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Athletic Hall of Fame: Highlights Of A Pretty Amazing Evening + Photo Gallery

Highlights Of A Pretty Amazing Evening

Don Blair, Athletic Network Facebook Coordinator
October 30, 2015

I attended Ron Guidry’s Hall of Fame ceremony in the new UL Student Union Ballroom last night (it will be official at the halftime presentation on the field at Saturday’s Homecoming tomorrow). The ballroom was packed. It was marked by several notable things which occurred over the course of the evening including remarks by Ron himself at the podium (yes, it got pretty emotional for him):

… A surprise video clip from several Yankee veterans who played with Ron was transmitted onto the screen congratulating him on his induction at his alma mater, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. This included teammate Chambliss and a couple of others but the real kicker was the greetings from Yankee manager JOE TORRE filmed at the World Series game currently being played. There was a similar congratulatory statement on his UL induction from the Steinbrenner (Yankee owners) family .

… On display behind glass protection was Ron’s ‘Cy Young Award’ (the actual thing– not a replica). In addition, all five of his Gold Glove Awards were also present (he won the gold glove FIVE YEARS in a row– this is news to me). Everyone knows about Guidry’s pitching prowess, but his defense and fielding performance during his career may never be equaled.

… UL’s entire baseball team was there. Ron also mentioned his close friendship & affection for Yogi Berra.

… Ron credited advice and support while in school at USL for getting his opportunity in the big leagues. He specifically recognized Coach Bob Banna (my coach for four years) for advising him to forego playing any longer at USL and to make himself available for the MLB draft. The other important person he mentioned was his wife Bonnie who convinced him to turn around right as he was making a highway turn south, quitting to return to Lafayette. He was fed up at the time, apparently feeling used and abused only as "trade bait" while not being allowed to play.

… He spoke of wanting his USL number 3, but understanding he probably wasn’t going to get that number. Seems that was some guy named Babe Ruth’s number. The old veteran uniform guru for the Yankees told him "Here, Guidry– take number 49. That hasn’t been used much here. Make it famous." Turns out he did–and the Yankees did retire his jersey number.

Ron’s stats over his career clearly rank with and entitle him to be included among such greats as Koufax, Ford, Gibson, Drysdale, and other legendary hurlers. But it was mentioned that his performance in one particular season (I believe it was 1978) eclipsed stats for all pitchers in the history of Major League baseball and still stands forty years later. It seems that year’s performance alone has given considerable support to a ‘best pitcher ever’ argument.

The admiration, respect, and outright affection for not just "Ragin’ Cajun" Ron Guidry or "New York Yankee icon" Ron Guidry but Ron Guidry the man and the person was evident and obvious. The applause, cheers, and numerous standing ovations spoke volumes. The emotional return to his roots and the city and university he loves could be felt by those who were there.

Ron Guidry — the very best of what is Cajun and "Ragin’ Cajun". We love ya’, man!!


Athletic Network footnote by Ed Dugas:

The UL Ragin' Cajuns Letterman Club hosted a receptionClick here for the photo gallery of the Ron Guidry HOF reception.
Visit the wonderful stories which Don Blair posts on the Athletic Network Facebook page.
Click here for Don’s Athletic Network profile.