WACO — As Bobby Moegle’s four state championships and career 80.7 winning percentage suggest, the biggest challenge to running a baseball program often wasn’t the other team.
Keeping a smooth relationship with parents, his first principal told him, would be an ongoing test. That turned out to be as true in the 1990s as in the 1960s.
“Plus Nintendo,” Moegle said. “When Nintendo came along, that was the killer of all killers. I don’t know what that game is, but boy, everybody had something called Nintendo. If they’d had texting when I coached, I don’t know how you’d keep their minds on (baseball).”
Moegle kept Monterey players’ minds between the lines well enough to win 1,115 games during his 40-year coaching career, and his body of work was recognized on Monday with induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. At a banquet on the Baylor campus, Moegle was enshrined along with Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, former Dallas Cowboy Walt Garrison, Olympic softball pitcher Cat Osterman and Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams.
The late baseball slugger Eddie Mathews, a Texarkana native with 512 career home runs, was inducted posthumously. Shaquille O’Neal, who won state with San Antonio Cole in 1989 before becoming a 15-time NBA all-star, was voted into the class.
O’Neal had to miss the induction banquet because of a family matter that arose Sunday, the Hall of Fame said. His enshrinement is pending, until he can attend a future ceremony.
Moegle said the odds were against him, being on a ballot where nearly all the other candidates gained distinction in college of pro sports.
“When I was growing up, a person like Sammy Baugh or Bobby Layne or Doak Walker, you get people like that in here,” Moegle said. “Then to realize you’re in with those guys — they were kind of idols for you — it’s just a big time for me. I’m just kind of awed by the whole thing.”
Moegle has had a display case in the Texas Sports Hall of Fame museum since 1999, the season he retired. One of the items in that case is a baseball test for which he is well-known. He hammered out about 300 questions and gave it to his players starting in 1961, the year after he started at Monterey.
“I was teaching the kids how to play on a professional level,” said Moegle, who spent three years in the St. Louis Cardinals’ system, “and I couldn’t get around to everything I wanted to teach them, so I sat down one summer and got a typewriter out and started typing that thing.
“They had to think like me, the way we were going to play the game. I wanted the right fielder to know what the catcher was doing. I wanted the left fielder knowing what the first basemen did, so everybody took the test and we learned off the test how to play the game.”
Moegle stopped giving the test in 1965, he said. By that time, he had a baseball school that was instructing young baseball players from an early age. He had his program in place, one that would make the state tournament 13 times and the championship game eight times.
Always, he wanted to be more fundamentally sound than the other team.
“The game has changed a lot,” Moegle said, “especially on the pro level where everybody tries to drive the home run and not play percentage baseball like we did back when I was coaching.
“You never see a 3, 4, 5 hitter bunt. They’re always swinging away, so they sacrifice a lot of old-time percentage baseball, trying to get run production. That’s what draws fans. I wasn’t worried about fans. I was worried about winning.”
On a football field, few have won more than Brees, who led Austin Westlake to a state championship in 1996 and the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl title in 2009. Since then, he’s set NFL records for single-season passing yards and consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
Brees revealed Monday, however, how much of a long shot he was for those achievements. As a sophomore, he was slated for backup duty on the junior varsity.
“I thought about quitting football my sophomore year,” Brees said. “My mom had to talk me out of it. We were sitting in the garage after she picked me up from two-a-day practices my sophomore year, and I said, ‘Mom, I think I’m going to quit football and just stick with baseball.’ That’s the sport I really love.”
Brees said his mother told him to stick with it, and a week later, the quarterback to whom he was backup suffered a torn knee ligament. That was the chance Brees needed. Even with his success at Westlake, though, Brees still thought he’d reached the end of the line.
“I went to Purdue with every intention of walking on the baseball team and being a two-sport athlete,” Brees said. “That was really my goal, and I thought I had a much better chance of having a shot to play baseball professionally than I did football.”
Another honoree who pursued two sports is Garrison, who is a member of both the Dallas Cowboys’ 25th anniversary team and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. The Tom Landry era running back was on Dallas’ Super Bowl champion in 1971 and made the Pro Bowl in 1972.
“To be born and raised in Texas and to get to go into this Hall of Fame,” Garrison said, “is probably the biggest award I’ll ever have.”
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