Pro team has ties to LaPlace

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 20, 2003

By GEORGE MAHL-Sports Editor

HOUMA – Gus Brown Jr loves baseball. Whether it was coaching, playing or watching his sons play, Brown always wanted to be involved in some aspect.

In August of 2002, Brown was watching his two sons, Eric and Todd, play for the Baton Rouge River Bats of the Southeastern League of Professional Baseball, a league which already included franchises in Baton Rouge, Pensacola and Selma.

“I used to help out with the team (River Bats) when my sons played. I was a batboy, I’d go out and retreive a foul ball and I was even a waterboy. I just wanted to be involved,” recalls Brown. It struck him at a game in Pensacola. “I said to one of my sons ‘I wonder what it would take to own a team in this league.’ Brown’s question was heard by SLPB Commissioner James Gamble. “He heard me and responded by saying ‘you have to have a love for people.’

The former South Terrebonne High School coach then decided to think about it with his family before making any decisions. “I think we met for nine hours,” he said.

In October 2002, an agreement had been reached by league and Brown. At that point, the Houma Hawks were born. To say the least, Houma had been suffering from a dry spell in terms of baseball in the area. The last baseball franchise in Houma was in 1952, a semi-pro league team.

Local flavor

Both Eric and Todd Brown played baseball and graduated from East St. John High School.

“I think the East St. John baseball program is a great program,” Brown said. “They won two state championships (’90 and ’92) while my sons played.” Marketing director Kelly Lusco, coach Dan Gaskill, and others also have ties to the River Parishes.

“We are hoping to spread the word throughtout LaPlace and other places down there,” said Gaskill. ” One of the goals I’d like to achieve is to have a shuttle that goes from LaPlace to Houma so people can come see the games,” he said. In addition, catcher Tharun Anderson, Calvin Lee and Mervyn Williams (outfielder) all have ties to the Tri-Parish area.

“Even our public address announcer here is from LaPlace,” explained Gaskill.

Doing the right thing

Brown said one of the reasons he got interested in this is because he loves baseball and wanted to give back to the community.

“I am trying to help our community out. I want to go to functions with these players and get to know these fans that come out to support us,” he said.

On the teams website, the Hawks mission statement says “To use baseball as a vehicle to model, mentor and teach individuals to enhance ‘Quality of Life’ for all.” One of the things Brown is proud of is the team will be donating 10% to the United Way.

“The players want to be involved in this sort of thing.

One day we visited hospitals when the players were not required to and every player showed up,” Brown observed. “I am not only recruiting athletes, but also good people.”

(See HAWKS, Page 8A)