Spotlight on Former Athlete: Ron, Jr. & Randy Robicheaux - Baseball 1983-86 & Ron Robicheaux, Sr.
Baseball big for Robicheaux family
Those were hurdles, but also challenges, to the psyche of a player who fit more on the field than in school by his own admission - “I think I flunked Music Appreciation” - and whose ultimate aim was the Major Leagues.He played summer league ball in Illinois as a USL sophomore, then was drafted and signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a shortstop the next year.
“Randy was always driven to reach the big leagues,” Ron Sr. said. “He worked out with the big team in spring training and in rehab. When he was in the hospital, his coach came by and told him he was on his way.”
“I was treated well by the Pirates organization and by the fans,” Randy said. “I came close to making it. They were willing to work with you.
“At one point, I was erratic throwing the ball (torn rotator cuff effects). I was throwing the ball away in rookie ball. I got called to the office, and I was scared they were going to cut me.
“Instead, they moved me over to third base and I did well. Branch Rickey told me they saw something in me.”
The younger Robicheaux, who gave up football in high school when two teammates sandwiched him in practice and gave him a hip pointer, was tough enough to fight through pain and surgeries to keep his drive alive.
It was the kind of drive that prompted him to try anything competitive.
“I had a unicycle, but couldn't ride it,” Ron Jr. said. “Randy learned it in no time. He saw a guy juggling on TV, and an hour later he was doing it. He was doing tricks behind his back. Juggling, jumping rope. Gerald Hebert said Randy had the quickest hands he'd ever seen.
“I think that (competitive nature) was how he defined himself.”
Both brothers came close to extremely short careers.
“In high school, both of us were on the list to be cut,” Ron Jr. said. “We played at Youth Park and I hit two grand slams.”
“I was a pitcher who wanted to be a position player, and I made a bunch of plays against New Iberia,” Randy said.
Center of Actvity
The Robicheaux household was the center of play for the neighborhood, the perfect launching pad for brothers who tried football, basketball and baseball but were always focused on baseball as No.1.
“Kids would all play at our place,” Robicheaux Sr. said. “In fact, there was a Honduran family down the street whose kids would come over. One day there was a knock on the door, and their little girl, Maria, said, 'Can Mr. Ron come out and play? ' ”
Robicheaux Sr. was the natural choice to coach his sons in their formative years.
“Like any father, you enjoy coaching your sons,” he said. “Ron started out as a pitcher and shortstop, then when he got to Lafayette High and got injured they moved him to first base. Randy was playing with the 9-10 year olds when he was 8.
“They were both hard workers and leaders, and I think they treated the other kids right. I worked more with Randy. They were very coachable.”
Ron Sr. was an active volunteer for Mr. Moore and the American Legion program. The Shell Royals, the local American Legion Baseball in 1961, reached the state finals before losing to a New Orleans team that included future Major League star Rusty Staub and future LSU quarterback Pat Screen.
Some 21 years later, he was still assisting youth baseball, when Brad Kelley coached Mr. Cook to the 1982 State Legion crown behind Ron Jr. and the late Garrett O'Connor. Randy was still starring in Colt League that year.
“It was awesome being coached by my father,” Randy said. “He let you know if you did something wrong. He taught us humility. There was very little that was bad about it.”
Except for the injuries, the brothers might have set the game on fire.
Ron Jr., who discovered early that corrected eyesight leads to home runs, flirted with a collegiate record for consecutive games with a hit at USL.
He rated Rafael Palmeiro as the best pure hitter he ever saw.
He saw teammate Randy Johnson don a cape and crash helmet to entertain fans in Alaska as Harvey Wallbanger.
And he had future relief ace Bobby Thigpen figured out when others struggled.
Randy saw spring training action with stars like Barry Bonds and Orlando Merced, comparing favorably when he was healthy.
So the “what if” game was tough to swallow.
“I've seen guys playing on TV that I couldn't believe were in the major leagues,” Randy said. “Sometimes you get the breaks.”
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Click here for the Athletic Network Profile of Ron Robicheaux, Jr.
Click here for the team photo of the 1985 Baseball Team.
To see other Baseball Photos, click www.athleticnetwork.net > Photo Gallery > Baseball > then, select the year you wish to view.
Click here for an article about the opening of the Robicheaux Recreation Center published prior to the opening in June, 2000.
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