BATON ROUGE -- An hour after touching down at Baton Rouge Airport on Thursday, the 2009 National Champion LSU baseball team raised a sixth flag in center field at Alex Box Stadium in front of thousands of fans.
LSU Baseball National Championship Celebration
June 25, 2009
CHANCELLOR MICHAEL V. MARTIN
“Thank you all for coming out to celebrate the next flag to go out on the flag pole here. This was the first championship of this millennium, and we’re going to have many more. On behalf of all of us at LSU, I want to congratulate the team, a wonderful coaching staff, the support crew, the families and most especially for me, the fans of LSU. This place sends a message to the nation about the enthusiasm, the commitment to excellence, the passion and just the raw enjoyment of great baseball. This team beat a great team and beat several of them this past season, and they did it not only because they’re talented student-athletes and not only because they’re well-coached but because they’ve got fans here in this stadium today and across this country that are part of the Tigers and part of this Tiger nation.
“It was especially joyful to be in Omaha for a few days, not just to see a great team play great baseball but to be there with Paul (Mainieri) and two other great coaches – Skip Bertman and Demie Mainieri. To have those guys on your side is also special. It takes a lot of talent to win a championship; it takes special character to be champions. What is most impressive about this team for those of us who got to watch over the season and through these events is not just that we won but how we won. This is a group of young men, support staff, coaches and families that do it with class. They set the measure for the way to compete and behave with class, and that says a great deal about this institution. It says a great deal about this state, but it mostly says a great deal about these young men.
“What I know for sure is that now that they’ve won a championship, they will behave and conduct themselves like the champions they are, so to all of them and to all of you, I want to say thank you, and let me say one more quick observation after staying a couple of days in Omaha. If we just had the Mainieris and the Mahtooks there, we’d need one hotel for that group alone. The family support is unbelievable across all families, and for all of you part of the great LSU family, thank you very much, and geaux Tigers!”
ATHLETICS DIRECTOR JOE ALLEVA
“How about those Tigers? Unbelievable. I’ll tell you what. To go from preseason No. 1 to the champions at the end of the year is a phenomenal feat. It is so hard to do. Even through history in all sports it is one of the most difficult things to do because everyone is trying to beat you. This team exceeded every expectation by winning the national championship. This team is phenomenal, and what they’ve done will forever be recognized here at ‘The Box’ and in our history and in the state of Louisiana. Our goal is always to strive for excellence. Yesterday, we achieved excellence.
“What’s tremendous about this team, Chancellor Martin alluded to, is that they’re also champions in the classroom and as citizens. They are tremendous role models for all the young people out there, and I’m so proud of them. Yesterday at the press conference, coach Mainieri said, ‘Well Joe, we’ve got to move the Intimidator and update it.’ Well Paul, we’ve already gotten to work on that. We’ll have that thing over here next year. It’s amazing to me what great fans we have at LSU and in the state of Louisiana. We must have had 10,000 fans in Omaha, and they’re not even back yet, but from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the fans. From the opening day of this fantastic new stadium to today, the culmination of a great championship run, thank you, fans. This championship team deserves championship fans, and we have them. Thank you, and geaux Tigers!”
LSU PLAYER QUOTES
CF Mikie Mahtook
“Speaking on behalf of the freshman, this is what we came to LSU for: to win championships. To be a part of this team with all of the seniors and all of the older guys is amazing. Without ya’ll, we couldn’t have done it. Ya’ll are there in the dugout with us. You make it hard for visiting teams. Without ya’ll we’re not the same LSU Tigers, so thank ya’ll.”
P Anthony Ranaudo
“On behalf of the sophomore class, I just want to thank all of you. We have a lot of guys from out-of-state in the sophomore class, and you have become our family here at LSU. You welcomed us and made us feel right at home. There’s no place I’d rather be. You guys are the greatest. You are the No. 1 fans in the country, and we couldn’t have done it without you guys. Thank you.”
RF Jared Mitchell
“This has been the time of my life. I’ll never forget it. Who else better than to celebrate this time with than these 25 guys and coaches and the state of Louisiana. I wanted to thank ya’ll for all of the support throughout the season. We couldn’t have done it without you. This has been a special time. Thank ya’ll very much.”
P Louis Coleman
“On behalf of the senior class, ya’ll are the greatest fans in the country. It’s unbelievable the support we had in Omaha. It showed how close ya’ll are to us and how much ya’ll mean to us. I want to thank all of our players, how much hard work they put in. It’s unreal how they come out here. It’s something I’ll never forget. Lastly, I want to thank the coaching staff, Coach (Paul) Mainieri and Coach (David) Grewe. All of you. Without Coach Mainieri, Coach Grewe, Will (Davis) and Javi (Sanchez), this wouldn’t have happened. We have the greatest pitching coach in the nation, by the way. Thank ya’ll. I appreciate it. They have some big shoes to fill to go and get another one next year.”
LSU HEAD COACH PAUL MAINIERI
“Thank you very much. It’s a dream come true to be standing here right now addressing you all as the national champions of college baseball. You know, (Athletic Director) Joe (Alleva) had a lot of nice things to say about me and I appreciate them very much, but I’m going to tell you some news. I haven’t hit a ball, thrown a ball or fielded a ball or run the bases in a long time. IT has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with the 25 kids sitting behind me right here.
“This team is a living example that if you dream it, you can do it. There was no doubt in their minds from the first day we got together in August that it was very possible that we were going to have this day together as national champions. I can vividly remember the first team meeting in August on the first day of school when we talked about winning the national championship. We believed it, but it was a long way away. We knew that we were going to have a lot of challenges if we were going to get to Omaha, so we didn’t think about Omaha. We just thought about the next game in front of us. We started out number one in the country. What an awesome responsibility. We had a brand new stadium and everybody had high expectations for this season. Lesser people than these kids would have crumbled under that pressure, but these kids had the composure, poise, confidence and work ethic and the belief in each other that if they just took it one day at a time, they knew they could accomplish great things.
“You know we never lost more than two games in a row the entire season, and we only lost two games in a row one time the entire season. That’s remarkable consistency. And yet, even after we beat Rice here in the super regional, we knew we had better baseball in us. I told the kids that if we go to Omaha and play up to our capabilities, nobody out there can beat us. I believed it and the kids believed it. We went out there and it was a coaches; dream. The leadership on this team among the players and the way they were able to balance their emotions was great. They were intense but not tight, confident but not cocky, loose but not lackadaisical. They were in the zone; the zone that all great athletes know how to find in the most pressure situations. And they went out there and played the game. The will to win was incredible. Unbelievable!
“In the end, we had one game for all the marbles. On the bus before the game, I told all the kids to hold their fists up (holds up a balled fist) because after the game we’re going to do this! (points his index finger to the sky)
“I also told them that Texas has a great program and that they’ve had many great days in the history of their baseball program, but yesterday was not going to be one of their great days in their program. It was going to be our day and nobody was going to take it from us.
“I stand today in front of you with very mixed emotions. I’m very proud of the team to win the national championship because the effort, teamwork and all the other attributes that go into it were just phenomenal and exemplary. But I’m also sad today because today is the last day that this team will be together in front of all of you, and it some ways that makes me very ad. We have some seniors on this team that you would want your children to grow up to be like. They’re phenomenal young men. I’m not going to start mentioning them by name because I’ll never make it through. We’re also going to have some underclassmen that we’re gong to lose to the pro draft. It’s going to be sad to see them go, but I’m going to be very proud of them to know that by them coming to LSU, it made them better baseball players and better prepared them for a career in professional baseball.
“Every time I start to get very sad that this team is not going to be together after tomorrow when we have our last team meeting, I get pumped back up because I think about the future and I think about the core of this team that’s coming back next year. And I think about the recruiting class that we have coming in, and I know that next year we’re going to make a run at it again.
“It is a tremendous honor to be the baseball coach at LSU because being the baseball coach here, I represent a university that I love so much; a university that stands for excellence, and a state that has the greatest people in the entire country. Since we moved back here three years ago, it has only reaffirmed all the things I have believed my whole life since I came here as a freshman: that Louisiana people are tough, resilient and they love life. And they love to have a party! And that’s what we’re doing today.
“I have one last job to finish out this season. When we were putting this baseball facility together before the season and I looked at the plans with Eddie Nunez (the project manager) and I talked to Joe Alleva the athletic director, I said there was only one thing wrong with these plans. They were copying the old Alex Box with the flagpoles. The old Alex Box, if you remember, had five flagpoles. One of the poles had the American flag and then one of the five national championship flags flying underneath it. Well I think that the American flag should stand by itself on its own pole. So I said to Eddie, we have to do that. And he said that was fine and we would put up six poles. I told him no, we wanted seven poles. And he said “What do you need seven poles for?” And I said you’ve got the American flag, the five national championships and we want a flagpole for the next national championship!
“That’s the way it’s supposed to be. We’re so proud to bring the national championship back to Baton Rouge. We had a great time this season and we’ll see you in 2010. Geaux Tigers!”