturally, many wonderful tales of performances by athletes in the old days were told at the meeting. Doc Holm told of perhaps the greatest individual feat ever seen here in a 24-hour period.

“The feat was performed by Mannie Ponsford of Ponsford Brothers Construction, who of course, is a candidate for the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame. Here’s what he did:

 

“IN 1919, on a Saturday afternoon, he caught a pass that enabled El Paso High School to beat Albuquerque. That same night, in the YMC gym, he sank a winning basket that gave Trinity Methodist a victory and the Church League title.

“Sunday afternoon he went out and pitched El Paso to victory in a mound duel.

“Therefore, in the space of 24 hours, Mannie Ponsfod accounted for three victories in three different sports.”

 

PONSFORD later went on to play for the University of Texas at Austin. He played for famous baseball coach Billy Disch and led the Longhorns to an undefeated season. He earned the title of “Mr. Pitcher” while at the university.”

Ponsford was inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame in 1960, only five years after the Hall was formed.

 

DISCH SERVED as baseball coach at the University of Texas at Austin from 1911 to 1939. Often called the Connick Mack of college baseball, Disch won 513 games, lost 180 and tied 12 and garnered 20 Southwest Conference titles. Disch is one of two namesakes at Disch-Falk Field.

 

TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the first African American to win Wimbledon and what year was it? Answer at end of column.

 

KUDOS TO UTEP football coach Dana Dimel for establishing a weekly award in honor of Luke Laufenberg, who had signed as a tight end with the Miners but passed away after a two-year battle with leukemia. Dimel: “Each week now, we have the hustle awards on both sides of the ball that we will call our ‘Luke Laufenberg Awards.’”

 

KUDOS ALSO to Eddie Morelos, media relations director of the Sun Bowl Association. He has created an outstanding website for the Sun Bowl. 

What’s more, it includes a weekly contest in which anybody can win two tickets for this year’s Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. It’s called the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl Challenge presented by Boss Chicken. Check out the contest at sunbowl.org/contest

TRIVIA ANSWER: Althea Gibson in 1957.


 

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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