There are many things that can be said about my City , Socorro aka SocoLoco, one thing that no one can deny is the tradition of Baseball excellence that the Socorro baseball program has established. A year or so I was chatting with Current Socorro baseball Head Coach Joe Alvarez about the state of the program and where they want to be. One thing that we kept talking about is the “Tradtion or Foundation ” of Socorro Baseball. For those of you who don’t know here is a quick snapshot of Socorro Baseball. Socorro High is only one of two schools to ever capture the Crown and earn the Title of Texas High school Baseball State Champions. Which is no easy feat by any means, Texas being the 2nd largest state in the country proves that you gotta work your way through a lot of teams and talent to win that championship. In total the Socorro baseball program Holds 52 championships (which includes: District/ biDistrict/Area/ Regionals and the State Title)
Getting back to my conversation with coach, one thing we felt is this current generation doesn’t fully understand the history and greatness that is feels to be part of this program. This is the first major stepping stone to your athletic career and personal growth as a young man. You can compare it on a scale (not as large but still holds great power) on what it feels to play for a organization like the Yankees , Red Soxs. Programs that are enriched with history and have set then foundation and Bar for success. To feel the power of Lacing up your cleats , button up that Scarlet Red Jersey and wear that bold “S” on your cap, you not only represent your family, you represent , play for the City of Socorro. For all the Tio’s and Primo’s that have came before you and the ones that are to follow. The worst thing that any young Socorro athlete could do is Not channel in that energy and use that to fuel the fire that burns inside of you to be the best.
See we needed to help provide a spark, what better way to showcase and bring it to the forefront and start a new tradition, ” The Socorro Wall of Honor”
Leading up to the Wall of Honor ceremony, I had the honor to photograph Two of the program’s greatest figures, Texas Hall of Fame Coach Chris Forbes and Major Leaguer Omar Quintanilla. So before the photo shoot got under way coach Forbes and I chatted about the history of the program and what are some of his greatest moments. One of his greatest moments was from the early years, ” to all the players from the beginning years of the program that put in the long hours and hard work to set the tone and build the foundation. We slept, ate and breathe Socorro Baseball, 24/7. If you take a look at the generations of families that have played for this program, the Rodriguez’s, the Pueblas, the Gomez’s, Hernandez’s and Estrada’s to name a few.”
He goes on to mention the 98′ team those was so close to advancing to the champions rounds. And then there was the 2009 Championship team, he mentions, the desire and will to win was incredible. To overcome the many obstacles that go with a state title run plus in the manner that they did it.
Here a little history about Coach:
About Head Coach Chris Forbes #4, El Paso native was named Head coach at Socorro high school in 1986 coached nearly 40 years including youth and summer leagues. During his career he has lead Socorro to 16 district titles, 19 Bi- District Titles, Nine Area Championships, Six Regional Quarter Final Championships, Four Regional Semi-Final Championships, One Regional Final Championship and One State Championship.
In 2009, Forbes Coached Socorro High school to its first ever Class 5A State Championship. Has earned Eight El Paso High School Coach of the Year Awards and 2009 named Texas High School State “Coach of the Year” for the 5A classification. Coach Forbes has been inducted into the Texas High School Coaches Baseball Hall of Fame ’13, and both the El Paso Athletic and Baseball Hall of Fame’s.
Under Forbes, seventeen of his players have been named to Texas High School All State Teams, eighteen of his players have played professionally.
Coach Forbes is the All Time El Paso High School leader in wins as a Head Coach with 577 wins.
And then there was “Q”
I had the honor to watch some of Omar’s games during my freshman and Sophomore year at Socorro high, and the one thing that impressed me the most was his work ethic and dedication to game of baseball. During summer football works in the morning you would always find Q in the weight room getting his workout in. Always sticking to his routine, sometimes he was joined by other baseball players, sometime not, but that never stopped him from putting in the the work. After his work out you can find Q in the batting cages and then in the infield taking grounders and trying to perfect his game. We read and Hear about master your craft from professional athletes , and when you have the opportunity to witness it first hand at that age you just know he is on track to great things. One of the memories of Q that coach Forbes shares is about a playoff series at which the opponent walked Q six times and one of those times the bases were loaded, “that shows you how much respect they had for him as hitter”, says Coach Forbes.
Omar Quintanilla #24 Four- Time District and Bi-District champion, also led the City of El Paso in Home Runs and RBI’s. He would not only lit you up as a hitter, but his gloves Skills were 2nd to none. He would make plays that some can only dream of. Omar was Named the All–City Most Valuable Player and was also selected to the Texas High School All-State Team.
All that play wouldn’t go unnoticed, Q was awarded with a full Scholarship to play baseball for the Longhorns at the University of Texas at Austin. All the hard work and dedication to the game continued to pay dividends where he was named the Big XII conference Freshman Player of the Year, dispite suffering a season ending injury in the latter part of the season where he was involved in a collision where he suffered a eye socket injury. Q underwent surgery to repair his injury and returned in time for his sophomore season and in his junior year, he helped lead Texas to their Fifth Nationial Championship with a victory over South Carolina in the 2002 NCAA College World Series. Omar was named 2002 All College World Series Team.
Professionally, Quintanilla was drafted in the first round (33rd overall) by the Oakland Athletics in the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft. Quintanilla made his Major League debut in 2005 for the Colorado Rockies and was part of the Rockies National League Championship in 2007 team that mounted a rally in the last month of the 2007 regular season, winning 21 of their final 22 games, and reached the 2007 World Series. Omar also played with the 2011 Texas Rangers and won an American League Championship. Other teams that Quintanilla has played for are the New York Mets and the Baltimore Orioles
Omar has had some very special moments in his baseball career from hitting his first Major League Home run at the historic Wrigley Field against Pitcher Ryan Dempster of the Chicago Cubs.
A Walk off Home Run in the Bottom of the 12 inning vs the Cincinnati Reds.
Home run off of New York Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes at the Brand new “Yankee Stadium”
And a Home Run off of Boston Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Omar has always been a down to earth kind of guy, does his offseason training here in the Sun City and signing autographs and representing Socorro baseball where ever he goes.
Like I stated before, the foundation of Socorro Baseball runs deep…
And on February 20 it was finally etched in stone ( or at least on the outfield wall at Chris Forbes Field) the numbers of Coach Forbes and Omar Quintanilla will hang proudly.
I hope this adds fuel to the fire that burns inside the current Socorro Baseball players. Remember you represent us, play your best and wear the ” S ” proudly ! This is for the Raza!
Here are some behind the scenes shots and highlights of the ceremony enjoy!