Cyril Kirsch and Robert Rooney were two local neighborhood boys.
Cy and Bob, as they were known to family and friends, were two graduates of Jesuit High School who lettered together on the Blue Jays’ offensive line on the varsity football team. Although they graduated two years apart, they went on to continue their football careers at the collegiate level. Kirsch traveled to Auburn University, while Rooney was accepted to the University of West Point.
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, both men entered military service for the U.S. Army. Four years later in March 1945, as the war was reaching its end, Robert Rooney, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, had just completed his last mission on his final tour of duty, when his plane collided with that of another flight leader, killing both instantly.
One month later, Cyril Kirsch was shot and killed by an enemy sniper while on a mission in Okinawa, Japan. Both Kirsch and Rooney were awarded the Medal of Honor after their deaths.
In 1957, as the new baseball stadium adjacent to Delgado was nearing completion and dedication, the New Orleans City Council adopted an ordinance to name the ballpark “Kirsch-Rooney Stadium” in honor of the two native New Orleanians who had played on the site as youths and paid the ultimate price for their country.
As they say, the rest is history. Now the home of the Delgado Dolphins and New Orleans Baseball, the Stadium is nearing its 57th season of operation and constant use. In a day where stadiums and buildings bear the names of corporations or donors, Kirsch-Rooney Stadium still bears the the moniker of two true local heroes.
Next time you pass through the front gates,look up at the familiar façade and say a quiet thank you…not only their sacrifice, but for the sacrifice of all of our veterans, the quiet heroes who make the simple things like a baseball game possible.
Happy Veteran’s Day!