The Alice High School baseball program is built on far too many greats to even begin to mention them all.
However, in the Coyotes’ 50th-straight season of organized high school baseball, the two men who probably deserve the most credit for the program are Joe Andrews and Chester Lykins. The two Alice businessmen and baseball enthusiasts were also Alice school board members. That’s how they began the program that Alice High School still has today.
Alice had high school baseball before, but while the game was king in the community mostly because of semi-professional teams like the Mohawks, it’s high school program had died. Andrews and Lykins pushed for it and William Adams High School organized a team again in 1961 — 50 years ago.
“Joe Andrews and Chester Lykins are why they started high school baseball here again,” South Texas historian and Alice Coyote Athletic Hall of Honor committee member Tony Bill said.
“They had an appreciation for the game and brought back to the school.”
Alice, wearing white uniforms accented in bright orange and “Coyotes” scripted across its jerseys, played a full schedule in 1961 under then baseball coach Ken Carley. They played Beeville to Kingsville and Corpus Christi’s schools to Laredo. The Coyotes home games were played at Anderson Park at what is now Zeke Mora Field.
Alice businessman Frank Dominguez was a senior on that 1961 baseball team. It was an exciting time for the sport in the Hub City, he remembers.
“Everyone was behind it,” he said. “Alice has always been baseball first. Even when Alice didn’t have a high school team, everyone played youth baseball, Pony League and semi-pro. You should have seen baseball then.”
The Coyotes were average at first, but baseball was already in the community for years and it didn’t take long for the program’s first winning season and then its first playoff season. In the 1969 season, Alice tied Kingsville for the district championship and then won the title outright in a one-game playoff. The Coyotes were eliminated from the state playoffs a week later, losing a best-of-three series to Corpus Christi Miller. The seed of success was planted and in 1971, the Coyotes led by Bobby Cuellar went on to reach the state semifinals. They lost to Houston Bellaire, which went on to win the state championship.
Years later, what Andrews and Lykins pushed for and the program which was built by so many is now among the area’s most consistent. Since coach Victor Escamilla took over the program, Alice has reached the playoffs in 11 of the last 14 seasons. The Coyotes have also average 20 wins a season through the last 15 years.
“I think we had a good starting point, and we were able to make it better,” Escamilla said. “The thing I’m most proud of is that in the 15 seasons I’ve been here, we’ve averaged 20 wins a year. That’s something for the program to be proud of. There aren’t too many people that can say that about their high school baseball program. It says a lot about the kids and the coaching staff we’ve been able to have here.”
There is no doubt of the greatness of the program. It is evident any time the Coyotes play at home. Even on Tuesday, when the Coyotes lost a 1-0 decision to state-ranked Calallen, the Coyote Baseball Complex was packed. It’s representative of the passion which still exists today 50 years after high school baseball began again here.
“Alice is definitely a baseball town,” Escamilla said. “Baseball is something that is very important to the people of Alice from way back to when it had its great semi-pro teams. Alice has always had a bunch of people who have loved the game. From every level — college to high school and younger — has had a love for the game.”