Julian Pressly, legendary Odessa baseball coach and WWII veteran, remembered
The community is mourning the loss of an Odessa baseball great.
Julian Pressly, the head coach of Odessa High’s baseball team for 12 years starting in 1953 and the namesake for the J.E. Pressly Field, died early Tuesday at age 98, according to the high school.
“Aside from his legendary coaching career, he was a WWII veteran, 60 year Freemason, and well-loved in our community,” reported CBS7’s Mary Kate Hamilton.
In the wake of his passing, the Odessa American (OA) re-shared a detailed story about Pressly’s storied life during his induction into the Odessa Athletics Hall of Fame last year.
Coach Pressly led Odessa High to 162 wins, six district titles and appearances in the regional quarterfinal, state semifinal and state championship games over 12 years, according to OA. He would later become the first baseball coach at Odessa College, leading the team to 163 victories in five seasons and a conference championship each season, the newspaper reported.
In 2012, he was inducted into the Western Junior College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was inducted into the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Pressly was also a dedicated fan who attended every Odessa High baseball game for over 66 years, stated the Permian Basin Honor Flight (PBHF), which transports local veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials built in their honor. Pressly was their guest on the Sept. 2015 flight, the PBHF reported in its tribute to him on Facebook.
In his earlier years, Pressly played football and baseball while enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in El Toro, Calif. He also served as Ector County Commissioner, Justice of the Peace and was elected to the OC Board of Trustees, the PBHF said.
“When asked how he wanted to be remembered, [Pressly] said, ‘Life is not important except for the impact it has on other lives,'” stated the PBHF.
Congressman August Pfluger also paid respect to Coach Pressly online, calling him “an amazing Odessa hero.”
“We are lucky to have had his influence in our community,” the congressman said.
The Odessa Chuck Wagon Gang, the nonprofit that serves up Texas BBQs to spread the good word about Odessa, bid farewell to their longtime friend “with a heavy heart.” Pressly was the longest serving member on the Odessa Chuck Wagon Gang, joining in 1960. Up until recently, “he still helped out on the serving line,” the Gang stated.
On Facebook, Robert Graham called him a “legend,” a “true baseball genius” and a “dear friend.”
“What a life, what a man, what a hero to our community and our country,” Graham said. “His face at home games will truly be missed.”