by Ray Sanchez©
And the celebrations continue.
You notice I said celebrations with an “s.” That’s because the 50th anniversary of the 1966 Texas Western College Miners NCAA championship and the 100th anniversary of the magnificent El Paso High School building will continue throughout the year.
I’m surprised at how many emails and requests for information I continue to receive about the two events.
But from Italy? Yes. Following is an email I received recently:
“Dear Mr Sanchez: I am Jacopo Xompero , a 24-year-old Italian boy who is majoring in history at Padova University. On my spare time I work at a local newspaper, writing articles related to sports … As a topic for the thesis I chose ‘Racial segregation in American sports.’ Precisely I want to talk about the victory in the NCAA tournament of Texas Western Miners of 1966 … I was wondering if it was possible to get an opinion from you, a direct testimony of those who have experienced first hand the events.”
Of course, I replied. The ’66 Miners legend just keeps growing.
EL PASO HIGH’s anniversary has traveled far and wide, too, but following is an email from El Paso’s Pat Wieland:
“Your article in the January 3-9 edition of the El Paso Inc sparked a fun memory … The article about the 100th anniversary of EPHS also referred to your early days as a sportswriter, and your efforts then to be impartial when covering your alma mater. I was a senior on the Tiger football team in the fall of 1963. El Paso's newest high school, Eastwood, had an outstanding football team which had been unbeaten as 8th graders, freshmen, and sophomores. They were so good that Eastwood decided to enter varsity competition even though the school was just beginning its junior year.
“EASTWOOD’S season started strong, including a near upset of early season district favorite, Austin at Mckee Stadium, making that decision appear to be a good one … There was only one district in El Paso then so we had to play every team in order to earn the district title. EPHS's turn to face Eastwood came in our third game of the season …
“Your featured article that week included a prediction that the Troopers would beat the Tigers. As if we needed any further motivation, our coaches plastered your article on several walls inside the EPHS Field House. By game time, we were on fire.
“We beat the Troopers 45-0 that night at Hutchins Stadium. I've always thought that your article probably contributed at least a few touchdowns.
“…In short, your articles have definitely inspired over the years. I thoroughly enjoy your articles in the Inc, and appreciate your insight, and the research that goes into each article, and, yes, even your predictions, though they can be wildly incorrect at times. Keep on keepin' on!”
TRIVIA QUESTION: The final high school football games in El Paso in 1963 were cancelled because of the assassination of President John Kennedy but El Paso High and Austin got together and played the game years later. Can you tell me the year? Answer at end of column.
SPEAKING OF El Paso High School, another dear person I knew and wrote about has passed away. It’s Nancy Pennies, who I met when she was just a little tyke but grew into a state tennis champion in 1957 at El Paso High School. She was a winner off the court, too, pretty as a picture and sweet as ice cream. She died after a bout with cancer on Valentine’s Day. How fitting. She was a sweetheart to everyone who knew her.ANSWER to trivia question: 1984. Pat Wieland remembers it well. He added in his email, “Both schools coordinated their 20-year reunion schedules in order for the teams to finally meet. The game was played at Jones Stadium complete with referees, cheerleaders, and several thousand fans. Although it was only a flag-football contest, it was played with as much intensity and determination as if we were still high school seniors.”
Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at by e-mail at email@example.com or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com
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