Baseball: Holy Cross, Riverdale honor Gary Cannizaro

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Gary Cannizaro, Sean Temple
Gary Cannizaro is presented with his jersey No. 15 by Riverdale coach Sean Temple.

Andy Cannizaro took over as the head baseball coach at Holy Cross in 2019.

That rekindled a family legacy at the storied school.

A 1972 graduate of Holy Cross, Gary Cannizaro, Andy’s father was a star for the Tigers.

Affectionately known as “Cat,” the elder Cannizaro starred for the Tigers and then at Southern Miss, where he was later inducted into the Golden Eagles Athletic Hall of Fame.

Gary Cannizaro was the first head baseball coach at Riverdale from 1981-84, starting the baseball program for the Rebels.

Tuesday night at Tiger Park, the two programs linked to Cannizaro came together for a game, won by Holy Cross 14-2 in a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule as the Cats won the game for “Cat.”

The Tigers (11-3) won their fifth straight game and will host Pope John Paul II today in a game moved up to 4 p.m. due to expected bad weather in the evening. The Rebels (4-6) dropped their third straight game and will open District 8-5A play next Tuesday at East Jefferson at 4 p.m.

While the current Tigers won the game convincingly over the current Rebels, both programs scored a win on this night, thanks to Riverdale head coach and athletic director Sean Temple, along with the Cannizaro family.

“Andy reached out to me last year to see if we wanted to play a game,” Temple said. “It was going to be at Holy Cross and this year was going to be our home game since it is the 40th year of athletics at Riverdale High School. We felt it would be cool to do something for Gary. Last season was interrupted. We decided to play at Holy Cross. Andy asked about having his dad throw out the first pitch.”

Then, Temple surprised Cat with a special gift.

“We presented with a Riverdale jersey with his number 15,” Temple said. “It was special to honor him with such a rich history with both programs. He kind of had tears in his eyes when we presented the jersey to him. He walked toward our dugout and talked to our team for a brief second. He told our guys that he did know them but told them how proud of them he was, to see how the program had progressed in 40 years.”

Andy Cannizaro was beaming with pride about the evening.

“It was special to honor my dad,” the younger Cannizaro said. “I have a lot of really cool memories about those years. I thought it was wonderful that Sean wanted to do this. We could not have a better night to do this on. Being a Holy Cross alum, pulling for Holy Cross, having his son as the current coach and being the godfather of Riverdale and building the program from the ground up, this was just a great night to honor dad.”

For the record, Gary Cannizaro’s first pitch was a strike.

“I threw it with all I had,” the elder Cannizaro said. “I probably threw it about 30-35 miles-per-hour. I figured I have one bolt left and I used. It was the first time I ever threw out a first pitch. I think I got a little emotional.

At first, I thought it was just a fun thing to do. I went to the mound with Andy bringing me to the mound. When I saw Sean coming out with that jersey, it made me emotional. It was unbelievable. I felt this wash coming over me. It was special. Sean is so positive and doing a great job. I am so grateful.”

Andy Cannizaro, Gary Cannizaro, Sean Temple
L to R: Andy Cannizaro, Gary Cannizaro, Sean Temple

Cannizaro reminisced about when he was the head coach of the Rebels.

“I was a young guy, so happy to have the job at Riverdale,” Cannizaro said. “I was 24 of 25 years-old. I think I had a 20-man varsity with 15 to 18 players on the junior varsity. Those numbers shrunk by the time I departed. The competition we played was very tough as public schools were very good at East Jeff, Bonnabel, West Jeff, Ehret and others. I will always cherish those days and the opportunity.”

For the record, the night was a big hit.

For the record, congratulations to Holy Cross and Riverdale for reaching out and touching a man who touched both programs in significant fashion. It was class personified.

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Ken Trahan


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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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