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Dillas launch scholarship fund to honor late PA announcer

The late Joe Frank Wheeler will be remembered with two scholarships for area scholar-athletes.The Amarillo Dillas (independent; United League Baseball) unveiled the Joe Frank Wheeler Scholarship Award in memory of their late public-address announcer. Under the scholarship award, two area student-athletes will be selected based on a number of criteria including leadership among peers, influence in the community, and performance on the athletic field and in the classroom.

Just hours before he was set to welcome fans into their seats on Opening Day 2009, the popular Wheeler passed away from a massive heart attack while putting the finishing touches on the stadium’s sound system. That night the announcer’s booth that Wheeler occupied for well over a decade went dark and the game went without sound, in honor of their late friend and colleague.

“Joe Frank (Wheeler) truly loved spring training because it signified the start of another season of baseball and because it meant that our (Dillas) season was just around the corner,” Dillas General Manager Mark Lee said. "He was a great supporter of high school athletics and believed deeply in the power of education, so it was only appropriate to combine both into the scholarship awards."

The Joe Frank Wheeler Scholarship Award recipients will include a male and female student-athlete representing the sport of baseball and softball, respectively. The annual award will be conducted through nominations submitted by area high school coaches that will then be reviewed by a committee, consisting of several Dillas’ staff and select local media members, to determine winners.

Prior the Dillas home game on Saturday, June 19, the selected recipients will be presented with the award during a special on-field pre-game ceremony. Along with the monetary scholarship each winner will receive a bronze casted microphone statue as part of their achievement.

By April 15th the Amarillo Dillas will email two scholarship nomination forms to the Principal and Athletic Director of each high school in the Texas Panhandle ranging from as far north as Booker and as far south to Plainview and every school in-between, stretching east and west to the Texas border. Nomination acceptance will begin Monday, May 17 and will close June 10. Submission criteria and instructions will be included in the April email.

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