CROWLEY – This past weekend, Crowley’s baseball history was on display as former players from the Crowley Millers met for the 2009 Evangeline/Miller Reunion. The event lasted from Wednesday, July 29 through Sunday, August 2 and included tours of Crowley and Acadia Parish’s landmarks, an Old Timers Game, and, of course, several meals prepared by some of the finest cooks in the parish - including the event’s organizer, Richard Pizzolatto or “Coach Pizz”, as he is better known in the area.
“We had a wonderful time,” said Pizzolatto. “We had people who traveled from as far as Hawaii, Brooklyn and Colorado for the event.”
When speaking with Coach Pizz, it is obvious he is a veritable encyclopedia on the history of Miller baseball. In the pamphlet that was distributed for this year’s event, he can look at each person’s picture and vividly describe their playing days, including their strengths and weaknesses. However, not many weaknesses were mentioned probably due to the affection that Coach Pizz obviously feels for the former players as well as the league.
Some of the players that are mentioned, went on to solid careers in pro ball. Pizzolatto pointed out Claude Horn, a native of Moblie, Ala., who was called up to the Little Rock Travelers minor league club. He was described as a “bright major league prospect after leading the Millers and the Evangeline League with a .348 average” by an article in a Mobile Newspaper.
“We really had some good ball players come through here back then,” added Coach Pizz.
The reunion began Wednesday with “The Early Bird Special” which was a dinner social held at Hensgens Kitchen. On Thursday, Mayor Greg Jones hosted a breakfast social at City Hall followed by a “From Italy to Bayou Blanc” Buffet” at Hensgens Kitchen. Friday’s events included a tour of the Chateau Castle on the Mermentau River. The former players continued their tour of Crowley by touring Crowley’s recently renovated Grand Opera House of the South.
“I really want to thank L.J. for his kind demeanor and the enthusiasm he displayed during the tour,” said Coach Pizz.
During the final day of the reunion, the former players took what had to be an emotional tour of Miller Field followed by a farewell luncheon at Hensgens Kitchen once again.
Pizzolatto wanted to be sure to mention a speech by Ricky Spell, who along with being a well-known member of the Crowley Fire Department is a member of the Louisiana Softball Hall of Fame.
“He really had some kind words to say about his former coach, Emile Chaillot, who as far as I’m concerned is a legend around here,” said Pizzolatto.
During his interview, Pizzolatto had a few visitors who were already asking about next year’s event, to which Coach Pizz laughed as though to say “give me a break we just finished this one.”
One thing that cannot be denied is the warmth and dedication Coach Pizz feels towards preserving the history of the Crowley Millers. Of all the people he discussed that passed through Miller Stadium over the years, he often used the word “legend” to describe them.
Perhaps it’s time the word be used to describe himself.