Roger Cador couldn’t walk 10 feet without an LSU fan, coach or player stopping to shake his hand or take a picture Tuesday night.
Everywhere he went was a familiar face he’d built a lifelong friendship with somewhere over the course of 33 years in college baseball.
It was a homecoming of sorts for the longtime baseball coach, except Cador never once called LSU home.
Just a few miles north of campus, the legendary former coach built arguably the most respected and storied HBCU baseball program in the country at Southern, taking the Jaguars to unthinkable heights and national recognition.
But he always made sure to keep the Tigers a close friend and ally every step of the way.
To honor his commitment and influence on the sport, LSU hosted “Roger Cador Night” at Alex Box Stadium at the Tigers’ mid-week matchup with Southern.
The game featured Cador’s picture on all tickets, and right before the ceremonial first pitch — which Cador threw — he was presented with a wood rocking chair to symbolize his retirement from the game last summer by current LSU coach Paul Mainieri and former LSU coach Skip Bertman.
“It’s really a good honor and a good feeling for Paul Mainieri and the LSU family to reach out and do this for me,” Cador said. “It makes your heart feel good. For many years I’ve put a lot of stuff and time into the city, so this is a reward for doing good.”
You can’t tell the story of baseball in Louisiana without talking about Roger Cador.
But you also can’t tell the story of Roger Cador without LSU.
Cador became Southern’s head coach in 1984 just one season after Bertman arrived in Baton Rouge. From the first day, Bertman made sure to support Cador’s program in any way possible.
Year after year, Bertman donated equipment and resources, including the first lights for Lee-Hines Field. He also made sure to always schedule Southern each season in the annual Mayor’s Cup series. And Bertman interviewed Cador to be an assistant at LSU in 1999.
To this day, the pair of legendary coaches are close friends.
“There he is, shaking hands with a lot of LSU people,” Bertman said gesturing to Cador before the game. “He’s one of the few coaches that everybody loves. He’s a social beast. The kids love him.”
While Bertman was Cador’s initial connection to LSU, Mainieri kept up the partnership into a new generation.
It was Mainieri who orchestrated Tuesday night to make sure Cador received his due respect.
For him, it was the last gesture he could do for a coach who won 913 career games.
“Roger has done a lot for college baseball,” Mainieri said. “He worked a lot with Skip Bertman in promoting baseball in the community and helping race relations. He’s a really wonderful guy with a big heart. When I came here 12 years ago, he embraced me and I embraced him. I’m going to miss the relationship I had with him.”