The atmosphere engulfing University of Louisville home baseball games is contagious. A fun place to be, especially while UofL was winning 33 of 34 games at Jim Patterson Stadium this season.
Integral to the atmosphere is the organ music offered up by Al Greener, the director of the UofL Pep Band. He is part of a vanishing breed, playing the organ at college baseball games these days.
“No place I would rather be,” he said recently. “It’s a great job, doing what you love, cheering on your favorite team,”
Greener has an encyclopedic knowledge of popular songs covering several decades. He’s also got a response for every play and any situation it seems, as well as for descriptive player names and a wide range of diamond dramatics.
Who is the No. 1 fan of the University of Louisville? Far be it for me to presume who should be given that distinction. There would be so many extraordinary candidates, each of them fiercely loyal to UofL athletics.
It could even be a group of fans, possibly the Red Rage Tailgate team, headed by James Durst, Josh Stinson and Dave Magee, with their converted bus serving free Bloody Marys, doughnuts, hamburgers, ribs and hot dogs to UofL fans at home and away football games.
How about Ron Thomas who drives the antique fire truck loaded with fans circling the Green Lot with sirens blaring before each home football game.
Or Ken Richardson, of the End Zone Express, who has converted a former EMS vehicle into the ultimate tailgating machine with a state-of-the-art sound system?
A challenging season for Kyle Funkhouser who chose to play his senior year with the University of Louisville baseball team after being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers last year.
The low point came during a 16-8 loss to Florida State in early April. Funkhouser gave up eight runs in two innings, including a grand slam home run in that game. It was his second loss in three games, things were looking grim.
The UofL righthander may have been having second thoughts about turning down a million-dollar-plus signing bonus. He had returned to UofL this season remembering some rough spots at the end of last season, knowing he needed to improve, wanting to get better.
Coach Dan McDonnell recognized what Funkhouser was going through, relieving some of the pressure on him by switching him from first to third in the starting pitcher rotation. Since then, Funkhouser has won four straight games to raise his won-lost record to 7-3 for the season.
Funkhouser was at his best Sunday on Senior Day, leaving the mound to the sounds of a standing ovation from the crowd of 3,341. Funkhouser was in total command, striking out eight batters allowing a good North Carolina State team only two hits in a 6-1 win for Louisville.
The win was the 33rd for Funkhouser in four seasons, making him the all-time winningest pitcher in Louisville baseball history. He also leads in strikeouts with a total of 359 of them.
Two other seniors coming through, including first baseman Danny Rosenbaum who was 2-for-4 at the plate and reliever Anthony Kidston, who struck out two batters in the ninth inning.
The game gave Louisville a clean sweep of the three-game series against the college baseball’s 10th-ranked team.
The All-American and team captain is back in the University of Louisville baseball team’s lineup after missing 18 games. An eternity in college baseball, especially when the player in question is the team’s most prolific hitter. He was batting .461 when he suffered a hand injury on March 26 against Virginia.
Solak says he is feeling no pain in his hand. “Just kind of picking up where I left off and getting on base, scoring runs, playing good defense, being a leader in the infield and on the team – if I stick to that I think I can help the team win,” he told the Courier-Journal.
So how did every University of Louisville fan’s favorite NBA player fare during his third season with Minnesota Timberwolves?
That would be Gorgui Dieng, of course.
Dieng, who left UofL following the 2013 NCAA championship, continued to improve. He posted his best numbers thus far, playing in all 82 games for Minnesota, in 39 of them as a starter. He averaged 10.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.