Kevin Cooney is in his 17th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic University and 21st overall. Each week, he’ll share some of the highs and lows of running a college baseball program - one that continues to grow as a national power. Cooney, who starred as a pitcher before taking Montclair State to a Division III national title, has guided the Blue Wave to a 226-89 record and four NCAA Regionals the past five years. His 1999 squad won 34 straight games, tying the NCAA mark set by Texas in 1977.



Feb. 16, 2004

Not a Happy Valentine's Day


This is usually a happy day for me. Well, except from sixth grade on, when I started wearing glasses and stopped getting Valentine cards in class.


Maggie and Luke each got a big red balloon and boxes of goodies this morning.


My present to my wife was taking the kids with me to the Deerfield Beach Founders’ Day Parade. We rode an antique fire truck with Coach Schnellenberger and some of the football and softball team members. It was fun waving to the crowd as we made our way across the Intracoastal to the beach. I think I spotted some women in the crowd that attended Middle School with Howard!


But when we got home for lunch, Mary Beth told me that longtime friend and fan Chuck Ritchie passed away yesterday. He and his wife Shirley were probably the very first Florida Atlantic baseball fans. Back in 1981, Chuck and Shirley would bring her father Leonard Lewis to all the FAU games. Leonard had an old Ford Model-T horn from 1918. Each time an FAU runner crossed the plate that horn would AAUUGUH!!!! for all to hear. It was pretty annoying to the opponents.


Chuck was a member of that great generation that won WWII. After the war, Chuck parlayed his experience into a job running the White House Communications Office during the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations. When he retired, Chuck and Shirley moved to Boca, where Chuck worked in FAU communications, and Shirley helped Karl Ijams run the Department of Student Affairs.


Chuck was a great fan. I always picture him dressed to the teeth every St. Patrick’s Day, topped off with a Kelly green bowler and ready to celebrate the day with us at the ballpark.


He and Shirley have been very generous over the years to our program, but best of all they were good friends. I’m sure tonight, Chuck will rejoin Mr. Lewis in heaven and get a front row seat for our game. I hope I get to hear the horn from here.


Oh yeah, I forgot. We played two good innings last night and exploded for 14 runs to beat the Salukis of Southern Illinois. Last Tuesday in a win against Bethune-Cookman, I was disappointed in our lack of hitting with men on base. Last night in the second and the eighth, that was not the case. An error opened the floodgates for us, and we took advantage.


Alex Fonseca continued his hot hitting with a double and his second triple in two games. Tim Mascia’s average plummeted as he only went 2 for 4. It’s tough to hit .700!


Randy Beam returned to form as he went seven and surrendered only one earned run; nice to see the old Beamer out there.


We go at it again tonight if the rain holds off.


Sunday morning…


Last night O’Brien and Mascia combined to give us an easy game. OB lived up to his fall promise as he struck out 10 with two hits and no runs through seven solid innings. Matt hit 95 mph on the gun a number of times, didn’t throw a fastball below 90 the entire game, and impressively, was throwing 94 in the seventh.


Tim Mascia continued disproving the age old platoon theory, as he again homered off a lefty to provide the only run we’d need.


Joe Yeager got a start and had two hits and a couple of runs, in addition to playing a solid third base.


The Salukis again struggled in the field, and we were ready to capitalize each time. A good team smells the blood in the water like a shark in the Boca Inlet. You can’t let anyone off the hook after an error extends an inning, and that’s been a strong point for us the past two nights.


The forecast was for rain, so we put our infield tarp out for the first time in two years. Usually we just let it rain. Our field drains so well that covering it doesn’t matter. But the weather looked real unpromising, and SIU needs to catch a plane out of Miami International tonight, so our ground crew went to work. After the team unrolled and spread the tarp, we were greeted with a 10-foot square hole! Someone had obviously cut out a nice piece of tarp and carried it home! Fortunately, we still managed to cover all the clay areas. How hard up can you get?


It has rained lightly this morning so the tarp is still in place. Our hitters are in the cage taking some swings, and SIU is on the way to do the same. With some luck, the rain won’t get heavy, and we can pull the tarp and get the last game in.


Sunday Afternoon…


FAU 7 Southern Illinois 2…Just a few light showers as freshman pitcher Mike Crotta had an even better outing than his debut last week. Mike struck out eight through five, and had the tough luck of a misjudged fly ball resulting in the only two runs of the game. Crotta is a big kid with a bright future. He’s one of those guys who listens, and is easy to coach. He also has a lot of ability, so we’re basically just trying not to screw him up any.


Rob Horst had another big day with a two-run jack and four RBI with his four hits. The old-timer even managed to score two runs.


We finally got Fiorentino behind the plate, and he did real well. Jeff threw out one of three base stealers, but his other two throws were on the money. A slow delivery by our pitcher was more at fault than anything.


George Washington University is on tap next weekend. I hope we can carry the good start through that series, and maybe get Rusty Brown back for at least some pinch-hitting. He’s still pretty sore, but another week at his age should help.


Well, we’re off to Chuck’s wake. Keep a good thought for Shirley. Things will be tough for her.




Previous Entries

Opening Weekend (2/9/04)

Almost FAMUs (2/2/04)

FAU Living in Land of Hope and Dreams (1/28/04)


(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)