Monument unveiled at PHS baseball field

PEARLAND — It may be 35 years late, but the Class 4A 1980 Pearland High School baseball state champions finally have a beautiful monument commemorating the first state championship in any sport in PHS history.

State Representative Ed Thompson and Pearland Mayor Tom Reid were both present to offer their words of encouragement and celebration. Both have always been supportive of Pearland athletics.

Only a few years ago did the Pearland HS baseball diamond have any signage letting people know that the Oilers won the 4A state title in 1980.

Thanks to Pearland realtor Theresa Riddle, the Oil Patch has a beautiful sign in left field letting people know of the great accomplishment by the Pearland diamondmen. Riddle's husband, Larry, was on that 1980 squad and over time, the couple have seen three boys also star for the Oilers when they were in high school. Ryan played catcher and graduated in 2002, Reece played second base and graduated in 2009, and Nathan played second base and graduated in 2012. All three played multiple years for the Oilers and were standout performers. Their daughter Laura, was also the drum major for the PHS band.

Former Pearland first baseman Guy Mikeska came up with the idea for the monument," teammate Mickey Owens said. "I then began to promote it in raising the funds amongst my teammates. I think if our coach had stayed coaching in Pearland, something might have been done for us sooner. He got many offers to coach college ball very fast after his success in just a short time with Pearland."

The Pearland softball team has won two state titles in 1996 and 2010 and the Pearland football team captured the 2010 Class 5A Div. I state championship. Both teams have beautiful monuments signifying these remarkable accomplishments.

"I want to thank Leslie Bryson with Bryson Memorial for helping greatly with this project," Owens added. "Leslie was a classmate of ours and equally proud of our team."

The Oilers finished the 1980 season with an impressive 32-4-1 coached by Bill Bratcher and Ronnie Johnson. The Oilers also advanced to the state finals the next year in 1981 only to come up short 7-3 against Lubbock Monterey.

In 1980, Pearland unleashed a 24-hit attack, 12 in each game including seven extra base hits in victories over San Antonio Roosevelt (9-4) in the finals and an 8-4 opening round victory over Carrollton Turner.

At the time, Class 4A was the largest class in Texas, so Pearland was a part of the big boys in the day.

The Pearland squad placed seven players on the All-State Tournament Team and three players were named to the Texas Sports Writers All-State team. Several went on to play at the collegiate and professional level.

Coach Bratcher was named the Greater Houston "Coach of the Year" and the Texas High School "Coach of the Year." He later was named as the head coach of the South Team in the Texas High School All-Star game. He also was chosen by the American Association of College Baseball Coaches as the "District Coach of the Year" which included Texas, Alabama, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.

"We as a team were very proud of our accomplishment," Owens said. "We worked very hard and gave 100 percent at practice, because we had a coach who demanded that and with awesome coaching, and talented players, we really gelled as a team."

Thanks to a lot of hard work and financial sacrifice, the 1980 Pearland state championship baseball team now has a beautiful monument close to their field for people to enjoy and to serve as an encouragement to future Pearland diamondmen that they, too, can strive to be the best in the state.