Who do you think should manage Ferriday water?|
Story Archives: Naquin enjoys reunion
|Naquin enjoys reunion|
Former LSU baseball player Greg Naquin of Vidalia has been to the new Alex Box Stadium a few times, and was even on the field when the new park was opened last year.
But when he stepped on that field last month as part of a 25-year tribute to the 1986 Tiger baseball team, it was a feeling like no other.
"That gave me more chills than before," Naquin said. "We were a really close team. We went everywhere and did everything together. It brought back a lot of memories. It was just like we had all just seen each other. That team never had any arguments on or off the field and never had any kind of beef over anything. Everybody played their role."
The 1986 team was honored on April 2 during the series with Ole Miss.
"We felt like we were the team that got it all started," Naquin said. "We were the first to get to the big dance in Omaha, which you dream of as a kid. It was great being a part of that reunion. We could feel the crowd behind us. And I got a chance to shake hands with (Ole Miss head coach) Mike Bianco, who I played with the following year."
The 1986 team was the first squad in LSU history to make the elusive College World Series, triggering an impressive streak of 15 College World Series appearances and six championships in the following 25 years.
Skip Bertman was in his third year of coaching at LSU after being hired from the University of Miami in 1984.
Bertman would go on to be named the National Coach of the Year for his first of six times in 1986.
"What impressed me about Coach Bertman was his preparation in every aspect," Naquin said. "He would teach us things in practice that we may not encounter until a game the next year. It was unbelievable the little details. We would go over run-downs, certain pick-off plays. And it wasn't any kind of trick play, he was just teaching us to be ready for the best percentages fo what would happen. He based lot of things on percentages, such as a lead-off walk usually leads to a run scoring. Somewhere down the line we would run into something we had practiced for. And it just wasn't baseball, it was life. He wasn't a psychic, he was a genius when it came to that kind of stuff. He preached 'How to win awareness.'
"Coach Bertman was mainly a pitching coach," Naquin said. "He played catcher in college. But he ran the show. He knew what was going on. You either played for him and got it, or you didn't. He wasn't afraid to tell you like it was. He had unbelievable knowledge. He usually knew what was going to happen before it happened. And he knew what you were thinking. I am grateful for what I learned on the baseball field and how to deal with life."
The Tigers posted a 55-14 (22-5 SEC) record en route to an SEC regular-season and tournament championships.
The 1986 team posted the highest SEC winning percentage in the Bertman era.
That Tiger team went on to set or tie 33 individual and team records.
LSU swept through the SEC Tournament and through the regional. There were no super regionals at that time.
Junior and senior veteran players such as co-captains Leary and Jeff Reboulet, sluggers Jeff Yurtin, Jim Bowie and Albert Belle and pitchers Stan Loewer, Mark Guthrie and Barry Manuel, led the team.
Naquin spent the 1986 season as a redshirt after spending a year at Delgado Junior College.
Naquin received an invitation to join the LSU baseball team his senior year at Thibodaux High School.
"I went to Delgado for a semester and didn't really like it," Naquin said. "My dad called the LSU coach and he said the invitation was still there. I was able to get some financial help, so I transferred."
Naquin was still able to work out with the baseball team. He was just not able to travel for away games.
"I didn't play a while lot, but it was still an unbelievable experience," Naquin said. "I was not happy about not playing ouch, but it was still unbelievable the things I learned. There are things I still use today with young kids I teach and at some of the clinics I hold."
As for the 1986 season.
"Everything turned around that year," Naquin said. "We started getting bigger crowds. I don't remember us not sweeping a series.We only lost five total games and that's not going to happen again."
LSU fell to Loyola-Marymount 4-3 in its first game before eliminating Maine 8-4.
The Tigers lost to Miami 4-3 to finish fifth.
"Everybody had the big eyes when they got there," Naquin said.
The eyes were not quite so big at the reunion.
"Everyone who spoke talked about how Coach Bertman taught them to deal with adversity," Naquin said. "We learned about life by way of baseball. He always talked about holding on to that rope and not letting go for the team. I think the reason we won is because how close of a team we were and everybody knew they could count on their teammate. You knew somebody had your back."
And they knew they could count on the LSU fans throughout the season.
"The fans at LSU will back you up, no matter what," Naquin said. "And they will let you know when you are not doing well. They expect excellence and will not settle for anything else. They are very knowledgeable and they didn't forget what we did 25 years ago. It was like it all came back, the impact we had. i would not have missed it for the world."
|Frank Morris Murder Series|