Sidney Parfait, American Legion Baseball
Since being established in 2009, the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee’s Eddie Robinson Award has become a prestigious honor in the region. Many awards recognize championships, victories and record-breaking performances, but the Eddie Robinson Award is presented annually to an individual in the state of Louisiana who has demonstrated the qualities most closely associated with Coach Robinson: outstanding achievement in athletics, academics, sportsmanship, and citizenship by maximizing the use of limited resources. And more importantly, it carries the name of a Louisiana legend who coached the Grambling football team for 57 years. While he was known for his 408 career victories, he was more known for the characteristics now recognized by this Allstate Sugar Bowl sponsored honor.
Like so many other New Orleans traditions, American Legion Baseball has deep roots. It’s been in continuous operation in the area since 1927. It’s produced thousands of alumni, including its share of collegiate all stars and Major Leaguers. The stories are vast and the memories are countless, all thanks to the veterans of the armed forces who started and cultivated the program that is now approaching its centennial.
In a time of reduced participation and seemingly diminished interest at a national level, the local program has continued to remain a viable option for local high school coaches and players. For Louisiana, much of that success can be attributed to one man, Sidney Parfait.
A sergeant in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, Parfait returned to New Orleans and became a certified public account and later President and CEO of the Post Office Employees Credit Union until his recent retirement. He is a past Commander and active member of American Legion’s Loo Wag Ran Post 285. He’s also been active on playgrounds as a coach, volunteer, and fundraiser for more than 35 years. Since 1984, his passion has been American Legion Baseball.
While the games only occur between Memorial Day and the start of each new school year, American Legion Baseball is a year-round cause for Parfait. As State Director, he oversees a limited budget, schedules for all participating teams, rules and paperwork, and the brackets. During the summer months, things get into full swing and he doubles as a gateman and ball runner when necessary due to a limited number of volunteers able to assist. This summer marks Parfait’s twenty-fifth as First District Director, the district that covers the metro New Orleans area.
In 2013, he was named Legion’s State Baseball Commissioner, which places him in conversations with other state leaders to keep their programs viable and growing at a local and national level amid a changing landscape of prep and summer baseball leagues and the growth of travel ball and pay-for-play leagues. Change is a constant, and Legion works to embrace change in order to keep the tradition going. Under Parfait’s leadership, the area’s program has continued to be groomed as a national power, having sent six Louisiana teams to the American Legion World Series since 2006, including two national champions. Together with a small committee of volunteers, Parfait navigates summer heat and rain delays to produce a first-class product that makes Louisiana sports fans proud.
For his continuous contributions to the Boys of Summer, the New Orleans Sports Awards Committee has named Parfait the 2021 recipient of its Eddie Robinson Award. Like the legendary Coach Robinson, the award represents an athletic administrator who has gained outstanding achievement in athletics, sportsmanship, and citizenship, all while maximizing the use of limited resources to build success.
Legion Baseball players and fans are familiar with the program’s iconic Code of Sportsmanship. As Parfait reminds players prior to reciting it before games, the code represents “words to play by and words to live by.” Parfait has lived the code while remaining steadfast in each of the award’s fundamental values to give back to his community through our national pastime.