In Memoriam: Phil Rooney

By Joseph Chapman

Phil Rooney

The PLABA shares its condolences with the family and friends of Phil Rooney, who passed away on November 19.  Phil served as President of the Prior Lake Jays when a dedicated group of local baseball enthusiasts started the “new Jays” for the 1987 season following years of no local Townball in Prior Lake after the folding of the 1975 & ’76 State Champion “green Jays.”

Phil (and his wife Jeanne) were well-known members of the Prior Lake business and sports communities, having supported son Chris who was a three-sport standout for PLHS and were fixtures at Jays games when the team started up for the 1987 season.  The Jays and later PLABA have supported many of the improvements that took place at Memorial Park in part as a result of the success of the early teams that advanced to the MBA State Tournament in seven of its first 10 seasons.

Phil Rooney and Leroy Bohnsack at “Memorial Park” diamond in 1988.

The early team’s success drove the formation of the PL Mudcats in 1991, which then evolved into the PLABA Board directing operations of what was dedicated in the late 1990s as “Veterans Field.”  Phil and the early PL Jays Boards hustled 70+ sponsors. They presided over fundraisers supporting the team and park operations and improvements to a diamond without lights, irrigation, or grandstand until the Jays formed. The Townball Jays were able to become a partner with the City to help drive improvements for area fans that extended beyond his active involvement.

Phil had great knowledge of the game and was a straight shooter with his opinions on the local 9 and quick with a smile to greet a familiar face at games.  He was known to attend and support games after Chris stepped down from playing, and grandsons Drew and Cole Brinkman brought him back as a regular when they served as batboys for the PL Jays several seasons in the early 2010s.

The PLABA  extends sympathy and appreciation to Jeanne and the Rooney family for their contributions to PL baseball. Phil has and will be missed by many friends at the park and in the community.

A visitation was held from 4-7 PM on Tuesday, November 22, 2022, at Ballard-Sunder Funeral Home, Prior Lake. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10 AM with visitation 1-hour prior on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, at St. Michael Catholic Church, 16400 Duluth Ave SE, Prior Lake.