PHARR — The Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame honored its Class of 2019 inductees at Saturday’s 32nd annual banquet at Pharr Events Center.
The nine new inductees included Brownsville’s Desi Najera (football), Brownsville’s Frank Parker Sr. (football), Harlingen’s Mike Buck (football officiating), Harlingen’s Jim Morton (football coaching), McAllen’s Leticia Canales (basketball coaching), La Villa’s Lisa Silva Malesich (running), Rio Grande City’s Cesar Perez (baseball), Edinburg’s Mary Frances “Sissy” Skinner (tennis) and Pharr’s Doyle Slayton (football coaching).
Inducted posthumously were football coaches Morton, who died in 1995, and Slayton, who died in 2014.
The total number of inductees in the RGV Sports Hall of Fame rose to more than 270 on Saturday.
Buck was a former longtime resident of Harlingen before moving to Bastrop during the last year. His football officiating career ran from 1979 to 2017 and included 1,444 high school games.
He said it was good to be back in the Valley for a such a memorable evening Saturday.
“This is very humbling (to receive this honor),” said Buck, a former administrator at Texas State Technical College in Harlingen (1976 to 2008) and a Texas Army National Guard officer for 25 years ending in 1997. “It’s more than I thought I’d ever attain. It’s just a big honor.”
The late Morton left a lasting influence as a drill instructor, football coach and athletic director at Marine Military Academy in Harlingen from 1969 to 1994. He also coached basketball and track at MMA.
Ken Morton, one of Jim Morton’s four sons, accepted the RGV Hall of Fame honor on behalf of the Morton family. Ken Morton said his father had a hard-as-nails reputation, and added he was a fair man.
He said his father would be very grateful for Saturday’s induction.
“He would consider it quite an honor,” Ken Morton said. “He would definitely think it’s really something to be honored. My father would be very thankful.
“This is something we’ve been waiting for (as a family) a long time,” Ken Morton added. “To be recognized by his peers would mean so much to my father. He loved what he did (coaching at MMA).”
Saturday’s inductees also included a runner from La Villa (Malesich) who won five gold medals at the Class 2A level in cross country and track for the Lady Cardinals, and a former basketball standout as a player at McAllen High (Canales) who topped 800 career victories as a longtime coach who took her Corpus Christi Carroll squads to state three times (1998, 1999 and 2000).
Also, there was a late longtime Valley football coach (Slayton) who had stints at Santa Rosa, Zapata, Lyford, Progreso, Harlingen South and Brownsville Hanna, and a tennis standout (Skinner) who has played her sport since age 9 and continuing through her current age of 71. She has been a strong advocate for tennis as a player, tennis pro, coach at Sharyland High and a tennis administrator.
Also inducted were a former baseball pitcher in high school and college (Perez) who took Texas Southmost College and Sam Houston State University to separate college world series tournaments. Perez was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1979 while at Sam Houston State and by the Cincinnati Reds in 1977 while at TSC.
The other two inductees were former Brownsville High football standouts. Parker played for the Golden Eagles as an all-state center and linebacker during the late 1940s, and Najera, an all-state quarterback, played for the Eagles in the late 1960s. Both went on to play in college.