LAFAYETTE — The Louisiana-Lafayette baseball team is honoring its most notable former player with “Ron Guidry Weekend” at M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.
And it is taking this honor very seriously.
Guidry, who was inducted into the school’s hall of fame last fall, will throw out the first pitch Friday, and the team will wear special uniforms honoring him at least Friday and possibly throughout the entire weekend series against Appalachian State.
It was only natural for Guidry, who was officially inducted into the hall of fame during a football weekend, to be honored during a baseball series.
“Having a Ron Guidry weekend was first discussed last fall when Ron was inducted into the UL Hall of Fame,” athletic director Scott Farmer said. “The idea of recognizing him at a baseball event was something that we felt was natural and necessary, and adds to the honor of his induction.”
Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux added: “I think that’s going to be great for him and his family this weekend. I think it’s going to mean a lot for him. To be walked back out in front of baseball people is going to be really good for him and his family.”
Guidry and his wife, Bonnie, had some input on the special uniforms that the Cajuns will wear this weekend, some of which will be auctioned off after each game with the funds going to the Cajuns capital campaign.
The front of the uniforms have a retro design, an homage to Guidry’s college days. They’re cream-colored with red script “Cajuns” lettering on the front. Each uniform will have No. 3 on the front, which was Guidry’s number in college.
The back of the uniform will be white with navy pinstripes and a navy No. 49, an homage to Guidry’s New York Yankees career. Guidry’s No. 3 Cajuns uniform and No. 49 Yankees uniform are retired.
“We got to thinking about wearing his jersey, the No. 3, then we got to thinking and we kicked it around a little bit more and said, ‘Man, that’d be nice if we could wear the 49, too, because it’s retired (with the Yankees),’ ” Robichaux said.
That was followed by a call to the school’s uniform supplier, Adidas, which said it could make the uniforms. Robichaux also called the Sun Belt Conference to make sure all of his players would be allowed to take the field in same uniform numbers.
“I didn’t think it would be an issue, but we didn’t want to spend the money to do this and then walk out there and all of a sudden the umpires tell us we can’t do it,” Robichaux said.
Robichaux said Guidry wanted to help raise funds for the program, and the commemorative uniform was the idea they arrived at with the help of Bonnie.
Roughly one-third of the uniforms will be auctioned off after each game. Robichaux said the process was staggered so people who only attend one game have an opportunity to buy one. Some uniforms will be saved for online auctions, as well.
“Ron will be here through the weekend, and we’ll auction these jerseys off to help give some more funding to our capital campaign,” Robichaux said. “There’s 40-45 of them, so it’s a very limited piece, and it’s a unique piece, because there’s both retired jersey numbers. It’s going to give 40-45 people an opportunity to bid on it and try to have a piece of history.”
Beyond the fundraising, Robichaux sounded relieved that his program was finally honoring Guidry for his career.
For decades, Guidry was not allowed entry to the hall of fame because he did not graduate. That restriction was loosened last fall, and Guidry was inducted into the hall of fame at halftime of the UL-Monroe football game Oct. 31.
For someone whose uniform number is retired next to some of the all-time greats in Yankee Stadium, it didn’t sit well with Robichaux that the vestige of Guidry’s achievements were a pair of stickers on the center-field wall at Tigue Moore Field depicting Guidry’s retired uniforms.
“Here’s our best player, and ... if it wouldn’t be for two stickers on our outfield wall, you wouldn’t know the guy played here,” Robichaux said. “I think that’s disrespectful, man. You’re only as good as your past, and I think you need to honor your past.”
“You’ve got a Cy Young Award winner. You’ve got a guy that’s on the side of Ruth and Mantle in Monument Park. You know how much longer I’d have to coach to get another player on the side of Ruth and Mantle in Monument Park? And we failed to honor him.
“I know it’s special to him to be in Monument Park, but I have to believe it’s also special for him to be honored in his own ballpark.”