LOU SCHWECHHEIMER Jr. 1957-2020
LOU SCHWECHHEIMER Jr. Minor League Baseball Executive Lou Schwechheimer Jr., a well-respected Minor League Baseball executive for more than four decades, passed away on Wednesday, July 29 from complications related to COVID-19 at the age of 62. Lou is survived by his wife Jane and daughter Jenn of Wakefield, RI;
LOU SCHWECHHEIMER Jr.
Minor League Baseball Executive
Lou Schwechheimer Jr., a well-respected Minor League Baseball executive for more than four decades, passed away on Wednesday, July 29 from complications related to COVID-19 at the age of 62.
Lou is survived by his wife Jane and daughter Jenn of Wakefield, RI; brother John and his wife Nell from Essex, MA; brother Tom and his wife Betsy from Hampton, NH; sister Anita and her husband Glenn from Rowley, MA; and 12 nieces and nephews.
Lou also leaves numerous colleagues and contemporaries throughout baseball, an industry he dedicated his entire adult life to. Known for his effervescent personality and easygoing nature, Lou was a renowned storyteller who enjoyed regaling baseball fans of all ages with tales from his vast reservoir of experiences in the game. Whenever he was called Mr. Schwechheimer, he would simply smile and say, “please call me Lou – it’s a lot easier!”
Schwechheimer enjoyed a decorated career with the Pawtucket Red Sox spanning 37 years, including a long stint as the club’s general manager from 1986-2015. After leaving Boston’s Triple-A affiliate following the 2015 season, Lou formed a group that purchased two minor league franchises, the New Orleans Zephyrs in the Pacific Coast League and the Charlotte Stone Crabs in the Florida State League. The New Orleans franchise was rebranded as the Baby Cakes prior to moving to Wichita after the 2019 season where it is known as the Wind Surge.
Schwechheimer oversaw the construction of the sparkling new Riverfront Stadium in Wichita’s downtown. The ballpark would have hosted its first game on April 14 but for the cancellation of the Minor League Baseball season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Born on September 14, 1957 in Newburyport, MA to Ludwig Sr. and Marion, Ludwig Herman Schwechheimer, Jr. began his career with the PawSox as a college intern in 1979. After graduating with a degree in Communications from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, he joined the PawSox full time in 1980. He served as the club’s Director of Public Relations from 1981-83 and Assistant General Manager from 1984-85. In 1986 he was promoted to Vice President & General Manager and eventually became a part-owner of the club.
Lou, who immersed himself in the Rhode Island community, was an integral member of the PawSox ownership group, teaming with majority owner Ben Mondor and team President (and current Vice Chairman) Mike Tamburro to turn what was once a bankrupt franchise into one of the most respected and successful clubs in all of Minor League Baseball.
With Lou as the driving force, the PawSox went from drawing just over 100,000 fans in 1979 to 560,000 fans or more for 15 straight years (1999-2013). During that period the team also enjoyed a stretch of six straight seasons (2004-2009) with attendance of more than 600,000. In Lou’s 37-year tenure, Pawtucket drew nearly 17 million fans to McCoy Stadium.
Lou’s efforts in Pawtucket were recognized with several awards including International League Executive of the Year honors in both 1987 and 1992 (as selected by the League’s Board of Directors). In addition, the Boston Baseball Writers Association tabbed Lou as their 1988 Baseball Executive of the Year and in 1992 he was chosen by “The Sporting News” for their coveted Minor League Executive of the Year Award. In June 2019, Lou was enshrined in the International League Hall of Fame, becoming just the seventh executive in the league’s 136-year history to be so honored.
An Eagle Scout himself, Lou was especially pleased to foster a long relationship with area Boy and Girl Scouts. He was the mastermind of the popular Scout Sleepovers that became a summer tradition following Saturday night games at McCoy Stadium for more than 25 years. Another highlight from his time with Pawtucket included the Longest Game in Professional Baseball history - a 3-2 PawSox victory over the Rochester Red Wings that took 33-innings and two months to complete - April 18-19 and June 23 of 1981.
Schwechheimer was one of the driving forces behind McCoy Stadium’s renovation and expansion project that culminated with the opening of the “New McCoy” in April 1999. Lou also secured amateur international games for McCoy including USA Baseball’s collegiate teams versus Chinese Taipei in 2000 and Italy in 2005. He expanded stadium offerings beyond baseball bringing numerous concerts and other special events to Pawtucket.
Perhaps his greatest accomplishment and most lasting legacy, beyond his family, are the dozens of young men and women he hired, trained, motivated and mentored during his decades with the PawSox. He loved the game of baseball and wanted others to have the opportunity he felt fortunate to have had. Many of his disciples found success with other professional sports organizations throughout New England and the country. Others remain with Pawtucket while several followed him to Port Charlotte, New Orleans and Wichita.
When Schwechheimer stepped down as general manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox after the 2015 season, it signaled the end of a memorable era. The New Englander who grew up a diehard Red Sox fan said at the time, “The way I look at it now is that I was given the opportunity of a lifetime. The trust that families with young kids, grandparents, and young couples on their first date placed in us … it was like every night (at McCoy Stadium) was a slice of a Norman Rockwell painting.”
Celebrations of Life for Lou will be held in both Rhode Island and Wichita, Kansas at dates to be determined. The family is in the process of setting up a foundation in Lou’s name to benefit the youth in the communities he touched. Contributions to the foundation may be made once details are announced. Cards of condolences can be sent to Riverfront Stadium 275 S McLean Blvd Wichita, KS 67213 or CBI Investors Limited Partnership PO Box 40010 Providence, RI 02940.