Former Moody baseball coach, CCISD board member Hector Salinas passes away
Hector Salinas, who became synonymous with South Texas baseball and built the foundation for Moody’s rise as a state baseball power, died early Friday morning, the family confirmed. He was 76.
A 1962 Carroll graduate, Salinas also started the baseball programs at Laredo Community College, Texas A&M-Kingsville and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi after seven seasons at Texas Southmost College. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet at the Solomon P. Ortiz Center in January 2014.
After retiring from coaching, Salinas served on the Corpus Christi ISD Board of Trustees and was elected to the Del Mar College Board of Regents in 2018.
“With Hector, it was all about the kids,” said Steve Castillo, who coached with Salinas at Moody for one season before succeeding him as head coach in 1978. “He knew a lot about baseball and opened doors for a lot of kids who went on to play in college. He was always working to get scholarships for more kids in our area.
“At the same time, he would tell our players that it’s nice to have a dream to play Major League Baseball someday, but it’s important to get an education because someday baseball is going to end. He wanted the kids to do well in life.”
Orlando Salinas, one of Hector Salinas' sons, said his father died early Friday morning. He said many people, including former players, are reaching out to the family from across the country.
"it's been unbelievable," Orlando Salinas said. "His players are calling from Puerto Rico, calling from Florida, California, and it's unbelievable how many people he touched. We can't even answer them fast enough and tell everybody thank you."
Orlando Salinas said services are still pending and will likely be at Corpus Christi Fellowship.
Corpus Christi ISD Superintendent Roland Hernandez said Salinas' success as a coach was complemented by continued efforts to build up education in the community.
"In addition to his service as a school board member, he was a proud Carroll Tiger as a student, and then generously shared his knowledge with a younger generation of players as an accomplished CCISD baseball coach," Hernandez said in a statement. "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."
Del Mar College Chief Executive Officer and President Mark Escamilla said Salinas and his work made "the community a better place."
"Regent Salinas was an integral part of the Del Mar family and devoted his life to educating our youth and adult learners," Escamilla said in a statement from the college. "From coaching on the baseball fields of South Texas, to serving in leadership roles on educational governing boards, Coach Salinas gave his time and attention to the things that mattered most. He made our community a better place and for that he will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Salinas family and our greater community during this sad time.”
Former Moody coach Corky Gallegos, who played for Salinas and Castillo at Moody before graduating in 1989, said: “Coach Salinas not only did a lot for baseball, he did a lot for the community. He was a community leader and was always trying to help people.”
After playing for Salinas at A&M-Kingsville, Gallegos returned to coach at Moody in 1996 and succeeded Castillo as head coach six years later. Gallegos led the Trojans to their first state championship in 2004, and guided them to another title in 2007.
Like Castillo, Gallegos remained close to Salinas through the years. Salinas was born in the Valley town of Elsa, about 20 miles northeast of McAllen, but was raised in Corpus Christi. Salinas fell in love with baseball at an early age and later relished teaching the game during his long career.
“I think Coach Salinas will be remembered for his knowledge of baseball and his passion for it,” said current Moody coach Joe Curiel, who was an assistant to Salinas at A&M-Kingsville for two seasons. “He loved coaching but his legacy goes beyond the game. He prepared his players for life. He taught me how to be a better coach. That’s what I try to bring to the table to my guys now.”
A basketball and baseball standout at Carroll, Salinas was head baseball coach at Miller for three seasons before taking the same position at Moody in 1973. Salinas, who had two stints with the Trojans, guided Moody to its first playoff season in 1974 and its first berth in the state tournament three years later.
Salinas coached at Moody for five seasons before going to Texas Southmost in 1978. He went 145-98-2 in his seven seasons (1979-85) with the Scorpions, leading them to the playoffs four times. He followed his stint at Texas Southmost with two seasons at Laredo Community College, before returning to Moody in August 1988. Salinas coached with Castillo for two seasons (1989, 1990) during their second stint together.
Castillo succeeded Salinas at Moody in the summer of 1978, after one season as his assistant, and took the program to another level. Moody lost in the state tournament seven times before winning the 2004 title.
Salinas was among the crowd of 6,431 that watched Moody beat Flower Mound 6-1 for the state crown in Class 5A, then the UIL’s largest classification. Salinas was spotted in the mezzanine area of the stadium when Moody was three outs away from the title at the top of the seventh inning.
“I feel like an expectant father,” Salinas said, pacing nervously.
Salinas had a tough time controlling his emotions after the Trojans finally won the championship that had eluded them for so long.
"I am so happy for the people in the Moody community and all the guys who have played through the years," he said. "This has been like a big reunion."
Moody won state again three years later, and has reached the state tournament 13 times in school history.
Salinas was A&M-Kingsville’s first baseball coach when the school added the sport to its athletic program in 1993.
The Javelinas went 190-123-2 and won Lone Star Conference championships in 1995 and 1998 in six seasons under Salinas. He was voted LSC Coach of the Year in 1995, and his 1998 team advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first time in school history.
Salinas was hired as A&M-Corpus Christi’s first baseball coach in August 1998. He was 172-191 in seven seasons (2000-06) and was named NCAA Independent Coach of the Year in 2005. The 2003 Islanders beat defending national champion Texas in their opener and went on to win 33 games that season.
A 15-inning victory against Oklahoma State in 2005 was another highlight of Salinas’ tenure at A&M-Corpus Christi.
Salinas was an outstanding athlete as a senior at Carroll during the 1961-62 school year. After serving as captain of the basketball team, he helped lead the Tigers to their first baseball district title and first berth in the state tournament.
A pitcher at Carroll, Salinas went on to a stellar career at Pan American University under legendary coach Al Ogletree. He earned All-America honors with the Broncs as a senior in 1968, and played Triple-A baseball for Veracruz and Mexico City during the 1968-69 season.
Salinas is a member of the Moody Hall of Fame (2000), Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame (2009) and A&M-Kingsville Javelina Hall of Fame (2013).
Salinas and his wife, Thelma, had two sons, Orlando and Trey, and three daughters, Hilda, Paula and Brenda. Orlando and Trey both were standout baseball players at Moody. Orlando played for the Trojans when his father and Castillo coached together again in 1989 and 1990. Paula Salinas is head softball coach at Veterans Memorial, and held the same position at Moody.
Hector Salinas also had 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
“As a father, he always looked out for his kids,” Gallegos said. “His family always came first. Everything he did was for his family.”
David Flores is a San Antonio-based freelance writer who writes about Coastal Bend sports history.
Caller-Times education reporter John Oliva contributed to this report.
Sports Editor Len Hayward contributed to this report.