Connick Swings Into Luray

7/01/05 – Daily News Record

Son Of A Famous Family Can Play Ball, Too By Michael Rothstein Daily News Record Luray – Peter Connick, Jr.. Hasn’t met Will Smith or Sandra Bullock, like his sister did. He didn’t intern with a United States Senator, like another relative did. He never went on tour with his second cousin, Harry Connick, Jr., either. This Connick stayed home. Played baseball. Became the athletic kid in one of New Orleans’ most renouned families. This summer, he’s playing for the Luray Wranglers. "He’s the one that’s been playing baseball his whole life," Peter’s cousin, college student Brendan Connick, said by telephone. "Of the ones our age, he’s definitely the athletic one." The family Connick is like royalty to New Orleans. They are involved in law – Peter’s father, Peter Connick Sr., is an attorney and his cousin is former New Orleans District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. Others are politicians. Then there is Harry Jr., a world-famous actor and musician. Peter Jr., meanwhile, plays ball – and does it well. He redshirted his freshman year as a left-handed pitcher forTulane last spring and is playing in the NCAA-sanctioned Valley League with Luray this summer. Connick arrived late, taking a detour to Omaha, Neb., where the Green Wave made its second appearance at the College World Series. He has been in the Shenandoah Valley only a few days and has yet to pitch a game. "Being at the College World Series, flying out there on planes they chartered for us, you can see the field as you fly in, it’s an incredible experience," Connick said. "You walk in front of the statues in from of the stadium and it’s unbelievable. It’s a dream for every college baseball player." Not bad for a kid who a month earlier had just made the travel roster. Early on this season, Connick knew he’d be redshirted. But then he started pitching in intrasquad games at Tulane, doing so well that his coaches asked him to be on the postseason travel roster as a left-handed specialist – risking his redshirt year. The Green Wave never inserted him into a game – preserving all four years of his eligibility – but Connick clearly enjoyed his trip to Nebraska. "It’s just like one of those things when you’re there you appreciate it, but you don’t take it in until you’re on the plane coming home," Connick said. "Being there, it’s unbelievable. That’s something that will help me and the rest of the people down the line." The 6 foot, 175 pound 19-year-old wasn’t a big-time recruit out of Jesuit (La) high school. A Tulane coach saw him at a summer-league game and offered him a scholarship on a Friday. Connick accepted three days later. Luray found him in a similar way. Connick signed his Valley League contract with a month left in Tulane’s season. Wranglers recruiting coordinator Gerald Harman said the team added him, in part, because it wanted another left-hander. It also helped that he had CWS experience and that his coach Rick Jones, is a Sperryville native. "The thing I like about him, he throws pretty well," Harman said. "He’s got a few things to work on, but his ball explodes. "He’s just got to fine-tune himself." Connick went to Tulane, in part, because he wanted his father to continue to see him play The Connick family is closer than most – both in distance and bonding. Connick estimates he has 30 – something first cousins, many of whom live in New Orleans or its suburbs. For many Green Wave games this year, he had between eight and 10 family members in attendance, even though he rode the bench. "We get together often," Peter Sr. said. "My immediate family, most of us are still in New Orleans. For the fourth, we’ll all get together. We have had Connick family reunions. They are at Harry Jr.’s place in Poplarville, Miss., – at his ranch." Being a Connick in New Orleans has its disadvantages, though. It’s like celebrity status, Brendan said. If a Connick gets in trouble, it makes news. Besides Harry Jr., most of the more famous Connicks made names for themselves in law. That’s where Peter Jr. sees himself once baseball is over. He plans to go to law school and then go into practice with Brendan, just like their fathers did. Law is the family business. "It’s what we all come back to," Connick said.