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The Daily Sentinel from Grand Junction, Colorado • Page 109
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The Daily Sentinel from Grand Junction, Colorado • Page 109

Grand Junction, Colorado
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88 World Series experience a dream for local boy Hanks 28 ByAllBieOrUEHUCH Die Daily Sentinel Chris Hanks knew all about the Alpine Rank Junior College World Series. would cost him his sophomore season. He came back his sophomore year and played first base and was the Eagles designated hitter. Hanks and the Golden Eagles made it to the 1988 JUCO World Series, something Hanks expected When he decided to play at Southern Idaho. Its a feeling of going home, Hanks said.

The two previous summers I played for Gene Taylors Legion A team. Grand Junction was more or less a home to me. Colorado was home for three of his teammates, making the Golden Eagles the fan favorites. Southern Idaho, though, was greeted with a rude welcoming, losing their first game by the 10-run rule. Skip was mad so he told us were not taking (batting practice), but soft bp, Hanks said.

We 10-run ruled somebody in our next game and we He grew up attending the tournament as a boy I grew up going to the JUCO World Series, Hanks said. I saw Southern Idaho win the World Series in 84, which was my sophomore year in high school. In the spring of 86, scholarship. Hanks was looking for a scholarship. Sam (Suplizio) introduced me to.

(College of) Southern Idaho coach Jim Walker, and I visited the school, Hanks said. I liked it immediately It had the same feel as Grand Junction. It still does. As a freshman, Hanks led the nation in home runs (26) and earned All-American honors, but the team finished one game away from qualifying for the World Series. Ive always been excited by challenges, he said.

I wanted to be a part of a national championship team. I said I was not going to CSI unless we got back to Grand Junction. I felt like that had to happen. To participate in that atmosphere is one of the most exciting and best feelings Ive ever had. It intrigued me.

The catcher was going to play summer ball in the collegiate Cape Cod League, but after visiting a shoulder specialist, he discovered he needed major shoulder surgery Hanks opted to wait because it they were there. The Carbondale native, a Golden Anniversary team selection, was planning on going to the University of Arizona or Arizona State University, but when it came down to it, neither school offered him a DAILY SOfflNEL FILE PHOTO A BUM SHOULDER AND injured hamstring didn't stop Chris Hanks from playing in the 1988 JUCO World Series. See HANKS, page 55 JUCO title in 87 a milestone in Losas life ByJOESPWCOt Hie Daily Sentinel Bill Losa put some perspective on the importance of leading San Jacinto (Texas) College-North to the Junior College World Series title in 1987. Its right up there with my marriage, my four kids and my family Thats a pretty proud moment, the former Gators designated hitter said. I have four rings I got as a professional in the minors and I dont wear any of those anymore.

I still wear that (JUCO) ring over any of those. I broke my (JUCO) ring twice and got that fixed right away. I have broken some of the others and they still arent fixed. Losa admits he doesnt remember much from his playing days at the school in metro Houston, which owns a record five JUCO national titles and has produced memorable alumni such as Cy -Young winner Roger Clemens and World Series champion Andy Pettitte. Now an outside salesman for Cameron International dealing in off-shore oil rigs, Losa prefers fol-low'ing his 14-year-old daughter Ali's exploits as a starting shortstop on her high school team over watching Major League Baseball.

I just kind of got my fill of baseball from my playing days, but I still like looking at pictures of the park," Losa said. That's a pretty sharplooking field. Pitchers certainly got their fill of the slick-talking, hard-hitting Texan 20 years ago. Losas hitting binge included 10 hits in his first 10 official at-bats on the way to tying former Minnesota Twins Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett for the highest batting average in JUCO World Series history at .688. Puckett established the mark in 1982 as a member of Triton (111.) College.

Bryant Beaver of Seminole (Okla.) State joined Losa and Puckett in 2004 at the .688 mark. I thought for sure somebody would break it, Losa said. I could remember the first batting practice we had (at Grand Junction), we saw how much more the ball carried there than the soup bowl we were in at Houston. I hit one off the handle and it kept going and going past the guy shagging balls in left field. One of the moments Losa does remember from that season involves another pitch he got hold of in the national championship game.

He unloaded a towering shot over the left-center field lights for the game-w innmg home run in a 2-1 victory over Seminole Stata Four of Losas 11 hits in the tournament went out of the park. He also had 13 RBI and scored nine runs. "I remember the game I hit three home runs and hitting the won that beat Seminole, he said. We had such a tradition at San Jac. We had one erf those teams you had no choice who to pitch to.

I was fortunate that I came up in a lot of situations where they had to pitch to me. Losa didnt return for his sophomore season at San Jacinto after getting drafted by the Texas Rangers. He had stops in Butte, Florida and North Carolina in the Rangers and Cleveland Indians organizations before retiring in 1994. It was easy to walk away from it I put a timeline on it Losa said. I put in seven years and it was time for other things.

I blew out my knee in 1989 and I never recovered fully from that Losa didnt stay down long, work ing as a golf club pro for awhile before meeting his wife, Ruth, through a mutual friend in 1998. Now he has his hands full with his children, Ali, 12-year-old Kara. 5-year-old Hagan and 3-year-old Riley. Our community is a big softball community, so Ali is really doing well, starting as a freshman, Losa said. Hagans about ready to start baseball and we will hare to see how he does with that.

Maybe he will learn a little when his father comes back to Grand Junction for the first time since his glory days. Theres nothing negative to take away about that year at San Jac, Losa said. This (anniversary) has rekindled some of my friendships with guys on that team. I was just hoping we would get an anniversary ring out of this deaL Losa will have to settle for a watch to accompany that JUCO championship ring he still wears with pride. DAILY SEMTmni PHOTO BILL LOSA WAS A FEARED HITTER lor San Jacinto (Texas) College-North in 1987, tying the tournament hittmg record..

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