Spotlight on Former Athlete: Gene Bacque, Baseball 1956 & 57
People who begin dreaming when they are very young often do not realize the fullfillment of those dreams, as time changes the dreams, the circumstances, and life takes its toll on those long-range plans. Sometimes although the dreams are fulfilled, the realization may not be exactly as envisioned. For Gene Bacque, this was the case. Most of the baseball dreams were realized. Although it had been assumed that these childhood dreams would occur in his homeland, Gene never did get to play in a major league park. He would become arguably the most successful American pitcher in the history of Nippon Pro Baseball.
While a senior in high school, the Scott High School quarterback learned from his coach, Luther Perrin, that an athletic scholarship to LSU was available for him. All Gene had to do to receive the scholarship was agree to play both football and baseball for the Tigers. He declined, and instead, accepted minimal assistance from SLI (without a full athletic scholarship) to focus on his beloved baseball.
Injured for some of the 1956 baseball season, Gene vividly recalls one pitching performance in the 1957 season. It was in relief against the Lafayette Drillers. In three innings on the mound, Gene struck out six batters, and Mel Didier (UL's Head Baseball Coach for the 1981 Baseball season), who was scouting for the Detroit Tigers at the time, encouraged him to sign a contract and begin his professional baseball career. With his parent's signature, Gene was off and running to pursue those baseball dreams.
The 1957 Baseball Team
Click here for Gene's profile which documents the teams for which he played from 1957 through 1969: http://athleticnetwork.net/site.php?pageID=55&profID=23
In the '60s, Hanshin won two CL pennants, 1962 and 1964. The decade was also memorable for the efforts of pitcher Gene Bacque, who compiled a 100-80 record with a 2.83 ERA in eight years with the Tigers - winning Japan's equivalent of the Cy Young Award - the Sawamura Award - in 1964. His baseball card is pictured below. Gene is the only foreign pitcher ever to be honored in this way.
Gene Bacque was a AAA Hawaii Islander trying to make the big leagues. He joined Hanshin in '62, and in '64 he helped fill the void left when Koyama went to the Flyers. He won the Sawamura award with a 1.89 ERA, the only American to ever win it. In '65 he threw a no-hitter against the Giants. For more information on the Hanshin Tigers, click on the link below: http://members.tripod.com/~wallpaperman/Hanshin_Tigers_page.htm
Gene Bacque's return to Lafayette was a solid stroke of good fortune for Cajun Baseball. After Tigue Moore recruited him to coach the Guaranty Bank American Legion for a couple of years, he served Coach Bobby Banna as an assistant coach at USL during the 1971 season. Gene continued to contribute to the program by serving as Don Lockwood's assistant coach from 1972 through Lockwood's last season.
Click here to view the menu to the Baseball Photo Gallery, then select the year you wish to review: http://athleticnetwork.net/site209.php
On May 11, 2007 Gene Bacque had the honor of throwing the first pitch to open play for Baseball Alumni Reunion Weekend. Click here for the photo gallery containing images of his first pitch, along with those of the entire weekend of activities: http://www.ragincajuns.com/PhotoAlbum.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=15400&PALBID=11373
Below is a recent picture of Gene and Ann at a special family event (compliments of Michelle).
Gene Bacque Family on October 4, 2008 at Andrea's wedding (L-R): Rita Bacque (oldest), Ann Bacque (wife), Michelle Bacque Wilson (3rd child), Andrea Bacque LeBlanc (bride & youngest child), John Bacque (2nd child), Suzanne Bacque Broussard (4th child) & Gene Bacque.
The Athletic Network is honored to place the spotlight on Gene Bacque.Note:The Note:The
The Photo Gallery on the left side of the home page at http://www.athleticnetwork.net contains over 8,000 pictures of former and current athletes and support groups. Just point and click to view teams or groups by year. One click on a thumbnail picture and it is enlarged; a click on the enlarged photo and it reverts back to the thumbnail.
The Athletic Network seeks to post pictures of each team and support group for each year they represented the university.
The stories of the 2008 honorees are still included in the News Page and may be viewed by clicking on "more news" at the bottom right of the News Box. Those spotlight features which are no longer shown in the News Page, have been moved to the Lagniappe Link of the "History of UL Athletics" located on the left side of the home page.
The Spotlight on Former Athletes announcement has also been placed in the profile of each honoree, excluding the pictures.
The 2009 honorees in the Athletic Network "Spotlight on Former Athletes" include:
January - Tim Thompson Men's Basketball 1957-61.
February - Gene Bacque Baseball 1956 & 57.
Ed Dugas, Coordinator Athletic Network