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Texas Legends Coach 'Buddy' Hopper Dies

April 1, 2015 – Joe Ruggiero SSUSA staff

By Joseph Ruggiero

Softball News Report

James “Buddy” Hopper, who both played third base and later coached the Texas Legends, died on March 15 at the age of 72.

The Arlington, Tex., resident was a passionate player who joined the Texas Legends in 1998 and coached the team from 2011 to 2013.

Earning 17 national titles with Texas Legends, Buddy was known for his fierce competitive edge and “having a keen mind for the game with a memory like a steel trap” said fellow teammate and friend, Ray Kozusko. Kozusko added that Buddy possessed a magnificent arm and was a formidable third baseman with “a strong throw to first” and a skilled defensive glove.

A skilled manager, even hotheaded at times, Kozusko noted that sometimes Buddy “would throw his clipboard in the dugout when he got frustrated,” but those rare moments only revealed his strong passion for the game. Jerry Deal, also a fellow teammate and friend, echoed Kozusko, saying Buddy “put every bit of it on the ground and expected the same from all his players.”

Buddy will be remembered by his teammates and friends as a man who never quit; an accomplished player, a great manager and a good friend.

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