Harold J. Shelly, a fixture in New Orleans press boxes for more than 60 years, died Saturday at his home. He was 94.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
“Mr. Shelly,” as he was affectionately called by all, was the ultimate press box volunteer, starting at Tulane in the 1950s where he remained in charge of issuing credentials until well into this century.
Among other things, Shelly was part of the original stat crew of the Saints and worked in media operations for more than 50 Sugar Bowls.
In 2010, the Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame honored Shelly with the Jimmy Collins award for extraordinary service in New Orleans sports community.
In 2014, Tulane named him an “honorary Tulanian” for his commitment and generosity to Green Wave sports.
“You couldn’t really have many sports events in New Orleans without Harold Shelly being there,” said former Tulane sports information director and Superdome spokesman Bill Curl, whose association with Shelly dated to the 1960s. “To have someone that is knowledgeable about the operations of a press box from the place cards to prioritizing who gets the stats first at the end of the game is invaluable.
“He was a part of everything.”
Shelly’s contributions to local sports went beyond press box operations.
A Coast Guard veteran of World War II, he served as the Louisiana Boys State chairman for American Legion Post for more than 45 years. In 1985, he received the Mike Gehr Blue Cap Award for Louisiana, making him to this date the only winner from Post 307. He recently received recognition from the national American Legion for 70 years of service to the organization.
Shelly was also the designated Legionnaire for the De La Salle American Legion baseball teams and funded several Legion teams out of his own pocket.
Fulfilling his wishes, Shelly will be buried wearing a maroon De La Salle blazer.
It was through the American Legion that Shelly began a long friendship with Louis “Rags” Scheuermann, the longtime Delgado and New Orleans All-American League baseball coach.
Shelly would make 18 trips to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for the All-American World Series and just three weeks before his death attended the Grand Slam fundraiser for the All-American League.
“He introduced me and a lot of others to becoming runners in the press box,” said Joe Scheuermann, who succeeded his father as the Delgado coach. “He always made sure things were done right.”
That, Scheuermann said, came from Shelly’s career at Chevron where he organized files in those pre-computer days.
During Katrina, when a number of locals initially evacuated to Greenwood, Mississippi, he assisted with the Red Cross operations there, organizing folders on those in need of aid.
Born in New Orleans on Nov. 25, 1922, Shelly was a graduate of S.J. Peters High School and was an usher at St. Matthias Church for nearly 60 years.
Shelly, who never married, is survived by a number of cousins.
But Joe Scheuermann said Shelly was considered a family member by many, especially his own.
“He ate with us every Thanksgiving,” he said. “He was like a second father to me.
“I don’t think Harold Shelly ever had a bad thing to say about anybody. He was a true gentleman who had incredibly good run.”