Juarez family honored by HOF induction

Sjansen@mercedsunstar.comMarch 21, 2013 

Liz Dickson has learned a lot about her father in the past couple months.

Dickson has learned how her dad was a great athlete in high school, earning 18 scholarship offers combined for football and baseball after he graduated from Livingston High. However, what Dickson has learned the most is how much her father, Richard Juarez, meant to his players after coaching baseball at Merced High for 22 years.

"I've had some of his former players tell me, 'I am the man I am today because of your dad,'" Dickson said. "That's hard to put into words when you hear something like that. I mean, my dad our hero for all of kids, who lived in the house. To hear he had such an impact on his players is pretty cool.

"I've kind of been blown away by it. I know he was well respected by his players, but I've had players tell me, 'Your dad believed in me before I believed in myself.'"

On Saturday night, Juarez will become the first person inducted into the Merced High Baseball Hall of Fame during a dinner ceremony at 6 p.m. at the Merced Golf & Country Club.

Many of his former players and Merced alumni will be on hand in a ceremony that will follow the Bears annual golf tournament.

"When I got the baseball job I knew I wanted to find a way to honor the past," said Bears first-year coach Justin Parle. "Merced has had such a rich history and coach Juarez has influenced so many young men. I never played for him, but he influenced many of the coaches who I played for growing up."

Parle hopes to make the Hall of Fame dinner an annual tradition.

Juarez is definitely worthy of being the first inductee.

He was a four-sport star at Livingston, playing football, basketball, baseball and track. He was drafted by both the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Cubs out of high school and also received football and baseball scholarship offers from Cal.

Knee injuries basically force him to go to Hartnell Junior College and then Fresno State.

He was wired as a physical education teacher and varsity baseball coach at Merced High in 1967 and coached until 1989.

Juarez led the Bears to 10 Central California Conference championships in his 22 years. In 1978, Merced won a Sac-Joaquin Section title under Juarez in a season that included a 28-game winning streak and a 29-1 overall record.

"My dad has a long list of awards he's earned in his lifetime," Dickson said. "I'm just learning about a lot of them as I've been reading through old newspaper articles. I think this is one of the biggest honors for him because it's something he can share with all his players and teams."

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