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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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)