7 to be Inducted into the RGV Sports Hall of Fame

A diverse and highly talented group of six men and one woman will be honored at the 2014 Induction Ceremony of the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame. The 27th annual banquet will be held at the Pharr Events Center on Saturday, July 12, at 5:00 p.m.

The 2014 Class includes Nancy K. Clark of Harlingen (tennis); Leo Araguz of Harlingen (football);  Jesse S. Gomez (dec.) of Raymondville (baseball); Vernon Hallbeck (dec.) of San Benito (football); Herbie Hinojosa of Brownsville (jockey – horse racing); Gerald Lambert of McAllen (football); and Johnny Olvera of Brownsville (baseball).

For more information, please contact:
Dan Ogletree (President) – 956-227-6563             Dano@BullardConstruction.com
Charlie Vaughan (Treasurer) – 956-778-2688      CVcattle@gmail.com


Biographical Sketches of the Eight Inductees for the 2014 Class are as Follows:

  1. Leo Araguz – Araguz was a standout athlete at Harlingen High School in football and played soccer with the Cardinals. He graduated in 1989 and received a scholarship to Stephen F. Austin University. During his junior year in 1992, Araguz led the Southland Conference and NCAA Division II with a punting average of 42.6-yards. He was a four year letterman, a three time All-Southland Conference selection, and he played seven years in the NFL. Araguz was a member of the Oakland Raiders from 1996 to 1999, the Detroit Lions in 2001, the Minnesota Vikings in 2003, and the Seattle Seahawks in 2003. He also played with the New York/New Jersey Hitmen in the XFL. He holds the title of having the most punts in an NFL game,  with 16 for 709 yards under the Oakland Raiders in 1998. He finished with 322 punts in the NFL and a 42.6-yard average.
  2. Nancy Clark – At age 14, Clark entered three different age-group competitions at a tennis tournament and won all three divisions, showing that she was going to be something special. Clark was a superstar athlete at Harlingen High and became The University of Texas’s No. 1 player in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In junior high she was deemed too good for her level and, as a result, traveled with the Cardinal varsity. Once in high school, she was a state champion in doubles with teammate Pam Riepen. Clark was the top player at UT for three years. After graduation from Texas, Clark continued to win championships in open tournaments statewide, including the Texas Open Women’s Doubles State Championship in 1974. This was the first in a string of exceptional post-college performances that lasted through 2005.  She earned a Master’s in Education from The University of Texas-Pan American and a Doctorate of Pharmacy from The University of Florida.
  3. Jesse S. Gomez – Gomez is one of the finest baseball players that the Valley produced in the 1950s. His services as a pitcher were in high demand.  He was a superb, all-around athlete in high school at Raymondville (Class of ’49), playing quarterback for three seasons and making All-District twice. He also pitched for the Bearkat baseball team and later played football at Texas Southmost College.  Gomez was everywhere in the 1950s, playing for semi-pro teams in Corpus Christi and the Valley. He even took a turn in Guadalajara with the Mexican semi-pro league. In 1951, he was the star of the Pearl Beer team and eventually became player-manager for the Edinburg Ginners, one of the Valley’s best outfits.  An outstanding football official, a long-time businessman in the insurance industry, and a regular in volunteer and philanthropic events, Gomez is best known as a legendary hurler of the 1950s.
  4. Vernon Hallbeck – The Valley sent dozens of athletes to the Southwest Conference back in the glory days, and one of the toughest was Vernon Hallbeck of San Benito. Hallbeck was a star for the Greyhounds under Coach Jim Barnes in the early 1950s. He played as a guard and linebacker, and he also played for the basketball team. Earning a spot on the squad at Texas Christian University, Hallbeck ended up as a two-way starter. His punishing running and blocking from the fullback position paved the way to the Cotton Bowl for the Horned Frogs after they won the SWC title in 1955. Hallbeck worked as an assistant coach for his alma mater from 1958 to 1963 after playing a year in the Canadian Football League with Calgary and attended four Cotton Bowls as a player and coach. In 1994, he was honored with induction into the TCU Sports Hall of Fame.
  5. Herbie Hinojosa – Hinojosa was born in Brownsville in August 10, 1936 and started racing horses at the age of eight. Once the leading rider of the world, he was in three Triple Crown Campaigns. At the 1961 Belmont Stakes he outran Carryback. In the 1974 Preakness Stakes, Hinojosa was second ahead of Cannonade, the Kentucky Derby winner; in 1978, he was fourth behind Affirmed, the last Triple Crown Winner. He beat Willie Shoemaker, Johnny Longdren and Eddie Arcaro and would win races for Roy Rodgers and Audie Murphy. Hitting four homeruns in a game is major feat in sports, or equivalent to winning six races in a single card. Hinojosa did it eight times in his career. He was a multiple graded stakes winner and became the 31th North American jockey to reach his 3,000th win in 1981. He had 25,160 Career starts, winning 3,334, coming in second 3,349, and third 3,246 times with total earnings of $17,962,176
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  6.  Gerald Lambert Lambert is McAllen High School graduate from 1955. He starred three years on varsity for McHi at guard.  The Bulldogs advanced to Class AAA State Semifinals in both 1952 and 1954. Lambert was selected as an outstanding football player in District 8-AAA at the annual Valley football banquet and was named first-team all-state.  At Texas A&I – now Texas A&M-Kingsville – he was an Associated Press Little All-American and received NAIA All-American honors.  Lambert was inducted into the Javelina Hall of Fame in 1975.  He was on the 1959 A&I team that won the NAIA national championship and Lone Star Conference title, and he was named outstanding lineman in both the title game and semifinals.  Lambert played in the All-American Bowl in Tucson, Arizona after his senior season. Lambert coached twelve years before taking a position as the superintendent of transportation for Bryan Public Schools.
  7. Johnny Olvera – One of the most coveted schoolboy athletes in Brownsville history, Olvera became a two-sport standout for the Eagles who eventually played for a national champion baseball team at UT.  Olvera, or Johnny O, was a well-known Little League legend who made All-District four times in high school in baseball and football. As a running back with exceptional speed, he rushed for over 1,000 yards in his sophomore year on the Eagles team of 1969. He ended his football days as an All-District defensive back, giving credence to his versatility and talent. In baseball, he led the Eagles to two playoff trips as a pitcher-outfielder. Olvera led the district in hitting twice and was a tremendous defensive gem.  He batted over .330 lifetime and earned a scholarship from Coach Cliff Gustafson. Olvera worked his way into the starting lineup as a senior for the ‘Horns and was among the team leaders in stolen bases and runs scored for 1976.

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