CORPUS CHRISTI - Veteran journalist George Vondracek, who has penned a 35-year career covering local sports, is the 2018 South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
The 14th annual event is set for Thursday, January 18, at the Solomon P. Ortiz Center. Tickets are on sale now at the Whataburger Field Box Office. Call 361-561-HOOK (4665) to order by phone. Doors open at 6:30.
Vondracek, 58, joined the Caller-Times in 1985. His assignments with the paper included high school sports, professional baseball, boxing, rodeo, and his longtime beat, Texas A&M-Kingsville athletics.
The Iowa native chronicled state high school baseball championships won by Riviera (1985-86), Sinton (1988-89, 2002), Freer (1990), Falfurrias (1991), Robstown (1992), Calallen (2000, 2005, 2008), Moody (2004, 2007) and Carroll (2010).
Vondracek told the story of Calallen's 1990 girls basketball team which captured the Class-4A state title. It marks the lone championship for the legendary Leta Andrews, who compiled a national record of 1,416 career wins in 52 years as a head coach.
He was also on the scene in November 2016 when Calallen's Phil Danaher became the all-time leader in Texas high school football coaching victories.
In 1988, Vondracek covered a Refugio football team led by Texas High School Hall of Famer Willie Mack Garza, who rushed for 2,954 yards and scored a then-national record 56 touchdowns. He reported on the 1993 state track meet when Refugio's Toya Jones garnered five gold medals. Vondracek also chronicled the Bobcats' state football titles in 2011 and 2016.
"It's a real treat to honor George at this year's winter banquet," Corpus Christi Hooks president Ken Schrom said. "Seeing him every day at the ballpark tells you all you need to know about his love for the game. He's reported on the Hooks in a fair and accurate manner with an unmatched level of professionalism.
"George has also made an extraordinary impact here in the Coastal Bend with his coverage of high school sports and the Javelinas. When you talk with all the coaches and student-athletes, it's quite clear how much he has meant to their programs. It's a privilege to salute his legacy."
Vondracek played baseball at Cedar Rapids' Thomas Jefferson High School. He went on to study Journalism at Kirkwood Community College before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin.
While in Austin, Vondracek worked at the university's student newspaper, The Daily Texan. There he gained experience by covering coaching heavyweights Jody Conradt (women's basketball) and Cliff Gustafson (baseball).
After earning a Bachelor of Journalism degree in 1982, Vondracek entered the professional field as a sportswriter for the Texas City Sun from 1983-85. He then moved to nearby Galveston for a brief stint with the Daily News before landing in the Sparkling City.
Vondracek currently works for the Texas Sports Radio Network, providing color commentary on the CCISD football broadcasts. In the summer, he serves as a Texas League official scorer at Whataburger Field.
Vondracek, who sings and plays lead guitar in three local bands, was inducted into the Country Music Association of Texas Hall of Fame as a member of the South Texas Opry Band in 2014.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.