HOOVER, Ala. — Pride is often viewed as a negative quality.
But you can give Burke Broussard a pass on having a little pride. Especially right now.
The Crowley native and longtime University High baseball coach is proud that he was the starting second baseman on LSU’s first College World Series team in 1986. As a father, naturally, he’s even prouder that his son Brandt is a starter for this year’s LSU team, also at second base.
“Being a high school coach, I tried to be realistic,” said Broussard, who sent some 40 players on to college baseball in his 26-year baseball coaching career (he is now a teacher and boys golf coach at U-High). “I told him, ‘LSU isn’t the only place you can play.’
“He kept his options open, but when it shook out that he would go there, it was surreal. It’s very special.”
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Like dad, Brandt Broussard’s time as an LSU baseball player has been precious and short. Burke was a two-year player at UL before heading to Eastern Oklahoma State College for a year, then transferring to LSU in 1985. Brandt played at Delgado in New Orleans before transferring to LSU in 2018.
It would be a stretch to say father or son was the best player on their respective teams.
Burke played alongside six future major leaguers — guys like right fielder Albert Belle (still to me the most talented LSU baseball player ever), pitcher Mark Guthrie and shortstop Jeff Reboulet.
Brandt has teammates like pitcher Cole Henry, who started the Tigers' 8-6 win over South Carolina on Tuesday, their first game at the Southeastern Conference tournament. Henry set a price tag at $3.5 million to sign professionally out of high school; he ultimately was taken by the Detroit Tigers in the 38th round of the MLB draft and opted for LSU instead.
“I knew what my role was then,” Burke Broussard said, recalling his time with LSU in ’86. “I was a guy who could do a lot of things well. Brandt is like that. He has a good all-around game.”
Burke and his wife Myra, the elementary school principal at U-High, weren’t able to attend LSU’s SEC tournament opener Tuesday because of school. But they did watch from home before driving to Hoover on Wednesday as Brandt played a key (and amusing) role in the Tigers’ crucial win.
Batting out of the ninth hole, Brandt went 2 for 4 with a pair of runs. It was his two-out single in the second inning that sparked a two-run LSU response to South Carolina, which had put up five runs in the top of the second. That really started with what happened to Brandt at second base.
Or, rather, what happened to Brandt’s glove.
Gamecocks right fielder Brady Allen slapped a fairly routine ground ball to Broussard with one out. Broussard came up with it cleanly, but the ball jammed into the webbing of his glove and wouldn’t shake free.
“I messaged Cole’s daddy (Jeff) this morning,” Burke Broussard said. “I told him if the ball hadn’t lodged in Brandt’s glove, (Cole) would have probably pitched a shutout.
“He always tightens his glove every at-bat. It just hit him I the right spot. That’s baseball, man. He just had a strange thing happen to him.”
Burke Broussard quickly acknowledges that one of the major differences Brandt and his teammates have to deal with compared to playing in his day is the unrelenting pressure that comes with LSU baseball.
When Broussard arrived in 1985, one year after Skip Bertman became LSU’s coach, the College World Series might as well have been a crater on a distant planet named Omaha.
But the 1986 team made it, going 55-14 after that March becoming the first LSU baseball team to be ranked No. 1. It still stands as one of the best LSU baseball teams ever, arguably the best one that did not win the national title.
Now, winning the CWS is the be-all-end-all mark of success or failure for every LSU baseball team. It is, to Burke Broussard, a lot of pressure to deal with.
“You can’t compare it with the way it was back then,” Burke said. “Now it’s more of an even playing field. Back in our day, our No. 4 or 5 (starting pitcher) could beat another team’s No. 1. We saw one or two guys a season who could throw 90 mph. Now it’s every game.
“Skip changed the game, made it more serious. Stony Brook and Coastal Carolina, they never would have made it back then. They’ve evened up the playing field.”
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It’s pressure, though, that Burke Broussard understands Brandt agreed to accept when he became an LSU baseball player.
There’s only one question left though, one Burke gets asked all the time: Who is the better baseball player?
Naturally, the father defers to the son. As he should.
“But,” Burke said, “I taught him everything he knows.”
That's not pride. That's just a fact.