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mcneilmav
08-23-2009, 02:24 PM
Have followed the Coyotes since around 1970. He did a wonderful job and was a true fan. Didn't make a game last season for first time in awhile but I do remember all the times growing up and later as an adult as soon as I exited my car in the parking lot or anywhere around stadium on the side streets his voice over the pa was the first thing you would hear. Game time was imminent. :D You can bet I'll stop by Section B. Row 13. Seats 16 and 17at my next home game and express my appreciation for the memories.
http://aliceechonews.com/articles/2...aa411612499.txt

Stadium to have a new voice this year
By Pete Garcia
Alice Echo-News Journal
Published: Friday, August 21, 2009 2:55 PM CDT

Section B. Row 13. Seats 16 and 17.

For the last 48 years, those have been George Draper’s seats in Memorial Stadium. This fall, for the first time, he’s going to be able to use them. Draper, the voice of Memorial Stadium since 1960, is not returning this football season as the stadium’s public address announcer.

Draper’s retired from the position twice before, but he’s returned each time. This time, he said his deteriorating vision will keep him retired. Draper suffers from macular degeneration. It is a disease of the retina wherein the light-sensing cells in the central area of vision stop working.

It is the leading cause of visual impairment in senior citizens. An estimated 15 million people in the United States have it, and approximately two million new cases are diagnosed annually.

For Draper, it robbed him of the ability to see everything happening on the field.

“One thing I told the coaches last year before the season was, ‘If you’re going to run the ball and you’re going to the South end of the field, run to the right. If you’re headed North run it left. And, if you’re going to throw the ball, never pass it to the Southeast corner of the end zone or the Northeast corner,’" Draper said. “They laughed, but it was just getting hard for me to see and distinguish what I was seeing in the far ends of the field.”

Taking Draper’s place high above the stadium will be retired educator and current school board member Tony Botello Jr., Alice athletic director Chris Soza said.

While Soza was the head coach and athletic director in Mathis, Botello was the announcer for the school’s football and baseball games.

Draper’s career of calling Coyote football games in Memorial Stadium spans 48 years and includes the program’s golden year between the 1970s and 1980s and the team’s nine-straight playoff seasons between 1993 and 2001.

When the school district celebrated Memorial Stadium’s 50th anniversary,

Draper led the entire stadium in singing, “Happy Birthday.” A year later in 1998, Draper filled in as the stadium announcer in the San Antonio Alamodome and then the Houston Astrodome for Coyote playoff games.

“Oh, I’m sure I’ll miss it real bad and I will have regrets about not coming back this year,” Draper said. “That’s what kept me coming back when I tried to retire from it a couple of years ago.”

Soza said Draper will be missed by Alice fans who have become accustomed to hearing his voice during Alice home games.

“He’s the only voice the Coyotes have known for a really long time,” Soza said. “He was a very respected teacher at the high school and the voice of the Coyotes. He’s a legend around here.”

Over the last few years, Draper, who taught government and economics at

Alice High School for 40 years, scaled back his role as Alice’s announcer.

He stopped doing William Adams games in 2003 ad 2008 was the last time he did announcing for Coyote baseball games at the Alice Coyote Baseball Complex.

“My vision is slowly getting worse,” Draper said. “It’s gotten to where I’m not comfortable driving at night, and it’s hard to read. Eventually, I could go blind.”

Draper said he still plans to attend as many Coyote football games as he

can, and he said he will finally use his season tickets.

“I’ve had those seats for a long time,” Draper said.

“Each year, I’ve renewed my season tickets and didn’t use them. My wife and I will finally get to sit there this season.”

Firebird
08-25-2009, 08:33 PM
That's an awesome story. I recall how weird it was when the voice of the Harlingen Cardinals for a couple decades stepped down. Glad he's still going to get to go to games.