Don Haskins.jpg

Don Haskins

Did you know that a banquet was once held where more than 60 of El Paso’s sports heroes I had known attended? Gosh, even I had forgotten, but it came to mind recently.

In 1987, a book I wrote was published by the Sunturians, a group of young El Pasoans eager to help El Paso. The book was titled “El Paso’s Greatest Sports Heroes I Have Known.”

In the forward I wrote: “Heroes come in all shapes, sizes and colors. And not all acts of heroism are accomplished on the field of combat. There are those who give of their time, their energy, their money, to see that goals are reached, progress made, others encouraged. They are people of vision.”

THE SUNTURIANS held a banquet to honor all the people in the book. All 61 stars mentioned in the book, or their representatives, showed up. Nolan Richardson, a great public speaker also mentioned in the book, was master of ceremonies. I introduced the sports heroes.

Can you imagine the glow in the room with so many stars in one place?

THE FIRST SPORTS hero I wrote about was Dolph Quijano, the rage of El Paso who won light heavyweight and some heavyweight titles in various states before losing a close 10-round decision to Joey Maxim, who went on to become light heavyweight champion of the world.

I WENT ON to describe other athletes, coaches and promoters I had known, and finally wound up with famed UTEP basketball coach Don Haskins.

As stated in the book, “(Haskins) won a national basketball championship in 1966, an accomplishment that no one ever dreamed could happen at such a little school, which UTEP was at the time. What’s more, he set a record in the Western Athletic Conference that may never be broken: Sharing or winning outright the championship five consecutive years (from 1983 through 1987).”

Ah, memories.

TRIVIA QUESTION: What was baseball legend Babe Ruth’s real name? Answer at end of column.

DAN WEVER writes: “Seems like everything you write reminds me of something you might enjoy. The article about Lee (Trevino) did the same.”

He explained that he was in a Calcutta event at Horizon Country Club in the 1960s. He and his partner, Glen Bowman, bought $65 for themselves – a lot of money for two telephone company workers at the time.

They tied for second, which carried prize of $1,700. There was a playoff. The two teams teed off on No. 10. Wever says he hit one of the best drives of his life there. He got on the green and was 20 feet beyond the hole. He two putted and won the hole.

But in the clubhouse somebody complained that he had putted out of turn. By rule then, he had to go back to the green and putt from where he thought the ball had been. He put it down 20 feet from the hole, but the person who had complained said it was three feet longer. Now he was 23 feet away.

Wever said, “I took my time and made the putt and took home over $800 to my wife.”

TRIVIA ANSWER: George Herman Ruth. He was also known as The Bambino and The Sultan of Swat.


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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