Six recipients were honored Friday night with their induction into the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Leave it to one of them, former LSU baseball coach and athletic director Skip Bertman, to sum up the evening for them all.
“My coaches and I worked hard to teach (the players) that there are no barriers,” Bertman said, “that LSU is a wonderful and unique school, and that Baton Rouge is a wonderful place to live.”
Bertman, who retired in 2008, goes into the hall along with one of his former pitchers, Lloyd Peever, women’s basketball all-time great Seimone Augustus, All-American wide receiver Wendell Davis, All-American triple jumper Suzette Lee and another former coach and athletic director, the late Carl Maddox.
“This night is all about excellence,” current LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said during a banquet at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.
“When we honor the past we prepare for the future.”
Starting at LSU in 1984, Bertman led an also-ran program to five national championships, 11 College World Series appearances and seven Southeastern Conference titles. He also coached the U.S. team to a bronze medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
In 1983, LSU baseball averaged 454 fans per game. Since then, more than five million fans have come through its turnstiles.
“I am most proud of bringing people together,” Bertman said. “People who lived here for many years would meet other people who lived here for many years in a place called Omaha. They would come back and become good friends.”
Bertman became athletic director in 2001. He led LSU on an ambitious program of athletic facility improvements, including the new Alex Box Stadium which opened in 2009 and the new west upper deck of Tiger Stadium.
Bertman was accompanied by members of his family, former LSU players and 15 former players from the 1970 Miami Beach High School baseball team.
Naturally, Bertman coached that team to a state title.
A prep All-American at Capitol High, Augustus was a two-time national player of the year at LSU and a three-time collegiate All-American. She was the No. 1 draft pick of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx in 2006, helped the U.S. to a gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and became LSU’s first female athlete to have her jersey number (No. 33) retired.
Augustus could not attend because of conflicts with her WNBA schedule. She was represented by her mother, Kimberly.
“It is a great honor to accept on Seimone’s behalf,” Kimberly Augustus said. “She wanted me to let everyone know she sends her love and thanks for her induction into the hall of fame. This is a great honor for her and our family.”
Davis earned All-American honors in 1986 and 1987 as he became arguably the greatest receiver in LSU history. He still holds a school record for receptions with 183 and ranks second with 2,708 career receiving yards.
He and fellow Hall of Famer Tommy Hodson - who presented Davis with his plaque - became one of the most prolific pass and catch combinations in LSU history, teaming for 21 touchdowns.
“I am truly honored to be here tonight,” said Davis, who now lives in Palo Alto, Calif. “I’m grateful, and I’m thankful.”
Born in Jamaica, Lee was a three-time NCAA triple jump champion and a five-time All-American in that event and the long jump. Part of four NCAA championship teams, Lee still holds the NCAA indoor triple jump record of 46 feet, 9 inches.
“Let me not forget my teammates who were so talented I had to step up my performances every week just to keep up,” said Lee, who now lives in Houston. “You guys made me who I am.”
Peever pitched just one season at LSU in 1992, but it may have been the greatest season any Tiger pitcher ever had.
A junior college transfer, Peever survived a frightening midseason line drive off his head to go 14-0 with a 1.98 earned run average. He struck out 116 batters and walked just 20 in 104 innings and was named national player of the year.
“It’s been 20 years this season, and sometimes it doesn’t seem that long,” said Peever, who lives in Baton Rouge. “I go to the new Alex Box and see the athletes I used to be, and sometimes I feel I can still do it. That’s part of the fun.”
Maddox arrived at LSU in 1954 as an assistant under Gaynell Tinsley and coached under Paul Dietzel during the 1958 national championship season.
Maddox, who died in 1996, oversaw the construction of the PMAC, the field house that now bears his name, Bernie Moore Track Stadium, LSU’s tennis facility and the original west upper deck of Tiger Stadium. He also ushered in the era of women’s athletics at LSU.
“Thanks to all of you who came to see my dad inducted,” said Mike Maddox, who accepted on his father’s behalf. “It means the world to me and my family.”
This year’s inductees brings to 124 the number of athletes, coaches and administrators in enshrined in the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame since 1937.