CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Legendary local baseball coach and former Del Mar College trustee Hector Salinas died Friday morning at the age of 76 from kidney failure.
"His legacy will be tough to match," Hector Salinas' son, Orlando, told Sports Director Alan Harwell on Friday. "He started every college baseball program in South Texas, and Moody High School from the ground up. To this day, Moody is known all over the country."
Del Mar College, where he was an at-large member of the board of regents, announced his death on its Facebook page.
He was elected in 2018, and previously had been a member of the Corpus Christi Independent School District's board of trustees.
"He certainly has a special place in the hearts of the Moody Trojan community, in our district, and in the Corpus Christi community as a whole. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family."
Salinas was a storied baseball high-school and college baseball coach starting the Texas A&M-Kingsville program after a long period of dormancy and starting the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi program from its formative stages.
"It was 1995 and I was going to school there to finish up my graduate degree," said Moody baseball coach Joe Curiel, who coached under Salinas at TAMU-K. "He asked me to be his graduate assistant, and I took advantage of it. That's how I started my coaching career, and the rest is history."
After graduating from Carroll High School, Salinas graduated from Pan American University, where he also earned his master's degree in education.
He also had a long career working with the Corpus Christi Independent School District:
- 1968-71- Browne Jr. High – PE/Coach
- 1971-73 - Miller HS – PE/Coach
- 1973-78 - Moody HS – PE/Spanish/Coach
- 1987-92 - Moody HS – PE/Spanish/Coach
Salinas led Moody to its first appearance in the state baseball tournament and later started the program at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, where he coached from 2000-06. He also was a coach at Miller High School. He also was the head baseball coach at Texas A&M-Kingsville from 1993-98.
"He gave me an opportunity as a player, and guided me through life," said Ray baseball coach Orlando Ruiz, who played for Salinas in college. "He was like a second dad to me. As a coach, he would always critique me after a game by calling me and asking 'Why did you do this? Why did you do that?' I was always listening to Coach Salinas. He was a great role model."
He was a member of the Moody High School Hall of Fame, the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame, the Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelina Hall of Fame and the Leo Najo Sports Hall of Fame.
His daughter Paula also told Harwell that her father's influence wasn't just felt within the local baseball community.
"The cool thing, when I started coaching softball, (is) he started spreading all his baseball knowledge to softball," said the Veterans Memorial softball coach. "It wasn't just the South Texas boys, because, when he went to see the South Texas girls play softball, that opened up all kinds of new doors for a bunch of young ladies."
Sports Director Alan Harwell contributed to this story.