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Baseball: 20 things to like about …Tigue Moore Field

Dan McDonald, Daily Advertiser, Feb. 22, 2005 (est).

20 things to like about …Tigue Moore Field

The 20 things we love about M. L. "Tigue" Moore Field:

20 The Roof People

Just to the right of the scoreboard in left-center field, there’s a home that provides a panoramic view of the ball park when its family heads to their roof "lounge chairs and ice chest in tow" to watch the game. No one knows for sure who they are, but public address announcer T.D. Smith usually implores fans once a game to wave to the "roof people," and they usually wave back. Wrigley Field doesn’t have the exclusive on this.

19 "50-50"

UL Lafayette’s Diamond Darlings start roaming the stands around the second inning, offering chances on a "split-the-pot" drawing. One ticket is $1, seven go for $5. Half the funds go to the baseball program, and the other half goes to one lucky fan. The pot’s always several hundred dollars, and winners of $600 or more are not uncommon.

18 Watch Justin Destroy Art

After both teams’ pregame warmup, the Moore Field grounds crew "Ragin’ Cajun players and coaches" goes to great lengths to put the infield in immaculate condition. That includes precision work around home plate to chalk the batters’ boxes, a task ruined minutes later when Cajun leadoff hitter Justin Merendino spends several seconds using his feet to obliterate the chalk lines. It’s a source of much consternation to some home-plate umpires.

17 Kids’ Day

Every Sunday just before pregame introductions, all children in the stands are invited to come down to the Cajun dugout on the third-base line, and run out on the field to their position with a player of their choice for the national anthem. The Cajun players, even speed-burning center fielder John Coker, slow it down enough on Sundays to let the kids keep up.

16 "Relief" Pitchers

Not many stadiums sell beer by the pitcher, but you can get the grand slam of suds at the beer stand behind the third-base grandstands. The pitchers are $9 each and work out to be cheaper per serving than the single-cup purchase. You can share with friends in the stands … or not, if it’s a hot day. Just get someone to drive you home.

15 Mr. Tigue’s Pine Trees

Not long after Moore Field opened in 1978, the field’s namesake, M. L. "Tigue" Moore, arranged for pine seedlings to be planted right behind and all the way across the outfield wall. It took several years for the trees to grow enough to be seen over the fence, but now they provide a majestic backdrop to the outfield with the green of the pines in contrast to the red outfield fence. And now, Barbara Szefc, wife of Cajun assistant coach John Szefc and a renowned landscape ecologist, is in the process of adding even more natural beauty to the park.

14 True Student-Athletes

Of the 49 student-athletes involved in the Ragin’ Cajun baseball program, 48 of them had a 2.00 or higher grade point average during the fall semester (the narrow miss was a 1.95). More impressively, 23 of them had 3.00 averages, and 17 made the Dean’s List with a 3.25 or better. Assistant coach Chris Domingue’s academic and life-skills program must work. Four seniors will receive diplomas Sunday in a pregame on-field "mini-graduation," and the other four players who are certain to finish their careers this year are all on track to graduate within the next two semesters.

13 The Speed Gun

Service Chevrolet sponsors the "speed gun," located under the main scoreboard, which allows fans to see the speed of each pitch, a feature not seen at most college parks. It’s not foolproof, since sometimes the readings are a little skewed and a lot of times the speed of the catcher’s throw back to the pitcher is displayed, but it’s still fun.

12 "Louisiana Lightning"

There are two retired jerseys hanging on the center field wall, and they both belong to one man  "Ron Guidry. Louisiana Lightning" crafted his trade with the Cajuns for two years while wearing jersey number 3, and later found greatness with the New York Yankees with jersey number 49. The red "3" and the pinstripes "49" are both displayed, and they mean even more now since Guidry was enshrined in the Yankees’ legendary Monument Park last August.

11 T.D.

His puns are sometimes hokey, but public address announcer T.D. Smith blends the professionalism of the required duties (lineups, batter introductions, inning summaries, etc.) with a dose of fun mixed in. Nobody complains, except maybe for the volume, because he has a voice made for public address. There are also a lot of puns that nobody would know ("Mandy, please come to the press box") unless they hang around the box way too much.

10 Vic the Peanut Man

Vic Kilchrist is as familiar to Cajun baseball fans as anyone in the park. Stationed right at the turn leading from the front entrance to the third-base line, Vic has been dispensing the essential baseball snack food for as long as anyone can remember. His Royal brand peanut roaster is over 115 years old, but still churns out hot, roasted peanuts that are the rival of any in the country. Not pre-packaged and never, ever roasted in advance, his brown-paper-bagged delicacies are a bargain at $2 per bag. When the wind’s just right, you can smell them roasting as far as the first-base grandstands.

9 Oddities

Something unique always seems to happen, such as the Ground-rule Grand-slam rcently.

8 "Scham" Jumps the Wall

When Tony Robichaux goes to the mound to bring in a relief pitcher, if number nine’s warming up, the Moore Field regulars know what’s coming. Senior Kraig Schambough, the "Carencro curveballer," makes his entrance in style, leaping the brick wall that separates the bullpen from left field and sprinting to the mound. He made that jump 25 times last year and 19 times so far this year, he hasn’t missed yet, and the fans never fail to respond.

7 Bring Your Radios

KPEL Radio (ESPN 1420), on many nights, does a trivia contest during the third inning just for fans who are listening to the game broadcast in the park, and offers a unique prize. Whoever gets to the broadcast booth first with the correct answer to a trivia question wins the opportunity to sit in with broadcaster Steve Peloquin during the middle innings when regular play-by-play announcer Jay Walker takes a break (and works the crowd). Most nights, it’s a fun thing. Once, though, a couple of fans may have been under the influence of adult beverage a little too much, and got a little rowdy on-air. That’s the hazards of live radio.

6 Sno-balls

Spearmint with extra juice. Need we say more?

5 Watching Coach Bab hit fungos

Cajun assistant coach Anthony Babineaux is a wonderful human being and a very good baseball coach, and nobody takes as much pride in Moore Field looking good than he does. But when he wraps up hitting pre-game infield to the Cajun defense with pop-ups to the catchers, it’s every man for himself. Coach Bab’s fungos usually wind up either in the stands or somewhere around second base.

4 The Top-Row Guys

Thirty minutes before every game, they’re in their seats, waiting for the starting lineups and armed with the cardboard "K" signs to record every strikeout by a Cajun pitcher. The group, made up mostly of senior citizens and dyed-in-the-wool baseball fans, isn’t bashful about loudly expressing their opinions, even if they’re sometimes not flattering to the home team. And woe to the unfortunate soul who forgets to take his cap off during the national anthem, because Jim Maraist will be all over them. And, speaking of the anthem …

3 Ricochet

The country music group, which hit the charts with a couple of singles in the mid-90s including a gold record with "Daddy’s Money," is on tape prior to every Moore Field game with an a cappella version of The Star Spangled Banner. It’s as good a rendition of the anthem as you’re likely to hear anywhere.

2 The Cooking Club

They’re located down the right-field line … like you’d need directions to find them. The smell alone is usually enough to locate The Cooking Club, which spends most of nine innings surrounding a giant barbecue pit and producing delicacies that aren’t on most backyard grills. But it’s not just for their own enjoyment. After every game, some of the fruits of their labors make their way to the Cajun locker room for a post-game meal.

And, the number one reason we love the "Tigue":

1 Centerfield

John Fogerty’s 1985 ode to baseball is a standard in many parks across the country, but nowhere else does it take on a life of its own as it does when the visiting team makes the final out in the top of the seventh inning. Fans are on their feet and rhythmically clapping before those first few guitar chords blare through the public address system, and they know all the words. Many nights, the loudest noise from the grandstands is when the crowd yells in unison, "Put me in, coach … I’m ready to play, today." Even some of the Cajun players are involved … if they’re leading off the bottom of the seventh, some will take their time before coming to the plate, to give Fogarty time to finish the second verse. Any park can play "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," but few can command the fan to "Look at me … I can be … centerfield."