Joe Hunter Field, Beeville, Texas.

Joe Hunter Field, Beeville, Texas.

When Coastal Bend College first opened as Bee County College in Beeville, Texas back in 1967, funds for an athletic department of any kind did not exist beyond marginal money for basketball and baseball. The first “Cougar” teams had to share the playing facilities of A.C. Jones High School, home of the mighty Beeville Trojans.

In case you’ve never heard of it, Beeville is located about fifty-three miles west of Victoria and fifty miles north of Corpus Christi. It’s special to me as the original home of my family, the place I was born. My brother and sister live there and my parents are buried there. It’s just not all the way home for me. Home for me is Houston, the place where I grew up from age five, the place where my old bones will someday be interred. I’m still attached to Beeville as the home of my people since the 19th century.

Beeville also is the birthplace of four former major leaguers: outfielder Curt Walker (1919-30) .304 lifetime, struck out only 254 times in 4,858 times at bat, Texas Baseball Hall of Fame, 2001; pitcher Melvin “Bert” Gallia (1912-20) 66-68, 3.14 ERA; pitcher “Lefty” Lloyd Brown (1925, 1928-37, 1940) 91-105, 4.20; and Eddie Taubensee (1991-2001) .273 BA, 94 HR. Major league hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo also is a native of Beeville. That’s a pretty good baseball production record for a little cattle, oil and gas, and now penitentiary town in South Texas. Don’t you think?

Joe Hunter Field was a Ranching Widow’s Gift.

The college acquired its beautiful baseball park in the early 1970s as a construction gift on land they owned at campus site north of Beeville. The Joe Hunter family donated the funds needed to construct the stands and cultivate the playing field, but the oral history of how the gift took shape is even richer as a gift.

The story is that Mrs. Joe Hunter went to the college after her rancher husband died, saying that she wanted to make a contribution to the school in her husband’s name. Someone from the college suggested that she consider donating money for the construction of a college library, but Mrs. Hunter apparently killed that idea right off the bat and then got down to business on what she really wanted to do.

“Old Joe never read a book or went near a library in his whole life,” she supposedly said, “but he loved baseball. I’d love to build you a baseball park and put Joe’s name on it.” And that’s exactly what she did.

For years, “Bee County College” operated from one of the finest small school baseball parks in the nation. They even leased Joe Hunter Field for use by the professional Beeville Bees in the short-lived independent Gulf Coast League (1976-77) and also made it available to Jones High School and various spring high school playoff games. The place had an enclosed press box, a PA system, and seating capacity for about 1,000 fans.

Unfortunately, the first recession in the oil market of 1983 soon took its economic toll on what the college could afford and they dropped both their baseball and basketball programs. The ballpark stayed afloat as the Home of the Beeville Trojan high school team and an occasional playoff game. In spite of the missing college program, Coastal Bend College maintained the field and protected “Joe Hunter” from going to seed.

The left field line is 26 feet further than Minute Maid Park.

Joe Hunter was and is – a pitcher’s park. Facing southeast, the springtime winds from Copano Bay only have about thirty crow-fly miles to travel before they blow in over the outfield walls in center and right, and these distances aren’t cheap. The distances are about 341 down the line, 375 in the power alleys, and 400 in straight away center.

The good news is that junior college baseball may be returning soon to Joe Hunter Field. I’m not sure if that means we’re looking at a patch of blue in the gray skies of this economic recession – or if it means that Beevillians are just tired of missing their baseball. Maybe it’s a little of both.

Beeville has always been a baseball town.

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4 Responses to “Joe Hunter Field, Beeville, Texas.”

  1. Brian Duff Says:

    I pitched for the Bee County Cougars from 1982-1984. I was Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 7th Round of the 1984 professional baseball draft.

    Brian Duff

  2. Linda D Says:

    Is there any pictures of 1979-1983 baseball teams from beeville texas community college

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Linda:

      I don’t have any such photos, but two other sources may include: (1) Coastal Bend College (Google their contact numbers); or (2) Brian Duff, the fellow who wote in to comment on thi same article late last year. – Bill McCurdy

  3. Lance Standley Says:

    Sweet article. I coached the Trojans from 2005-2009 and enjoyed Joe Hunter field, the kids and the community. Go Trojans!

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