A pillar of the St. Charles Parish community was recently inducted into the hall of fame at a local university on the merits of his baseball play in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Ed Wahden, 74, joined the Loyola Wolf Pack Hall of Fame in January. The Luling resident was primarily known for his prowess as a slugger during his years on the Loyola University baseball team from 1958 to 1962, during which time he also played left field. In fact, when he was still in high school at Jesuit, Wahden became the first player to hit a home run out of Kirsch-Rooney Stadium in New Orleans.
“The early 60s was the heyday of Loyola baseball. We were the premiere team in this whole region at one time, few people know that,” Wahden said. “We played against teams like LSU, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Illinois Wesleyan and a lot of the teams from the northeast part of the country. We hardly ever lost a game.”
During his time on the Wolf Pack baseball team, the squad went 50-8 and was invited to the NCAA tournament once. In his senior year in 1962, Wahden was selected as a captain of the team and led them to a 15-3 record.
Wahden, a New Orleans native, was the first person in his family to attend college when he received a baseball scholarship to Loyola.
“I was a big deal in our family. My mother came from a family of 12 and dad came from a family of four, and I was the first of all the family to make it through college,” he said.
Without baseball allowing him to attend college and get a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Wahden said he knows his life would have turned out differently.
“I came from a good high school and I was a good baseball player – primarily I was good at baseball and I might not have gotten into Jesuit High School if it weren’t for that,” he said.
Following his senior season at Loyola, Wahden considered signing a Major League contract with the Detroit Tigers, but declined to enter into talks with the team after suffering a hamstring injury. That injury has nagged him ever since.
“They wanted to talk to me about a possible professional baseball contract. I knew I could not have played that year,” he said. “I don’t know that they would have had interest in signing me up and waiting a few years.”
Instead, Wahden would go on to fulfill a two-year term required of him as an ROTC student and become a lieutenant in the Army, where he was stationed in Germany. After leaving active duty, he would continue on in the National Guard, eventually retiring as a captain.
Following his return from Germany, Wahden began his career at Louisiana Power and Light and then Entergy, where he worked for 30 years and eventually became a regional manager.
Wahden first moved to St. Charles Parish in 1976 and immediately made an impact on the community as a founding member of the St. Charles Parish Rotary and vice-president of the River Region Chamber of Commerce. In 1981 he got back into sports by starting the recreation soccer league for the St. Charles Parish Recreation Department.
“I introduced my son to baseball early on in St. Charles, but we had a period in between seasons where the kids weren’t actively involved in sports. A friend and I proposed that we start a soccer program and that is how the St. Charles soccer program came about,” he said.
Although Wahden retired from Entergy about a decade ago, he would not stay out of the workforce for long. He went back to school and got his realtor’s license. Today he works as a real estate agent for Latter & Blum in Luling.
In addition to still providing assistance to the local recreation soccer league, Wahden also helps give Loyola students a chance at getting an education much in the same way he did by serving on the Rags Scheuermann Scholarship Fund committee.
“What we are dong is trying to have fundraisers every year so we can get enough money to support scholarships,” he said.
Looking back on it, Wahden said getting a scholarship to play baseball was one of the best things that ever happened to him and being honored for his time by being inducted into the Wolf Pack Hall of Fame all of these years later is emblematic of the importance the sport played in his life.