Robichaux legacy: He carved his name on hearts, not tombstones

Today will be a monumental day at The Tigue in Lafayette, Louisiana. Yes, the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns will open the 2020 baseball season, but they will honor their coach of the past 25 seasons and reveal a statue to commemorate him. Here is a reprint of an article last summer highlighting the life of Tony Robichaux.

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” ~Shannon Alder.

I met Tony Robichaux on a Little League baseball field in Crowley, Louisiana. We were coaching our sons, who would play together in later years, in AAU and as Ragin Cajuns.

As I was coaching third base, he was standing outside his team’s dugout and we struck up a conversation. Interestingly, I wouldn’t learn who he was until I returned to my own dugout. I remember one of the dads coming over to me and asking “What were y’all talking about?” “Just baseball and stuff,” I replied as if it was just another conversation.

But, as I learned over the years, a conversation with Tony Robichaux was not just another conversation. As many have said more eloquently, Robichaux was a better man than a baseball coach. And, he was a darn good baseball coach.

When I was with the Lafayette Little League, I set up a coaches clinic for our coaches. I invited Tony to visit our fields one Saturday for the pre-season session. He responded by inviting our clinic to the UL confines, where he could better demonstrate and teach our coaches, most of whom were dads trying to help kids.

Once there, Tony led off the session for some 50-plus coaches with this question: “Do you know how many rotations there are on a four-seam fastball from the time it leaves the pitcher’s hand until it crosses the plate?” Forget the batting stances, taking a good lead and the fabled squeeze bunts he manufactured so often as a head coach. He cut right to the chase, letting us all know there was much more to the game of baseball than even the basics.

As you can imagine, Tony has forgotten more about baseball than most of us will ever know about the game. But, baseball wasn’t the foundation of Tony Robichaux’s game. Or his life.

As he often told his players — and any others who would listen — “…baseball is not my identity. It’s what I do, it’s not who I am.” And that’s the legacy he left behind, one that will live far longer than the records, titles and championships he built at UL-Lafayette.

As the accolades for Tony have rolled in after his untimely death recently, words like legendary, iconic and integrity are popular choices as coaches, players, former players and friends step up to celebrate and remember the quintessential Louisiana baseball coach.

The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith. —Billy Graham

The wins, titles and championships will forever be written in sports brochures, Sun Belt record books and even the fabled run to the College World Series in 2000. But the records that no one can possibly tally are the young boys he’s turned into outstanding men, great husbands and fathers, and the unparalleled influence he’s had on businessmen and women and other coaches across America.

At the end of the day, they may erect a statue in Tony Robichaux’s honor. Or they may rename the field. And the leadership most certainly will have a Tony Robichaux Day to commemorate his great accomplishments.

Indeed, the man who takes his place will certainly have those proverbial big shoes to fill.

But all that aside, it’s not about what you’ve done. It’s about who you are. And it’s about the hearts on which you have carved a lasting legacy.

Tony Robichaux fulfilled the assignment. He fought the good fight, he finished the race and he kept the faith.

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