ELMER KOSUB 1922-2018

Kosub left mark on S.A. baseball



After starring at Alamo Heights as an infielder in the early 1960s, Billy Grabarkewitz hoped to land a scholarship to play baseball at a Southwest Conference school.

But with Grabarkewitz standing just 5-foot-5½ and weighing 150 pounds, Texas and Texas A&M were only willing to give him a partial scholarship with no guarantees for playing time.

“They both looked at me like I was a leprechaun,” he said.

The reception he received at St. Mary’s University from Rattlers coach Elmer Kosub, though, was quite different.

“He believed in me and let me play, and for that, I was eternally grateful,” said Grabarkewitz, an NAIA All-America honoree for St. Mary’s in 1966.

Kosub, who forged a 501-348 record in 27 seasons at St. Mary’s, died Aug. 22 at an assisted living facility with family members present. He was 95.

Under Kosub, the Rattlers won or shared 16 Big State Conference championships and appeared in the NAIA College World Series in 1976. Among the stars he coached were Grabarkewitz, who was an All-Star for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1970, and Danny Heep, who played 13 Major League seasons and won World Series titles with the New York Mets in 1986 and the Dodgers in 1988.

And Kosub accomplished all of it while dealing with tight budgets at the Catholic and Marianist private school on the West Side.

“Elmer wanted so much to make St. Mary’s a really big baseball school, and during the two years I was there, we played against Southwest Conference schools and (other major programs),” said Grabarkewitz, who grew to 5-10, 165 pounds while a Rattler.

Kosub headed the baseball program at St. Mary’s — his alma mater — from 1957 to 1960 and 1964 to 1986 and was athletic director from 1961 to 1976. But his legacy goes well beyond his impressive work with the Rattlers.

In the late 1960s, Kosub was one of the driving forces behind the construction of V.J. Keefe Stadium on the school’s campus, a project that paved the way for San Antonio to regain membership in the Texas League after three years without a minor league team.

According to the book “San Antonio at Bat: Professional Baseball in the Alamo City” by baseball historian and former Express-News reporter David King, Kosub headed a group of a dozen or so former players, St. Mary’s alumni and local business leaders that developed a plan to renovate the “little ballpark on campus to make it usable for the Texas League team.”

Kosub stocked the stadium with lights and other equipment he scrounged from various stadiums around the state.

“He took matters into his own hands and drove some of the trucks to get the equipment here,” Kosub’s son John Kosub said. “He had an extensive network of friends and contacts in the baseball world that could help him get things done.”

Kosub also was a key figure for years in international baseball, teaching the sport in Mexico, Korea, Taiwan, Guatemala, Japan and the Philippines. He was an assistant coach on the U.S. Olympic demonstration baseball team in 1968 in Mexico City, a job that began a long association with Olympic baseball.

“Everything was baseball with him,” Heep said. “There was nothing else.”

Said John Kosub, “He definitely would eat, sleep and breath baseball, but he also took care of his family and did the things he needed to do for his children to be successful and have a good life.”

Kosub served as a Navy combat medic in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945 before starting his coaching career at St. Gerard Catholic High School, where he worked from 1946-1955.

Kosub is a member of the St. Mary’s Athletic Hall of Fame and the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Doris Ploch Kosub, five children and six grandchildren.

Services for the San Antonio native and St. Gerard graduate will be held Friday at St. Gerard Catholic Church, 1523 Iowa Street.

Visitation is set to start at 9 a.m. The rosary will be recited at 10:30 a.m. and a funeral mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Kosub’s name be made to St. Gerard Catholic Church,1523 Iowa Street, San Antonio, 78203 or to St. Mary’s University’s Men’s Baseball Program, One Camino Santa Maria, San Antonio, 78228-8544 or online at https://alumni.stmarytx.edu/supportgivenow/. torsborn@express-news.net