CORPUS CHRISTI - Original Hooks field manager Dave Clark, who piloted the ball club for three seasons (2005-07) and led Corpus Christi to the 2006 Texas League championship, is the featured guest at next month's South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet.
Tickets for the Thursday, January 14 event, presented by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and iHeartMEDIA at the Solomon P. Ortiz Center, are on sale now at the Whataburger Field Box Office. To order by phone, call 361-561-HOOK (4665).
The evening culminates with a celebration of Steve Castro's life and legacy as the long-time Robstown coach is honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
"It will be great to have Clarkie here as we look back at the early years of Hooks Baseball," team president Ken Schrom said. "There are so many wonderful memories, especially the championship run in '06.
"And, what a special occasion it will be for the family members and many friends of Coach Castro as we recognize his contributions to Robstown and the South Texas high school baseball community."
Clark, 53, is third-base coach and outfield instructor for the Detroit Tigers after five seasons as a base coach for the Houston Astros. The 1983 first-round draft choice (11th overall) from Jackson State spent 13 years as a Major League player with the Indians, Cubs, Royals, Pirates, Dodgers, and Astros. Clark was a Minor League manager from 2003-08 and earned manager of the year honors in both the Carolina (Lynchburg) and Texas (Corpus Christi) Leagues. His 2004 Class A Hickory Crawdads finished 30 games over .500 (85-55) and captured the South Atlantic League title.
The Astros then hired Clark away from the Pittsburgh organization, installing him as Hooks skipper before the inaugural 2005 campaign. His 2006 team, which compiled a 76-63 overall record, stormed to a 41-28 start, capturing the TL South Division first-half crown. The Hooks swept Midland in the Division Series and bested Wichita in the finals three games to one. That Corpus Christi team was paced by right fielder Hunter Pence, shortstop Ben Zobrist, center fielder Josh Anderson, second baseman Jonny Ash, catcher J.R. House, third baseman Mark Saccomanno, left fielder Jorge Cortes, first baseman Walter Young, utility man Josh Bonifay, plus pitchers Matt Albers, Juan Gutierrez, Troy Patton, Chance Douglass, Josh Miller, Paul Estrada, Jailen Peguero, and Mitch Talbot. Shortstops Wade Robinson and Osvaldo Fernando, who shared the position after Zobrist was traded, saved their best for last in the Texas League playoffs.
Clark went 207-212 in three years with the Hooks before moving to Triple-A Round Rock.
Castro, who was 705-275-9 in 28 seasons (1983-2010) as coach at Robstown High School, passed away October 18 at the age of 66. The Robstown native won consecutive Class 4A state championships in 1991-92 and made three other state tournament trips (1987-88-90). The Cotton Pickers won or shared their district championship on 14 occasions and made 24 total playoff appearances.
Castro was elected to the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014. Calallen coach Steve Chapman, current Robstown coach Elias Vasquez, former Moody and John Paul II coach Steve Castillo, former Gregory-Portland coach Fred Flores, and veteran Caller-Times sportswriter George Vondracek will salute Castro in video tributes at the banquet.
Texas Rangers broadcaster Matt Hicks, the Hooks' primary play-by-play announcer from 2005-12, returns as master of ceremonies.
Past South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet Lifetime Achievement Award Winners
2005 - Burt Hooton
2006 - Brooks Kieschnick
2007 - Rudy Jaramillo
2008 - Ox Miller
2009 - Bart Shirley
2010 - Gene Kasprzyk
2011 - Steve Castillo
2012 - Steve Chapman
2013 - Milo Hamilton
2014 - Hector Salinas
2015 - Dan McReynolds