Crusader Baseball - 2

Stunning Upset
In only the third season of the restoration of baseball on Esplanade Avenue, the 1942 Crusaders became "one of the most successful Aloysius teams in recent history" (Charles Brennan in the Times Picayune).

Brother Ralph's diamondmen were picked seventh (last) in the Prep league but finished third. Included in their list of victories was a "stunning upset" of defending champion Jesuit 7-6. Star gridiron RB Johnny Campora started but walked 13. "His wildness paid dividends in that he scared the wits out of the Blue Jays and muffled their big bats to an extent" (The Aloysian). Campora lasted five innings before Rankin Vasterling took over. "Crusader batsmen took a liking to the slants of Bert Leveau and racked up seven tallies in first two innings. Harold Breeding took up the pitching for the Jays and held the Aloysians in check the rest of the way."

In the next game, the Knights belted Warren Easton, another perennial Prep power, 11-4. Vasterling went the distance, receiving $5 from his sister as he did every time he won. In the rematch against Jesuit, the Blue Jays won 22-13. Jay P Charley Wirth walked 18 batters and hit seven. He displayed an assortment of blisters bigger than acorns on his pitching hand.

The Prep season ended with the top three teams meeting in a playoff for the championship. SA eliminated Easton before losing the title game to Jesuit, 6-5.
1942 Crusader Baseball Team
The team was led by seniors George Reckner (1B) and Fred Helwig (SS), both of whom made All-Prep, Rod Woods (CF who joined the Navy before graduation), George Marshall (3B), and Matt Hill (C). Vasterling was also a senior but accepted Brother Martin's invitation to return the following season as a "fifth year senior."
State Finalists
Robert Piper
Robert Piper

On May 17, 1946, the St. Aloysius Crusaders began play in the "State Rally" baseball tournament at LSU. Coach Charlie Laiche threw junior Bob Piper against the S. J. Peters Wildcats. Senior Roy Hoffmann and junior Leo Griener had two hits each in the 8-4 victory.

Sophomore Al Ketchum "batted and hurled brilliantly" to pace the victory over the Catholic High Bears in the semifinals the next day, 6-2. Ketchum was perfect at the plate and pitched out of several tight spots, aided by two snappy double plays. Al Lichenstein went 3-4.

That propelled the Knights into the finals against the Jesuit Blue Jays. The game was played at Muny Park in New Orleans on May 19. The Jays won 5-2 as part of a sweep of the state titles in football, basketball, track and field, and baseball in the calendar year 1946.

Charles Laiche
Charles Laiche
State Finalists Again
The 1947 St. Aloysius Crusaders, Johnny Altobello's first diamond squad, reached the state finals.
  • In the last district game, the Knights defeated Fortier 3-0 at Muny Park (later Gilbert Stadium). Junior RHP Hank Ketchum remained undefeated, striking out 15 and giving up only one hit. As the second place team in the district, the Saders advanced to the state tournament in Baton Rouge.
  • The first opponent in the Capital City was district rival Warren Easton. The Eagles plated four in the third to kayo senior starter Bob Piper and take a two-run lead. Ketchum, who had defeated Easton 3-2 in district play, shut the door as the Crimson tallied two in the fourth to tie. Finally, in the second extra inning, the ninth, Beninate's double plated the winning run.
  • The next morning, SA faced Catholic High in the semifinals. The Bears, victors over Byrd 9-8 the day before, scored one in the third only to be matched by the Crusaders in the bottom of the inning. SA hit the jackpot for five in the fifth. CHS scored once in the sixth and twice in the seventh but fell short, 6-4. Freshman Huey Bridges pitched the complete game, yielding seven scattered hits and issuing four free passes.
  • The nine-inning finals later that day pitted SA against the same team they had played the year before in the ultimate game: the Jesuit Blue Jays. Hugh Oser, who earned 13 letters as a Blue Jay, faced Ketchum, who had edged him in district. After four scoreless innings, the Jays scored on a walk, single, and SF. The "little boys in blue" (to quote The Aloysian) scored two more in the ninth to ice the 3-0 win. Oser scattered five hits.
Baseball Team 1947
1947 St. Aloysius Crusaders
Junior Prep Champs
On May 30, 1954, St. Aloysius won the junior prep baseball championship at Perry Roehm Park with a 1-0 victory over the De La Salle Cavaliers. The Crusaders had won the first round, but the Cavs captured the second to force the one-game playoff for the crown.

Gerald Theriot threw the first four innings for the Knights, and Buddy Reine continued the goose egg streak the last three frames. The duo allowed only two hits. De La Salle P Perry Harrell went them one better, yielding only one hit. However, that single, by Ronnie Vinet in the third, led to the game's only run. Andy Bourgeois walked and paired with Vinet on a double steal. The Crusaders tried a squeeze play, but the batter missed the ball. Caught in a rundown, Vinet managed to score when the Cav third baseman hit him in the back with the ball.

Bobby Nuss had coached the Crusaders until he was inducted into the Army in mid-May. No indication in The Aloysian as to who coached the championship game, but it was undoubtedly M. L. Lagarde, the varsity coach whose diamond men had just won state.

National Babe Ruth Champs

Rudy Kael
Rudy Kael

In the summer of 1965, four St. Aloysius students played on the NORD Maison Blanche Babe Ruth All-Star team that won the World Championship at Anderson IN. It was New Orleans's first championship in 11 years. The Stars won the State Tournament at Abbeville and the regional at Rosewell NM to qualify for the World Series.

The players were:

  • Sophomore Jimmy Tillette, who was named to the all-tournament team and was a unanimous selection for Outstanding Amateur Athlete of New Orleans for the Month for August.
  • Sophomore Mike Malinowski, who shared the pitching duties with Tillette.
  • Junior Jimmy Shay, who played 2B.
  • Junior Rudy Kael, the third sacker who also made the all-tournament team.
Babe Ruth All Stars 1965
Jimmy Shay, Jimmy Tillette, Mike Malinowski
A Year Away
David Ward
SS David Ward
Rookie coach Barry Hebert's 1983 Crusader baseball team raced to a 7-0 start. When district started, the Saders were beset by injuries to both pitchers and hitters. The team finished the first round 3-4. The highlight of the second round was an 11-10 triumph over highly favored Holy Cross. The round ended with victories over Rummel, Jesuit, and De La Salle to finish with a 4-3 mark. Hebert: "One of the bright spots of this season was even though we were getting down in games, we still kept playing."

Juniors Jeff Schwaner and Tookie Spann excelled. Spann led XI-AAAA in hitting for much of season. The pieces were in place on the junior-dominated squad to win the state championship in 1984.

Baseball Team 1983
1983 Baseball team (from left): Top row, Jeff Schwaner, Keith Schmitt, Paul Bruiglio,
Darren Ulmer, Kurt Zemke, Coach Hebert. Middle row, Scott Gaillot, Dominick Fenn,
Tookie Spann, Todd Monnin, Mark Danna, Patrick Prigmore. Bottom row, Tino Martinez, Brian Muller, David Ward, Joseph Choppin, Chris Francism, David Talazac
Brother Martin Baseball Begins
Chubby Marks
Chubby Marks
Brother Martin's first baseball team opened with two victories.
  • Chubby Marks' squad began the 1970 season against Rummel. RHP Ricky Gibbs had little trouble against the Raiders, and the Crusaders were in the driver's seat all the way as they won 5-0. 1B Derek Breerwood hit a 3-run double in the 4th. Gibbs yielded only three hits, striking out 11.
  • The Martin men then went on to defeat Jesuit 4-0 in a well-played contest. The other senior RH ace, Dennis Sabrio, pitched a brilliant one-hitter, striking out 14. 2B Richie Grillot and Gibbs had two hits each.
Ricky Gibbs
Ricky Gibbs
Richie Grillot
Richie Grillot
He Faced Koufax
Bob Schroder

Bob Schroder Today
Bob Schroder today
(Sporting News)

The May 11, 2009, issue of Sporting News magazine has a piece on the ugly incident in the August 22, 1965, game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. With SF P Juan Marichal at bat, Dodger C John Roseboro buzzed the ball past Marichal's ear when throwing the ball back to Sandy Koufax on the mound. After a brief verbal confrontation with Roseboro, Marichal smacked Johnny on the head with his bat. As you can imagine, that precipitated a brawl.

What does all this have to do with Crusader sports? Well, after Marichal was ejected, he was replaced in the batter's box by rookie utility IF Bob Schroder, a 1962 graduate of St. Aloysius. Bob played parts of four seasons with the Giants from 1965-8. His zenith was 1967, when he hit .230 in 62 games.

SN found Bob in Hattiesburg MS where he is a pharmacist and had him talk about the incident for the first time.

It was an absolutely horrible thing. I've still got a magazine with a picture of the blood just pouring down Roseboro's face. Most of us were in shock. You want to stick together as a team. It was so terrible, you just didn't know what to do. The benches emptied, I just kind of milled around. I think I hid behind Willie McCovey. The Dodgers were really mad. Rightfully so.

I hit against Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale. But I have never seen anything in my entire life like Sandy Koufax. He was really mad about the situation. He threw two fastballs by me. I'm telling you, the ball seemed to jump about a foot in the air by the time it crossed the plate. I know I missed it by a foot. I just cannot imagine a better pitcher than he was. He threw the ball so hard, and the ball just jumped so much. Then of course, he had that curveball, which he didn't even waste time with that on me. He just blew me away like I wasn't there.

Bob played SS on Henry Perret's 1961 and 1962 Crusader squads, winning the Leading Hitter award at the 1962 Sports Banquet.

Thanks to Bill Gallagher ('71) for calling the SN article to my attention.
Two One-Hitters
David Miller
David Miller

"Plagued by inexperience, a competitive schedule, and a few bad breaks," Barry Hebert's 1995 Crusader diamond contingent finished with an overall record of 9-15 and 6-8 in district. Nevertheless, the pieces were in place for a state championship team the following season.

  • Both junior David Miller and sophomore Craig Sturiale pitched one-hitters (Sturiale's only win of the season).
  • Miller compiled a 5-2 record with an ERA of 2.89.
  • Junior Blair Barbier led the hitters at .357 while senior Chris Krennerich hit .322 and junior Tommy Donelon posted a .316 mark.
  • Krennerich led the team in runs with 25 and Barbier in RBI with 15.
Craig Sturiale
Craig Sturiale
Playoff Pitching Duel

Richie Grillot
Richie Grillot

 

The first Brother Martin baseball team (1970) finished with a 9-5 record to tie Jesuit for the District crown. The teams met in a playoff at Kirsch-Rooney Stadium.

  • Chubby Marks' Crusaders had defeated the Blue Jays in both rounds, 4-0 and 3-2, behind the pitching of Dennis Sabrio.
  • Ricky Gibbs toed the slab in the playoff contest against John Ryan.
Ricky Gibbs at bat
Ricky Gibbs at bat
  • Gibbs surrendered only four singles, but Jesuit struck for two unearned runs in the fourth.
  • Ryan made the runs stand up, twirling a two-hit shutout. At one point, he struck out seven straight.

Since only the district champion made the playoffs, the Crusaders' season ended. 2B Richie Grillot made the All-District team and was named MVP by the Times-Picayune.