Lone Star Gridiron

Gaines honored at West Texas Sports Banquet and Memorabilia Auction

MIDLAND Gary Gaines had never been invited to the West Texas Sports Banquet and Memorabilia Auction, so he couldn’t figure out why he was being invited this year.

His wife, Sharon, knew, and she made sure he wore a tie. And it was a black-and-white one at that.

Gaines, the former Permian High School football coach who stepped down in January after eight overall seasons with the Panthers and more than 40 as a high school and college coach, received the Scott Seator Community Achievement Award on Wednesday at Midland Country Club. The 63-year-old Crane native was recognized for all he accomplished on the football field, including 127 career wins and capturing the Class 5A state championship with Permian in 1989.

“I’ve never been invited before, so it was a surprise,” Gaines said. “A good surprise.”

Gaines was a central figure in the book and subsequent film “Friday Night Lights,” which chronicled the Panthers’ 1988 season. He shared the spotlight Wednesday night with another famous sports figure, former major league baseball player Bill Buckner.

Buckner, who had 2,715 hits in a 22-year career in the big leagues, is best known for making a fielding error in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. His gaffe at first base helped the New York Mets come from behind to beat Buckner’s Boston Red Sox in a series that went seven games.

“I’ve seen that thing a jillion times,” said Gaines, who was excited about the chance to meet Buckner. “I’ve made about 100 more bad calls than that one deal he did.”

But like Buckner’s, Gaines’ career as a football coach was mostly a good one. And he’s had a chance to reflect on that career during the last few months, along with doing chores for his wife around the house.

Along with the relationships he developed with players and fellow coaches, Gaines cherishes the people who helped mold him as a coach. Among those he credited were his college coach at Angelo State, Grant Teaff, and former bosses Jerry Larned at Monahans and John Wilkins at Permian.

“I feel like I’ve ridden on the shoulders of greatness my whole life,” Gaines said. “It’s been a great ride for me.”

Although Gaines doesn’t plan to coach again, his ride is not over. He said he’s accepted a part-time job as a regional sales representative for Daktronics, a Brookings, S.D., company that produces scoreboards, video boards and sound systems used in athletics.

Gaines said he’ll start his new job Feb. 25. It won’t require him to relocate – he said he’ll either stay in Odessa or move to Lubbock to be closer to family there – and it will keep him involved in athletics.

“It’ll be fun,” Gaines said. “I’ll still get to see coaches and visit with them.”

BY ADAM ZUVANICH azuvanich@oaoa.com

Contact Adam Zuvanich on twitter @OAzuvanich, on Facebook at OA Adam Zuvanich or call 432-333-7649.

Printed with permission by Adam Zuvanich and the Odessa American

What are your thoughts?