BATON ROUGE -- An inspirational keynote address delivered by former LSU shortstop and World Series champion Ryan Theriot highlighted the LSU Baseball First Pitch Banquet Thursday night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
The banquet is an annual event held each February to signify the start of the college baseball season. The members of the Tigers' 2013 team were introduced at the start of the banquet, which also featured remarks by coach Paul Mainieri and former coach and athletics director Skip Bertman.
Freshman shortstop Alex Bregman, sophomore catcher/infielder Tyler Moore, junior catcher Ty Ross, senior outfielder Raph Rhymes and senior first baseman Mason Katz addressed the crowd of nearly 1,000 people, providing an inside look at the 2013 squad.
LSU opens the season at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15 when the Tigers plays host to Maryland in Alex Box Stadium.
Theriot earned a World Series ring for the second year in a row in October when the San Francisco Giants completed a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers with a 4-3, 10-inning victory at Comerica Park in Detroit. Theriot, the Giants' DH in Game 4, singled to lead off the top of the 10th and scored the eventual winning run on Marco Scutaro's two-out single.
Theriot, a Baton Rouge native who played at LSU from 1999-2001, has the distinction of scoring the run that lifted his team to a championship in two of baseball's premier events - LSU's 2000 College World Series win over Stanford, and the Giants' 2012 World Series victory over the Tigers.
Theriot batted .270 for the Giants during the 2012 regular season with 45 runs scored, 28 RBI and 13 stolen bases. He appeared in seven games during the 2012 postseason, collecting three hits in 10 at-bats with three RBI.
Theriot also won a World Series title in 2011 with the St. Louis Cardinals when they defeated the Texas Rangers in seven games.
He hit .271 in 132 games for the Cardinals during the 2011 season with 26 doubles, one triple, one homer, 47 RBI and 46 runs scored. The Baton Rouge native appeared in 12 postseason games in 2011, including five in the World Series. He delivered a crucial 10th-inning RBI during the Cardinals' Game 6 win over the Rangers.
Theriot, who has also played for the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers, paid tribute in his opening remarks Thursday night to Bertman, who directed LSU to five College World Series titles in a 10-season span from 1991 to 2000.
"I've been fortunate to have played for some of the greatest managers in Major League history," Theriot said. "They'll all be in the Hall of Fame - Joe Torre, Tony LaRussa, Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy. But, the best manager I've ever played for is Skip Bertman. There will never be another one like him. What he did to elevate the game of baseball in our community is remarkable."
Bertman, who introduced Theriot at the banquet, said his former shortstop worked tirelessly to achieve big-league success.
"Ryan was not the biggest or the fastest player, nor was he the strongest, but he definitely had the biggest heart," Bertman said. "That's why he was and still is a tremendous player, a wonderful husband and father, and a great representative of LSU."
Theriot and his wife, Johnnah, a former LSU cheerleader, have three children - Houston, Macey and Georgia. Theriot told the audience Thursday that while he takes pride in his baseball achievements, his definition of success has evolved.
"Success to me means that my wife wakes up and she has a smile on her face, that my son is thrilled that he's learned to ride a bike, or that we receive a note from a teacher telling us how our children are polite and eager to learn," Theriot explained. "I've been blessed in so many ways throughout my life, and I take none of it for granted."