Coach celebrates 43 years at LULAC softball tournament

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Abilene, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – The annual LULAC softball tournament finished up its last pitch Sunday.

More than one hundred teams have taken the field for the scholarship-supporting tournament – including one man who’s been at ever single tournament since it began 43 years ago.

Joe Martinez is a familiar face at the tournament, gearing up and hitting the plate for more than four decades.

“It’s in my blood I guess,” said Martinez.

Martinez says his love for softball all started all when he joined the army years ago.

“When I got there the guys were playing softball that’s all they were playing, so I called home and sent for my glove,” said Martinez.

It was one day that soon turned into a lifetime of playing for Martinez, not just in the Big Country but its surrounding areas.

“Amarillo, as far as El Paso , Dallas, you know Tyler. I’ve played a lot of ball,” said Martinez.

As much of the game as Martinez has played he says there’s nothing like coming back to the Key City for a time honored tradition.

“They know when LULAC comes around, they call me and say we’re going,” said Martinez.

Even though Martinez has stepped off the diamond into the dugout, he hasn’t taken his eyes off the home run yet.

“You know he tells me every year he’s going to retire and he never does. He just loves it which is great,” said LULAC’s Jack Guzman.

“Maybe next year I’ll be here again, who knows?,” said Martinez.

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