Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What's in a name

So here are a few things we know today, in no particular order:

1. You can now mention Geno Auriemma and John Wooden in the same breath.

2. An outbreak of tinkly music, "a tradition unlike any other" and references to Amen Corner, Tiger Woods, Magnolia Lane, Tiger Woods and Tiger Woods is imminent.

3. Fort Wayne has another Mr. Basketball (Take a bow, Caleb Swanigan).

4. Baseball!

Which, of course, brings us to what we'd really like to talk about this morning, as the fog lifts and the grass greens up and the mercury heads for the mid-60s, and perhaps the mythic lands beyond.

Call it, "Honors well-bestowed."

The particular honor we're referring to happens April 25, when Concordia High School does what probably should have been years ago, given that  it's so head-slapping obvious. On that day, it will officially dedicate its baseball field in honor of longtime coach Jack Massucci, who coached the Cadets for 34 years before retiring in 1996 with 520 career victories.

There are men (and women) whose names you can't utter without certain associations tagging along, and, in this town, Massucci's is one of them. If you can't think of high school basketball in Fort Wayne without thinking of Glenn Parrish or By Hey or various and sundry Mendenhalls, you can't think of baseball without thinking of Massucci.

Along with Chris Stavreti at Northrop and Bill Derbyshire at Elmhurst, among others, the name and the game are synonymous, and not just because of the 34 years and 520 Ws.  It's because, if Massucci had had an affinity for, say, pinochle instead of baseball, so much would be different here.

 Beyond Concordia High School -- where he won seven conference titles, five sectionals, four regionals and three semistates -- he's been a staunch advocate for baseball in the city in general. He sat on the Fort Wayne Baseball-Softball Commission for 25 years. And he's been involved in Wildcat Baseball for eons, currently serving as its vice-president.

So April 25 is not just about one school and a name going on one baseball diamond. It's about a whole city full of diamonds that wouldn't be as well-populated as they are without that name.

Concordia is a richer place because Massucci landed there, which is why April 25 is happening, and why Massucci's No. 24 is the only number the school has ever retired. But you know what?

So is Fort Wayne.

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