Aggie History With Walter Hines :: Jerry Hines :: 2009 Men's Basketball Ring of Honor Inductee

Gerald (Jerry) Hines was born in Old Mesilla in 1903 with twin brother Harold to Dr. Lemuel and Minnie Hankins Hines. Raised with four siblings on the Hines orchard-farm that supported a mail order pear business, Jerry attended Las Cruces Union High from 1918-22. There, he excelled in athletics, starring in both football and basketball. Under head coach, F.M. (Tony) Wilson Las Cruces had a good football team and finished second in the State basketball tournament to Albuquerque High in 1922. Wilson, who later coached high school sports for decades in Albuquerque, has Wilson Stadium in northeast Albuquerque named in his honor.

While in high school, Hines also tried his hand in amateur boxing and had 4-5 victorious matches. He ‘retired’ from the ring after an ill-advised fight with a much older brawler from Juarez.

Jerry Hines, Las Cruces High School Coach 1926Hines enrolled at New Mexico A&M in 1922 and majored in horticulture. His real interest continued to be athletics. Hines captained the basketball team and was quarterback in football under the fine Aggie coach Robert ‘Cap’ Brown. He was a four-year letterman in both sports. From 1922-26, Aggie basketball went 48-31, football 20-6-1. Graduating in 1926, Hines was slated to go to South America with an international agricultural company. Instead, he received and accepted an offer to become head basketball and football coach at Las Cruces High. He coached the Bulldogs until summer 1929 when he agreed to return to his alma mater at head basketball and football coach, adding the duties of athletic director the following year.

Hines’ teams started slowly in the newly formed Border Conference. Football was 20-20-4 over the period 1929-33 with basketball at 47-58 from 1930-34. With local support, better facilities, and recruiting gradually improving, Aggie athletics soon showed a resurgence. Between 1934 and 1938, football was 31-10-6, and from 1935 to 1940, the basketball team went 102 and 36. The football team was invited to the first Sun Bowl in 1936 where they tied the powerful Hardin-Simmons Cowboys 14-14.

Jerry Hines, 1933 New Mexico A&M CoachBut it was basketball that really took off. Between 1935 and 1940, the Aggies were 102-36, with appearances in the National AAU Tournament in Denver in 1936, the NAIB Tournament in Kansas City in 1938; and in 1939, the prestigious NIT Tournament in Madison Square Garden. Over that span, the Aggies won three Border Conference Championships and tied for a fourth. They defeated UNM 19 times in a row!

Although he returned to campus briefly as basketball coach in 1946, World War II effectively brought an early end to Hines’ coaching career. As battery commander of the 120th Combat Engineers, a New Mexico National Guard unit assigned to the 45th Infantry Division, Hines and a number of Las Cruces men were among the first called to military duty in September 1940. They served in Africa, Sicily, and Italy where Hines was stricken with a heart condition. He returned to the States in 1945 for limited duty as athletics officer at Ft. Bliss

While Hines was very proud of his record in athletics at NM A&M, his fondest memories were of his ex-players and their sacrifices during the war. Each of the starting five of the 1939 NIT Basketball team served, as did the rest of the 12-man squad, two of whom died. Center Joe Jackson of Cimarron was in the Army infantry. Pecos Finley from Causey was Army Quartermaster and died soon after surviving the Bataan Death March in the Philippines. Mel Ritchey of Lubbock was a B-17 pilot who flew 50 missions in Africa, Italy, and southern Europe. Kiko Martinez of El Paso served as an engineer building air fields in the southwestern U. S. Morris ‘Pucker’ Wood from Floyd was with the 43rd Division that helped to liberate the Philippines in 1945.

Hines ended his coaching career at NMSU with records of 54-36-10 in football, and 149-92 in basketball. He passed away in Albuquerque in 1963 at age 59, the victim of a heart attack. Coach Hines entered the NMSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1970 and will be inducted into the Aggie Basketball Ring of Honor along with ex-players Jimmy Collins and John Williamson on January 31, 2009.

1939 NIT Team