CORPUS CHRISTI - Businessman and philanthropist Don Sanders, who helped deliver Hooks Baseball to Corpus Christi, is the 2019 South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
The 15th annual event is set for Thursday, January 24, at the Omni Corpus Christi Hotel. Tickets, priced at $55, are on sale now at the Whataburger Field Box Office. Call 361-561-HOOK (4665) to order by phone. Doors open at 6:30.
Special guests at this year's South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet will include Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, Astros President of Business Operations Reid Ryan, Ryan Sanders Baseball Owner and CEO Reese Ryan, and Ryan Sanders Baseball Principal Owner Bret Sanders.
Don Sanders, founder and chairman of Sanders Morris Harris, leads one of the most successful wealth management firms in the United States. A native of Mexia, Texas, Sanders graduated from Mexia High School, received his BBA degree from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, and his MBA degree from the University of Texas at Austin.
In 1959, Sanders joined E.F. Hutton & Co., which was among the nation's largest securities firms. He was ultimately named the company's executive vice president and a member of the board of directors before leaving in 1987 to form Sanders Morris Harris.
Sanders became minority owner of the Houston Astros in 1979. Twenty years later, Sanders and the Ryan family teamed to create Ryan Sanders Baseball, which currently owns the Astros' Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express, and Ryan Sanders Sports Services.
Sanders left his mark in the Coastal Bend with the founding of the Hooks and the construction of Whataburger Field.
Since the inaugural 2005 season, Hooks Baseball has drawn nearly six million fans to Corpus Christi's SEA District. The club has been tabbed Texas League Organization of the Year three times, including this past season. In 2010, the Hooks were recognized by Baseball America as the Bob Freitas "Organization of the Year" for Double-A Baseball.
"We are honored to have Don join us for this year's banquet," Hooks President Ken Schrom said. "Don's success in the business world, his legacy with the Hooks and Ryan Sanders Baseball, and his community activism are impressive enough for two lifetimes."
Sanders endowed a world-class baseball facility at his alma mater, Sam Houston State, where he was inducted into the SHSU Hall of Honor. This past August, the University of Houston received a substantial gift from Sanders, prompting the Cougars to rename their baseball stadium Don Sanders Field at Darryl & Lori Schroeder Park.
In honor of Sanders' contributions to both universities, the Cougars and Bearkats compete for the Don Sanders Cup each baseball season. The three-game series includes a home-and-home set, as well as a neutral-site contest at Sugar Land's Constellation Field.
Sanders is a founding board member of the Houston Police Foundation, Nolan Ryan Foundation, and Texas Bowl. He has served on the boards of the Houston Police Pension System, DePelchin Children's Center, Houston Symphony, Childress Foundation, and Greater Houston Convention & Visitor Bureau. Sanders has also served on the University of Houston System Board of Regents and was named the Houston Interfaith Charities' "Sportsman of the Year."
Sanders has supported Houston area schools by funding baseball facilities at KIPP Explore Academy and The Kinkaid School. He is also the biggest benefactor of Friends for Life No Kill Animal Adoption & Rescue, one of the premier no-kill animal rescue organizations in the Southwest.
A former photography student and noted art collector, Sanders financed the production of a life-size bronze statue at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, which commemorates the accomplishments of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.