EDINBURG — Ricky Brockway was a two-time All-American, set eight Pan American University program records, was a part of the team with the best winning percentage in program history and went on to play for the Chicago Cubs, but he said the proudest moment of his career came on Saturday.
That’s when he, along with four other individuals and his 1975 baseball team, were inducted into the UTRGV Athletics Hall of Fame during a ceremony in the UTRGV Ballroom.
“The greatest thing of my athletic career was this right here,” Brockway said. “That’s the way I feel.”
During his time with Pan American from 1974-75, Brockway set the program records for single-season and career runs, steals, walks and assists.
He was a two-time NCAA All-American and a two-time AABC All-American.
“He had that Brockway, goofy smile that was just contagious,” said teammate Craig Sebek, who introduced Brockway during Saturday’s ceremony. “If you were around him, you felt comfortable. He always knew the spotlight was on him, but he handled it so well.”
Sebek said Brockway was the team’s “kingpin” — a leader and the primary reason for the group’s success. Brockway also developed a reputation for having a jab or practical joke ready at a teammate’s expense.
“Ricky was a fun-loving guy,” teammate Jack Ewing, who spoke during the 1975 team’s induction, said. “Always a trickster.”
For Brockway, being inducted alongside his 1975 team was “icing on the cake.”
The group went 63-7 including a 20-game win streak, posting the highest winning percentage in program history at .900.
Brockway became the seventh player from the group to be inducted into the UTRGV Hall of Fame, joining pitchers Ewing, Rod Edquist, Jesse Trinidad and Jim Proctor and position players Bobby Rutledge and Tommy Simpson. Head coach Al Ogletree and assistant coach Reggie Tredaway, who introduced the group on Saturday, are also in the Hall of Fame.
“You guys were the toughest bunch I’ve ever seen,” Tredaway said before 13 players joined him on stage to accept the honor. “Defeat wasn’t in your vocabulary. What an enjoyable year it was.”
Tredaway was a player on the 1971 Pan American team that advanced to the College World Series, but on Saturday he said the 1975 group was even stronger.
Ewing said the team was confident and cohesive, with depth at every position and the ability to fill in for each other’s shortcomings. Not until years later did he realize how special the experience was on and off the field.
“Played together, loved together, ate together, slept together, rode that dag gone bus all over the world,” Ewing said. “There was never doubt in any of our minds that we would ever lose a ballgame.”
The team’s run came to an end in the NCAA South Central Regionals with a loss to Texas — the eventual College World Series champion.
Ewing said the team’s only mistake was allowing Texas a big first inning. Pan American closed the gap but never pulled back ahead.
“There’s no doubt in my mind, I know we didn’t win it, the statistics show we didn’t win it, but we were the best team in the nation that year,” Ewing said. “There was something special that happened in that ’75 year. It’s unmatchable.”
Also inducted to the Hall of Fame on Saturday were Mire Chatman (men’s basketball, 2000-02), Tonya Garcia (track and field, 1990-93), Alex Gravel (women’s basketball 1998-03) and Leah (Viloria) Hampton (women’s tennis, 1987-91). Additionally, program supporters Dan and Terry Martinez were inducted to the Hall of Honor.
Chatman was an honorable mention All-American, the Independent Player of the Year, Independent Defensive Player of the Year and the UTPA Male Student-Athlete of the Year, among other honors. He grew emotional at the podium when looking back on his career and drew laughter from the audience when he recounted how he was thrown out of his career-best scoring game — 46 points against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi — when he picked up a pair of technical fouls with about five minutes to play. He also reminisced about UTPA’s attempt to get his attention during the recruiting process.
“They would send me a lot of letters to my JUCO, and I was just throwing them away. ‘Pan American, I never heard of this, whatever,’” Chatman said. “One day, they sent me a different pamphlet, and it had a picture of (South Padre Island). It had a picture of the beach. I was like, ‘Oh, what’s this?’”
Gravel held the program scoring record for nine years and now ranks third with 1,227 career points. She still holds the program record with 258 career 3-pointers, shooting as high as 42.6 percent from beyond the arc in 2002-03 and making as many as nine in a game, in 1999.
“When I was young, I didn’t talk much. I was pretty shy, and all I wanted to do was play basketball,” Gravel said. “And the basketball court was about the only place where I could express myself without getting judged, really. Every time I stepped on the court, I felt like I was free. Free to create. Free to be myself. And that freedom helped me discover who I was and who I wanted to be.”
Hampton is the program record holder in overall career wins with 109, including a then-program record 64 singles wins.
Her presentation was highlighted by a video message from her son, Nathan Hampton, who is a sophomore on the tennis team at Division I University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.
“You are a kind, loving and joyful person to be around,” Nathan Hampton said. “I’ve seen your positivity impact the lives of many people. Your unconditional love and support is an inspiration, and you are truly one of my role models.”