Hundreds of Deer Park baseball fans and area residents lined Center Street and packed the South Campus Café as the community saluted the state champion Deer baseball team. The team was honored with proclamations from local and state officials as well as multi-time world champion Andy Pettitte.
The celebration of the Deer state baseball champions continued Monday night with a community-wide parade and celebration.
Following a victory parade on Center Street, hundreds of members of the Deer Park community packed the South Campus to celebrate the team and its first-ever state baseball championship.
Deer Park ISD Superintendent Victor White harkened the words of Terrance Mann from Field of Dreams in welcoming the crowd and the team.
“The one constant through the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time,” he said. “People will most definitely come.”
White commended the community to attending along with the cheerleaders and band performing at the event in the middle of the summer.
To honor the team, the Deer Park athletic program harkened to its past, as former Deer Park pitcher and multi-time World Series champion Andy Pettitte spoke about the team.
“I could not be more proud and the way the community backs this team is absolutely amazing,” he said.
Pettitte, who pitched on the 1990 Deer Park team that lost in the state championship game, said he understood the journey of a high school baseball player and the work they put in from January until June.
“There were 250 or so 6A schools in the state of Texas and you guys came out on top. To see you what you have been accomplished is exciting. Deer Park is super proud of you,” he said.
Pettitte and members of the three other state tournament teams – 1964, 1975 and 1990— were also honored at the event.
The team was presented several proclamations and letters of congratulations from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Texas Senator John Cornyn, US Representative Brian Babin, State Senator Larry Taylor, State Representatives Briscoe Cain and Mary Ann Perez, Harris County Commissioner Jack Morman, the cities of Deer Park and La Porte and the Deer Park Chamber of Commerce.
Following the presentation of the proclamations, an emotional Deer head coach Chris Rupp talked about the team’s journey from being ranked the No. 1 team in the nation last season and not reaching the state playoffs to a dark horse underdog team that exceeded expectations.
Rupp thanked the Deer Park community, school administration, coaches, parents and anyone who coached the players in their formative years.
“This championship didn’t just start in January. It started way back in Little League where they learned fundamentals and commitment and working together,” he said.
Rupp said Deer Park’s baseball tradition was set forth years ago. Although the teams did not win a state title until this year, those teams still earned other championships. That championship tradition has given Deer Park athletes motivation to aspire to higher levels.
“This championship started with those guys and coaches who were a part of this program years ago,” he said.
Rupp said he is also proud that his team realizes that it represents not only the Deer Park baseball program, but also the school, its tradition, the parents and community.
“There’s a lot of character on this team and these guys want to please everyone and show you that they and the city of Deer Park can be a champion. They play for the right reasons,” he said.
This year’s championship run also started last year when a disappointed Deer baseball team walked off the field at the University of Houston and not go to the state tournament, he said.
“That’s part of baseball. That’s part of learning and building character, and that’s what these young men did. That was motivation,” he said, with his voice wavering. “It showed these guys how close we were and if we got that one extra hit and that one extra pitch we could get there and we could get back and we did and now we’re state champions.”