NIAA Hall of Fame features Carson High grad, Douglas pitcher Shawn Estes and Virginia City grad Greg Hess
RENO — Carson High graduate Cal Wilson is a pioneer of sorts.
Wilson has the distinction of being the longest continually working official in the history of the Northern Nevada Officials Association. Wilson worked for 48 consecutive years, officiating football and basketball. He also worked 11 years as a softball official.
Wilson was rewarded for his years of service by being one of 10 people inducted into the NIAA Hall of Fame Thursday afternoon at Lawlor Events Center.
Others honored were former Douglas baseball star Shawn Estes, former Virginia City standout Greg Hess, Yerington coach-athlete Scott Lommori, former Lowry High athlete John McNinch, contributor-coach Lynn Mentzer, athlete-coach Charlie Spina, the late Monte Vre Non from Reno High, athletic administrator-athlete Eddie Booth and coach-contributor Ken Cass.
Wilson, who was a three-sport athlete at Carson and class president his senior year, concluded his officiating career after the 2014-15 school year. Wilson worked more than 2,500 games combined in his illustrious career with the NNOA.
“This is a humbling experience, one of the highlights of my life,” Wilson said after the Hall of Fame luncheon. “I have a lot of great memories. I always felt getting to work post-season games and getting the respect of the coaches and athletes was a big thing for me.”
Wilson’s last state championship game was in 2009 between Bishop Gorman and Del Sol. His final football game was the 2014 regional semifinal between Carson and Reno. His final basketball game was in 2015 when Elko and Lowry played for the girls 1A championship.
“I was a three-sport star at Carson, and that got me started,” he said. “I love basketball. When I was 8 or 9 my dad used to take me to Carson High basketball games. Back then they played at Bordewich-Bray. It was an old gym. It was a small gym. It was the beginning of my love for basketball.
“It seemed like a natural transition (to become an official) and be involved in sports.”
Wilson started in the days when officials were paid $7.50 a game and got $3 for out-of-town travel pay. The hobby of officiating has come a long way since then.
Estes, who graduated from Douglas High in 1991, posted three no-hitters in his career. He once struck out 20 batters in an extra-inning game. His senior year he went 8-2 with an 0.79 ERA. He was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Mariners and was traded to the San Francisco Giants in 1995.
Estes had a nice career with the Giants, posting a 64-50 record with a 4.25 ERA over 990 innings. His best season was in 1997 when he posted a 19-5 record with a 3.18 ERA. He earned his only all-star berth.
“It feels good, very gratifying,” Estes said in a taped video presentation. “I’d like to thank Jeff Evans, who nominated me. He wasn’t there when I was there. I’d like to thank Rick Kuester my pitching coach. He taught me how to throw a curve ball, and that was a big reason why I was able to get to the big leagues and stay.”
Hess was a key member of the great Virginia City teams in the 80s. He was a four-year starter for coach Fred Gladding and helped lead the Muckers to three state titles. At one time, VC went on a 93-game winning streak, and Hess was part of 50 straight wins. He averaged 26 points and 11 rebounds his senior season, and twice scored 45 points in a game.
Hess brought down the house when asked to describe one of the funniest moments in his high school career.
“Coach Gladding didn’t take a lot of lip,” Hess said. “We used to sneak up to the front of the bus where he was sitting in the front row. He used to wear nice, fancy shoes. When he would fall asleep we’d tie his shoe laces together, and he’d fall when he tried to get up.”
NOTES: There was a strong area presence at the meeting. Current Carson High athletic director Bob Bateman, current CHS assistant football coach Jim de Arrieta and Bert Cooper, former NIAA commissioner, were in the crowd. Also attending were current Douglas High basketball coach Werner Christen, former DHS baseball coach Hal Wheeler and ex-football coach Mike Rippee.