Robertson to enter Texas Hall of Honor; PA’s Gennusa will join him

Published 9:31 am Friday, July 12, 2019

Orange native Andre Robertson could bring it with his glove and his bat and he proved it so well for a long period of time.

Robertson, who became the first African American to earn a baseball scholarship for the University of Texas in 1976, will be one of 14 special people that will be inducted into the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor on Aug. 30 at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center on the Texas campus.

He will be joined by Port Arthur native and former Longhorn split end Ragan Gennusa.

Robertson was a standout infielder for three seasons with the Longhorns, lettering each year from 1977-79. After injuries limited him during the first half of his freshman campaign — playing in just 36 of UT’s 62 games that season — Robertson went on to hold down the Longhorns’ starting second baseman position for his final two seasons in 1978 and 1979. Known best for his spectacular play on defense, Robertson hit .281 (125-of-444) with 74 runs scored, 74 RBI, 15 stolen bases and nine home runs in 146 games over three seasons.

During that time, Texas posted a 144-33 (.814) record, including 55 wins in 1979, and 53 in 1977. Robertson shared the team lead in doubles in 1978, and his 50 hits that year were second-best among the Longhorns.

In 1979, he helped lead UT to a 55-8 record, the Southwest Conference regular season and tournament titles and a fourth-place finish at the College World Series before being drafted and heading to professional baseball. Robertson was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the fourth round of the 1979 Major League Baseball Draft and traded to the New York Yankees in 1980.

Considered to be the best Yankees shortstop since Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto, Robertson played five seasons for the Yankees from 1981-85. A 1983 automobile accident and ensuing injuries the following two seasons had a significant impact on his career.

As a rookie in 1981, Robertson appeared in Game 4 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He went on to play in 254 big league games, batting .251 for his career with 32 doubles, four triples and five home runs. Robertson played in a career-high 98 games during the 1983 season and finished with 22 RBI and 37 runs scored.

After finishing his professional baseball career, Robertson returned to UT and completed his degree in 1992.

Gennusa was an all-state football and track performer at Thomas Jefferson High School and began his collegiate career on the UT Yearlings freshman team in 1964, as freshmen were not yet eligible for NCAA varsity competition. Despite a broken nose and injuries to both knees, Gennusa made it to the varsity as a ninth-string quarterback in 1965, but spent time on the scout team.

Then-UT coach Darrell Royal, who had employed a run-heavy offense, put in passing plays with a split receiver and moved Gennusa to the position by 1966. Gennusa was the team’s leading receiver the next two years.

Gennusa has become better known through the last half-century as a wildlife and Western art painter, with his works hanging in establishments such as Briscoe Western Art Museum, the New York Life insurance offices and the national office of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America.

Once named “The Texas State Artist” by the state legislature, Gennusa has helped raise thousands of dollars for numerous causes including The DKR Research fund for Alzheimer’s. On June 20, Gennusa was inducted into the Museum of the Gulf Coast’s Hall of Fame for Notable People.

Other soon-to-be UT Hall of Honor inductees include:

  • Denise LaKeisha Backus (track and field, 1996-99), three-time individual national champion and 11-time All-American who led Texas to four national team championships;
  • Sandy Sureephong Blanton (tennis, 1995-99), four-time All-American and two-time Big 12 Conference player of the year;
  • Marshevet Hooker Flintall (track and field, 2004-06), four-time individual NCAA champion and nine-time All-American who helped Texas win two team national titles;
  • Nancy Hager Hale (golf, 1971-75): first woman scholarship athlete at UT and 1975 Texas AIAW champion;
  • Patty Sabo Karsten (swimming, 1983-87): NCAA individual champ and 15-time All-American who was part of four straight NCAA title teams;
  • Danielle Viglione (basketball, 1993-97): three-time all-conference selection and 1996 Southwest Conference champion who holds the record for career three-pointers made;
  • Derrick Johnson (football, 2001-04): two-time consensus first-team All-American and winner of the Nagurski Trophy and Butkus Award;
  • Seth Johnston (baseball, 2002-05): first-team All-American shortstop who competed in four straight College World Series (2002 and 2005 national champion);
  • Brian Orakpo (football, 2005-08): unanimous first-team All-American and winner of the Nagurski, Lombardi and Hendricks awards;
  • Brian Robison (track and field and football, 2003-06): two-time All-American and three-time Big 12 champion who won the 2005 football national championship as a defensive end;
  • Bryant Westbrook (football, 1993-96): second-team All-American and two-time first-team all-conference defensive back who won three straight conference championships; and
  • Don Evans (special selection): former UT Board of Regent chairman. Only Lutcher Stark (1958) and Frank Erwin (1978) have been similarly honored after holding that same position.