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The Lancers’ No. 1 fan is now cheering his beloved EU from a celestial sky box

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POSTED January 22, 2009 1:24 a.m.
If there ever was a man who was a true blue East Union fan with Lancer red flowing in his veins it was Maurice “Augie” Agostini.

Agostini is one of the reasons why Manteca enjoys a fairly unique situation where the high schools — regardless of how deep and old their roots go — are embraced by virtually the entire community. There are friendly, intense rivalries but it is not out of balance.

East Union started as if it was the unwanted stepchild. It was out in the middle of nowhere a mile outside of Manteca surrounded by onion fields, vineyards, alfalfa, and an almond orchard.

Agostini’s commitment to East Union High started back in the fall of 1966 because he thought his oldest son Ron was trying to get out of helping with the grape harvest on a Saturday morning.

Ron – who was EU’s first student body president — wanted to go to the first home game that was being played at 9 in the morning at Gus Schmiedt Field at Manteca High. He told his dad that Saturday morning he was heading to town from their Austin Road farm to cheer on the Lancers in their first football game. His dad didn’t believe him. He didn’t think anybody played football games on Saturday mornings.

Ron recalled telling his father, “Dad, I wouldn’t lie to you.”

Ron needed a ride home. So Agostini showed up at the appointed time and was astonished to see East Union actually had played a football game.

That was when Agostini decided EU needed all the help — and support — it could get. It was that decision by Agostini 43 years ago that set in motion a movement of sorts in the community to embrace the new kid on the block the same it did the home of the Buffaloes.

Agostini never hesitated when he saw a need at East Union.

He went to see his son play baseball at East Union High. Slight breezes would whip up big dust storms engulfing the field. That all changed after Agostini brought his tractor into town and encouraged others to join him to create the baseball field that would eventually carry his name.

There are a host of people in the community who have made East Union High what it is today —Bennie Gatto, Butch Marliani, Pete Dalben, Leroy Buck, Ed Munoz, Art Nunes, Jose Barron, and Jim Brown among others. But when it comes to staying power, Agostini is the ultimate true blue Lancer. He not only was loyal to the Blue and Red since it opened and attended more Lancer games in history than any other fan, but he put his heart and soul into doing his part into helping build the campus — and sports program — into what it is today.

The shot clock in the gym. He got Pulte Homes to donate it. The Lancers’ baseball field scoreboard. Agostini persuaded Toni and Bob Raymus of Raymus Homes to donate it to East Union.

It wasn’t all about sports when it comes to Agostini’s commitment to EU. He could rattle off a long list of EU achievements from band and choir to academics and JROTC that he believed made East Union High an excellent school.

Even though he lived and breathed East Union High, that wasn’t the Italian immigrant’s No. 1 passion by far. Instead, that would be a dead heat between the love of his life — Addie, his bride of 60 years — and his children Ron, Jim, and Maureen as well as their children. Son Jim is now the East Union High varsity girls’ basketball coach while Ron helps announce the games.

When all is said and done, Agostini was a man whose devotion to wife, family, God, his Catholic faith, the community, his country, the land he farmed and East Union High was second to none.

Rest assured that any time an East Union student dons a uniform — for a sport, JROTC, band or otherwise — Agostini will be looking down from heaven cheering on his beloved Lancers.

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