RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Shannon Winsor has always been a sports fan, with great memories of his days coaching successful teams in Cibola Little League and some elite youth teams here.
There was once a time when Winsor dreamed of being a professional athlete, but a serious injury when he was at a freshman football team practice at Del Norte High School ended that dream.
A 1981 graduate of DNHS, Winsor, who grew up in Albuquerque, said a freak mishap during a football practice left him paralyzed for awhile, and then wearing a neck brace for another few months.
“I was too slow (to play football after that),” he said. But he did spend time sitting in the Knights’ dugout with their coach, absorbing knowledge that would later help him as a coach.
After graduating from Del Norte, he attended Albuquerque’s TVI (Technical-Vocational School, now Central New Mexico Community College) and “took welding, (but) I never welded.”
He later obtained a job with RayLee Homes, and began his youth coaching career after his brother recommended it to him in 1988, when his knowledge about the game surfaced; Winsor recalls having former New York Yankee Mike Vento on one of his rosters, and remembering a season when his all-star team beat teams from heralded Altamont, Eastdale and Roadrunner Little League teams before falling to Altamont in the double-elimination postseason tournament.
And he can’t forget his 1989 CLL Minors team, the Stallions, who went undefeated in 1989, one of five unbeaten teams he led.
Now retired from his job with Bernalillo County, he’s understandably proud of what’s going on in his “man cave,” which has its roots about 30 years ago, when he began collecting.
Yes, every guy needs one, and deserves one, but you’ve got to have enough of yourself to have a great one.
So Winsor, 57, has been busy lately, arranging his countless collectibles — some he can’t even remember acquiring — to complete his room in east Rio Rancho. There are — steel yourself — Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers items (Winsor will never forget his “sit-down” time with Cowboys great Emmitt Smith), CLL team photos, quite a few signed baseballs, pro team plaques … the list goes on and on.
He says his three favorite teams are the Cowboys, Oakland A’s and Boston Celtics, but there’s not much basketball memorabilia in his cave. You’ll see Pete Rose, Vida Blue, Rollie Fingers, etc., autographs, and a Celtics pennant hanging in a corner. But the major theme is baseball.
Winsor’s efforts in his “new” room came about when he had to move his ailing mother into another room of his home, and decided to locate all of his “stuff” — at least, that which would fit — into another room. Soon to be completed, he’ll also have a TV in there to watch football games this season.
Earlier this century, Winsor was an assistant coach, in charge of the freshman team for Rio Rancho High School baseball coach Ron Murphy, and getting that job was a career highlight.
There also was a time when Murphy called him to see if he knew anyone who could assist Murphy with the varsity; Winsor recommended Ray Chavez.
The Murphy-Chavez combination proved quite successful, with Chavez working with the team’s pitcher, until his untimely death a few years ago.
Winsor said part of his success coaching the young Rams came from having every player write down their goals for the coming season. Now, he occasionally sees or hears from his former Little Leaguers and Rams, many of whom still reside in the area.
“Shannon was a loyal, committed coach to me, our program, and, of course, our kids.
“He was well-liked by us all and did a tremendous job molding our young kids into good players and great citizen,.” Murphy said.
Winsor enhances his room with occasional buys off eBay and now and then a trade, but said one of his favorite items to display is a mini-helmet signed by Troy Aikman — it came from a neighbor, who gave it to him for free.
Although man caves are rarely completed, Winsor said he’d be content to polish his off with a Roger Staubach-autographed football and an autograph of Larry Bird, “definitely an idol (of mine),” he said.