In 1982, a team of 13-year-old Little League baseball players from Victoria was constructed in hopes of bringing the first Little League state championship to the Crossroads.
Victoria’s Zone 1/3 All-Stars were able to do just that, winning the state championship on Texas A&M’s baseball field, later advancing all the way to the little league southern regional in Florida.
On Saturday afternoon, the team held a 40-year reunion at Breezy’s to reminisce about their accomplishments as a team.
“It’s nice to see everybody because I’ve only really kept in touch with one of the players on this team. I haven’t seen most of them in 30 plus years, so it’s been nice to get back, talk to everybody again, and catch up,” said Terry Wiest, a second baseman on the team.
Former left fielder and first baseman on the team, Duane Crocker, shared the same sentiment.
“It’s fantastic to see everybody, catch up, see how everybody’s doing, and it’s just really good to see these faces, see these guys again, and see our coaches still checking on us and caring about us,” he said.
Benny Ruiz, 76, who now has 48 years of coaching experience, was the the teams manager during their run to the southern regionals.
“This was the best team that I ever had. This was the best team out of Victoria because we were the first team to win state and move on,” he said. “They had a good relationship, and they gelled really well off the field and on the field.”
Trailing 6-1, the Victoria All Stars staged a rally, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh.
The team’s assistant manager, Lupe Rendon, 93, was able to make it to the reunion to chat with his former players.
“I feel like it hasn’t been that long since I’ve seen them … so time has just gone away,” he said. “It means a heck of a lot to be remembered as being a champion. As many games as we played, the ‘82 team has been one of the most amazing teams that I’ve coached and played with.”
The coaching experience that Ruiz and Rendon brought to the 1982 team played a major factor in their success.
“That was my first time to be coached by either one of those guys and it was a real experience,” Wiest said. “Coach Rendon had a wealth of knowledge in baseball, and Benny was just awesome as far as motivating the team with camaraderie and getting us all to play well together.”