Baseball: Lafayette's Sam Taulli Sr.: 'Tragic loss for our entire community'
Eric Narcisse, The Advertiser, July 5, 2019
On learning the news that longtime Ragin' Cajuns baseball coach Tony Robichaux had died Wednesday, area high school coaches were at a loss for words.
Sure, they knew the seriousness of the heart-attack he'd suffered June 23, but no one doubted he'd make a full recovery.
"We were all hoping he was going to pull through," Lafayette High baseball coach Sam Taulli said. "We were hoping he would pull through and be in that dugout again."
One thing the coaches agreed upon is, knowing Robichaux, "he fought."
"Knowing the kind of man he is, you know he battled," Taulli said with his voice beginning to crack. "Tony battled."
"Oh, you know he fought," Ascension Episcopal baseball coach Lonny Landry said. "He fought until the last breath."
Working through the grief, coaches attempted to articulate what the loss of Robichaux meant not only to them but also to the entire community.
"My initial thought was that we lost a great man for our game," Landry said. "And I mean that not even from a coaching standpoint. I'm talking from a leadership standpoint and simply from the way Tony treated players and people around him.""This is a tragic loss for our entire community," said Taulli, whose son Sam Taulli Jr. informed him via text message of Robichaux's death. "People who knew him, knew how authentic of a man he was. He never pretended. He was a genuine guy."
By all accounts, "a maker of men."
"It was more than just baseball," Taulli Sr. said. "He taught men how to live their lives."
And not just those he coached. Robichaux inspired anyone and everyone he encountered.
"From our first time sitting down one-on-one, he taught me two things that I had never heard from any other coach at any previous clinic or from any book I’ve ever read," Teurlings Catholic baseball coach Mike Thibodeaux recalled. "One, your players won't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Since then, I’ve heard that saying countless times at every single coaching clinic I’ve been to, but I swear Robe coined that phrase. Those words spoken by that man set my philosophy and approach as a head coach now for going on 15 years.
"The second thing was anyone can take your place on the field but no one can replace you at home — as a husband and father. He kept it all in proper perspective. First things first, keep the main thing the main thing."
Robichaux, who was 57-years-old, won more than 1,100 games and led the Ragin’ Cajuns to their lone trip to the College World Series in 2000.
However, one would argue his impact off the field was equally as great — if not greater — than on it.
"It wasn't all about wins and losses for Tony," Taulli Sr. said. "Winning was important, but when you talk to the kids who played for him and they have nothing but good things to say. He lived his life the way he asked his kids to live their lives. He was a unique individual. Especially in our profession. He was a man of faith."
"Tony was a man of his word," Landry said. "His main objective was to raise young college kids and teach them how to be men."
"He was the real deal," Thibodeaux said. "A man, who practiced what he preached."
Thibodeaux believes while Robichaux's work is done, all those he has impacted over the years must continue the mission.
"God’s work that he called Robe to accomplish in his short time on earth was complete," Thibodeaux said. "The mission He created Robe to accomplish is now our mission to continue. For those of us who have been inspired by him, (we must) continue to do God’s good work and make a positive impact on the lives of others."
Eric Narcisse covers high school sports for The Daily Advertiser. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @eric_narcisse.