Tom Paciorek, a two-sport athlete for the Houston Cougars, was announced as a member of the 2016 National College Baseball Hall of Fame inductee class. This honor, which is determined by the College Baseball Foundation, marks the first Cougar to enter its hallowed halls in Lubbock, Texas.
Paciorek played both baseball and football during his time on campus. From 1966-1968, he played outfield for the baseball team, bringing the program to heights it had not reached before, and in many ways, hasn’t since. In 1967, he led Houston to their only appearance in the College World Series Championship game. Though they came one game short of winning it all, Paciorek made his mark in annals of Houston athletics when he was the first Cougar to ever be named a First-Team All-American in 1967. He repeated this feat in 1968.
He was also the first Cougar to play in the MLB. A dynamic athlete, he was selected in both the MLB and NFL draft, by the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Miami Dolphins, respectively. He chose the Dodgers and spent more than a decade and a half in the majors. Although he spent time on six different teams, he was an All-Star in 1981 and twice played in the post-season in his long MLB career, which ended in 1987.
After his retirement, he spent the next two decades as a baseball commentator for multiple teams.
Paciorek’s illustrious sporting career left an extraordinary impact on the athletics of the University of Houston. He was a trailblazer, leading the baseball program into national prominence, and an integral part of the football team as a defensive back. His mark on the university is significant, and his induction into the College Baseball Hall of Fame is recognition of this fact. But the university has known this, as they already had retired his number, elevating it to a status achieved by only two others in the history of Houston baseball.