The boys are back in town this week, as the 1971 Pan American University Bronc baseball team gets inducted en masse to the school’s Sports Hall of Fame. Though Jesse Banda is excited about seeing his old teammates off the College World Series entry, he said he might not get to attend every one of the events during the two-day celebration that starts with a reception Friday at 11.
That’s because Banda, a shortstop on the university’s greatest team, is also the softball coach at EHS, and will lead his Lady Bobcats into the three-day Mission Tournament starting Thursday.
“I hear almost all the guys will be down, including the Tyrone Brothers, and I am excited,” said Banda, whose assistant coach at EHS, Sonny Villarreal, was also a Bronc in 1971 as the unit scorched national king Texas to advance to the final eight before dropping out. “So I am going to have to see what I can go to over at Pan Am. I’ll be there when I can.”
Banda’s Lady ‘Cats are looking to unseat the big dogs in 31-5A this year, and they have a shot, although the league is by far the Valley’s toughest with four preseason Top 10 clubs. He and Villarreal are busy working the girls into playing fettle, and Banda says that he wants them to be like his outfit was back in 1971.
“The thing about that team was that we had nine leaders, one at every spot,” said Banda, whose teammates included Valley legend Lupe Salinas and former longtime Bronc coach Reggie Tredaway, among others. “Each guy stepped up in turn to provide big plays, and I want the Lady Bobcats to follow that lead.”
Banda laughs when asked if the girls, none of whom were born when the Broncs shocked the nation by making the CWS, understand the significance of the honor.
“They know a little bit about it, I guess,” he said. “But the point is, the coaches here have experience at winning games at the highest level, and we think the players can benefit from that.”
The ’71 Broncs are the second team to be inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, which was established three years agol the 1963 NAIA hoops champ was the first. Among the other luminaries garnering inclusion this season are Jim McKone, sports information director for 30 years up to 1999, and Lupe Garcia, the ageless and faithful bus driver who was a big part of the program’s success under legendary coach Al Ogletree.
The official induction ceremony is Saturday night; for more info on the Hall of Fame weekend, call 381-2221.