Tonight, legendary Louisiana State University baseball coach Skip Bertman will have the LSU baseball field named in his honor.
Skip Bertman Field will be the new name for the over-10,000 seat venue. The stadium itself will continue to be called Alex Box Stadium, in honor of an LSU baseball player who was killed in North Africa during World War II.
The 7 p.m. game against Ole Miss will also include a tribute to the 1993 national championship team, which he coached.
The recommendation to name the field for Bertman came from the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame Election Board, which recommends honors for former coaches and student-athletes. The LSU Board of Supervisors approved the honor last month.
When Bertman arrived at LSU as coach in 1983, average attendance was around 500 per game. The team now regularly leads the NCAA in average attendance, with more than 10,000 per game.
Fans love a winner, and Bertman delivered that. He is one of only three coaches in NCAA history to win five national championships. His teams won seven SEC championships, six SEC tournament titles and had 11 College World Series berths. His overall career record from 1984 to 2001 was 870-330-3, the highest winning percentage all-time among SEC coaches.
Thirty-one of his players made it to the Major Leagues, and he was National Coach of the Year six times.
He served as assistant coach on several U.S. national teams and the 1988 US Olympic gold medal team, and was head coach of the 1996 U.S. Olympics Team in Atlanta that won the bronze medal.
In 2001 he became athletics director at LSU, overseeing a time of tremendous growth in LSU sports.
Bertman is a member of the LSU Athletic Hall of Fame, the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame, the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Upon his retirement as baseball coach, his No. 15 jersey was retired at LSU.
Honored in Birmingham also
Next week, he will be in Birmingham for the SEC baseball tournament, where he will be honored as one of four SEC Baseball Legends.
“The SEC Baseball Legends Presented by AT&T allows us to honor the deep tradition and history of baseball in our league and show why the SEC is the nation’s premier baseball conference,” said SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.
Four legends are honored each year, rotating among the schools. Each of them is recognized on-field during the semifinals on May 25, with fans having an opportunity for photos and autographs immediately afterward. The Legends will also participate in the annual SEC Youth Clinic on Friday morning.
Bertman grew up in Miami Beach, where his father opened a hotel in a community that was about 80 percent Jewish. In a 2004 interview, he told SJL “My folks spoke Yiddish and we attended synagogue regularly.”
He earned a baseball scholarship to Miami, then taught at area high schools until joining Ron Fraser’s staff at Miami in 1975. When the LSU job opened up in 1983, he was regarded as one of the nation’s brightest assistant coaches.
Upon arriving in Baton Rouge, he set out to promote interest in the baseball team, and learn more about the Southern Jewish community. One of the first stops was the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica.
Congregation B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge posted about its 6 p.m. Union Prayer Book service for tonight on Facebook, but added, “who can compete with what is going on at the LSU Baseball Stadium. We are very proud of Skip Bertman that the field will be named after him in honor of his amazing contributions to LSU Athletics over the years.”