Growing up in the New Orleans area, I have seen hundreds of baseball games at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium. From high school classics to jayvee games. From American Legion games to All-American League games. From playing in softball games there frequently to seeing a major league game there, I have been fortunate to experience many memorable moments at the venerable, storied facility.
After doing our "Three Tailgaters Show" on WGSO, 990 AM with Ed Daniels, I ventured to Kirsch-Rooney to watch Delgado take on Northwest Florida in a doubleheader. Delgado has been playing baseball since 1972, the first four years of which were played at the club level. In 1976, the Dolphins became part of the Texas Collegiate League.
For the first 19 years, the legendary Louis "Rags" Scheuermann guided the program in stellar fashion. His Dolphins won eight district championships and a trip to the 1985 Junior College World Series, posting a tremendous record of 527-199. Rags was a friend. Of course, he was a friend to most everyone. He allowed us to use Kirsch-Rooney to play charity softball games for several years. He left us in 1997 at the age of 73, just six days short of his 74th birthday. In 2003, Rags got his due when the field was dedicated as "Rags Scheuermann Field at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium." In exploring the facility, I made my way to the press box. I felt goose bumps as a portrait of Rags caught my vision almost immediately.
On this day, Delgado faced the Raiders of Northwest Florida. Game one did not go well as the Raiders pummeled the Dolphins 15-3, scoring six in the fifth inning and four more in the sixth to put it away. Sophomore Max Ledet of E.D. White was two-for-three with a two-run homer in a losing cause. You never know who you will see at the games. I had a chance to visit with former Shaw and Tulane star Sam Dozier, now the head coach at Country Day. He recently led Jesuit to a state championship. It was good to see Mike Wisecarver, who I graduated high school with and Drew Lukinovich, whom I have known since high school. Both have sons playing and playing well for Delgado now.
The Dolphins rebounded in game two with a solid pitching performance, downing the Raiders 3-1. Sophomore Jacob Ott of Holy Cross went five strong innings, allowing one unearned run, to improve to 2-0. Freshman Kirk Cunningham of Rummel hurled two solid shutout innings to pick up the save. Sophomore Chandler Laurent of Fontainebleau belted a long two-run homer to straight away center field to provide the margin of victory.
With the split, Delgado improved to 7-4 on the season and won the series two games to one against a very good opponent. Delgado will travel to East Central Community College (Mississippi) for a doubleheader this Tuesday. On this day, I actually saw multiple home runs--a rare feat at Kirsch-Rooney, which has always played huge. One of the primary reasons is that the wind direction is nearly always blowing in or across. On this day, it was whipping straight out.
Since taking over for his father in 1991, Joe Scheuermann has continued the fine tradition. In his 19th season, Scheuermann has complied an impressive mark of 599-359. His next win will get him to the magical 600-win mark. I came on this day hoping to see history made.
Joe has never had a losing season at Delgado. His 1992 team won 41 games. The 1993 Dolphins won the Miss-Lou conference title. They repeated that success in 1996. In 1999, Delgado won the Region 23 Tournament Championship in Meridian, Mississippi. Scheuermann led the Dolphins to the 2007 NJCAA South Central District Championship and an appearance at the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado.
The 2009 Dolphins feature 31 of 32 players from Louisiana, nearly all of whom are from the metro New Orleans area. There are six players from Rummel, four from Jesuit, three from Shaw, three from H.L. Bourgeois, two from Riverside, and one each from Crescent City, John Curtis and John Ehret, Holy Cross, St. Charles Catholic, Hannan, Mandeville and Fontainebleau.
The hallowed hall that is Kirsch-Rooney isn't much different from when it opened in 1957. The symmetry with relation to my life is substantive for a man born in the same year that the stadium was born. The grandstand is virtually the same, along with the completely covered seating area. The concession stand and ticket-taking area is intact. The scoreboard is a newer version with some artistic capability. It was good to see my friends Tommy Taylor (Sports Information) and Otto Schulz (Statistician).
Rags would be proud of his family. Kirsch-Rooney Stadium remains a family affair. Joe's son Tyler Scheuermann handled the official scoring, scoreboard and public address announcing. Joe's sisters, Emma and Maureen, were working the concession stand. Joe and Shelly's daughter, Nataly was serving as well.
My wife's nephews currently play for the Delgado team. This was a family affair, with my wife, son and my in-laws in attendance. It felt like old times as I navigated the entire facility, conjuring up memories of my childhood, adolescence and young adult life. "This used to be my playground, this use to be my childhood dream...." Can you imagine a Madonna image in this story? Of course, I used to feel like I was in "A League of My Own" back in the day.
To see Delgado faring well and the facility standing strong was warming to the heart. There are still no lights following the carnage of Katrina--that is a matter of money that will hopefully be mastered in the very near future. The past was etched clearly in my still creative mind. The future holds great promise. The triumphant triangle continues alive and well in the City Park area--Kirsch-Rooney Stadium, Delgado baseball and the Scheuermann family.
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