Lots of knowledge, the love to coach, and hard work is what long-time Robstown Cotton Picker coach Martin Perez exemplified during his 40-year (1962-2002) career.

Perez was one of the top defensive football coaches in the area, and spent 40 seasons (1963-2002) coaching baseball, winning 219 games in 16 seasons (1965, 1968-82) as a head coach.

In 1972, his Picker team became the first to win 20-plus games in school history, going 22-5 before a district playoff loss to Flour Bluff.

The 1976 Pickers, 1-7 in the first round - six losses by one run - went 7-1 to win the second round and force a one-game playoff with Moody. Robstown won, 3-2, at Picker Field, to advance and became the first Picker team to advance in the playoffs, finishing as a state quarter finalist.

In his last season as head coach in 1982, the Pickers, now in 15-4A, battled Calallen for the league crown, winning the last season only one team advanced in a district playoff at Cabaniss, 11-1.

Robstown fell in a 3-game bi-district series to Laredo United.

Perez also served a pair of two-year stints under John Solis (1963-64) and Zeke Rodriguez (1966-67) as an assistant, spending the last 20 years (1983-2002) assisting one of his former players, Steve Castro, winning state in 1991-92 in Class 4A. Robstown is the last 4A team to defend its title.

A four-year (1950-53) letter winner in baseball during his playing days at RHS, Perez, who pitched professionally in the Chicago Cubs organization, was also a state qualifier in the discus.

Perez played in the Pickers' first ever playoff football game at Robert Driscoll Stadium, a 13-6 bi-district loss to Donna in 1951.

Perez is also toward the top of the list with four no-hit games on the mound for the Pickers.

After a short military stint, Perez graduated from Texas A&I in 1962, starting his teaching and coaching career at RHS in September of that year.

Being the pitching coach for the Pickers most of his time here, no less than 21 pitchers won 10 or more games in a season, led by Ignacio Gonzalez' all-time best record of 35-8 between 1992 and '94.

Gonzalez is the only Picker pitcher to have three double-figure win seasons, with a career best 13-1 record in the state title run season of 1992.

Perez, often running with his pitchers and pitching batting practice until his mid-50s, also loved to hit golf balls on a quiet Saturday morning at the old football stadium, striking 9-irons through the goal posts.

Perez proudly put on his Picker uniform for 44 years as a player and coach, dressing out for nearly 1,100 games.

Perez passed away July 19 surrounded by his family. He was 77.