The 'Voice of the Squires' dies at 89
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When entering Delone Catholic's J.T. Flaherty Field, it's hard to miss the words "Welcome to Squire Country" written across the press box.
The phrase has long been said before Delone Catholic football games. And as far back as anyone can remember, it was Francis "Guinea" Rineman who started the tradition.
A longtime Delone Catholic athletics announcer and booster, Rineman died on April 5 at the age of 89. He spent 51 years calling Squires football and basketball games from 1959 to 2009, and was also very active with the school's athletic association. He was named the Delone Catholic Athletic Association's Man of the Year in 1970 and honored as "The Voice of the Squires" in 2010.
Those who worked with him fondly remember his passion for Delone Catholic and his many acts of kindness. But for them, it always comes back to the four words he would say over the loudspeaker before every contest.
"It was his trademark," longtime Delone Catholic football coach Denny Frew said. "It just made you feel very comfortable and at home."
Like most high school sports announcers, Rineman could be a bit of a homer, according to Frew. A 1945 graduate of Delone Catholic who managed the football and basketball teams during his high school days, he never tried to hide his affinity for the Squires.
That passion never turned to frustration when things weren't going well for his hometown team. Frew would often speak to Rineman before and after games, and said the Delone announcer always showed support no matter the outcome.
"He was not a negative type of person, he was always very positive," Frew said. "Even if we lost he would always say the kids were prepared. Like a typical hometown announcer, he was slanted toward the home team."
But calling out names and down and distances was only a small part of what Rineman did at Delone. After spending his first few years out of high school in the Air Force, he returned home and joined the Delone Catholic Athletic Association in 1949. He soon became a major part of the organization in charge of funding all of the school's athletic activities.
Apart from giving advice on how to spend funds and what equipment to buy, Rineman was also the association's main recruiter. Jim Groft, Delone's longtime football and basketball videographer, still remembers the interaction he had with Rineman on the day of his high school graduation in 1951.
"He came up to me and said, 'Boy, do I have a job for you,'" Groft, who had met Rineman years earlier, said. "He said there was a carnival coming up and there were plenty of jobs to do. He just couldn’t do enough. He had quite a big voice (with the association) and the athletic association president depended on guys like Guinea to advise him.”
While he had no problem finding solutions for the association, Rineman's main joy was football. Groft recalled how his old friend would attend every Delone road contest, and how he could seemingly remember every player who suited up for the Squires during his 51-year announcing career.
And that nickname? Frew admitted he never knew why Rineman went by "Guinea," but finally learned at his funeral last Saturday.
"As a kid he raised guinea pigs," Frew said. "He was a very interesting person. I always admired him."