Buck, Vogel Inducted into Gilroy High School Hall of Fame
Seeing all the names of Mustang sports legends on the Gilroy High gymnasium Hall of Fame wall got Warren Gwinn thinking.
Where were Charlie Buck and Joe Vogel?
“I looked up and there were a lot of names,” said Gwinn, a San Martin resident who graduated from Live Oak and had competed against the two Gilroy athletes over 50 years ago.
Over the years, Gwinn, Buck and Vogel became friends through sport, having played competitive softball together in a San Martin league.
So Gwinn nominated 76-year-old Buck, a Gilroy baseball star who went on to play minor league ball for six years, and 77-year-old Vogel, a rare four-sport athlete that broke the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League hurdles record, to the Gilroy High Hall of Fame.
Under the Friday night lights of the Gilroy/Oakland Tech football game Sept. 30, former teammates Buck and Vogel were officially inducted into the Gilroy High Hall of Fame for 2005.
“They were all-everything,” said Gilroy athletic director Jack Daley. “They had some really unique contributions in all-league competition.”
Now Buck and Vogel’s names are on the gym wall among those of other Gilroy High legends of the past.
Charlie Buck Gilroy High 1943-1947, Baseball
Charlie Buck had only been playing baseball competitively for a year when he caught the eye of Joe Devine, the chief scout for the New York Yankees in 1948.
Growing up, Buck played the sport recreationally. In elementary school, his teachers would let him out of school early so he could play against the older boys.
But when he got to Gilroy High, he found the baseball program had been put on hold since the mid 1930’s. By himself, Buck worked to change that. During his junior year in 1946, Buck drew up a petition to bring the sport back.
“He was wondering when they were going to bring it back. He got tired of waiting,” Gwinn said. “The superintendent found out and he called (Buck) into his office and gave him heck because he went over his head.”
But it worked. A new coach at the school also wanted to re-start the baseball program and by Buck’s senior year, GHS had a baseball team again.
As a senior, outfielder Buck starred in his first and only year of high school baseball and was named the top high school athlete in Santa Clara County in 1947.
After graduation from GHS, Buck went on to play in the San Jose Inter-City League, where he had the second-best batting average. That got him attention from some big league scouts.
“Four major league baseball teams were after Charlie even though he only played one year,” Gwinn said.
But it was the Bronx Bombers that won out. Buck said Devine showed up at the dehydrator he worked at in Sonoma and offered him a contract to play in the Yankees’ farm system.
“If someone wants to pay you for something you love to do, there’s no question,” he said.
During his six years of minor league ball, Buck played in Twin Falls, Idaho, McAlester, Okla., Del Rio, Tex., Paris, Tex. and Sweetwater, Tex. where he was the batting champ in the Longhorn League.
But with baseball great Joe DiMaggio patrolling the outfield for the World Champion Yankees at the time, it became clear to Buck that he wasn’t going to reach the majors.
“(I was told I’d) be playing outfield with a major league team in four years,” Buck recalled. “I decided to settle down and go to work.”
With his wife, Kathleen, and two young daughters, Buck returned to Gilroy where he went into business with the San Martin Country Store for 21 years. After that, he did missionary contract work in the area until he retired in the mid ’80’s.
Today, Buck is still involved in Gilroy athletics. In 1999, he turned an old prune orchard on his property on Carls Court in North Gilroy into a baseball and softball diamond where local Little League and travel baseball and softball teams practice.
Joe Vogel, Gilroy High 1943-1947 All-around
When Joe Vogel lettered in four sports – baseball, basketball, football and track – in 1947, he was the first GHS athlete to do so in over 10 years.
According to Vogel, it wasn’t easy. Most of the baseball team was also on the track team. Most of the football players had to play both ways.
“There weren’t enough kids in our school,” Vogel said. “We had so few guys on the team that if someone got hurt, they just stopped the game until the guy could get up and play again.”
Vogel was a second-team all-Santa Clara Valley Athletic League football player. But his best sport was track. He earned all SCVAL honors his junior and senior years.
Vogel competed in the broad jump, the 440-yard and 880-yard relay. But his specialty was the 200-yard low hurdles. In 1946, Vogel broke the SCVAL record in the event with a time of 24.9 seconds. The following year, he beat that time, setting a new record of 24.4 seconds.
In 1952, Vogel went into the U.S. Army, where he played basketball and ran track for the Special Services U.S. Army Sport Group while stationed in Germany. In 110-meter high hurdle competition against other U.S. Army teams, Vogel won every race but one.
When Vogel returned to Gilroy, he worked as a carpenter for 22 years before going into business for himself. He eventually retired in 1980.
After that, Vogel picked up a new sport: Bowling.
In 1986, he competed in and won the Class D division of the California State Senior bowling tournament for the 55 to 59 age group. That qualified him for the national tournament, where he represented California and took second.