Class of 1943
Inducted in 2013
Joe was inducted into the SHSAA Packer Sports Greats in 2013.
Joe Cupich died 7-7-12 at age 86 and on that day the local baseball community lost one of its pioneers He devoted his life to kids and baseball and was known as “Mr. Baseball.” Cupich served for 20 years on the Nebraska American Legion Athletic Commission, including four times as chairman. Cupich, a lifelong bachelor, graduated from Omaha University (now UNO). He served in the US Navy during World War II and was later active in several Catholic organizations, including filling in for altar boys at Sts. Peter & Paul’s Church during his daily Mass routine.
He succeeded Charlie Mancuso as the director of the Omaha Parks and Recreation Department in 1959 and took over for Chip Bowley as the city’s American Legion baseball commissioner in 1963. Cupich and Legion Post No. 1 were awarded the prestigious Commissioner’s Award in 1983 by the then Major League Commissioner Bowie Kuhn for having the best American Legion baseball program in the nation. His official role with the American Legion began in 1962, but his ties to Legion baseball dated to 1940. That’s when he played for the SHS team that won the Legion State championship.
in 1973, he was instrumental in launching the Collin-Orcutt All-Star Game – an event for high school seniors that marked the unofficial start of the American Legion summer baseball season. He also helped create the multiple-team Legion tournaments that coincide with the College World Series, events that lure hundreds of players and coaches to Omaha during the summer.
He was the driving force behind the creation of Seymour Smith Park, which has been home to baseball and softball teams for many years. Cupich also has an impact on the national high school baseball scene. After seeing an Omaha team lose a coin flip that would have guaranteed a bye into the championship game of the double-elimination tournament, Cupich campaigned for the last remaining unbeaten team at the tourney to automatically receive the bye.
In addition to his strong baseball background, Cupich was a longtime youth wrestling director and hockey commissioner.