Longtime Louisiana-Lafayette baseball coach Tony Robichaux, who took the Ragin’ Cajuns to the College World Series in 2000, died Wednesday at 57.
Robichaux suffered a heart attack on June 23 and had been hospitalized since. Family members informed the school that he died at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.
He was 1,177-767 in 33 seasons as a head coach and was 914-590 in 25 seasons at Lafayette. He is the winningest baseball coach at both Louisiana-Lafayette and McNeese State.
While numbers hint at his greatness, Troy head baseball coach Mark Smartt said they didn’t come close to defining the man.
“It’s just a sad day for everybody that knew coach Robichaux,” Smartt said on Wednesday. “He was a fine man, well beyond being a great coach. He was a tremendous father, had great kids. It’s a huge loss to the baseball community. It’s really terrible. It just happened so quickly. … We were standing on the same ball field seven weeks ago. Just a sad day.
“Your heart breaks for his family and the community of Lafayette – which he was an icon in that community. It’s really terrible. He was always very kind and courteous and gracious to me as an opposing coach. When I became the head coach he was one of the first to congratulate me on the promotion.
“I’m as stunned and heartbroken as anybody could be that’s outside of his immediate family. We’re all just devastated.”
Robichaux led the Ragin’ Cajuns to 12 NCAA Regional and four Super Regional appearances. The 2014 team earned the program’s first No. 1 national ranking and went 58-10.
“What you always could count on – it’s just the nature of who the man was – they were going to fight until the last out every single game and you had to earn everything you got when you played their team,” Smartt said. “When you won the game, you felt like you had accomplished something.
“His record speaks for itself. Nine hundred wins at Lafayette. His legacy is he refused to tie himself to baseball in his life. I was watching a clip earlier and he said I’m a baseball coach, but that’s not who I am. I’m much more than that. … Again, nothing but admiration and respect for him as a coach and as a man.”
Smartt noted an odd bit of symmetry shared by the two programs.
“We’re the last team he coached against,” he said. “We eliminated them from the 2019 Sun Belt Tournament. And you tie that back to coach (Bobby) Pierce – and he and coach Pierce were very close. Coach Pierce was eliminated in his last college game by Lafayette, right here on our field.
“It’s just a sad day for a lot of people, especially in the college baseball community. He was respected far and wide in our game.”