The opening weekend of Louisiana football always puts a smile on the face of Ted Castillo. He is especially proud to read that the Wampus Cats opened the 2018 season Friday night with a convincing 38-18 victory over Washington-Marion of Lake Charles.
Most often called “Ted”, he is also known as: “The Prep Talker” in the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, “Member” the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, class of 2012, “Sports Journalism”- “Distinguished” Service Award winner, and “Mr. Wampus Cat.”
Castillo was a member and Vice-President of the LHS Class of 1941, along with 65 other classmates.
Castillo was born in Leesville in 1924, 93 years ago.
His class always had a large turnout for the LHS Alumni Association Homecoming activities. He now lives in Baton Rouge, just a “skip and a jump” for LSU, his alma mater.
One of Louisiana’s sportswriting legends was best known for setting the standard with his high school coverage for Baton Rouge’s Morning Advocate.
Castillo also covered some great LSU and Louisiana moments during a career that lasted more than 40 years.
The Leesville native served in the Navy’s armed guard from 1943, accompanying merchant ships to all three war zones, the European, Caribbean and Asiatic-Pacific theaters.
He first covered LSU football as a student for the school’s newspaper, the Reveille in 1947. He then served as a student sports information assistant in 1948.
Castillo joined the Morning Advocate as a 23-year-old in 1948 and was on the staff until 1990. He continued to cover high school events for the Advocate until weeks shy of his 78th birthday.
Castillo served as a media coordinator for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) championship events from 1990-2011.
He was able to cover the 1995 football state championship at the Superdome, which was the only time the Leesville Wampus Cats made it to the finals.
Castillo’s career highlights include: covering the first game at Baton Rouge’s landmark stadium, Memorial Stadium in 1948 and covering every LHSAA Top 20 and Top 25 boys basketball tournament from 1961 to 2001.
He also covered every LHSAA Superdome Classic football final from 1981 to 2011.
Another memorable event Castillo cataloged was the LSU men’s basketball trip to the NIT tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1970.
“That was the end of Pete Maravich’s career at LSU. That was a big deal up there. That’s one thing I remember.” Castillo remembers.
In 1977 he covered a World Series game in which Louisiana native Ron Guidry ousted the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Ron Guidry pitched that day for the Yankees. He’s from Lafayette, and they called him ‘Louisiana Lightning.’”Castillo recalls.
He said of all the athletes he watch at LSU, Pete Maravich, Bob Pettit, Billy Cannon and Alvin Dark were among the best.
He called Dark the most versatile of the group. He covered Pettit since high school and knew he’d be a superstar.
Castillo still remembers the first game he ever covered at The Advocate in September 1948, when Baker High School’s football team defeated Natchitoches.
“I wouldn’t cover it any different than I did when I first started,” Castillo remembers. “The only thing is writers have these laptops out. You no longer use a typewriter. I don’t think they go back to the office as much as we used to. They just send it in, and that’s it.”
The last high school football game he covered was at the Catholic High game against Ruston in 2002.
Joe Macaluso was just beginning his journalism career when Ted worked for the paper, said he’ll always remember Castillo as “Mr. Prep Sports in Louisiana.”
“There was a lot of Ted’s tenure from the period after the war until he retired where high school athletics employed in the Baton Rouge area,” Macaluso said. “That demanded a lot from a writer, and Ted was up to the task. He kept up with it all.”
Castillo wanted to share with all of his friends that he is doing well and to “tell the Wampas Cats to win the homecoming game against the DeRidder Dragons.