Baseball: Remembering UL's Robichaux: Leger pours his heart out
Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, July 6, 2019
Too emotional to talk about it in full on the telephone when longtime Ragin’ Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux died Wednesday, pitcher Gunner Leger — who spent a five-season career under Robichaux at UL, ending this year — took time to write down his thoughts and share them on Friday with The Daily Advertiser.
Leger, son of Cajuns assistant football coach and former Pittsburgh Pirates minor-leaguer Tim Leger, was the Sun Belt Conference’s Pitcher of the Year in 2017. He was drafted by the Miami Marlins in ’17, but did not sign. Leger instead underwent elbow and leg surgeries, sat out all of 2018 while rehabbing and returned for an injury-hampered final season this year.
Robichaux was UL’s head coach for 25 seasons. He suffered a heart attack June 23, and died 10 days later.
Former UL pitcher Gunner Leger, shown here praying before a game in 2018, is mourning the death of Ragin' Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux. (Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/THE ADVERTISER, SCOTT CLAUSE/THE ADVERTISER)
Leger’s thoughts, in his own words:
“Coach Robe was a great man, leader, and friend to many. His office door was always open, regardless of the topic.
“He always had time for you ... always went out of his way to make time for your problems.
“We all called him coach but really he was a mentor. Never was there a time when he did not impart some form of wisdom on you, (r)egardless if the conversation lasted a few minutes or a few hours.
“There were numerous occasions when I would walk in to his office to speak with him, he would almost always be on the phone with an ex-player, friend, or coach mentoring them through their problem at the time. He would always end those calls with, ‘just give me a call if you need anything.’ Those phone conversations would end and he would immediately engage in whatever we were discussing and begin to mentor me.
“It was a 24/7, 365 day commitment from him. Whether you knew him a day or your entire life, he genuinely cared about you. You could see it in his eyes, he wanted to do everything he could to help YOU!
“His rules were clear cut, his moral standard and beliefs never changed. He never ran from the truth and met the problem at the front door regardless of how ugly it was. He was always the same person. In a game where the main separator is consistency ... he was Mr. Consistent. Calm when he needed to be, and loud when he needed to be.
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“If you did wrong he would let you know ... but you never had anything to say because you knew his rules and you knew if he felt it was wrong, it probably was.
“I could go on and on about this man, but I’m just blessed to have been able to get close to him.
“We got much closer over my last few years here. We always had a mutual respect for each other, but when I returned for my senior year we became a lot closer on a personal level.
“Through my down time with the surgeries we talked about life, friendship, marriage, family, faith, coaching, and much more. The closer I got to him, I became less intimidated by his demeanor. I realized he was a man’s man, but was very understanding.
“He was compassionate and willing to work with you if you would show him you were invested in the process it would take.
"He was the ultimate communicator ... always knew what to say and how to say it.
“He was like another father to me and I loved him as such.
“Tony Robichaux was one of the greatest coaches and men to ever live. ... I believe that with all my heart. Legends never die, and I know he’ll remain inside of every person he crossed paths with for eternity.”
Tony Robichaux will be laid to rest Monday. Visitation is scheduled from 3 to 9 p.m. Sunday at the Cajundome Convention Center, with a rosary being be prayed at 7 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church on Johnston Street in Lafayette. A funeral Mass will follow at 2 p.m. Monday. Burial is in Crowley.