Even though a deep run into the College World Series has eluded the UT Arlington baseball program, there’s little doubt that it has made a major impact on Major League Baseball.
Nobody represents that impact as much as homegrown hero Hunter Pence, who spent two years racking up all-conference accolades at UTA before moving on to become a three-time MLB All-Star and two-time World Series champion.
Pence was officially inducted into the UTA Hall of Honor on Friday night at the University Center, headlining a class that included defensive back Mike Stamps, volleyball outside hitter Val Whitfield-Dunn, Olympic sprinter Elston Cawley and the 1996-2000 track and field teams.
“The face of the San Francisco Giants is Hunter Pence, and he was the face of UT Arlington during their run to the World Series,” UTA President Vistasp Karbhari said.
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While Pence wasn’t able to attend the banquet Friday evening, he spoke to the audience with a prerecorded message, thanking the university and the baseball program for his success.
“Growing up as a kid, baseball was such a big deal,” Pence said. “To go to UTA and become a major leaguer is a dream come true.”
With UTA’s standing in baseball, it’s often forgotten how big of an impact it’s had in other sports.
While the football program has been nonexistent since 1985, UTA churned out All-Americans on the gridiron over the years.
One of those stars is Stamps, a defensive back who helped the Mavericks complete their second straight conference championship season with a 13-0 win over North Dakota State in the 1967 Pecan Bowl.
As a senior in 1968, Stamps was named as an college division All-American by The Associated Press.
Whitfield-Dunn didn’t wait long to leave a lasting impression. As a freshman in 1990, she was named Southland Conference volleyball Player of the Year as one of the deadliest outside hitters in school history.
She is one of only five Mavericks to record more than 1,000 kills and digs, and she’s the only one to do it in just three seasons.
“My life has been a storybook success,” she said. “I loved everything about my time at UTA, and it helped me achieve so much more than I ever thought I could.”
Seven-time All-American and Olympian Elston Cawley anchored the men’s track and field teams to the most successful stretch in school history from 1996-2000.
Those teams won four of five indoor conference championships, two outdoor championships and a cross-country crown.
Cawley ran for Jamaica in the 1996 Olympics and still holds the school records for both the indoor and outdoor 200-meter dash.
2015 UTA Hall of Honor Inductees
▪ Hunter Pence, baseball, 2003-04
▪ Val Whitfield-Dunn, volleyball, 1990-92
▪ Mike Stamps, football, 1965-69
▪ Elston Cawley, sprinter, 1996-99
▪ 1996-2000 track and field teams