Rags Scheuermann – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Baseball Coach, 1951-1990
Loyola University/Delgado Community College
Louis “Rags” Scheuermann is recognized as one of the greatest baseball coaches in New Orleans history. He experienced tremendous success with college baseball teams, American Legion teams, All-American Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA) teams and Babe Ruth league teams.
Scheuermann won 65 percent of his games in 15 seasons at Loyola (1957-72), posting a 234-126 record. When Loyola dropped athletics in 1972, he crossed town to start the baseball program at Delgado Community College, going on to win 73 percent of his games with the Dolphins, posting a 527-199 record and winning eight district championships in competition with teams from Texas and Mississippi.
Scheuermann also coached New Orleans’ All-American Amateur Baseball Association (AAABA) teams to six national championships and six runner-up titles, including a second-place finish in his first year coaching the team (1951). He coached teams to three state and three national titles in Babe Ruth play.
Twenty-seven of his players, including his son Joe, became high school or collegiate coaches. Nine of his players made it to the major leagues, including Lenny Webster (1989-2000), Wally Whitehurst (1989-96) and Gerald Alexander (1990-92) and dozens of his players went on to play at NCAA Division I schools. His long list of players also included three mayors – Moon Landrieu (New Orleans), Pat Screen (Baton Rouge) and Tommy Wilcox (Harahan).
In 1994, he guided his Delgado Dolphins to the 1984 Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.
Scheuermann retired from coaching in 1990 and turned the reins of the program over to his son, Joe. He was the first person inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame as primarily a baseball coach (1990) and is also a member of the AAABA Hall of Fame.
[From the New Orleans Times-Picayune, 4-13-97]
“Black Cat” LaCombe, Hap Glaudi, Leapin’ Lou Messina, Otis Guichet – they all were New Orleans originals, characters who came out of neighborhoods such as the 9th Ward or the Irish Channel, who, because of the marks they made, grew into legends and were cherished as city treasures.
Sure, they were characters and rogues who could have been part of a Damon Runyon story, but they made us laugh, enriched our lives with what they gave to the community, and defined the true New Orleans character.
As each of them passed away, it was said that he was one of a dying breed. And now another of that dying breed is gone.
When Louis “Rags” Scheuermann died this week, the city lost a charter member of that Runyonesque society. “There can’t possibly be another one coming like him,” said the Rev. Harry Tompson, who delivered one of the eulogies at his funeral at St. Francis of Assisi Church.
No there can’t. A little rough around the edges, crusty, opinionated; owner of a heavy Noo Awlins accent teamed with a voice like a parrot having a bad day; known for his dry wit and mischievous personality; a haberdasher’s despair; a handicapper who never met a race he didn’t like; baseball fan with a knowledge of the game that few people have; a family man and friend with a heart as big as a ballpark – that was Rags.
The man with the wild shock of white hair sticking out from under his baseball cap coached hundreds of baseball players for generations at Loyola University and Delgado Community College. Each summer he took his beloved New Orleans Boosters All-American teams to Johnstown, Pa., to play in the World Series – and touched the lives of many players and their families.
“I look out here in the crowd and we have a helluva team here today,” Rags’ son, Delgado coach Joe Scheuermann, told the enormous turnout – many of them former players – at St. Francis of Assisi Church on State Street. “We’ve got lead-off guys, good four- and five-hole hitters, a deep pitching staff; we’ve got the press, TV stations, even some bad umpires. We could play a game!”
There was never any shortage of humor in the Scheuermann family and it was passed on to all four kids: Joe, Eddie, Maureen and Emma. At the wake the night before the funeral, the Delgado baseball team, coming off a road trip, stopped by in uniform, formed a circle, and said a prayer for Rags. “That was nice,” someone told Joe and his brother Eddie. “Yes it was,” said Joe. “They should have prayed. They just lost a doubleheader,” Eddie said.
The Rev. Des Crotty, who officiated at the services, said that Rags lived for three things: church, family and baseball. Joe Scheuermann said he was not one to correct a man of God, but that Crotty forgot one thing. “He lived for four things, and the fourth was the Fair Grounds. So if there are any bookies in the house, if we owe you any money, I’m sorry – all bets are off.”
Baseball lends itself to storytelling like no other sport and the ex-players were swapping old Rags tales. Former Loyola pitcher Wally Pontiff said he remembers Rags walking out to the mound after a pitcher had walked the bases loaded. He said, “Son, are you nervous?” The kid said no. “Are you scared?” Again, the pitcher said no. “Are you anything?” asked Rags. The kid again said no. “Well, I’m nervous and I’m scared. Gimme the ball.”
Joe Scheuermann said his dad from time to time would joke about his funeral. Mainly, he’d talk about the wake. “Joe, if we don’t have a good gate the first night, then hold me over for a second night,” he’d say. Well, there was no reason for that. The wake at the Muhleisen Funeral Home on Williams Boulevard was a mob scene.
State Sen. John Hainkel said he walked into St. Francis church one day and saw Rags all dressed up. Then he noticed that he had no socks on. “Where are you going, Rags?” Hainkel asked. “To Johnstown,” he replied. Hainkel said, “Rags, you don’t have any socks on.” And Rags replied, “Yeah, I know. I was so busy figuring out my pitching rotation, I forgot.”
One day Rags caught his Loyola ballplayers placing bets out at the track and told them they’d be finished if he ever saw them there again. The next day, they were back, and he saw them. The players expected the worst. Instead, Rags walked up and said, “Who ya like in the double, guys?” Consumed by the ponies, he had totally forgotten about yesterday’s lecture.
Not long ago, Rags got a call from the new major league team the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He was asked to scout for them in this area. “Maybe I’m not through after all,” he joked with his family.
But after a heart attack a few weeks ago, he probably decided he was, and, according to Father Tompson, made his peace with the Lord and was ready to go.
“He was a great dad,” Joe said, speaking for his siblings and mom Maureen. “He taught you family values, morals and religious beliefs. He always took his teams to church. That impressed a lot of people. We all know he was noted for his baseball but he’d like to be remembered for being liked and helping people.”
There were many who attended the funeral who had the same suggestion: The Zephyrs, who are looking for a name for their new ballpark on Airline Highway, should name it for Rags. No person in the history of New Orleans has had more effect on the lives of local baseball players and their families. Unlike many plays at second base, there’s no argument there – it’s not even a close call.
At the church, Joe Scheuermann noted that there were eight priests and a deacon at Rags’ services. There are nine players on a baseball team. “We didn’t plan it that way, it just happened,” he said.
You had to believe The Man Upstairs was keeping score.