There I stood with Corpus Christi baseball coaches, Hector Salinas, Lee Yeager and Steve Castillo, at the 2011 South Texas Winter Baseball Banquet. I was standing in high cotton. I felt like the guy who played third base with Tinker and Evers and Chance. That night the Corpus Christi Hooks were honoring the success of Head Baseball Coach, Steve Castillo with a Lifetime Achievement Award, after John Paul II High School had won their second state title. Castillo is slim built, business-like and wears tinted glasses. He looked like he should be teaching calculus in a baseball cap. He also has a heart as big as a watermelon, and you always get nine innings of truth from him in an interview. Castillo understood that baseball is the game of long seasons, where small differences decide who wins and who loses that game, that series, that season. There are so many sports slogans like “One game at a time,” but when you live it that’s when people notice. People noticed Steve Castillo. He was always two innings ahead of everybody else. He believed that good baseball cures bad baseball and preached to his kids that the best player on the team is the team.
So now we fast forward to the present, January 15, 2016. You know, the word “first” carries a lot of weight in the world of sports. Steve Castillo is now the first Corpus Christi Independent School District (CCISD) coach to be inducted into the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, located in Waco, Texas. The 65-year-old Castillo was caught completely by surprise for two reasons. It was his first year on the ballot, and the names of other coaches being nominated were impressive. Along with Castillo, the 2016 class included Julian Pressly of Odessa, Rudy Alvarez of Austin Bowie, and Jim Long of Brenham. Castillo has joined his dear friend, Steve Castro from Robstown, who recently passed away. These two are the only area coaches to enter the Hall of Fame. In 30 years, Castillo has won 717 games, while losing only 222 and tying 13. That’s quite a record. Castillo led Moody High School to three state championship games in 1983, 1994 and 2000, all of which they lost. Castillo left for John Paul II in August of 2006, and won two state 4A TAPPS Championships (2010-2011) in three trips. Steve has earned the Caller-Times All-Metro Coach of the Year Award four times and the All-South-Texas Coach of the Year Award three times. In 2013, his contract with the John Paul II Centurions was not renewed. The baseball community was shocked. Castillo, never one to look back, said, “They did me a favor. I’m really enjoying my three granddaughters.” So, hats off to Steve Castillo.
You see, Coach Castillo has never been unhappy at a ballpark. He has always been mad about baseball. He still gets lost in the game. There are very few things besides family that you can go through your entire life caring about. Baseball is one of those. Corpus Christi is proud of you, coach.