So, this was the scene: In the spring of 1986, Pattonville was hosting De Smet in the district final. De Smet led 2-1 in the sixth. There was a man on second and two outs. DeSmet elected to pitch to Scott Cooper, who had homered earlier in the game. Bad idea. Cooper hit the ball 400 feet on the track by the football field. Pattonville won 3-2.
Frank Cusumano, Andrea Griffith, Trish Muyco-Tobin with representatives from Charity Awards winners Rx Outreach, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Doorways
Frank and Monique Cusumano, John Siefert
If you factor in everything Jim Hanifan—who spent 30 years overall in the NFL—has done, he is the most distinguished professional football coach in our town’s history.
Gary Kolarcik, Frank Cusumano
Kids today are spoiled. When I was growing up, the Cardinals went without a post season from 1969 ‘til 1982. The Cardinals have been to the post season ten times since the year 2000. Kids expect it. They think if the Cardinals are not playing in October, there must be something wrong.
Frank Viverito is trying to bring back another Final Four to St. Louis. But the stakes have changed: The event transcends sports. The city of Dallas estimates that they will have an economic impact of $276 million at its Final Four this year.
Of all the people playing professional sports in our town, Trevor Rosenthal may be the most gifted. And by the end of this season, he may be the best closer in baseball. LN contributor Frank Cusumano caught up with him in Jupiter.
Expectations have followed him everywhere. Whether as the second pick in the NHL draft in 1993 or when he was traded for a popular All-Star like Brendan Shanahan, Chris Pronger knew he had to perform. Some cave under the pressure, but Pronger thrived. All he did was make six All-Star games, win two gold medals at the Olympics, a Stanley Cup, a Norris Trophy for being the top defenseman, and a Hart Trophy for being the Most Valuable Player.
Chris Sloan grew up in St. Charles County and already has a lot of life in 31 years. He began it by developing into the best basketball player in Francis Howell North history, scoring almost 1,900 hundred points and leading the school to its only Final Four appearence. At Saint Louis University, he started more than 100 games for three years. He scored 700 points, grabbed 400 rebounds and dished out 150 assists. The 6-foot, 7-inch Sloan was a coach's dream for Lorenzo Romar and Brad Soderberg.
Of all the people who have ever played high school football in our area, I think what T. J. Moe did his senior year stacks up against anybody—anybody. Read closely: At Fort Zumwalt West in 2008, he scored 61 touchdowns. That is not a career, that is a single season. Only Roger Maris has had a more impressive 61. Moe threw for 2,557 yards, and he ran for 2,029 yards. Throw in a perfect grade point average and a pretty good basketball career, and you have a pretty nice high-school experience.
In almost every sport, bigger is better. While there are plenty of examples of guys who are not tall who have thrived, it's just a little easier if you are blessed with size. Johnny Hellweg was blessed with size.
The best pitcher on Planet Earth right now is from our town. Max Scherzer is throwing a baseball better than anybody in the world. He's the pride of Parkway Central. He was a standout there, but nobody anticipated this: Scherzer leads the American League in wins and whip, and is second in strikeouts. He is the winningest pitcher in baseball in the last two years.
You see his name often in the paper. And usually, there is just a number after it, like 68 or 69. That guy is Skip Berkmeyer, and he is to local golf what Tiger Woods was once to professional golf.
Brandon Bollig is the first St. Louis-area high school kid to have his name on the Stanley Cup. Just imagine how many kids have grown up playing hockey in our town's history, but there is only one with his name on that trophy.
If anybody was destined to have a career in sports, it was Jay Delsing. But Jay decided not hit curve balls or blast penalty kids: He wanted to hit wedges.
Imagine this life if you will: You are a senior in high school. You can throw a fastball 90-plus miles per hour. You are a starter on a very good basketball team. And you also happen to be one of the better quarterbacks in the Midwest.
If the good Lord were to give me one perfect day, it would be to have my father back, and the two of us would head to Busch Stadium for Opening Day. Alzheimers took him from us six years ago. The disease may destroy memories, but it won't erase a single second of the time the two of us spent at the ballpark together.
Frank Cusumano and his dad taking in a game at Wrigley Field
Ryan Robertson arguably posted the best career stats of any high school player in our town's history. Now that he's returned home, Robertson is coaching his children's basketball teams.
If there is anybody who had a more exciting prep career in West County over the last quarter of a century than Bobby Keppel, I would like to meet him. In 1999, Keppel was a star 6-foot-5-inch junior point guard for the De Smet Spartans. In the state championship game, De Smet squared off against the big, bad Vashon Wolverines, who had beaten them badly the year before. Keppel exploded for 19 points in the first half, and De Smet went on to win the state title, 70 to 64. Then in his senior year, Keppel won another state championship—this one was in baseball. Keppel was a flame-throwing righthander who threw 94 on the radar gun and hit homeruns with regularity. When he was on the mound, major league scouts always were behind the plate, all holding up radar guns.
When Mark Cusumano walks through the dining room of Kemoll’s, he often pauses under a portrait of his grandmother, Doris. Eighty-six years ago, Doris and Joe Kemoll opened a restaurant that would become one of St. Louis’ most renowned fine dining establishments, and Cusumano understands the importance of carrying on his grandparents’ legacy. “Whenever I walk by, I can’t help but think, How am I doing, Grandma?”
Sports today has become specialized—too specialized. Because of the popularity of select sports, kids are forced to quit sports they are proficient in so they can make that fifth select hockey, soccer or basketball practice of the week. That's why stories like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders don't happen much anymore. In high school, it's tough to be really good at two sports. In college, the two-sport athlete is almost non-existent.