Only seven days ago, Ryan Theriot played in what may have been the greatest game in World Series history — the Cardinals’ captivating 10-9 victory over Texas at Busch Stadium.
Six days ago, Theriot and his team won it all in Game 7.
Three days ago, he learned that his Hall of Fame-bound manager, Tony La Russa, was calling it a career.
Obviously, he’s been a busy man. If anyone needed a day of peace and quiet, some time to reflect on a wild ride, it’s him.
Why would he bother to spend time at a Southern University baseball banquet back home in Baton Rouge?
It’s easy, he said. He owed it to Roger Cador, and to
the Southern baseball program.
When Theriot was about 8, he and a host of other kids showed up at Pete Goldsby Field for a fall camp. Players from LSU and Southern were supposed to be there. The LSU guys didn’t show up, but the Southern players did — and they were fabulous.
One of them was Trenidad Hubbard. Years later, he and Theriot played together in the minors.
“So that’s one of the guys that I really looked up to. He taught me a ton about the game, as well as yourself,” Theriot said, looking at Cador. “And that’s why I’ll never miss one of these things.”
Wednesday night, Cador played host to his sixth annual Bringing Back Baseball Gala, an event that serves three major purposes: 1) to raise money for the SU program, 2) to raise money for area youth leagues, and 3) to raise awareness to a simple, undeniable fact: that over the years, black athletes have increasingly shunned baseball for other sports.
A study by The Associated Press found that in 2007, the percentage of black Major Leaguers dipped to 8.2 percent, an all-time low (it has risen slightly since then).
“I think it’s up to me and ... all these guys to get out into the community and try to reach these people,” said former Southern standout Rickie Weeks, who now plays for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Only a handful of college coaches could pull off such an event. Cador is one of them.
Wednesday’s gala included former Southern stars Fred Lewis and Weeks; longtime big leaguers Brian McRae and Terry Fox; Theriot and his old LSU teammate Mike Fontenot; and a sprinkling of others.
For six years now, local businesses and big shots have turned out to eat a
- ice dinner, raise money and be a part of something special.
Wednesday, in the back of the ballroom, SU pitcher Jose De Leon sat and watched the show with his teammates, a big grin covering his face.
“This is just an opportunity you don’t get every day,” De Leon said.
“It’s really a blessing. Not everybody can say a guy who just won the World Series is here, supporting your program.”
True. Not everybody can say that.
But Cador’s players can.