Class of 2013

Elray Laughlin

Baseball

Antioch High School 1964

When Elray Laughlin was on a roll, the opposing team didn’t stand much of a chance. The 1964 Antioch High School graduate sent 53 batters back to the dugout in 35 innings pitched. The senior had an ERA of .81, earning the moniker of “workhorse” of the pitching staff. In a game against archrival Pittsburg High, Elray tossed a three-hitter and had 16 strikeouts in a 2-1 victory, earning a new nickname of “Strike-out King” from a local sportswriter. The Panthers were co-champions of their division that season with an 11-5 record. Elray was co-MVP for the Panthers in 1964 and was named Second Team All-Contra Costa Division for the second time, having also earned the honor as a junior in 1963. The senior game victories, added to his 4-0 junior season, gave Elray an 8-1 high school career total in which he struck out 105 batters over 88 innings. Highlights of Elray’s junior year: A one-hitter in his varsity debut against Ygnacio Valley High and going 24 innings without allowing an earned run. College Park High felt the pain of defeat twice when Elray was on the mound; one game ended with striking out 16 batters in a 12-inning dogfight and a second match-up resulted in a three-hit, 1-0 shutout in which 12 Falcon batters were struck-out. When Elray Laughlin was on a roll, the opposing team didn’t stand much of a chance. The 1964 Antioch High School graduate sent 53 batters back to the dugout in 35 innings pitched. The senior had an ERA of .81, earning the moniker of “workhorse” of the pitching staff. In a game against archrival Pittsburg High, Elray tossed a three-hitter and had 16 strikeouts in a 2-1 victory, earning a new nickname of “Strike-out King” from a local sportswriter. The Panthers were co-champions of their division that season with an 11-5 record. Elray was co-MVP for the Panthers in 1964 and was named Second Team All-Contra Costa Division for the second time, having also earned the honor as a junior in 1963. The senior game victories, added to his 4-0 junior season, gave Elray an 8-1 high school career total in which he struck out 105 batters over 88 innings. Highlights of Elray’s junior year: A one-hitter in his varsity debut against Ygnacio Valley High and going 24 innings without allowing an earned run. College Park High felt the pain of defeat twice when Elray was on the mound; one game ended with striking out 16 batters in a 12-inning dogfight and a second match-up resulted in a three-hit, 1-0 shutout in which 12 Falcon batters were struck-out. In 1970, the Antioch Daily Ledger newspaper named Elray to its First Team “All-Decade” roster of the best Antioch High School players of the 1960s. Elray’s pitching prowess did not go unnoticed by Major League Baseball. Following his last high school game, a scout from the new MLB expansion team, the Houston Colt .45’s (which later became the Houston Astros), invited Elray to join the farm team based in San Rafael as a relief pitcher. Elray traveled with the team to games in Nevada and Colorado. He later enrolled at Diablo Valley College, earning the “Most Inspirational Award” from the Vikings during his two-year stay prior to being drafted into the military. In 1970, the Antioch Daily Ledger newspaper named Elray to its First Team “All-Decade” roster of the best Antioch High School players of the 1960s. Elray’s pitching prowess did not go unnoticed by Major League Baseball. Following his last high school game, a scout from the new MLB expansion team, the Houston Colt .45’s (which later became the Houston Astros), invited Elray to join the farm team based in San Rafael as a relief pitcher. Elray traveled with the team to games in Nevada and Colorado. He later enrolled at Diablo Valley College, earning the “Most Inspirational Award” from the Vikings during his two-year stay prior to being drafted into the military.

Leroy Murray

Community Leader

What compels a person to devote most of their free hours to helping kids, with very little offered in return, other than an occasional “Thanks, Coach?” LeRoy Murray, who has spent four decades as a volunteer for recreation and school teams, does it for the love of the game. In an Antioch Daily Ledger feature article written about him two decades ago, Murray paused to consider why he still shows up on Antioch playing fields, season after season: “I love the youngsters, and I love baseball… I get involved with these kids, and I just can’t give it up.” Murray certainly never gave up on the youth of Antioch. He was a manager for Antioch Little League Baseball for 20 years, leading the Beswick Bears between 1969-1990, taking the boys to eight championships. Squeezed into those years was three years as assistant to Coach Kerry Morelli with the Antioch Babe Ruth League. During that time, the 15-year olds’ All- Star team placed second in Western Regional competition in Arizona and was California State Champion. Between 1983-1994, Murray was involved with yet a third group, restarting Antioch American Legion Baseball and serving as a team manager. He also coached for a fourth league, the Antioch Colts, for one year in 1982. Coach Murray grew up on a farm six miles from the Canadian border in Washington State, where he went to high school and college. He began teaching in 1960 in Bellingham, Wash, where he spent three years as Head Varsity Football Coach. He relocated to California in 1966, teaching and coaching one year in Banning, then another in San Leandro before coming to Antioch in 1968, coaching 7th and 8th graders in basketball at what was then Antioch Junior High, where he taught math for 29 years. He spent 1972-1983 as the Antioch Junior High head football coach, winning five championships. The Antioch Junior High School Parent- Teacher Association recognized his efforts twice, in 1980 and again in 1987, when he received the award for service to children and youth. His players were also grateful. He received a plaque in 1996 from the Antioch High Panther baseball team: “In appreciation for your countless hours given in molding the youth of Antioch through your coaching efforts on the diamond. The AHS baseball program owes much of its success to your tutelage and tireless effort.” Coach Murray was also involved with the 1984 North Coast Champion Panther baseball team, being inducted this year into the Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame. Once Deer Valley High was built, Murray assisted Head Baseball Coach Dennis Luquet in building a strong squad that produced several stars who went on to play on Double-A or Triple-A Minor League Baseball teams. He was assistant coach for the DVHS North Coast 3-A champions in 2003. Coach Murray’s carefully kept records over the decades contain the names of at least 27 young men who signed minor league baseball contracts after playing for one of his teams. Three Antioch Sports Legends who reached the Major Leagues – Jeff Pico, Alex Sanchez and Aaron Miles – can say that Coach Murray was part of their lives when they played Little League or prep baseball. Nowadays Coach Murray may be preparing the next “Antioch to the Pros” inductees of the 21st century. No rocking chair yet for this grandfather of nine and great-grandfather to six. Although long retired, he’s still happiest on the diamond, 44 years later.

Dennis Opsal

Football

Antioch High School 1976

Varsity coach Sal Siino called Dennis Opsal “the finest high school football prospect I’ve seen in the Foothill and Diablo Valley Athletic Leagues.” “Big Opie” was a defensive tackle starter for the Antioch High Panthers as a junior in 1974, but it was as a senior that his prep football career took off. The 6-2, 230-pounder was the MVP for Antioch and received the coveted Gino Marchetti “Most Valuable Lineman” award, named after the NFL Hall-of‐Famer and former AHS player. He was First Team All-Diablo Valley Athletic League on both offense and defense. Dennis was chosen as the DVAL “Lineman of the Year,” an honor sponsored by Fitzpatrick Chevrolet, and during the season received the Fitzpatrick “Super Sport Athlete of the Week” for his play against archrival Pittsburg High. Dennis’ near perfect performances on the gridiron earned a position on the First Team All-East Bay on offense and an Honorable Mention for All-East Bay on defense. He was the only East Bay player named to the Citizens Athletic Foundation First Team All-Northern California squad. Dennis was no slacker in the off-season. He was chosen Second Team All-DVAL in track and field for his shot put performances. As a 3.25 GPA student, Dennis was heavily recruited after graduation from Antioch High, and accepted a full-ride scholarship to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While there, he was “a model of consistency,” according to his coaches. Dennis was a three-year starter for the Rebels as an offensive guard and was the Offensive “Player of the Week” twice, against Wyoming in 1978 and Utah in 1979. The culmination of his football career was receiving the UNLV award as “Most Inspirational Player” in 1978. Dennis’ Offensive Line Coach John Lowry had high praise: “You won’t be bored by watching this young man in number 68, he rarely makes a mistake.” Following his career at UNLV, Dennis was an assistant coach for the Los Medanos College Mustangs and spent two years coaching the Semi-Pro Antioch Hornets. He has spent the past 25 years as a Circulation Director for USA Today Newspaper.

Scott Olds

Golf

Antioch High School 1987

Golf has been Scott Olds’ life since his days as a “range boy” at the Antioch city golf course. At age 11, he won the Antioch Junior Golf Championship shooting an 89 for 18 holes. As a 7th grader in 1981 he beat his father, Jim. He defeated older brother Ron a year later by one stroke, shooting a 78 to Ron’s 79. By the time he was in high school, Scott had won just about every local honor available to a teenager golfer. At Antioch High School, Scott dominated each of the four years he was a Panther between 1984-1987: he was MVP three times and co-MPV once, and four-time First Team All-League. Scott’s playing led the Panthers to the North Coast and Northern California Regional Championships in 1987, in addition to being the individual region champion. The culminating event of his prep career was winning the California State Golf Championship later that same year. While Scott was taking home his 1st place trophy, poor Phil Mickelson had to be consoled with third. Mickelson, winner of five majors in his pro career, is now a PGA Hall of Famer. Scott was the star player on his high school team, but was also a competitor in outside tournaments. As a sophomore, he was the Contra Costa Junior Golf Champion, and the next year, at age 17, became the youngest winner in history of the Antioch City Championship Tournament. He won the city tourney again in 1992. As a senior, he also shot his first hole-in-one – out of five in his career – on the Pittsburg City Golf Course on Sept. 5, 1986. That same year he competed in the United States Golfing Association Jr. Amateur Tournament in Ohio. The Oakland Tribute named Scott the Golf “Athlete of the Year” in 1987 and he was the Big “C” Athletic Club’s “Athlete of the Week.” A year following his graduation Scott won the Stockton City Championship, shooting the best round ever recorded in the tournament – a 7-under-par 65. Scott played golf for the University of the Pacific on a scholarship for two years. He then transferred to California State University, Stanislaus. Following graduation, Scott played in numerous tournaments, including twice in the USGA Amateur. He began his pro career on the Hooters Tour in 1995 and then went on to join the Pepsi Tour in 1997 and 1998, where he was the California Golf Tour leading money earner, winning more than 30 mini-tour events over his career. Scott returned to amateur status in 2009 and continues to compete in tournaments, winning the East County Masters twice: 2009 and 2012 and the Pittsburg City Championship in 2009.

1984 Antioch High School Baseball Team

Kneeling from left; Asst. Coach Joe Albanese, Jim Lanter, Vince Latham, Bob Rounsaville, Marty Warner, Billy Smith.
Standing, from left; Asst. Coach LeRoy Murray, Chris Munoz, Butch Combs, Frank Favalora, Derek Pritchard, Danny Murray, Jeff Pico, Ryan Luton, Glenn Friesen, Alex Sanchez, Kelly Crismore, Greg Hetrick, Mike Ruiz, John Barton, Head Coach John Whitman.
Not pictured: Manager Anthony Alba, Scorekeeper Veronica Tarango and Assistant Coach Paul Schorr.

An extraordinary convergence of athletic talent emerged from Antioch High School in the 1980s. The peak year was 1984 as three Panther teams – wrestling, softball and baseball – achieved North Coast Section crowns. The boys’ baseball team capped off a phenomenal season by capturing the NCS 3-A Baseball Championship trophy for the first time in Antioch High history. After defeating three powerful opponents in NCS playoffs, Monte Vista, De La Salle and Mt. Eden High Schools, the Panthers secured the title with a come from behind victory over Hayward High School 6-4 in a game played in the Oakland Coliseum before thousands of fans immediately following a Yankees-Athletics match-up. It was a nail biter at the beginning of the NCS final game, as Antioch, down 4-1 in the second inning, scored only one additional run in the third inning but erupted for four more runs in the fourth, ignited by Kelly Crismore’s pinch hit two-run double, giving the Panthers a 6-4 lead. Pitcher Alex Sanchez retired 12 of the last 16 batters to achieve the victory. AHS compiled a 24-5 Diablo Valley Athletic League record and overall seasons of 13-1 in league play, outscoring their opponents 144-29. The Panthers achieved greatness under the coaching of John Whitman, himself an inductee in 2012 into the Sports Legends Hall of Fame, who was named the 1984 “Big C” Athletic Club Coach of the Year. The team was built around a strong pitching staff: Jeff Pico (11-1, 1.03 ERA), Alex Sanchez (10-2, 1.54 ERA), and John Barton. Remarkably, Pico and Sanchez both went on to play Major League Baseball. Anchoring the defense was the strong play of Barton at third base, Butch Combs catching, Vince Latham and Danny Murray covering the middle infield, and Billy Smith in centerfield. Offensively, the Panthers had some impressive stats: team season batting average was .363, with seven players averaging over .300; Pico (.510), Sanchez (.355), Lanter (.340), Murray (.340), Friesen (.324) and Smith (.308). Outfielder Mike Ruiz had a 23-game hitting streak, with 21 RBIs and had the top batting average in the DVAL of .605. Sanchez was the league home run leader with five. Three players; Sanchez, Ruiz and Pico were All-DVAL First Team, Sanchez and Pico receiving the honor for the third consecutive year. Pico was the unanimous League MVP and was East Bay Player of the Year. Making All-DVAL Second Team were Vince Latham and Danny Murray. Pico, Sanchez and Ruiz were also named All-East Bay and All-Northern California. Both of the team’s main pitchers – Sanchez and Pico – later had their jersey numbers retired from AHS and both were individual 2010 inductees into the Antioch Sports Legends Hall of Fame.