March 27, 2002
Carol J. Schlueter
The lure of baseball is simple, really. The smack of a well-hit ball and the joy of the fans when it clears the fence. Smells of peanuts and hot dogs. Cheers for the clean-up hitter when the bases are loaded. It could be Fenway Park or Camden Yards or Zephyr Field.
But right now it's Turchin Stadium when the Tulane Green Wave plays a home game. The fans are there, filling the grandstand and the bleachers. They remember Tulane's first-ever trip to the College World Series last year and they want another chance to be champions.
"It's the best of all time," said a happy Vince Granito, associate athletics director for internal affairs. "We've about tripled our season ticket base from last year. We've reached the high-water mark in this program's history."
But Tulane baseball has long had a strong following on campus, from a group of never-say-die fans who, with their families, make Green Wave baseball a top priority. They know everyone associated with the team--coaches, players and their families. They even know their seat numbers in Turchin Stadium.
Take Eva Martinez, for example. She's the manager of development research in institutional advancement. Once she's in her seat in Turchin Stadium, she and her son, Andrew, are busy keeping score ("Don't talk to us," she warns.) They take delight in charting each hit, run and out. Along with her husband, Andrew, associate dean of engineering, they have made Tulane baseball a family tradition. About seven years ago, when her son was 7, they started going to Green Wave games.
"Even though he was just a little kid, we came to every home game because they needed people in the stands," Eva remembered. "There is no place finer to be than in Turchin Stadium when the day is beautiful, watching this fantastic team that is so good," she said. "It is truly baseball at its purest. It's like the world slows down."
Maria Cali is another fan who keeps track of the scoring at games. Maria, senior program coordinator in internal medicine at the health sciences center, and her husband, Joseph, also love to travel with the team to out-of-state games.
"We've both been Tulane fans since we were young," Cali said. "We grew up in the Carrollton area. When we were dating in high school, our Friday night dates were baseball games."
Joseph Cali got his undergraduate and master's degrees in engineering at Tulane, and later an MBA. Their Tulane ties are so strong that they have season tickets in men's and women's basketball, football and, of course, baseball. Maria has a color-coded calendar to keep up with it all. She admires the hard work by baseball players to maintain their academic work despite the many games and travel.
"The baseball team is always best academically. That's attributable to their drive and integrity." What are the team's chances this year? Cali's answer is immediate: "We're going to Omaha and this year we're going to win it all."
Diane Lenz, senior program coordinator in the Coordinated Instrumention Facility, and her family have followed Tulane baseball for years. She remembers days when the booster club held barbecues after baseball games for players and coaches, long before Turchin had lights for night play.
"I've been out there in the cold and in the heat," she said. "It's relaxing, yet exciting. It's not like the intensity of football. But at the games you get to visit with lots of old friends."
Charlotte Travieso, director of alumni affairs, is another Tulanian whose ties to baseball are strong. "My father had no sons," she said. "I started memorizing baseball statistics at 8 years old so I could talk to my father. He would take me and my sisters to see (New Orleans minor league team) the Pelicans play."
She loves to be in Turchin Stadium, cheering on the players. "They are great ambassadors for Tulane, every single one of them." Travieso was in Omaha last year for Tulane's "unbelievably thrilling" College Word Series appearance. Their chances for returning? "Excellent. Superb." And speaking for every Green Wave fan, she added, "I really want to go back to Omaha."
Carol Schlueter may be reached at email@example.com
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org