Tommy Barker is the only person born in raised in the Rio Grande Valley to play in the National Basketball Association. He is also the best high school basketball player the Valley has ever seen.
Tommy was a force that nobody could reckon with during his high school days at Weslaco High. He was 6-foot-10 as a junior for the Panthers, averaging 25 points per game. As a senior, he was an inch taller and averaged 32 points a game. He earned All-State honors both seasons.
He played collegiately at The University of Minnesota as a freshman, at the University of Southern Idaho as a sophomore, and at the University of Hawaii for his junior and senior seasons.
He was taken in the fourth round of the 1976 NBA Draft by Atlanta, and played 59 games for the Hawks in 1976-77, averaging 8.1 points and 6.8 rebounds a game. Some teammates on those teams included Nate Archibald, Jo Jo White, Bob McAdoo, Dave Cowens, Rick Barry, Mike Dunleavy, Calvin Murphy, Moses Malone, Rudy Tomjanovich, Robert Reid, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Michael Ray Richardson, and Spencer Haywood. He left the Hawks after one season and played in the CBA in 1977-78. Tommy rejoined the NBA in 1978-79, playing with three teams – the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets. After 22 games with the Knicks, Barker left to play in Holland. In 1981 his rights were traded to the Portland Trailblazers, although he never reported there.
Lifetime Weslaco resident Catarino Sanchez died at the Aurora House Hospice with family and friends at his side.
Sanchez was born on September 25, 1949 in Weslaco, Texas. He was a graduate of Weslaco High School and attended Pan American University to study music.
His ashes will be laid to rest at the Heavenly Grace Cemetery in La Feria.
His son Ian Sanchez and daughter Marlene Mena and four grandchildren survive him. Grandchildren: Kaitlin Silva, Joshua, Gabriel and Joseph Mena. They all reside in Minnesota.
Sanchez, well be remembered by many as being a great musician, good father and kindhearted friend.
Sanchez was a well-known local musician who played the drums for many bands and music genres. Over the last seven years Sanchez was the drummer for Kid Zapper and the Rockin’ Zappers. His most recent musical recoding is a Christian Rock song called “Love Me Like I Do” written by the Kid Zapper featuring Cat Sanchez on drums.
He enjoyed covering the rock-n-roll great drum solo “Moby Dick” as played and recorded by Hall of Fame recoding artists, Led Zeppelin. Sanchez could entertain his audiences with the beat of his drum and crash of his cymbals for hours using his signature silver drum set that he preformed with to over thousands of music enthusiasts in the Rio Grande Valley.
His memorial will be held at MGM Church located at 3211 N. Victoria February 11 at 7 pm to 9 pm. Pastor Danny Yanez Jr. will officiate the service.